To hunt game in Utah and most other states, you’re required to obtain a license. However, certain situations call for a permit, as well. See the differences between a hunting license and a permit.
Hunting Licenses Vs. Permits
A license allows you to hunt big game or fish in a sovereign state, whereas a permit is something needed, in addition to a license to hunt for certain species, such as:
Rocky Mountain goat
Why do I Need a License?
The history of hunting licenses goes back a millennium, with William the Conqueror in 1070 AD, England, which then spread throughout the world. A few reasons for needing a hunting license include public safety—especially regarding children, both as bystanders and hunters. It’s also used for the regulation and conservation of wild animals and allows for revenue for the sovereign state. It also helps contain the transmission of animal-borne diseases (rabies and Lyme disease, notably).
A basic hunting license allows you to hunt small game, which includes most species of waterfowl and upland game. If you plan on fishing, you also need a license, and there are different types to meet the needs of different anglers.
Obtaining a license can be purchased online and are valid for a full year from the date of purchase.
How do I Obtain a Permit?
Look at a hunting guidebook, which is available at the wildlife.utah.go website for the species you want to hunt in the state, or check out your state website for more information. It will indicate whether you need to apply for a permit in the state’s hunt drawing. In Utah, drawings include:
Bear – Black bear
Big game – Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, desert bighorn sheep, Rocky Mountain goat, buck, bison, deer, elk, moose, and pronghorn
Antlerless – Deer, elk, moose, and doe pronghorn
Crane, grouse, and swan – Sandhill crane, sharp-tailed grouse, greater sage-grouse, and tundra swan
Sportsman – Rocky Mountain bighorn, elk, moose, desert bighorn sheep, bear, bison, cougar, turkey, goat, deer, and pronghorn (one permit for each species)
Turkey – Wild turkey
You can apply for a permit from a drawing two ways: visit the online application website during an application period on the wildlife.utah.go website and call or visit the DWR office during the application period. If you live in Utah, before you apply for a permit, ensure you meet Utah’s hunter education, age, and license requirements. There are also regulations to qualify for being a resident.
During the application, you will be instructed and have several opportunities to review your hunt choices. Keep in mind; you can apply anytime during the open application period. If you have a group, check to see if you can apply with the other hunters.
Call R&K Hunting to Book Your Hunt
Once you obtain your license, give us a call and let us match you with the perfect hunting guide. Our experts are licensed and insured, as well as experienced hunters who know the best places to hunt, to give you the most successful chances of bringing home big game. Contact us to learn more.
I want to thank you for the outstanding Moose Hunt that you guided my brother Alan. The entire operation that you run is by far the best outfit that I know of. The crew that you have employed from the guides to the cooks are some of the nicest and most respectful people that I have ever encountered in my hunting travels. The accommodations are very comfortable and the food was terrific. I plan on hunting with you again and would welcome anyone to call me for a reference on your operation. CHINBERG1 I would like to share a brief recap of the events as they occurred on the hunt:
I’m 52 years old and I was blessed to be introduced to hunting and fishing by my father at a very early age. My father started my twin brother Alan and I out in the outdoors when we were five. We accompanied him fishing and hunting in Northern New Mexico and received our first shotguns at the age of ten years old. My dad was a terrific role model and taught us everything about the outdoors. I learned at an early age that the outdoors was where I wanted to spend my free time. We started out on small game and worked out way up. We were very fortunate to experience hunting and fishing in Northern New Mexico. Alan and I spent considerable time backpacking for Mule deer and Elk in Northern Idaho. We had the good fortune of having met a very dear friend in Lewiston Idaho who showed us a very remote area that harbored a very good elk population. We only saw a handful of hunters in ten years of backpacking. Alan and I were successful and we had the rewarding experience of doing it the hard way. We also have hunted elk and whitetails in Montana with some great friends. I have also been on a guided elk hunt in New Mexico and was lucky enough to harvest a 7 x 7 that scored 355 BC.
