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First Bull

First Bull

Postby Phil Andresen » Thu Apr 23, 2015 3:48 pm

We were hunting along a new Bonneville powerline outside of Naselle, in southwest Washington. Jack and Tiff worked on a powerline construction project there for several years and had an intimate knowledge of the area along with the travel routes and feeding areas the elk used.

Jack and Tiff were on ‘stands’ while Danny, Leo and I ‘still hunted’ our way through the timber along the sides of the powerline in hopes of spotting or pushing game out to the clear-cut.

The forest was mostly big Hemlock mixed with Douglas fir; it was open with good visibility, had minimal brush and it was about noon of a warm sunny day. Dan and I met up at the end of our ‘drive’ on a highpoint where the powerline crossed a narrow dirt road.
Dan had a miserable cold; as we quietly walked along the road heading for his truck he sneezed and hacked like an old man with one foot in the grave. He stopped to blow his nose again and as he did he fell a little behind. I was rounding a tight little curve in the road and just as I did a herd of elk came pouring out of the timber along my left side, crossed ahead of me and dropped from sight into a small timbered basin. Beyond the basin to the south was a broad, wide-open and sunny hayfield, I expected the elk would stay in the timber.

Turning to Danny but pointing in the elk’s direction, I yelled, ‘A herd just crossed the road; heading for the hay field!!’ At that, Dan turned and ran the opposite direction back toward the powerline. I ran down the road quickly enough to see two spikes, a half-dozen cows and a bunch of calves; as they dropped into the basin they slowed, spread out and began to feed.

There was a cut-bank along each side of the narrow dirt road as it side-hilled the ridge; the cut-bank provided cover and from it I could see into the timber below.
Quietly I made my way along the road, stopping periodically to peek up over the bank. About fifty yards ahead the road curved to the right as the hill flattened and the cut-bank petered out. Halfway down the hill I got to where the bank was about chest high, peeked over the top and spotted both spikes, one was much larger. I had a solid rest, got the peep-sight on the bigger bull and touched off the ’03 Springfield.

The herd was only about fifty yards away, at the shot all hell broke loose. I saw the entry wound behind the bull’s shoulder as they stampeded east, crossed the road and headed back into the brush toward the powerline. As the bull crossed the road he veered uphill to my left, jumped up onto the cut-bank above the road, smacked into a huge Hemlock tree and fell dead along a broken-down fence line.

I was ecstatic! It took a few minutes to gather my wits; got the bull tagged and half-expected the gang to show up; but they didn’t. I started field dressing but quickly realized the bull could easily slip off the seven-foot bank and take me with him. Hmmm… Tied the bull’s head to the tree and swung him around so he hung down the bank; skinned one side, rolled him over and skinned the other side; then opened him up and dropped the entrails into the ditch.

I was just about done when Jack and Dan, Leo and Tiff arrived. After some serious backslapping and congratulations Leo backed in across the road; we loosened the parachute cord and peeled the rest of the hide off as we slid the bull into the pickup in one piece.

Dan and Dave still hunt elk at Naselle. That huge Hemlock, known as ‘Phil’s Tree', has been one of their landmarks for the past forty years.
Phil Andresen
 
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