Editor’s Note: Corky Richardson of Laveen, Arizona, either has guided or hunted for himself on about 200 elk hunts and has harvested numerous bull elk. On many of the elk hunts that Richardson has guided or been on, his dad, George Richardson, or his wife, Cindi, have been there. Richardson also guides hunters to take free-ranging buffalo with their bows.
I wanted to go on a hunt with just my dad; so, the two of us went to the San Carlos Apache Reservation in central Arizona. We hired a local guide to go with us. The reservation has two portions of elk season there. We chose to hunt the first season (pre-rut), because the second season was more of a rut hunt. We had a really-tough hunt for 3 days from before daylight until after dark but never saw an elk. On the next-to-the-last day of our hunt, we found some elk. After an early-morning hunt on the last day, we went up to this place where we thought the elk would be. The weather had turned cold, and that area received some hail. We felt certain the elk would be active. We drove there, got out of the truck had and hadn’t gone very far before we heard some elk bugle.
I went one way to get to the elk. Dad and the guide went in the opposite direction. About 2-1/2 hours and 3-miles later, I positioned myself close to a bull bugling in his bed. I got in close enough to take a shot at the elk, and my arrow went all the way through the elk. Before I shot the bull, he was continuously bugling to another elk above me. Once the elk took the arrow, he ran up the hill toward the other bull that had been bugling. As the elk ran off, I just sat down and begin to think that I wished my dad was there. I hadn’t seen him in about 2 hours. I thought to myself, “If my dad had been with me, I could’ve sent him up the mountain to sneak in on the other elk that was bugling to the bull that I just shot.”
Of course, when I shot my bull, he couldn’t bugle anymore. The other elk on the mountain quit bugling also. I found the blood trail. I just sat down where I had shot the bull and gave him about 30 minutes. I was saying a prayer to thank the Good Lord that I was able to hunt, to be out in His creation, and to hunt with my dad as long as I’d hunted with him. As I ended my prayer, I heard some people talking. We were way back in the wilderness area. I thought that had to be somebody in my party or hikers, because I was a long way from camp. “If it’s hikers I hear, I need to get their attention to tell them that I have a big bull down,” I thought. “Then once they get to the trailhead where I expect my dad and the guide to be, they can tell them where I am. So, Dad and the guide can bring the truck to me.” As I got closer, I realized the voices were my dad and the guide.
Instantly, I knew there must be a problem. My dad always had taught me to have a reverence in the woods and never talk above a whisper, so I wouldn’t disturb anything around me. As I got closer, I yelled, “Hey, I’ve got one.” Immediately, I heard my dad yell, “Yeah, he’s a 7×7.” I yelled back, “Yeah he’s a 7×7.” Because my dad and the guide were up the mountain from me and on the trail that my elk had taken after I had shot him, I thought, “Well, they must have found my elk.” But I really thought that idea was odd, because my elk hadn’t really headed straight for the direction from where they were coming. I took about three steps from where I’d been sitting and could see that my bull was down. So, I yelled to my dad, “The bull is down here.” My dad yelled back, “No, he’s up here.” Then I yelled, “I’m looking at my bull, and he’s down here.” Then Dad yelled back, “We’re looking at our bull, and he’s up here.”
Apparently, my dad and the guide had heard the same elk bugling back and forth that I had heard. So for 2-1/2-hours, they had been sneaking up on the bull up the mountain, while I was stalking the bull down in the bottom. Apparently, at the exact same time that I shot my elk, Dad had shot the other elk. My elk went uphill and went down. Dad’s elk came down the mountain and died. So, my dad and I both had taken 7×7 bulls that went down within 200 yards of each other, and we hadn’t seen each other in 2-1/2-hours. This elk hunt was probably the coolest one I’d ever had in my life. We both shot our bulls with bows.
To learn more about hunting elk successfully, check out John E. Phillips’ book, “Elk: Keys to 25 Hunters’ Success,” available in Kindle, print and Audible versions at https://amzn.to/2IDszQk. You may have to copy and paste this click into your browser. (When you click on this book, notice on the left where Amazon allows you to read and hear 10% of the book for free). On the right side of the page and below the offer for a free Audible trial, you can click on Buy the Audible with one click.