We arrived on Sunday mid day and met Justin Richins who was going to film the hunt. Alan, myself, Justin and Daniel loaded up out gear and hit the road for a short drive to a pull out where we unloaded the Polaris Ranger. Daniel informed me that a very large bull had been seen a couple of days earlier. This was the bull we were after as Daniel felt that it would score very high in the record books. We hiked into a canyon and started glassing a very thick dense oak brushed hillside. We had a very large bull elk and a couple of cows walk out of the thick brush a couple of hundred yards away. It was really cool to watch them feeding across the ridge. Daniel took off on a long hike around the canyon to try and locate the bull. Later that day Daniel thought he caught site of a Bull Moose in the thick brush across the canyon. The sun went down and we hiked back to the Polaris. We enjoyed a fantastic dinner back at the main camp and swapped hunting stories with some new friends and other hunters Ken and Tom. It was great to hear the stories and share our experiences. The next day I was worried that we might not find the large bull that Daniel had seen, Alan calmed me down and said we would get him and not to worry. The next day Daniel and I split up from Alan and Justin and started glassing. We jumped a small Bull Moose and it was amazing how he just melted away in the brush. This country is really deceiving as the brush is very thick. Daniel and I looked in several canyons and as I was looking down one finger Daniel spotted the Bull we were after. We quickly glassed the bull for confirmation and backed away over the ridge. Daniel gave Alan and Justin hand signals and waved them over. We then eased our way over the ridge and I set up my 300 Weatherby on my Harris bipods. I was shooting 180 grain Nosler partition bullets. We ranged the bull at 310 yards at about a forty degree angle. Justin set up the video camera and Daniel said take him when your ready. Daniel was calming me down saying take your time you can make that shot all day long. I slowed my breathing down and timed my shot between heartbeats. I drilled the bull in the shoulder and he spun around a maple tree. The brush is very thick and very tall, it is almost impossible to crawl through. The bull started for the brush and I drilled him again through the shoulder. Then the bull spun around and collapsed. I don’t even remember sliding the bolt back and forth. It all seemed like slow motion. Daniel, Justin and Alan started yelling about how big the bull was. I remember this humble feeling that came over me and how fortunate I was to be able to harvest this tremendous moose. We took alot of pictures and Daniel drove the Polaris Ranger down the mountain right to the bull. We hooked up a block and tackle and jerked it into the back of the ranger. It was amazing to see this huge bull in the back of the bed. Alan and I decided right then to sell our quads and buy a Polaris Ranger.
CHINBERG2 I have just received the official score from the Safari Club International and the moose scored ‘SCI score 424-5/8 and BC gross 180-1/2 with a net of 172-1/4. which places it 7th in the top ten all time Shirus Moose. Number 6 is 425-1/8” and this includes Moose in Canada too. UNBELIEVABLE when you think of the odds of harvesting this moose. The bull is number 1 for Utah is SCI, and will scored extremely high in Boone and Crocket too. I want to thank everyone that helped and especially Daniel for this outstanding experience
It was awesome having my brother Alan along at my side to enjoy the hunt and experience the thrill of ten lifetimes. We will never forget this event and I’m sure when were sitting in our rocking chairs later in life this story will always come up.
I would like to dedicate the harvest of this Bull Moose to the young men and women serving in our armed forces around the world that protect our freedom and provide us with the privilege to hunt and fish.
Hunting, as a sport, runs the spectrum of physical challenge. It can be done from a chair on a front porch with only a slight increase in heart rate just before a shot is fired, or hiking through the mountains in a storm it can be a demanding test of physical strength and cardiovascular endurance. Every year a significant number of hunters enter the field and are seriously injured or die from underestimating the rigors of hunting or overestimating their own physical strength and endurance. While many of us hope that our last minutes of life could be spent hunting with family or friends on top of some pristine mountain, I would hate for this to occur prematurely for me or anyone else. With this in mind, this article will provide several important suggestions for assessing and preparing for the physical challenges of your upcoming hunt.
