Where do I even begin this story at? I think I will start with a huge thank you to every person who has encouraged me and has helped me on this adventure. I will also start with some background of last year and this year. Starting with last year I was to late buying my archery tags here in Oregon. (Side note I discovered I can buy the tags after deadline with a fee.) I did some bear hunting and a lot of scouting with my husband and parents. While my husband was on a solo archery hunt, my dad and I went looking for a bear. We ended up messing with a Hoochie Momma elk call and proceeded to call in 5 young bulls. In this process up on the mountain we heard a bigger bull behind us. My dad had seen a black horned bull up in the area we were hunting 3 years in a row. He is smart, beautiful and we are both convinced that the bull I harvested this year is the same bull. After my epic fail to get my archery tags my dad and I then planned for 2019. Our big hunt together. Unfortunately in November 2018 my dad was bit by a snake in a tree and his health really hit an all time low. Doctor visits that could not find answers. Eventually he was able to start receiving surgeries to help fix the damage from jumping out of the tree. Our epic hunt was going to have to be modified. It was extremely emotional for both of us. Dad wanted to be on that mountain with me so bad and I wanted him there with me. However the strenuous hikes would take to big of a toll on his body so I had to be his legs and eyes.
In the meantime I began following Courtney LeVesque on Instagram. I seen her post of some tough events called Train to Hunt and Northwest Mountain Challenge. I messaged her and she convinced me I should sign up for the Train to Hunt. So I did. I started working out and shooting my bow daily. After Train to Hunt I learned where the holes were in my fitness. Which led me to sign up for her Ladies Bowhunting Fitness Program. Then that led to Ladies Archery Weekend that I attended. I had only met Courtney and I was very nervous to meet all these women. Holy Cow it was amazing!!!! Every woman there and the 2 guys who also helped were absolutely amazing. Every person involved was so kind, they never once made you feel down on yourself. It was a weekend full of lots of firsts for me. I shot out of a tree stand and a blind. We shot balloon targets. We had a special guest from Alaska who went over dehydrated meals and backcountry hunting. So leading up to this weekend I had only used a diaphragm call once and my dad informed me….”You can stick with the hoochie mama call if you are hunting with me” I seriously sounded like a chipmunk. At the ladies weekend I met Shanelle and Jason. Around the campfire with all of us Jason started teaching us different sounds to make. After ladies weekend I still wasn’t quite getting it so Jason and Shanelle both were texting me tips. Jason sent me videos and still encouraged me to keep practicing in the off season. I was getting it down and getting confident in my calling. I felt I was ready for opening day.
My friend Sara and I got to hunt together opening weekend. It was ridiculously hot, we found some tracks, a curious doe and a sunburn. I felt we covered a lot of ground. One place we camped we got ran off by ridiculous bugs that bit you after they got stuck in your sweat. We ended up moving camp and sleeping in the canopy of my truck. With opening weekend being an adventure but no sign we headed back home. Sara went to meet her husband at their family elk camp. My dad called me after I left and asked me if my husband could watch the kids for 4 days so I could go back up the mountain. My husband agreed so I was obviously excited.
I packed my gear up again and got my family ready for mommy to be gone 4 days. I left Wednesday night and got settled in at my parents house. Dad and I made our first game plan for Thursday morning. We would go back up in an area where we had caught footage of a bear and a bull elk. I sat there waiting while dad stayed closer to the truck and easier walking roads. He glassed and cow called hoping to bring something up to me. I hear him call me on the radio and tell me there was a huge buck with a doe bedded down and to come up on the trail. Me being stubborn told him no I had to wait for the elk. Well finally I make my way up to where this buck is but I took the wrong fork in the trail so I ended up coming out right in the open. This blacktail is big and he is staring right at me. I was shaking and frozen still. I decided that I would pretend I couldn’t see him and focus my body language on the hill to the left. I had dad do some cow calls in hopes the deer would think I was after something else. So I tried the I don’t see you approach. I got within 30 yards, pulled my string back and turned around to him. He was bedded down and uphill but I still shot to short. My arrow bounced off a rock in front of him and he took off. I was really bummed and proud of myself at the same time. My dad said if I ever miss again he is making me do 20 burpees like Train to Hunt does. That was our Thursday morning. After lunch we went and set up a spike camp for the night not knowing how my dads body would handle the rough sleeping arrangements we decided it would be best just for the night. We had mice, and a coyote in camp. We also had a fearless otter ready to pounce. Friday morning I went for a hike and scouted some more. I found cougar, bear, elk tracks and 3 does. Friday we stayed in town due to how my dad was feeling and my mom would be home as well. Saturday morning my mom and I got to go on a hunt together, it was a great hike. We heard an elk bugle and it was really high pitched so being hot and tired we assumed it was another hunter. I ended up getting a bloody nose towards the end of the hike. I had drank a lot of water but the elevation change and the extreme heat I think just got to me. Mom and I found some creeks to cool off in and she donated her glasses to the mountain animals. We finally made it back out and gave our report to my dad. He said ” I know where you are going tomorrow and Sasquatch is going with you.” Back story on dads friend I hunted with him last year and that man can cover some ground so I nicknamed him Sasquatch. This year he also had his archery tags so we called him and he met us at my parents early, early Sunday morning.
