John’s Note: Cindi Richardson has been hunting almost 30 years and is considered one of the most-outstanding women hunters of our day. The Arizona Department of Conservation has a record that’s known as the Big 10, consisting of the 10 Arizona big game species. Cindi was the first person to accomplish taking Arizona’s Big 10, which now has become the Big 11, due to the Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep expanding its range into Arizona and having a viable population there.
Cindi Richardson has been hunting almost 30 years and is considered one of the most-outstanding women hunters of our day. On her own, Cindi has taken 14 elk with her bow, she holds the Arizona wild turkey record with a bow, and she has taken over 75 animals with her bow, with 40 of those classified as trophy animals.
The Big 10 consists of the Coues deer, mule deer, antelope, black bear, mountain lion, elk, desert sheep, bison (buffalo), javelina and wild turkey. Cindi took all these animals with PSE bows, particularly the.
Cindi helps her husband, Corky Richardson, also a well-known Western hunter, guide for elk, buffalo and mule deer. At one time, they guided as many as 12 elk hunters a season, but now they’re taking fewer hunters than in the past, and they mainly concentrate on bison and elk.
Usually, Cindi does the logistics of the hunt, including cooking and picking up and dropping off hunters at the airport. On her own, Cindi has taken 14 elk with her bow, she holds the Arizona wild turkey record with a bow, and she has taken over 75 animals with her bow, with 40 of those classified as trophy animals.
I had drawn an archery bull elk tag during the rut in the block units of Arizona.
I primarily hunted in 18A and 18B areas. I knew my odds for drawing a tag were better in this area than in other regions. Also, I knew there was a private ranch right next to this site where we could pay a trespass fee to hunt. This ranch was known for having big bull elk; mainly because, there was a lot of water on this private ranch.
My father-in-law, George, and I both had drawn tags for the same area. So, we decided to pay the trespass fee, which allowed us to hunt on this ranch for 7 days and also provided a guide for us. We just needed someone who knew the region and where the elk were likely to go. We were both confident in our ability to hunt and take elk.
Before I got this elk tag, I had put in for a tag for 7 consecutive years. I wanted to hunt this property, because I had harvested three bulls that net scored 350 or better on Pope and Young before, but I wanted to find and take a bull that would score between 375 and 380 on P & Y. This hunt would be my trophy elk hunt.
“The other guides started aggravating Kevin about getting stuck with the woman, as though Kevin was having to guide an inferior hunter – me.” ~ Cindi Richardson
Last summer just before the hunt, we had more rain than usual. This tag provided 3 weeks of hunting, and I opted not to hunt the first week of elk season and waited until the second week to go to the ranch. The first 2 or 3 days there we saw some elk. But because the ranch had had so much rain, the elk were more dispersed than normally, and we didn’t see a lot of big bulls. The guides on the property said they believed two factors were causing us not to see as many big elk as we generally would – the hunting pressure on the public land around the ranch and the abundance of water.
My husband, Corky, was with me. He was very frustrated, because we weren’t seeing the number of big elk we had expected to see. My father-in-law, George, was 76, and we really wanted him to get an elk also. We were getting so frustrated that Corky said, “Cindi, you need to lower your standard on the size elk you want to take. We’re not seeing many elk. You may want to consider taking a bull that is less than 375 or 380 inches.”
We decided that my guide, Kevin Passmore, and I would hunt together and Corky, our son, Russell, and George would hunt by themselves. I’m really grateful to my husband and my father-in-law for teaching me how to hunt elk, but sometimes they tend to want to over-coach me.
To be honest, I’d rather they hunt on their own and let me go with my guide.
Even though Corky taught me how to hunt elk, many times I had rather be by myself than have Corky pulling on my coattails telling me what to do. So, Kevin and I decided we would hunt together the next morning.
There were six other guides. Each guide was guiding one or two hunters each per day. The other guides started aggravating Kevin about getting stuck with the woman, as though Kevin was having to guide an inferior hunter – me. Kevin told me about the ribbing later. After the first day of hunting, at the guides’ meeting that night, he told the other guides, “Listen, my lady is tough. She can go harder and farther than your men hunters can.”
On the third day, we stopped the truck where we planned to start hunting. We could hear elk bugling all around us. If I had been with my husband, he would’ve said, “Let’s go, Cindi, we have to go catch up with those elk.”
I was surprised when Kevin announced, “We’re not going to chase those elk. We’re going to back out of here, circle around the mountain and try to get in front of them. We’ll go to a place where I think they are headed.”
I knew from having hunted elk for many years that once you started chasing elk, those critters were tough to keep up with, even when they were walking, and you’d have to run fairly fast just to keep up with them.
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About the Author
John Phillips, winner of the 2012 Homer Circle Fishing Award for outstanding fishing writer by the American Sportfishing Association (ASA) and the Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA), the 2008 Crossbow Communicator of the year and the 2007 Legendary Communicator chosen for induction into the National Fresh Water Hall of Fame, is a freelance writer (over 6,000 magazine articles for about 100 magazines and several thousand newspaper columns published), magazine editor, photographer for print media as well as industry catalogues (over 25,000 photos published), lecturer, outdoor consultant, marketing consultant, book author and daily internet content provider with an overview of the outdoors.