KNOWLEDGE IS KEY No rational person would enter a foot race without knowing where the race will be and how much distance the race will cover. Hunting should be no different. Whether you are booking a hunt with an outfitter or putting together a DYI hunt with family and friends, you should be asking several important questions before you enter the field. First, what are the altitude extremes where the hunt will occur? Altitude sickness can make you feel miserable at a minimum but can also be life threatening. For example, our operation has hunting properties that may average altitudes of 5,000 to 6,000 feet, but depending on the chase, we may be pursuing animals up to 10,200 feet. This can be a huge problem for someone from Ohio depending on their cardiac reserves and physical preparation. Terrain characteristics are another important consideration. Steep terrain at lower altitudes can be more challenging than a flat plateau at high altitudes. On steep terrain moving across side hills can be torture on weak ankles, especially without proper ankle support in the form of good, broken in, boots. Next, know the extremes of weather that may be encountered where the hunt will occur. Again, knowing average conditions may be helpful but you need to know what could happen if things really turn bad. Hunters need to prepare for a wide spectrum of hot or cold, wet or dry weather. Whole books have been written on preparing for extreme weather but as it relates to physical preparedness there are several simple important considerations. Hiking to the top of a peak on a cool fall morning may be a walk in the park, but if temperatures push up into the hot range this can push heart and muscles to the brink if hunters aren’t prepared. It is also important to carefully consider your exit strategy. Specifically you may be going in with a rifle or bow and a 20-pound daypack, but if the fates are with you, you may have to cover the same terrain and distance back out with a 100-pound elk hindquarter. I learned this lesson the hard way after spotting a nice mule deer buck bedded down 2,000 yards away across a valley and 1,000 yards below our camp one snowy day in the Utah Wasatch Mountains. Excited and traveling light I covered the distance through the rocky terrain and 3 feed of snow in about an hour. After a careful stalk and a well-placed bullet, I had a beautiful, 200-pound, Rocky Mountain mule deer at my feet. In my haste I had left my good knives in camp and was barely able to field dress the animal with the dull knife I found in my daypack. In short, it was getting dark and three of us had to carry the whole deer back to camp. I have never been so exhausted or come closer to losing my friendship with two close buddies.
APPLICATION OF KNOWLEDGE GAINED Armed with a good understanding of altitude, terrain and weather conditions, it is now time to apply this knowledge to you. We will focus on two specific areas: cardiovascular endurance and musculoskeletal strength and conditioning. The heart is what it is all about. It is what we aim for to accomplish a quick and humane kill and it is what hunters should focus on when preparing for a hunt of any physical nature. First, get to know your own heart history. Does heart disease run in your family, do you smoke, are you significantly overweight, do you have diabetes, high cholesterol or high blood pressure? With the exception of family history, you can and should do something about a yes answer to any of the above questions. Under your doctor’s guidance and with knowledge of your exciting, upcoming hunt, institute a heart-healthy plan for smoking cessation, exercise and a healthy diet. This may seem daunting but with your hunt as an incentive, you can feel better in even a few weeks of mild exercise and manageable changes in your diet. Hunt-specific exercise can begin simply with extended walks that progress to carrying a partially loaded backpack up gentle hills or stairs. Finally, mimic the backpack weight, distances, and if possible, the altitude of your anticipated hunt at least three times a week in the month before you hunt. Remember to stay well hydrated and learn how to regulate your temperature by layering clothes rather than wearing a single bulky jacket.
MUSCULOSKELETAL STRENGTH AND CONDITIONING While cardiac endurance is important, hunters can’t underestimate musculoskeletal strength and conditioning. Simply, you can have a great engine, but if you got no wheels, you won’t get far. Unstable ankles can lead to unstable knees which can lead to debilitating joint injuries that can ruin a hunt or risk your life. This is where hunting can be very different from other sports in that training on flat ground in tennis shoes might leave you ill prepared for hunting in steep terrain. Good ankle strength coupled with comfortable, broken-in boots can literally be a life saver. Invest in quality boots that are applicable to the weather and terrain conditions where you will be hunting. Backpacks add loads to joints that can increase the possibility of injury if joints and muscles aren’t conditioned to this additional strain. Though you may be laughed at by your running buddies, from the very start of your conditioning plan you should train in your carefully-selected hunting boots. This will allow the boots to be broken in prior to the hunt reducing the chance for hot spots and blisters. As mentioned above, train on gentle slopes gradually increasing the slope angle to help condition joints and muscles to lateral strain for hunting in steep terrain.
