Hunters: Bill Jordan and Brad Harris
Location: Sand Creek Ranch near Hanna, Utah
Weapons: Bows and Guns
Dates: September 18-24, 2006
Weather: Both warm and cold with several days of snow
Bill's Note: I received an invitation to hunt elk from my good friends Brad Harris and Doug Adams with OEI Properties. OEI Properties buys and sales hunting and recreational lands throughout the country. The company manages the land to increase the quality of animals on that property, and then sells it. Involved in the outdoors in a big way, it's an outstanding company with a solid reputation. I was really excited about getting to hunt one of OEI's prime ranches in Utah. I couldn't wait.
Our destination was the 10,200-acre Sand Creek Ranch near Hanna, Utah. OEI properties had built a new lodge on the ranch that was just phenomenal. The 9-bedroom lodge was nestled on the side of a mountain that overlooked the valley with a wonderful view of the Utah mountain range. The ranch definitely did not have a shortage of elk. In fact, we were in elk every single day.
Bill and I both had CWMU tags, which meant we could hunt with a gun or a bow. We decided to start off with our bows in the hopes that we could each sneak within bow range of one of the massive bulls residing on the ranch. Bill and I split up each taking a cameraman with us.
The weather changed throughout the week. The first day was hot. Then rain and snow set in, and then it warmed up again. We never knew what each sunrise would bring.
Since I had never hunted the ranch, I spent the first day scouting more than hunting. I tried to cover a lot of ground and to see the country. I just wanted to see what the elk were doing. When I walked up into a group of silent bulls by accident, I felt like I was in the game.
Since the first day of the hunt was hot and dry, I decided to hunt near water. I found some wallows, and my cameraman and I built some blinds nearby. That evening I sat in one of the blinds and watched as a nice 6x6 bull splashed in the wallow above me. He wasn't a shooter, but I knew we were in business. I had high hopes for the second day.
That next morning, it cooled off significantly and began to rain and snow, so our blind hunting didn't work. That afternoon, I decided to do some scouting again and eventually located an area where the bulls were bugling. I called in another nice 6x6 bull with my cow call. He stopped just 20 yards from me in the wide open. He rubbed and trashed the tree for 20 minutes. I couldn't make up my mind whether or not to shoot him. He was a borderline bull measuring approximately 290 inches. One minute I thought that I would shoot and then the next minute I wouldn't. I watched him carry on for a while and eventually elected to pass. Of course after he walked away, I wondered if I had made the right decision. With several days remaining to hunt, I hoped that I could do better.
On the third day of the hunt, even though the snow and wind were intense, I stayed in the bulls. They bugled heavily for me that day. I had a close encounter with a 360-class bull, and if I hadn't have moved, I would have had a chance to shoot him. He bugled to my right, so I made a 50-yard move in an effort to get closer to him. Much to my despair, he came in and stopped by the same tree I had been standing by 10 minutes earlier, but which was now out of range for me. I just scratched my head and wondered what in the world had happened. The next day would be day four of a five-day hunt. It was time to make something happen.
Time For Some Action
The weather that night got bad with a lot of rain and snow, so with little time left, Both Bill and I decided to take our rifles the next morning to increase our odds. Of course, once day broke, the sun shined through and it turned out to be a beautiful day. The aspens and the ground were covered with snow. At that point, I wished that I had my bow again instead of my gun.
I arrived in the area I planed to hunt a little later that morning. I made a few cow calls and a bull immediately responded. Within a matter of minutes, a nice 300-inch, 6x6 bull came in to view. He jumped the fence and trotted down to me at 40 yards. At that point, I shot him with the rifle. That day's hunt just worked out perfectly. I know if I would have had my bow with me, I could have used it to harvest the elk, but either way I was happy with my kill.
At that point, Bill had still not harvested an elk. He was after one really big 6x6 bull, and I decided to join him on the last day of the hunt to help in any way that I could.
Bill's Tale -- A Few Buglers but No Bruisers
By Bill Jordan as told to Stephanie Mallory
The first morning of the hunt, Doug and I discovered that since we were hunting the pre rut, the bulls really weren't responding to our calls all that well. We managed to call in some smaller bulls, but not the monsters that we were hoping for. In fact, I had spotted a nice 6x6 elk at the beginning of the hunt, but I just couldn't get into range of him. We knew it was just a matter of time until the rut began to kick in and the bulls would start responding a little bit better. We just hoped that it would be sooner than later.
I stuck in there with my bow for four days. I continued to play cat and mouse with that big 6x6. We captured all types of footage for Realtree Outdoors, but I just couldn't get within bow range of that big elk.
The Bull With the Bad Attitude
Throughout the hunt, both Brad and I had spotted some big bulls that were holding up at 90 yards and more. We couldn't reach them with our bows, but we knew we could reach them with our guns. So we went the gun root and decided to rely on our trusty Thompson/Center guns and Nikon scopes for the remainder of the hunt.
On the fourth day of the hunt, even though I had my gun, I still couldn't get into range of the big bull. But luckily, Brad killed a nice elk with his gun on that day. With only one day left, I was desperately hoping that my luck would change.
On the last morning of the hunt, Brad joined Doug and me. We returned to a lookout spot from where we had glassed during the previous mornings. We could hear several bulls in the distance. We could distinguish the calls of one bull with six or seven cows in a thick spruce pine thicket, so we decided to make our move on him.
I stalked close enough to see the cows bedded up in the timber, and I could see the tip of the bull's horn, but I couldn't get a shot at him with the gun. I hung around there for about an hour, and then I moved up the hill a little bit to get above the elk. I could see more of his horns, but I still couldn't get a shot at him. Feeling somewhat desperate with little time left to spare, I walked straight in there getting as close as I could get without spooking the cows. I started bugling at him in an effort to convince him that I was an encroaching bull. Each time I did that, he'd bugle back.
I could see him moving my way through the thick timber. He irritatingly raked at the trees. I continued to move closer to him. I started bugling and raking the trees around me as well, which got him really hacked off. He bugled some more while he rubbed the timber. Each time he'd bugle, I'd cut him off with a bugle. When he couldn't take it any more, he came out of the thick stuff toward me. When he stopped in the clearing, I made a successful shot at 50 yards. He was a really nice 6x6, 320-inch elk.
Brad and I both had a fabulous time. The hunting was fairly rigorous, but it was well worth it. I was extremely impressed with the ranch. Doug Adams and his guides are just a great group of people. OEI Properties is owned by Christians who care about the land and the integrity of their business. They own some of the best hunting properties in the country, and I look forward to joining them on more hunts in the future.
OEI Properties specializes in rural properties. The company takes pride in securing the ideal tract for recreational and investment needs. Those who enjoy the outdoors and who want to secure a piece of nature for their families and future generations, put their trust in OEI.
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