Editor’s Note: Forty-two-year-old Troy Grogan lived in Utah for 26 years. Then he moved to Farmington, New Mexico, 16-years ago. He’s been hunting elk for at least 28 years. “I like the Mossy Oak Brush pattern camo (https://store.mossyoak.com/camo-patterns/brush), because where I live in the West, there’s a lot of sage brush and cedars, and it really fits the open country where I hunt,” Grogan explains. He’s taken several mature bulls and also 30 cows and spikes.
I was hunting in the Gila National Forest (http://www.stateparks.com/gila.html) on September 18, 2011, on the last morning of my hunt. This was the first year I had hunted the Gila, and a friend of mine told me where to set-up our camp. We had elk bugling every day around our camp. But toward the end of the hunt, the elk weren’t bugling as much as they were at the first of the hunt.
I had decided to hunt behind the camp where we had heard bugling in the past. As I started walking away from camp, I heard an elk bugle. So, I went down the mountain we were camped on, walked across the canyon and started following the bugling bull. As I got closer, I saw a herd of cows. Although at one point, I was within 40 yards of the herd bull, he was gone before I could shoot. He went over the top of the ridge, and I followed him. I noticed that he was staying above the cows. Later, I discovered that he wasn’t the herd bull. He was a satellite bull. I stayed with him from just before first light until about 9:00 am. The bull stopped and turned back to go over the ridge from where he had just come. I was as still as I could be, and the bull walked past me at 18 yards. Once the bull walked behind some brush, and I knew he couldn’t see me, I came to full draw. When he walked out from behind the brush, he looked straight at me, and I released the arrow. On this hunt, I was using a Mathews Reezen 7.0 Bow (https://www.mathewsinc.com/), and I was shooting the original Rage broadhead www.ragebroadheads.com. My arrow flew true, and my broadhead cut the top of the bull’s heart. The bull only ran about 70 yards before he went down.
I knew I had made a good shot. I sat down and called my friend Dean Sanchez, who was hunting with me on this hunt. I waited for Dean to show up before I went to recover my bull. It took Dean about an hour to reach me. The bull had left a great blood trail, and he was easy to trail. That bull scored 349 inches. That’s the biggest bull I’ve ever taken, even though I’ve seen bigger.
After Dean and I got to the bull, I started cow calling, and the herd bull bugled. The bull started coming up the ridge we were on, and I sat down on my elk. The bull came within 40 yards of Dean, but the woods were so thick that Dean couldn’t get off a shot. Dean said that the bull would score 370 or more. He was huge. The fourth point on each antler, often called the sabers, was really, really long. My brother Calvin wasn’t with us on this hunt. So, Dean and I had to debone my elk and carry it out. We had to make two trips each to get the cape, the horns and the deboned meat out.
To learn more about John’s elk books go to https://johninthewild.com/books. Also, John’s latest elk book, now available, is titled, “Elk: Keys to 25 Hunters’ Success.” To get John and Denise Phillips’ free cookbook, “Miz Denise’s Outdoor Cooking: More Than 35 Recipes for Elk and Mule Deer,” go to https://johninthewild.com/free-books.
Tomorrow: A Long Bow Shot on a Bull Elk in a National Forest