In summary, know your hunting destination: Altitude, terrain and weather. Under the consultation of your doctor, stop unhealthy habits and start a gradual exercise program. Condition for both cardiovascular and musculoskeletal endurance and strength. Mimic your hunting terrain as much as possible. Finally peak your training one month before the hunt. Remember, healthy hunting is fun hunting.
The excitement builds in all of us when we have a hunt planned, especially when it is a bow hunt. The anticipation nearly drives us all crazy as the days tick by waiting for the season to open. But are you ready? Do you have everything you will need?
As a guide for R&K Hunting Company, over the past 6 years I have been fortunate enough to have been involved in many bow hunts. I have met many wonderful people who are excited to be in camp, ready to hunt. Here are a few words of advice to those who are considering a bow hunt:
First off, be in the best shape you can be. The level of fitness you are in will directly contribute to your success in the field. Whether that means getting up a hill fast to get in front of a screaming bull, or just being able to log many miles a day for days at a time. This past fall a hunter and I chased bulls for 7 days straight. By the end of the week, we had gone 81 miles on our boots. When spot and stalk mule deer hunting, you may have to climb to the highest peak to glass up a buck. And then quickly get around the backside of the ridge before he feeds out of sight. This does not mean you have to be some Ironman triathlete. But the better shape you are in, the better chance you give yourself for success.
The next thing I would stress is practice shooting your bow. Make sure you feel confident in your shooting abilities. Sometimes we will get people out who have only shot their bows in the last two weeks. Don’t be that guy. You need to practice enough that when that moment of truth comes, it is automatic. So when that bull you’ve been waiting for all week comes screaming in through the trees and stops, all you are thinking about is picking a spot. Practice at long distances, 60, 70, even 80 yards, and when you get that shot at 40 yards it will be easy. Practice from all sorts of positions. I have noticed that rarely do you get a shot standing perfectly straight away, like at the range. Many shots are leaning around trees and kneeling. We will always have targets in camp to practice with during your time there. You never know when a sight might need to be adjusted.
The pressure of the moment, is something I have noticed, many of my hunters are not quite ready for. It may be their first time out west, and nothing gets a persons heart going more than a bugling bull at 10 yards. I have had a hunter sail an arrow over the back of a giant bull at 30 yards. I’ve watched as my hunter shot a big buck right in the antler. We can all lose our concentration at times. But this is what you come for, the excitement of getting close. So when that big old buck stands out of his bed, or a monster bull comes crashing through the trees, try to focus on the shot you have worked so hard for. Take a breath, pick a spot, and release. You will have plenty of time later to check out the antlers when he is on the ground.
When coming out on a bow hunt there are a few items I would recommend you bring along. Your guide will have a rangefinder, but there will be situations when he many not be able to let you know the range. This happens quite often on elk hunts when your guide may be back behind you calling. So bring your own along. Optics are a big plus. Especially if you are hunting mule deer. I would bring a quality pair of binoculars in the 10x range. Leave your spotting scope at home. Your guide will have one and you do not need to be carrying around the extra weight. If you are elk hunting bring along some calls. A bugle, and a few cow calls. Again your guide will have these, but there will be times when you may need them, and its part of the hunt you don’t want to miss out on.
Make sure you do not bring a brand new pair of boots, or cotton socks. Synthetics or wool blend socks are what you need for support and comfort. I had a hunter once come with boots right out the box. He never complained once. I had no idea he had a 3” blister on the the bottom of his foot, but I am sure it was incredibly painful. So break in your boots, bring a couple pairs of your favorite camo, and enjoy the ride.
Finally, come with the attitude to have fun. I get a client or two every so often that is so intent on killing something he misses out on the adventure. Don’t worry about what every animal is going to score. Try not to put too much pressure on yourself. Take in the beauty of the mountains, and the smell of the fresh air. You will have good times with new friends. And hopefully, in the end, you head home with the trophy you came for. And if not, it will still be the experience of a lifetime.
Three scouting trips and not a buck over 165″ to show for it. My hunter was coming in just over a week and I could not turn up a big buck. I was beginning to feel a little pressure. A film crew was coming to video this early season mule deer hunt, and I really wanted to find him the kind of buck this ranch had produced in the past. In fact, the year before I was lucky enough to have a tag and took a 197” muley buck.
