by Jeremy Scott
It was the first cold crisp day since the beginning of the Oregon Elk Season, but I was stuck at Camp Pendleton waiting impatiently for my leave to be approved (I am a Sergeant in the Marine Corps).
I had been drawn for an Oregon Coastal Roosevelt bull elk tag. I could barely contain my excitement! (Ask my wife) After what seemed an eternity, my leave was finally approved and I would get to hunt the last two weeks of the season.
I left home on September 14th and drove nonstop through the night to get to my parent’s home in Brookings, Oregon. I arrived in the wee hours of the next morning and barely slept before getting up to load the gear and head out to our designated hunting spot.
We arrived and set up camp September 15th. As evening approached, we headed out on foot to hunt. Walking through the timber, I was awestruck by the beauty of scenery. I took a deep breath inhaling the scent of the forest and realized that it had been four long years since I had last smelled the fragrance and experienced the familiar sights and sounds of the Oregon forest. I said to myself; “How blessed I am to be here hunting with my dad.”
As we entered a clearing, my dad began to cow call. Almost immediately we heard a bugle. Only a couple of hours into our hunt and a bull was already bugling! We estimated him to be about one hundred yards away. With my heart pounding in my chest, I settled in behind a root wad. I nocked an arrow and waited. My dad was fifty yards behind me alternately cow calling and bugling. Unfortunately, the bull didn’t answer again. We walked back to camp reminiscing about prior hunts and making our plans for the next day.
The following morning, while glassing and scouting, we found fresh elk sign nearly everywhere we went. Despite these promising clues, by the end of the morning hunt, we were still empty handed. At mid-day we thought we would split up and hunt the two separate herds we had located. My dad, on second thought, decided that we should hunt as a team; expressing his desire to spend time together. Time being a rare and precious commodity since my enlistment six years earlier.
We opted for the spot where we had heard the elk bugling that first evening and left camp just after noon. As we approached the edge of the clearing, I noticed a rub on a tree, about sixteen inches in diameter. It appeared that the elk had given this tree a real workout! I grabbed my bow by one end and reached up on tip toes as high as I could, but still could not reach the place where the elk’s antlers had left their mark. As we continued on our way, I wondered about the bull that had left the rub and fantasized about killing it. Taking a big bull was something I had dreamed of since I was a very young boy.
After five hours of hiking, and again seeing a lot of sign, my dad began to bugle. He made several attempts but never got a response. We decided to circle back the way we had come as the sun was beginning to set. Suddenly, my dad stopped in his tracks and whispered; “Don’t move there he is”.
I froze and out of the corner of my eye I spotted him and said; “That is one big bull!” He was looking at us from approximately one hundred and twenty yards away. All I could do was stand there and watch. After a five minute standoff, to our amazement, he started walking towards us. I stood there in frozen surprise as he continued coming at me. He walked behind a root wad fifty yards away and I quickly nocked my arrow. When he got about forty yards away and still moving in my direction, he became hidden behind another root wad. I came to full draw. He cleared the other side and stopped.
Then, as if it had been scripted, he turned so that he was standing broadside! My dad stood behind me with his rangefinder confirming the distance and whispered; “thirty five yards, don’t miss.” I released my arrow knowing it was a good shot the moment it left my bow. Mortally wounded he slowly made his way out of sight. Moments later, we heard him fall to the ground with a resounding crash.
From past experience, we decided to walk out and get our packs so as not to push the animal. Later, when we arrived back at the spot where I had shot him, it was getting dark. In the dim light we began searching for a blood trail. We split up to circle the area. Shortly after, I heard a loud shout; “Jeremy, I found it and it’s huge!” I ran through the thick underbrush toward the sound of his shout. I entered a small clearing and finally saw the beast, lying there with his head down. This was pure excitement at its best!
We had originally thought he was a 7x6, but upon closer inspection saw that he had two one inch points on either side at the base of his antlers. This brought him to an enormous 9x8! After a few pictures were taken and with our adrenaline running out, the real work began. We started the long pack out, not finishing until the next morning. Despite the difficulty and length of our task, this bull was well worth the time and effort.
I have to say that killing this elk was a dream come true. It was one of the best moments of my life, and making it even better was that I got to share this special experience with the person I admire most in all of the world, my dad.
Editor's Note: The photo above was submitted previously with a brief caption. Being re-submitted with the full story of the hunt qualifies Jeremy as the first winner of a Blacktail Antler Ink Pen from S-Man Pens and Antlers! See details here.