THE DINOSAUR BULL
by Allen Schimberg
Let me begin my story by telling you that my brother and best friend Matt Schimberg, owns Arizona Strip Bucks LLC and is an incredible hunter and hunting guide, killing some of the largest and most incredible bucks and bulls around! That said, when I drew the coveted Arizona Unit 10 early rifle Bull Elk tag in 2012, I knew who to call. Matt has always been a personal hero of mine due to the fact that he does what he does driven solely on passion, and has never served anyone or anything other than God and his dreams. He is driven to excellence in all he has ever done and he always inspires those around him! When I drew this elk tag, I knew it would be a lasting lifelong memory!
It all started in Spring of 2012 when it came time to submit applications for elk to the AZ Game and Fish. I was certain that I would not be drawing a tag because I had drawn and filled a bull elk tag in 2011. This year I put myself in for premier hunts, and put my wife in for cow elk. Around April I noticed that my credit card had been hit for a charge to the Game and Fish Dept. for the price of an elk tag. I was positive that my wife had drawn a cow tag and began thinking we would be getting her ready to successfully take her first big game. You can imagine my surprise when the results were posted and I saw that it was I who had drawn, and not just drawn but WON THE LOTTERY! I about had a heart attack when I looked at the Game and Fish website and saw Unit 10 Early Rifle. I immediately sent a picture of the webpage to my brother……He was equally stoked!
Talks and preparation began immediately! Weaponry, Finances were a couple of the topics covered and planned for. Scouting season was upon us in no time and we began burning fuel and finding prospect bulls without problem. Finally the season was nearing and I was ready. I had been lent a Christiansen Arms .300 Ultra Mag from a good friend Casey Carr, who also guides for AZ Strip Bucks. While scouting, I spent lots of time with this rifle getting to know it and stretching my distance. I had taken almost 3 weeks off work and headed up to unit 10 for the final scouting. We established a home base with some other friends that were currently hunting the archery hunt and began forming our final plans. Home base turned more into a place we regrouped very infrequently, as we basically lived out of our trucks and bedrolls for the next two weeks. Anyone who has scouted with AZ Strip Bucks knows that “camp” is a luxury that is not a priority! The energy and anticipation grew as we saw good bulls every morning and evening. Every day we would get up very early and mash to the top of whatever was highest in the area and spend hours behind the glass. Our focus condensed on a large bull that I spotted 3 days prior to opening morning. The country this giant 6×6 called home was difficult at best to cover. Casey Carr and I remained hunkered in the area for 2 days to keep eyes on the monster. Matt and Bob Dykeman decided to go to the opposite side of the unit to check some country they hadn’t ruled out yet.
Two evenings before my hunt opened, after it had gotten dark, a text message popped up on my phone that just said, “Found a freak! Call me ASAP!” Upon the call, Matt stated they had found something worth abandoning the bull Casey and I had been watching, and had video of it to show us. We made a plan to meet at the home base. I don’t think I have ever driven so fast in all my life. We all converged at my brother’s trailer to view the footage and what I saw blew me away. When Matt pushed the play button on his laptop the screen showed several cow elk grazing in a clearing surrounded by cedar trees. Suddenly, out lumbered what initially appeared to be a dinosaur that had cross bred with a bull elk. All I saw was a massive palmated horn that resembled Poseidon’s Trident! This bull was huge! Not only huge but very unique. The kind of bull that a guy will only get one chance in a lifetime to kill! I was pumped up! It was unanimous. This was our bull.
The evening before opening morning was upon us rapidly. We had moved our basecamp to a closer location at the last minute. Ben Wells joined Matt, Casey, Bob, and me at camp. I readied my equipment perfectly. Matt and I talked about the hunt and the bull into the night. I remember also thinking that I should be sleeping and getting rest but I just couldn’t find myself tired enough. I was amped up and it seemed like I layed awake all night. Morning came quick!
It was day one of my trophy bull hunt. Matt, Bob, and I headed out to our little goldmine of a spot early. Casey and Benny took to the highest and only point around that offered a view of the bull which was about 4.5 miles away as the crow flies. We walked and crept quietly to the location we had seen the giant just the night before. We settled in under some cedars and awaited first light. Once the horizon grayed just enough to see slightly, we all commenced to glassing intensely. We were sure the beast would reveal himself in all his glory soon……we were wrong! Time passed behind the glass and the big bull was a no show. We switched tactics a bit. Matt and I slowly moved our vantage point, which was not great anywhere in the area. A rather large ravine snaked through the country we were sure he was in. Matt believed the herd was probably hunkered down in the ravine. We spent the next hour or so slowly creeping across what seemed to be more like antelope country, trying to get any vantage we could into the ravine. Bob skirted around to our south to get eyes on some other country in case they had moved overnight. In my mind I just kept thinking that the elk had taken for different country and would not be found. Worry set in.
Finally after more hours had passed my brother Matt’s instinct paid off. He spotted a cow in some shade on the side of the ravine, just like he had thought. Matt’s ability to make the right decisions proved true and I was impressed in our tactics. We decided that we would hold up in an area and wait them out. Matt knew they would eventually get up for water at some point. We set up shop under some small cedar brush in the area and waited. It was September in Arizona, and it was hot. The hours seemed to move by like frozen molasses. Matt communicated with Casey and Benny up on the mountain, and Bob on the ground. They were painstakingly scanning for any movement the whole time. After what seemed days had passed, Casey announced he saw elk. A short time later, Casey and Benny had the bull in view. Matt and I began our stalk. We moved ever so slow and quietly until we finally caught a glimpse. When I first put my eyes on him at a closer range, I was floored at his size. We made some adjustments to our location and then I heard the words from my bro….”here is your shot bro, get situated”. My nerves ramped up and my heartbeat hit the speed of light. I hunkered down and was getting ready when Matt told me he had him ranged at 550 yards. I got my scope on him and was dialing it in when the massive rack turned our direction. I took one deep breath and squeezed.
The dust settled and Matt said, “You hit him”! Hearing those words felt incredible. However, the bull didn’t fall. He moved a short way and stopped, obviously wounded and obstructed. Matt and I retreated and began to rapidly gain access to a better location for another shot. Casey and Benny were giving us frequent updates on the bull’s status. Once we moved around to the south and approached again, I laid eyes on the giant again, this time at 75 yards. I shouldered the rifle, took an extra second, and the bull hit the ground. I had a dry mouth, and a rapid heart rate. Adrenaline dumped through my veins and I felt I could climb Everest at that fine moment. We gave it a few minutes and slowly approached my trophy! Once I walked up on the behemoth, the true size and uniqueness of his massive rack fully weighed upon me. This bull was huge and was mine! Matt and I celebrated like only brothers can….a great big hug! Although this hunt required commitment and dedication from all involved, I was truly honored to be sharing that moment with Matt, my brother and my best friend! We hailed the boys from the mountain and commenced to celebrating as a team.
I really cannot express the emotion behind not just dropping such a giant, but getting to share this experience with Matt, and everyone involved. My deepest gratitude goes out to the Good Lord, my wife Sarah, daughters Lilya and Bella for their support, and Arizona Strip Bucks, Matt Schimberg, Bob Dykeman, Casey Carr, Benny Wells, Todd Geiler, Ronnie Halford, Scott Westlake, Brooks Cameron, and Dan and Cheri Lynn Blair.