I left my home 2 days before the hunt to try and find a shooter. Another guide and I went out that evening and were able to locate a great shooter buck. I was relieved; finally a buck worth shooting. The next morning we headed to the opposite end of the ranch to check a few spots we knew held deer. I was watching a west face about a mile away when I saw a deer in my binoculars. It was so far away, I switched to the spotting scope to discover it was a decent buck. I then saw another and another. Before long, 6 bucks were up and feeding on the hillside below some ribbon cliffs. Out of nowhere a giant buck stood from his bed. I immediately knew this was a buck of a lifetime. My buddy took a look and exclaimed, “that’s a stud!” And boy was he right. At that distance we could just tell he was big. I was pretty sure I could see a small cheater on his left, and an inline on his right, but I was not positive. We watched the herd of bucks until they bedded down, then headed back to camp. We now had two shooter bucks located for sure. A little pressure was gone. Back at camp I found out that due to a scheduling conflict, my hunter and the film crew were unable to make the hunt. At first I was frustrated that they could not make it and get this hunt on video. But after talking it over it was decided that my friend Tony and I would guide a different hunter together and hopefully be able to find this buck again.
Tony and I headed to town to pick up the new hunter. On the way to town I told Tony about the buck. When we arrived at the appointed gas station, we met our hunter Arnie for the first time. Initially, I was a little worried he might not make the tough climbs we had in store for him. But he sure did prove us wrong. This 61 year old was in shape and dedicated to shooting his best muley buck ever. Arnie was very excited about this hunt. I was also, but decided not to tell him about the buck we had seen for now.
In the dark as we traveled to our glassing point, Tony and I were able to get to know Arnie a bit better. He owns his own custom jewelry shop in California and tries to get out and hunt whenever he can; mostly blacktails in his home state. Though he had been after mule deer a few times in Wyoming, Colorado, Utah and Montana, he had yet to shoot a big one. He told us he was willing to hold out until the end if that’s what it was going to take to kill a giant. At that point I decided to let him know I had found the giant buck I wanted him to kill a few days earlier. I explained this deer lived in a very tough spot to hunt. The buck and his buddies were living way out on a ridge that was well over 800 yards to the next ridge over. I don’t know if Arnie really understood how hard it was going to be to kill this deer.
As the night turned to day we found ourselves behind our scopes searching for the buck. I was more than a little shocked that by noon we had located every one of the bucks but the big one. I realized then, it might not only be tough to get a shot at the buck, but also just to see him again.
That evening we all went back out and glassed the back side of the ridge. I was guessing that they would get up as the sun got on them and they would cross over onto the shaded side of the ridge. And that is exactly what happened. But once again, only the buck’s buddies were spotted. On the way back to camp I asked Arnie how long he was willing to hold out for this deer. I knew this was a difficult question to ask a hunter that had never seen the buck, so I explained that he really was that big. I also let him know that we would probably only get one chance at the buck. Arnie then told me he was willing to hunt for this deer until the last day, but would really like to get something. In fact he said, “that 4-point we saw this morning would do just fine.” Well the next morning went the same as the first. Sightings of most of the same deer, but no big one. That evening we went back, only this time I sent Tony and Arnie down the ridge in case we saw him. In the evenings we were seeing the deer right at dark. We would not have had time to get down the ridge before dark. So the plan was to be in position in case the buck showed. Well the giant buck did not show, but we did see a possible shooter buck. I signaled to them to move down the ridge more, but by the time they got there the buck had slipped through the brush.
The next day was the same as the day before again. It was getting warmer every day. This was not turning into the easy kill of a giant buck hunt I previously thought it might be. We again decided to have me spot from afar, with Tony and Arnie down the ridge. Again we saw a bunch of the same deer, just not the big one. On the way back to camp Arnie said he was getting ready to kill a deer soon. We decided one more day on the big buck and then it was wide open.
