Sometimes it takes a little help from your friends to tag a trophy bull.
By Anthony Coffey
This Hunt started by sending in for The Kentucky Quota Elk Hunt. It was the 13th year I had applied for a permit, and I had begun to give up hope. When they released the results on their website on May 15th, I logged on just to make sure it still said, “Sorry, try again next year.”
I couldn’t believe my eyes when, instead, it was a message of congratulations. I had been drawn for second-week rifle bull tag!
I had met a fellow named Derrall in 2012, and I remembered him saying he knew some guys from far eastern Kentucky who had a lot of knowledge about the elk herd. I gave Derrall a call, and he put me in touch with Scott Pace.
I communicated with Scott on the phone and through Facebook for a few weeks. He told me Mark Doss would be my best bet to help out with the hunt. Mark had helped guide 23 people, and all had shot opportunities on the first day of their hunts.
I gave Mark a call to see if he was interested in helping out and to let him know we were going to film the hunt for Game Changers TV (Primal Instinct).
Mark knows his stuff. He said he had a good idea where the elk were hanging out, but he cautioned they would most likely be changing patterns due to hunting pressure. He said he would try to stay on top of things.
Meanwhile, I got in touch with cameraman Mike Back to make sure we had everything arranged for filming.
On Oct. 11th, the day before the hunt, I got up just like any other morning and left for work at 5:45 a.m. I counted the seconds until 3:30 p.m., when I clocked out and headed to Perry County to meet up with Scott, Mark and Mike. When I pulled in at Scott’s house, Mark pulled in right behind me.
It was a great group of guys, and we jumped right into some easy chatting and fun bantering. We went over the plan and the gear before heading out to get something to eat.
When we got back to Scott’s House, we went over the details again. Mark left to get some sleep, while Scott, Mike and I got all the gear packed and ready. It was 11:30 by the time we wished each other a good night.
When the alarm clock went off at 3 a.m., it seemed I had just laid down. We made it to the mountain by 5 o’clock, and by 5:30, we were hearing Bulls Bugle all around us in the dark. That continued right up until daylight.
We began to call as soon as we had enough light for filming. When none of the bulls would cooperate, we decided to hike out to another location where Mark had heard several bulls over the previous few weeks.
As we were walking out the old road we marveled at the obvious mature bull sign. Mark said, “Let’s see if we can get one to answer.”
When he hit the cow call, a bugle fired back immediately. It was a long way off, 600 yards or more, we figured.
Mike and I headed into the woods to get set up, while Scott and Mark stayed back about 40 yards to call and film. When mark called again, the answering bugle came from about 200 yards distant.
Mark continued to call, and continued to answer, getting closer every time. We got our first glimpse when he got to within 80 yards. My heart felt like it was beating out of my chest.
Our goal was to take a bull with at least 300 inches of antler. As soon as we saw him, nobody doubted for a second that it was a shooter.
When the Bull got to 30 yards, Mike gave me the okay to shoot. I settled the crosshairs on the vitals and slowly squeezed the trigger.
The monster elk just stood there like nothing had happened. Did I miss? I know I was a nervous wreck, but we’re talking about a bull elk at 30 yards. Who could miss?
I loaded another round into my 7mm mag. and shot again, hitting the elk in the shoulder. He ran 15 yards and went down.
Panic turned into elation as I realized I had filled my Kentucky elk tag with a bull of a lifetime.
When we walked down to my prize, I was still amazed. He was a 7x8 with a 50 2/8-inch spread; he looked huge!
Mark had really done his homework, and taking that elk with such a great group of guys made the whole experience twice as fantastic.