Sunday morning the big day came. We were all ready when Sasquatch arrived and we had our game plan. My parents were going to drop us off on top and we would hunt our way down and meet them by the river. They had plans to pack a big picnic and lots of cold water. We knew it was going to be another really hot day. So Sasquatch and I get dropped off and we make our way down. 2.5 miles down we had found some old beds and poop. Some tracks here and there but nothing fresh. There was an old road that came down and we walked that a bit. We came around the corner into a cool draw and we could smell the elk. I decided to cow call and we were answered. Some mews, a bugle and some chuckles. We got closer and I called again. We were answered a second time. We found a spot that overlooked a bench and we sat down to wait. Sasquatch sat a few yards from me and then he motioned for me to come closer. 2 cows came out of the bushes followed by the first bull. We were both pumped, shaking and Sasquatch told me just breathe. The bull kept looking over his shoulder and grunting. Out came 2 more cows followed by my bull. Sasquatch got up and went back up to a bend in the road. The elk were going around us. I could see him pull back his bow and release. I heard the awful ricochet off a tree sound and heard him cuss. I was standing on the hillside pumped and thinking how amazing was this. I looked back down and my bull was standing there. Not a care in the world taking a leak. At that point he was 45ish yards from me so I cow called. He pinned me and started walking towards me. There was this little ridgeline across from me about 20 yards, he turned and started up that. I cow called again just a tiny little mew, he stopped and looked at me. I needed him to take one more step forward so I slowly turned my head and mewed over my shoulder. He took the step, I drew back and released. I watched my arrow disappear into his hide behind his shoulder. I seen his back arch and his legs lock up, then he disappeared. From where I was standing I knew that he didn’t go back down and from where Sasquatch was we knew he hadn’t ran up the mountain. Sasquatch started coming back my way and I was using hand signals saying “Come here, come here I got the other bull”. I was laughing, crying, we fist bumped and waited. We decided to go up where he shot and see if we could find his arrow and give my elk some time to pass. As we came up we looked down and my elk was right there. He seen us and stood up. My heart stopped, I was thinking no, no, no, please no. I grabbed sasquatch and we dropped down behind a bush. My bull instantly laid back down. As we waited I told him to take the radio and continue with the plan to go out the bottom and meet my parents. We needed help to get him out. Sasquatch told me “No, you go I will stay and gut it for you”. I handed him the radio and said ” No, this is my elk”. As he made his way to my parents I watched my bull pass. I was praying and crying. The sunlight was shining through and I was trying to take in all of what just happened. I freaking did it!!! God provided the opportunity and I answered.
I had doubted myself, my bow, my calling for so long until I had others believe in me and encourage me. As I sat there reflecting I was devestated that dad wasn’t right there with me, thankful Sasquatch was there, I was missing my family and couldn’t wait to share with them what happened. I cried tears of every emotion. My bull passed and as I walked up to him I was praying, thanking the Lord for the meat. After I took some unprofessional selfies and studied him the work had to start. I placed my backpack down, drank some water, and got my trusty knife out. I realized that he had died in a very tricky spot. No trees to tie a rope to for his legs, and he was in a small bowl area. I tried for a long time to figure out some way to keep him on his back or his legs open. I realized that I wanted to try the gutless method. I got half of him quartered,deboned and bagged. It was starting to get hot, the flies were biting me like crazy. I got everything I could possibly do done and waited. I ate my lunch and sat next to a tree. At the 3 hour mark, there was a breeze, and I could have swore I heard my dad call my nickname. I stood up and hollered back but no answer. I figured with the adrenaline wearing off, and the heat I was beginning to hear things. I sat back down and I heard voices. Thought I was losing my mind because I heard my cousins voice. I stood back up and I seen movement. It was Sasquatch and my cousin. Then I heard it our family mountain call. “WHOOOOP!”. I answered back as many times as I could before I started crying. “whooop, whoop, whoop”. Then I seen my dad I ran up to him and we both started crying. ” Come see daddy”. “You did it Doosie I am so proud of you. It’s the same bull we seen.” I told them all the story and was so thankful for the extra muscles. We got the rest of my bull bagged up. Turned out after Sasquatch got down to the bottom he got a hold of my parents and they decided to ask my cousin if he could help too. My cousin was able to drive his four wheel drive with some maneuvering within 400 yards from where my bull went down. We had one big problem, only 1 pack to get it out. So thank goodness for the Black Ovis Game Bags. Because we were able to throw the bags over our shoulders and leap frog them up to the rig. Dad told me to put meat on his back and I told him no. But I asked him if he could carry my bow. He said he wanted to carry part of the bull. So we put the head on him to pack out as far as he could. The grin on his face will always be imprinted on my mind. An epic experience. I am so thankful and still on cloud 9. That’s my 2019 first archery bull story. So much more to learn and I look forward to next year.
The products we used on this hunt can be found at the links below.
www.phelpsgamecalls.com is where I purchased my diaphragm calls for this hunt.
www.facebook.com/herinspiredjourney Here is the link to the woman behind my inspiration this year to push my limits and try new things.