As the sun dawned on the 4th day we found ourselves sticking once again to the plan. I watched Tony and Arnie hike down the ridge and then began glassing the far ridge. I immediately spotted the 4-point and 2-point that I had seen with the giant 6 days ago. After an hour, I had yet to see another buck. As I was checking out the 4-point for the hundredth time a buck stood up out of his bed. He had been in plane view the entire time but I could not see him. There stood the giant deer; there was no doubt in my mind. I quickly found Tony in my scope and gave him the signal to sneak down the ridge. The buck and his buddies continued to feed as they closed in. When they reached some ribbon cliffs I could tell Tony could see the buck now and I watched Arnie lay his backpack down and set up for the shot.
At this moment I zoomed in my scope on the buck and waited. Man was my heart pounding. I was praying Arnie would not miss, and would stay calm. It was weird not being right there with him at this moment, but I knew Tony was telling him all the right words. It seemed like an eternity for that buck to turn and give Arnie the shot he needed, but turn he did. I saw the buck crumble to the ground and roll into the brush. A full 7 seconds later I heard the report of the rifle, then I let out a yell.
It took me 45 minutes to reach Arnie and his giant deer. The buck was all that I thought he was and a bit more. As we all stood there in awe, I noticed tears in Arnie’s eyes. That was cool. Arnie had believed that I had seen this buck, and was patient enough to wait for it. And now he had the buck of a lifetime on the ground. It was a long hard pull out of there with that deer, but we all were still so excited about this hunt we hardly noticed. Arnie’s buck ended up with a gross score of 202” and the horns were 27” wide. He did indeed have a small cheater on his left antler and a small inline on his right. This was by far his best buck to date, and he plans on coming back next year with The R&K Hunting Company. He decided to bring his boy along to hunt big buck in the beehive state. Now the pressure is really on to top that buck.
High Country Mule Deer.Posted Fri, 12/10/2010 Written by Lane Myers
I have hunted with R & K Hunting for years. I mainly hunted late season hunts. This year I drew a late season Elk tag on one of their ranches in Montana, so naturally that became my focus. Then an opportunity came along to participate in an early season High Country, Velvet Mule Deer Hunt. With enough time separating the two hunts I could focus on both. An exciting advantage for this hunt was it started September 1st and allowed hunting a Velvet deer with a rifle. The hunting crew included me, my son Tyler and my son-in-law Mike Balls, paired up with guides Jeremy Christensen and Zach Morris. Our guides had hunted this ground their whole lives and new it killer. They had planned to hike in to an optimal spot called Red Rock where they had been seeing a nice buck. Unfortunately, no one had ever hunted this area Early Season and with all the leaves still on the trees we couldn’t see 15 feet in front of us. So we went to plan B. We went to an area nearby called The Chutes. Over the next couple of days we saw some nice deer crossing through the Chutes out of pines but due to the distance we were glassing and the amount of time it took to get into position we were never able to get a shot.
I had some commitments at home that didn’t allow me to hunt the fourth day of my five day hunt but was able to make it back to the camp for day five, my last day. Daniel Richins with R&K had got his Client a small 34” 207 gross Typical, LOL. Daniel made a plan to take us to an area he had success 5 years earlier. Daniel, Tyler and I started hiking about an hour before light to get into position of a good glassing area. We arrived at the bottom of a beautiful bowl with a bunch of different chutes in it lined with pine trees and boulders. We didn’t see anything but a small buck for the better part of the morning and hopes were wearing thin. Just as we were starting to pack up the tripods and spotting scopes, Tyler spotted 6 bucks funneling over the top of the bowl into the pines. One was a shooter as I tried to get set up as the deer were moving across the hill on a downward angle about to step into my window, all of the sudden they stopped(almost as if they knew)and doubled back to head into the thick timber to bed down for the day. It was about 10:00 and I Felt I missed my opportunity, we were just about to try and sneak up the mountain and see if we could see them with a different angle. When we spotted him again working towards another clearing and hoped it wouldn’t bed and keep walking to the only small clearing we could see. If he cooperated I knew I would only have one chance to make this happen. I felt pressure and nerves getting to me that I typically don’t have issues with. Daniel kept reading the range for me and even reached down and kept changing my turret knowing I was getting a little restless. I finally got settled in and a good rest with our yardage at 450 yards. It seemed like forever waiting for him to make his way to across to hillside. We had him feeding behind the last pine before the small clearing, he finally stepped out I took my one and only shot and it hit its mark, he tumbled down the steep Chute probably close 75 Yards. We know he was finished and started our hike up to the clearing at 10,032’. As we hiked to him I had never felt anticipation like this I was hoping for zero ground shrinkage (as we all do) I had never really got a good look at him just enough to see he was nice but didn’t know what he had, I was relying on Daniel and Tyler telling me he was a for sure shooter. As I Finally made it to him needless to say I was more than pleased and was actually bigger than I thought. He ended up scoring 183 gross typical. This was one of the most enjoyable rewarding hunts I can remember. To pull it off on the last day which I very rarely have the patience to do made me even happier. We called to Jeremy & Zach who hiked up to help quarter and pack him out. It was a great hunt and I already have a velvet high country hunt booked for next year “I’m hooked for life.”
