Well our last bull hunt of the season has come and gone and again we went 100% on filling all our tags! We had 7 clients in 3 different units and took some great bulls that our hunters were very excited about! As most people know, the late bull hunts here in AZ can be one of the toughest hunts of all, especially if you're after big bulls! We all hunted very hard and with determination, hard work and tons of scouting we were able to enjoy nothing but success! Like always, we made new friends, reunited with old friends and spent quality time with family on these late bull hunts and the memories are priceless!
Now for the hunts! We had a group of 4 friends that drove to AZ all the way from Michigan just to hunt our trophy bulls...who could blame them! These were great guys to share a hunt with and we all had a blast spending a week with them! We had a great camp set up with full time cooks and camp trailers to keep everyone warm. The unit we were hunting in requires a lot of hiking in rough terrain but everyone was up to the task and the bulls started hittin' the ground! First to tag out was Pat. Pat's hunt only lasted 2 hours as his bull gave us the shot on opening morning! The shot was a small window in thick cedars but he made a great shot and then an even better follow up shot to put the bull down for good! We were all smiles when we walked up to his gorgeous bull, but then reality set in when we remembered it would be a 2 1/2 mile pack out to the truck! Luckily for us we had helpers coming to help pack it all out and we did it in 1 trip!
Next hunter was Tom. Tom is a great guy and willing to do whatever it took to get the bull of his dreams. On the 3rd day it snowed a little and made for a beautiful morning. We were still hunting a ridge when the bull walked out at 250 yards. I stopped the bull just as Tom got his rifle on the shooting sticks and BOOM! The bull ran about 200 yards and piled up. Tom didn't realize what size his bull was, I just told him it was a shooter, so you can imagine our excitement watching Tom's expression when he walked up and picked up his bull's rack! We'll never forget his sincere emotional reaction to seeing his bull up close for the first time. Gorgeous bull for sure and definitely one to be proud of on these late hunts!
Third up was Ron A., Ron was the shooter of the group, he has taken quite a few animals at long distance and was confident with his gun. With this in mind we went to an area I had scouted which held some nice bulls but long shots are the norm. This hunt on this day would be no different! We located a nice bull at over 700 yards and he was way down in a canyon! Ron, Shorty and I took off and cut the distance down to 451 yards straight across from the feeding bull. All of Ron's friends were sitting on the rim above us watching the show as it unfolded! Ron settled in and made a perfect double lung shot, then followed it up with a perfect heart shot putting the bull down in a fraction of a second! The only problem now was that Shorty and I had to spend most of the night and next day butchering and packing the bull out of that canyon! It was all worth it though, Ron deserved the bull after working so hard with us and we were all excited for his success!
Lastly we have Ron B., Ron was the lucky guy that got to hunt the whole hunt, he got the full experience and wasn't shorted anything as he still put the hammer down on his last day out! It was on this day that anything goes, if it had antlers lead was gonna fly! Shorty, Mel and I set out with a game plan of trying to push bulls out of the thick country hopefully presenting a shot for Ron. Mel and Ron sat on a point while Shorty and I walked through some thick bedding country and not long after the plan was in motion we heard the shot! As we got to Mel and Ron we could see Ron's huge smile, he had a bull down! We had pushed some bulls out and they ran by Ron at 125 yards and Ron sent one perfect bullet into this broken up 6 point bull putting him down in his tracks! Ron was excited even though it wasn't the bull of his dreams, he said he had a great hunt and a great time spent with friends...that's what matters most!
Now for our other hunters in the other units. First we have Gary Bald who was from Wisconsin and hunting with Jeff. The unit they were hunting in can be one of the hardest units to hunt in the state! There is very little glassing and miles upon miles of flat cedar country that most of the bulls call home this time of year. This hunt will test your stamina and determination to the limits, but if you can stick it out, your success will be that much sweeter! Jeff and Gary stuck it out day in and day out and their persistence was rewarded with this "over the hill" bull! This bull had teeth worn down to the gums and flattened ivory due to being a very old and regressing bull. Even though he's only a 5 point, his mass, frame and overall character made him a great trophy not to be passed up! Great job to those guys, Gary and Jeff definitely deserved the success!
Next, in the same unit was Lee Thompson and Manny. Now these boys hunted hard! Going days without seeing anything worth while, they knew that if they just kept at it they would eventually find what they were after. Lee was determined to hold out for a real trophy and was willing to go home empty handed, which is the mark of a true trophy hunter and exactly what it takes to get the big ones! After many days, miles and hours the bull that Lee had dreamed about finally appeared and Lee put him down for keeps! Lee wouldn't be going home empty handed on this hunt, instead he went home with the bull he had dreamed about! Outstanding job by Manny and Lee, congrats on a great bull!
And last but not least we've got Duane Brown who hunted with Gino. Duane is a 63 year old man who had never had a late trophy bull tag in his pocket. His Goal: a good bull on the first day. Opening morning Gino took Duane to a spot that he had seen a really good 5x6 and hoped to find him again… at first light the bull was spotted, the stalk was made and the distance closed to 350 yds. The bull was cleanly put down by Duane with 3 well placed shots and the happy hunter was thrilled with his opening morning bull. The big 5x6 scores 320 SCI! Gorgeous bull and congrats to Duane and Gino on the opening day success!