“3rd time is a Charm” by Josh Bearrs
The 2012 Colorado Muzzle Loader season ended with me filling my tag with the biggest bull I have ever shot. But to tell you the full story, I have to start back in 2003. My brother, James Bearss, and our friend, Dayton Madison, had been in Southern Colorado and kept seeing people shoot big bulls. We kept seeing these big bulls out of Southern Colorado. We decided that we needed to save our many preference points to have a chance at one of them. We started making plans for James and me to do a hunt together, and for Dayton to guide us, since he had hunted moose in that area. But as the year went on, the excitement had waned, and James was tragically killed in a car accident in December of 2004. After the dream hunt slowly faded to the back of my mind, I didn’t really think about, or even want to do it until I put in for the tag this year. That was a bittersweet feeling, because it brought up the idea of the Dream Hunt with my brother and Dayton. With the encouragement and pressure from family, I decided to go for it and began gearing up.
Opening day was upon us, and Dayton and I had borrowed an atv and slept in the truck next to the trail so we could be the first to hit the trail in the morning. We woke up at 4am to the sound of 12 atvs beating us up the trail. We started day 1 with the feeling of discouragement. Never the less, this was opening day and we’d make the best of it. Less than a mile up the trail, we snapped the rear axle on the borrowed atv. That literally took the wind out of our sails. We decided to get the atv back to the truck to regroup and make a new plan. After hitting the truck and looking at some topo maps, we went to plan B and headed for the opposite end of our hunting area, which had no road or atv access at all. That afternoon, we hiked in 7 mi to the most amazing country I had ever seen. I was hard-pressed to enjoy it, since I was carrying what felt like 250lbs up the hill. It was late, and we decided to set up camp and glass some back bowls. Not 2 minutes into sitting there, we had already spotted 2 large bulls and a lot of cows. Not wanting to spook anything, we decided to duck back to camp and turn in early so we could get an early start the next morning. Trying to sleep that night was hard with so much excitement. But waking up the next morning and putting on the gear was surreal. Dayton and I wanted to fulfill this dream. That was the first morning I was within 5 yards of a bull elk. We passed up quite a few animals, because they weren’t as big as we were hoping for.
That night, we finally called in a big bull. Dayton was set up behind me calling. I knelt on the game trail as the biggest bull I had ever seen came toward me screaming like a dinosaur. I did everything I practiced, the bull was coming straight toward me, I found the middle of this chest and squeezed off my round. Slap I hit it! We followed the blood trail as far as we could, but it grew dark, and we headed back to camp. It was HARD to sleep, not knowing if I had killed or wounded that bull. I was unsettled. We got up early the next day and started retracing our steps on the blood trail. We combed the mountain for the rest of the day, but lost the trail and determined the frontal shot I made at 19 yards with a 50 cal 245 Grain Aero tip Powerbelt did not penetrate to the vitals. Lesson learned…no more Powerbelts for me!
Over the next couple days, we covered a lot of ground and got to look at the amazing country. We looked at a lot of elk, but the wind kept foiling our plans of shooting anything. Then a big storm moved in and forced us to hike out for the night.
To read Josh’s full Colorado DIY Elk Hunt story purchase the 2013 Colorado ORG.