We booked our trophy elk hunting trip after I made the decision I wanted to do a western big game hunt with 3 generations of my family. My father, Doug at 69, was not too old to withstand the rigors of a hunt and my 14-year-old son, Colin, was just coming of age to be able to handle it. I also knew I wanted my brother Phil to join our hunting party.
We knew we wanted a fair chase hunt, but we also wanted a chance for all of us to be successful. Colin found The R & K Hunting Company in Utah. The Cooperative Management Wildlife Unit (CWMU) philosophy they use to ensure available mature animals really captured our needs and gave us all tags at the same time. This was really a once in a lifetime opportunity.
After booking our hunt, we spent 13 months preparing for the hunt. It was fantastic for the four of us to get together regularly to shoot our 7 mm mags. Our hunt finally arrived! After all of our preparations we were ready to head for the Morgan Camp in the Wasatch Mountains. When we arrived we loaded up, headed out on Polaris side-by-side ATVs, and could not believe the landscape with the beautiful fall colors of reds and yellows on the side of the mountain.
The cool thing was that we were there as three generations of Hartgerinks and all of our guides and those taking care of us were mostly all family as well. We can’t say enough at how well we were treated by them. Thursday morning arrived and boy, were we excited! The food prepared for breakfast was fantastic and we couldn’t wait to get back out on the mountain on that crisp, clear, beautiful September morning.
Cody, my guide, and I headed to the far south of the 15,000 acres to an area called the Salt Bowl. Apparently, some bigger bulls had been spotted there and we were just the guys to be able to withstand the terrain and physicality required there. We made our way through drainage in the dark and headed toward our destination when we started hearing our first bull bugling. It was only 6:30 in the morning. Unfortunately, this bull was up on national forest property, so not a bull we could hunt where he currently was, but we wanted to get a look at him.
We set up on a ridge and started calling. It didn’t take long for the mountainside to come alive with elk. This herd was huge and I was getting pretty excited about the prospect of how big he might be. We had elk all around us responding to Cody’s calls. At seven elk come crashing down the mountainside like a freight train and then they pranced into the clearing below us. About this time we caught a glimpse of the herd bull coming out into a clearing 500 yards up the mountain. We finally both spotted him with our binoculars and thought he was a big 5 or 6 point.
He was bigger than any bulls we had seen the night before so we decided it was worth continuing to try to draw him to us. About this time, I received a call from my dad that “Colin just shot a huge 6 by 6!” Papa was excited and I was ecstatic! I couldn’t imagine how Colin was feeling at the time. Here he was out with his own guide and he had just shot an elk.
We continued watching the herd and finally were able to pick up our bull with the spotting scope. It became evident that he was at least a 7 by 6. Now we knew we had to hunt this bull.
We did some more stalking amidst the amazing terrain located where our bull had bedded down. We formulated a plan to come back that afternoon when the Elk were moving again. Arriving back at camp, I learned that Colin and dad had gone with their guides to opposite sides of a bowl where elk had been spotted before. Colin and his guide were able to see that one was a nice bull, most likely a 6 by 6. They were on top of a ridge and could see where the bull might come into a clearing. Colin set up with his tripod while sitting on the side of the mountain. Bob started calling. The bull came into the clearing and Colin made a perfect shot at 175 yards. I was absolutely elated that not only had Colin been successful but that he was able to do so with his Papa at his side immediately after the fact. This was why we had come out here to hunt as a family – to make lifelong memories! Come to find out this was the biggest animal taken so far this year by one of the youngest hunters R & K had ever had.
