The Meat Bull

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The Meat Bull

A strange coffee symbol popped up on the truck gauge for the hundredth time. The new model, borrowed Ford was telling me to take a break – probably because I had been running it through the night for about 19 hours of straight driving and was now slightly swerving between the lanes. Not because I was tired, but because I was gawking at the landscape, racking my brain of old memories of guiding in this part of the Southwest between seasons in Montana. Those days now felt like a long time ago.

A Return to My Routes

I spent about five years guiding around here for an outfitter before opening my own guiding operation and always wanted to hunt it for myself. I put guys on more bulls than I can remember, but I always thought this country would be fun to hunt with a bow in my hand. With ten years since my last trip here, I finally squeezed in the time to make it happen.

After what seemed like a long, caffeine-assisted drive, I rolled into a little gas station where I met my friend Charles Gonzales, who grew up around the area. I also met up with my friends Tyler, Zach, and Nick. They drove in from Columbia, MO, and were planning on filming the trip for MEAT!, a processing company I work with a lot.

When it comes to big bull stories, I think most start out with the hunter in the best area, planning on passing lots of bulls, scouting, and picking out a bull from a bunch of potential candidates. This hunt was none of those things. In all honesty, we actually filmed making dehydrated meals at my house months before because I thought that there was a good chance we would not be successful and there probably would not be a lot of action. I wanted to make sure we got something to edit, and dehydrated meals and fruit leather how-tos seemed like a good backup plan.

I really picked this area because I wanted to hunt here. I went with the early season because I wanted better odds of a tag, and I knew there were a few good bulls and a chance at 280-300-type elk. I was not planning on being very picky, and if it came down to it, I was going to shoot a cow on the either-sex tag, but I really wanted to focus on finding a mature six-point if we could for the first part of the hunt.

Party of Five

Opening morning found us in a spot where Charles took an amazing bull a few years prior. As the sun came up, I spotted a bull across the way. Shortly after, the bugles started to erupt in the basin.

It was on! Three six-point bulls emerged in the opening, sparring and doing their thing as elk sounded off. For the first of September, you could not ask for more.

It was really a perfect storm of events to tee up the season. There was an incredible amount of moisture in the area, a relatively light winter, and cold temps early, plus, no moon at night.

We let off a few calls and got another response pretty close. It was going to be a great morning. Now to just get within bow range of a bull with five of us… that was going to be a new challenge for me. Most of the time, I film by myself. That may already seem difficult, but for some reason, getting this on film sounded more difficult with everyone there. On the flip side, I wanted to hunt with everyone, so the added difficulty was a worthwhile trade-off.


It seemed like with the way the morning started off, we would be in bulls in no time. However, by the time we worked the close bull that slipped away and made it over to the big group a few miles away, they had shut down. The action ceased, but that was OK because we knew the evening was going to pick up.

Man, were we wrong. A massive rainstorm moved in and dumped more water than I have seen in a long time. We were soaked through our rain gear, and when we got back to the UTV, there was close to 10 inches of standing water in the bottom. The creeks flash flooded and the elk stayed quiet until dark.

On day two, the morning was quiet. We got into the zone early, but the elk were not there. We got a lone bugle across the valley, and the bull stepped out into a small burn. I felt like I probably could have gotten on him, but I did not even want to go over there and tempt myself after seeing some good bulls the day prior.

That evening started off slow, but the weather cleared and the bulls fired back up. We ended up spotting some bulls and could not reach them before dark, but we now had a good plan for the next morning.

7x7 Day

That morning, well before daylight, we hiked into the spot where we put the bulls to bed the night before. At daybreak, we got them fired up and moved in. One bull was actively screaming across the way, so we decided to drop down and go after him.

It was one of those scenarios where the bull was on a point across the canyon, would bugle, then go back on the other side and bugle. He wasn’t going to budge, so we hustled after him. As we hit the bottom, I let out a long cow call, and that got his attention. He got fired back up and we hustled up the other side to get into position.

The mountain was steep and thick. We needed an opening, and I did not want to call in a bull and have no shots. We moved to a small burn as the bull bugled, not far away. As we just crossed a small overgrown logging cut 15 yards from where we needed to be, the bull ripped a bugle 40 yards away, below us.

