By Steve Foate
-- I work in sales and am also a member of the Team Realtree pro staff. I love to hunt, fish and anything else having to do with the great outdoors. I started hunting at an early age, teaming up with my father and grandfather. From hunting skills to hunter’s safety, they taught me everything they knew about the sport, and I am forever grateful for it. As the years went by, I was introduced to turkey hunting by some friends, and as my skills grew, I found myself working for a major call company. This led to doing seminars and eventually a great relationship with the folks at Realtree.
On several hunts with my dad and grandfather, the subject of eventually going on an elk hunt would often arise. As the years went by, it was apparent my dad would never be able to make such a trip because of the wounds he received in the Korean War. Later in life, cancer caught up to him. That is when he called to tell me he had something he wanted me to have. That "something" was a check that was only be used to book a topnotch elk hunt.
I have since taken that trip. It was a wonderful gift from a great man.
I arrived a day before the hunt began. The excitement in camp was evident, especially for first-time elk hunters like myself. As more and more hunters arrived, the excitement kept building with great stories of past hunts. As I continued listening, I thought of how Dad would have enjoyed that time. I kept thinking about fulfilling a father’s dying wish. It was something we should have done together, but cancer kept from happening.
Later in the evening, my guide Eric Hamilton of Big Rack Outfitters talked about our game plan for the next day. And although my stomach turned with anticipation, the thought of Dad was always there.
I awoke that next morning to the smell of brewing coffee, and anxiously gathered my gear. Soon, Eric and I were going up a nearby mountain for our hunt. As we were setting up, we could already hear three different bulls bugling. We waited for about a half hour, but nothing came over the top of this ridge where we were sitting, so we decided to move along that same ridge to get in front of the elk. Then we saw two other hunters making a move on the same elk. We decided to pick up our gear and move to a different area.
Not much time had passed when all of a sudden, we spotted some cows coming over the top of a ridge. Eric saw something following them and said, "Steve, here comes a good shooter." Just as he said it, I spotted an awesome 6x6 following the cows.
The race was on, as it was now a matter of who was going to get to that bull first. He was on some neighboring property, so we had to wait for him to jump a fence onto ours.
In the meantime, we spotted the other hunters about 400 yards above the bull. We were about 400 yards below him.
There was a small ridge between us and the other hunters. All Eric and I could hope for was that the bull would follow the same path the cows had taken toward us and out of sight of the other hunters. We watched and waited as they tried to get into position for their shot. Luckily, the bull continued following the cows, which had jumped the fence onto our property.
As I waited for my shot, it seemed to take forever for the bull to follow and jump that fence. As he finally crossed over, Eric shouted to take my shot! The first shot rang out and my Federal 160-grain Trophy Bonded bullet found its mark at 325 yards, broadside. I watched in amazement as the bull dropped, then got back up and started up the ridge. Eric said, "Hit him again," so I fired once more. The bull stumbled, but as we watched, it appeared he was going to jump the fence and get back on the other side. So I shot again, but this time I missed. The bullet hit the ground in front of him, but it made the him turn back and drop. At that point, Eric shouted, "You got him! He’s down!"
It was an unbelievable feeling. I felt my dad’s presence right there with me. It was dream we shared and one I finally fulfilled.
This one’s for you, Dad!
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