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I have been hunting most of my life. It started by me tagging along with my dad for grouse at the age of three. I always thought that was a pretty young age to begin a hunting career, until my own son bested me this season by 2.5 years.

This hunting season was miles different than any other I have enjoyed in the past, because this one was the first one I got to enjoy with my son. Henrik “Hank” was born May 1 this year and by the time he was a month old, he was with me in the bush while I checked trail cameras and prepared for the upcoming season.

My passion for chasing elk has really expanded the past couple of years, with numbers increasing in the area I hunt west of the city. I have been hunting this particular area for 10 years, but the elk have always seemed to elude me. Last year, I shot my first bull (a young 5x3), which put my desire to chase these amazing animals into overdrive. Throughout the summer, I had several photos of a good bull that I knew I would be pursuing come September. During bow season, I had two encounters with this tall 5x5 bull, but nothing within bow range. He liked to step into the hay field at last light around 200 yards away and almost tease me as he fed with his cows. No matter how often I tried to call, he wouldn’t as much as turn his head in my direction (although my elk calling skills are remedial at best)

In late October, my wife Jordanna, Hank, and I went for a drive in the area to see if we could find some elk that might be hanging around for the November rifle opener. We watched a small herd at last light that had a couple of  young bulls in the group, but I did not have permission on that property.

The next day (Halloween), Hank decided that he would wake up for the day at 4:30 in the morning. He didn’t seem to want to go back to sleep, so I loaded him up in the truck and off we went for another drive to the hunting grounds. Shortly after first light, I watched the small herd from the non-permission field for about 10 minutes. After checking the bulls out in that group, I drove to a field that I had been hunting since September 1, and had seen the target bull in. Hank and I got out of the truck, and as we cleared a rise to overlook the hay field, I was awestruck by the sight of 18 to 20 elk feeding away in the frost-covered field. I counted mostly cows and calves, with one legal three point, and my target bull. Not wanting to scare the herd a day before rifle season, we quickly walked back to the truck 150 yards away and left the area for home.

The next day, I left home for the rifle opener excited and anticipating a great morning. As I entered the field over the rise, I could see that it was devoid of elk. I waited, and waited, and waited, but they never showed up. I had no idea where these frustrating things had gone. It turned out that I was missing my good luck charm for the season.

A few days later, Jordanna, Hank and I headed west to try to bag a few chickens. I brought my rifle with me and knew I would be checking the hay field at last light for my bull. We had a decent day; Jordanna and I shot a few grouse each, and Hank seemed to love the time outdoors with Mom and Dad. With about 30 minutes left until dark, we made our way out of the Crown land, and towards the farm fields. We got to the field with 20 minutes left in the day. I parked my truck at the road and grabbed my rifle to check the field. Jordanna and Hank stayed in the truck, as Hank had decided that he needed a bottle at that exact moment.

I slowly made my way to the top of the rise that was obstructing my view of the field. As I crested the top, I was met with a familiar sight from Halloween morning. The field was full of elk. I couldn’t believe my eyes, as I had a look at my target bull. The herd was feeding around 250 yards away, with the smaller 3x3 bull facing me, also feeding. The 5x5 bull was about 280 yards from me, left of the 3x3. As I leveled my rifle on a nearby fence post, the 3x3 saw me. He stared at me for what felt like an eternity, while the rest of the herd fed away, unaware of my presence. I was watching the 5x5 bull through my scope, who was also facing me, but feeding with his head down. I made the decision that whichever bull turned broadside first, I was going to take.

After a few minutes, the 5x5 bull turned broadside and I turned the safety off my rifle. I placed the crosshairs on his shoulder, and slowly squeezed the trigger.

At the report of the rifle, Jordanna tells me that Hank’s eyes widened despite them being more than 150 yards away from where I had snuck up on the herd. The bull reacted well, and I knew the shot had been good. The herd began to run straight away from me and after 50 or 60 yards of running, they stopped. I had the bull broadside again and almost sent another round his way. Watching him through the scope though, I could see his front legs start to wobble and I knew it was over for the ol’ boy. The bull came crashing down into the field, while the rest of his herd looked around for whatever had caused all the commotion.

Once the bull had expired, the three of us headed into the field to begin working on the elk. Hank got himself wrapped in his warmest gear for some photos with Dad and his elk. Just a shade over six months old and he’s already got his first elk hunt under his belt. The young man is already well on his way to besting his dad at this beautiful pastime. ■

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