We had a fabulous homemade lunch and were ready to hit the trail again. Cody and I had a 7 by 6 waiting for us up on the mountain. Back up to our designated kill zone, we were anxious to hear if our bull was still there. Around 4 p.m., he bugled once letting us know where he was and it sounded like he was moving away. Cody made the decision to cow call and we could tell within a few minutes he was coming back down toward us.
We spotted his cows starting to make a move toward the next ridge over. They were well over 500 yards up, so we immediately jumped back behind our little ridge and sprinted up mountain. After sprinting as hard as we could for close to 150 – 200 yards, we stopped and started to calm our breathing and bringing our heart rates under 200 beats per minute. After about two deep breaths Cody pulled up his binocs and realized that our bull was on the move and we had maybe 5 seconds to make the shot. He urged me over to my rock and said, “That’s him.” Cody spit out the range at 225 yards and I loaded one in the chamber. Cody made a cow call to stop the bull and I made the shot. He went about 20 feet and stopped, looking right up at us. I went to shoot again and there was a click as the second bullet hadn’t chambered and so I quickly bolted another into place and put another round into him. We both watched as he fell over.
We were thrilled. Than the adrenaline started surging and I couldn’t quit shaking. Had we not both been in shape, we would not have been able to sprint up the ridge and there is no doubt this bull would have turned into a ghost and disappeared with his cows. After 30 minutes of pure joy and excitement in which I made some calls to my boy and then to my wife to thank her for allowing us to come on this fantastic trip, it was finally time to go see our bull.
We were elated to see he actually was a 7 by 7! Since this was the highest bull Cody ever harvested at around 8500 – 9000 feet, we quartered and deboned him for the rigorous hike out. About three hours into our field butchering of this fantastic bull, Cody received a text that my dad had just gotten an el
Come to find out, two guides had gone out with dad that evening with Colin tagging along. That is one of the coolest things about The R & K Hunting Company. Once a guide tags out his client, they work with the next hunter and his guide so that everyone has a successful hunt. Anyway, they spotted a nice bull over 1,000 yards away that eventually moved into around 200 yards. After about an hour, the bull came out into the bottom of the valley at a full charge and continued up the ridge until he was just 30 yards from Papa. At that moment, dad popped up from the tall grass and fired free hand. He made four shots on the bull with Colin videotaping his every move before the elk fell. The guides called it “self-defense” as he was coming in so fast and furious. After two previous unsuccessful elk hunts, Dad now had a trophy elk to hang alongside his trophy whitetail and trophy mule deer. This elk turned out to be a 6 by 6, with the width and overall size comparable to the 7 by 7 I had taken. The day had gone from incredible to downright amazing! We had come to Utah with hopes of being successful. Never in our wildest dreams could we have imagined the victory we ended up having on Sept 26. To have three generations of Hartgerinks including both my son and my father all harvest elk on the same day was beyond words! As successful and lucky as we were that day, we started the next day out with strong optimism that my brother Phil would likely tag out soon. After a couple of days, he saw a 4 by 5 bull along with a couple of others but he was looking for something a bit bigger. The great thing was that all the guides were working real hard for Phil and not once was there any pressure for him to settle and tag out.
By Monday Oct 1, time was running out for Phil to take an elk. After our success on Sept 26, we were really beginning to feel as if our luck had run out. That afternoon, however, as we came around a ridge we all saw the bull at the same time. Phil and his guide jumped from the Ranger and grabbed his gun from the rack. I quickly ranged the bull at 180 yards. Calvin whistled and the bull turned sideways. Phil made the shot and nothing happened. He calmly reloaded, fired another round and this time it appeared as a good hit. The bull moved another 20 yards where Phil took a third shot which dropped the bull in his tracks. We were elated! We started making the calls to let everyone know of our 11th hour achievement. The dedication by all the guides at The R & K Hunting Company was amazing! We were 100 percent satisfied that we had made the right decision to come select R & K as our outfitters even before Phil shot his elk. It was icing on the cake that we all got to take a trophy home!