We were caught in the thick cover with no shot as the bull circled around to 20 before busting out and running away. It was a great bull, and we felt defeated.

It was a bad beat – so close, yet so far away. A matter of seconds would have been the difference. Stopping sooner or moving sooner would have made for a dead bull. I have hunted elk enough to know that many times, you might only get one opportunity on a trip, and that felt like our opportunity.

It was now mid-morning and everything was dead. We debated a possible new course of action. I pulled out my goHUNT map on my phone and looked over possible bedding areas. One was a decent hike from us, but it seemed like a good spot. We worked that way with a plan to call to a bedded bull by moving and calling, hoping to strike up a lone elk and catch him off guard.

We worked up the steep hill, moving, calling, moving, calling, with a mixture of cow calls and bugles. We hit an old overgrown logging road and started to work down it, calling every couple hundred yards.

At one point we stopped for a snack break and water. It was fairly steep to that point. I joked around about the bull we almost got, telling them that to make a good film, you have to have something not work out to build character.

By this point, it was starting to warm up, but I felt that calling and moving was the best use of our time. The country was thick, and with the bulls still separated from the cows, I felt like if we got in close to one while still hunting, we would be able to call him in.

200 yards from this spot, I let out a cow call, and a bugle rang back in the distance shortly after. Not knowing if the bull was just bugling on his own or responding to my call, I waited, then gave him the same call that got the other bull fired up earlier that day.

The bull immediately screamed back, half the distance from his first bugle. It was a quick dash to get into position. The bull was coming!

Tyler and Nick jumped into the brush, and Zach and I got to a point to set up as Zach filmed. It all happened fast… 45 seconds after that bugle, I caught antler tips of a giant bull coming our way, screaming!

It was on. I knew that I could call this bull into our laps. He popped out on the logging road, 47 yards away but behind a ton of brush. Just as he hit that spot, the wind started to swirl. The bull nosed into the air, trying to sniff out the cows he thought were near.

I knew it was now or never. I had one football-sized opening that lined up with the broadside bull’s vitals. I quickly drew and settled in at the same time that the bull started to step. I called, and he stopped as I scooted over to get a better angle at full draw.

I settled in and said, “Man, I hope I don’t hit the branch,” as I simultaneously used my other pin to check the clearance of the brush. I quickly lined it up and released, threading the needle into the bull.

The shot sounded good, and I immediately bugled with the reed I had in my mouth. I heard crashing but had no way of seeing if my arrow found its mark. It felt good, but I didn’t want to jinx it.  The other guys came over, and within a few minutes of the shot, we heard the bull take his last breath.

We gave it a little more time, then I went over to find my arrow. There, lying 15 yards from where he was standing at the shot, was the largest bull I had ever taken, possibly ever seen, while hunting!

I knew the bull was big, but I really did not know how big. As I walked up to him, my brain had trouble computing what I was seeing. The tines just kept going… SEVEN… it clicked in my mind as I picked him up.

He was perfectly symmetrical, long-tined, and huge. Never in a million years would I have thought I was going to kill a bull like this on this hunt. The four of us were in disbelief of the incredible elk that lay before us.

When I looked at the bull, I had to really soak it in. The rarity of a moment like that did not escape me. I have spent almost my entire adult life guiding and hunting nearly every day in the elk season. While most of the areas I hunt are general units, in the thousands of days doing it, this is the first time a bull of that caliber has walked in like that – a bull that I would most definitely shoot on any premier limited-draw hunt in the West – and here I was punching a tag on a bull of a caliber I never expected.

My motto most of my life has been that I generally find success at the intersection of persistence and luck. On this day, the two collided hard, all the right moves were made, and the end result is a day I will never forget.


Remi Warren

Remi is one of the most extreme and well-traveled mountain hunters in the game. As a TV host for Solo Hunter, Remi tackles the mountain alone with nothing but his gear and camera. Remi has guided and hunted throughout the United States and abroad. He is a lifelong resident of Nevada and enjoys sharing every aspect of his adventures from the travel to cooking and eating the game he harvests. Remi’s articles and content are a valued aspect of Western Hunter.

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