ELK COUNTRY | BOOK CLIFFS HUNT
Updated: Sep 16, 2019
It started by receiving an email from Utah DWR that my Father Brian Kehoe and I, Chris Kehoe, drew out on our limited entry archery elk tag for the Book Cliffs. Combined, my father and I had a total of 11 points. To say the least, we were both excited! Being familiar with the unit, August couldn’t come soon enough. This was the opportunity of a lifetime!
We started prepping for our hunt in June 2017 so we were ready by August 2017. One of the first items on our prep list was our SureCans. We knew if we couldn’t feed our machines, then we weren’t going anywhere. We not only needed our SureCan for the 4 wheelers but also just in case our trucks ran out of fuel in the middle of nowhere.
We made trips every two weeks on the weekends to set up trail cameras, check trail camera pictures, and explore different parts of the unit to locate bulls. Scouting not only took a lot of time and money but it also took a toll on some of the equipment that we took with us. I had an injector in my truck go out and we also broke an axle and two tires on the 4 wheeler trailer. Thank goodness we had our SureCans to make sure we had enough fuel in the only thing that didn’t break down; the 4 wheelers!
After a lot of trial and error during scouting, we decided to take 3 weeks of leave off work for the hunt, so we could have the best opportunity of being successful. We knew that it was going to be a challenge to fill not only 1 tag but 2 tags with archery equipment. We were in for quite the adventure. The first week the temperature was too hot, the animals weren’t moving around a whole lot, and it was a little discouraging not being able to locate a good bull for my father and I. My father has had a lot of medical issues and can’t get around like he use to so by the end of the first week he was having joint/back issues from the countless hours spent hiking and packing gear around the mountain.
We decided to pack up camp and take the second week off to recuperate. The third week, we arrived back at camp and located some decent bulls and shot a few coyotes. We had seen just about every animal that Utah has to offer and some really nice bulls but no opportunities at getting a clear shot on a bull for either of us. The final week started off with not the best of luck. While hiking in to an area, my bow string got caught on a branch of a tree and it had pulled my string off my bow. Luckily we were able to improvise to get my string back on my bow with a ratchet strap to compress my bow to get my string on. After getting the string back on, I took a couple of practice shots to make sure my site was still on. Sure enough I was good to go!
The next day we decided to go and explore a new area. We hiked in and there he was, a giant 6x6 just screaming his head off. He was just above me on the same trail when he started to make his way down the trail till he got 8 yards from me. I drew my bow back, he then ran. So I used my cow call to get him to stop, he was broadside and I let my arrow fly. Unfortunately I missed! I followed that bull into the next canyon to see if I could get another shot at him. On my way into that next canyon, I looked down and noticed my rangefinder was gone. I then back tracked to where I had shot at that bull but wasn’t able to recover my rangefinder.
Even with luck not being on my side, the Tuesday of the last week of our hunt, my father told me he wasn’t able to hike anymore and that he was physically and mentally exhausted and he was sitting the hunt out for the day. So I decided hunt solo for the day even though it was pouring rain. I ended up getting in on 6 different bulls, they were bugling like crazy. I got to an opening and cow called twice. All of the sudden a bull busted through the brush in front of me at 30 yards. I drew back my bow and missed my first shot since I was shaking so bad. The bull then turned broadside but had his vitals blocked so I decided to try and get another shot. I waited for the bull to step out past the trees and I let the arrow fly. Unfortunately the bull had ran out of the brush and I wasn’t able to place a good shot on that bull. I then found my arrow and realized in fact I had hit the bull. I then radioed my father and told him I hit a bull then he asked where he went. So I told him the area I was in and he said he would glass from an advantage point in the canyon to look for the bull. He grabbed his SureCan and fueled the 4 wheeler then headed to the advantage point. After about an hour of glassing the canyon, he was able to locate the bull I had shot. We gave the bull 2 hours for him to expire and we were running out of light, so I decided to have my dad guide me to the bulls location to try and put another arrow in him. My dad radioed me and told me to get on top of the ridge and he would locate me and guide me to the bull, so I did that. He then led me to the bull about 300 yards below me. He said, he is right below you so I closed the distance but couldn’t see the bull. At that point I was about 30 yards above the bedded bull but I couldn’t see him because the brush was too thick. So I cow called making him get out of his bed and stepped out to 20 yards, so I drew my bow back and took my time and was able to shoot another arrow into the bull. I tracked and marked the blood trail and decided to back out of the area to let the bull expire before it got too dark. The next day, my father and I went in at sunrise and hiked until almost sunset to locate the bull I shot. Unfortunately I was not able to locate the bull.
We then spent the remainder of the time we had left trying to track and harvest a bull for my father. Unfortunately my father didn’t have an opportunity to harvest a bull either. Not all hunts end with a happy ending but they always end with a lot of great memories and stories to pass on to others.
My adventures always start with the products I carry in the field and SureCan is a product I will never leave without. SureCan always gets me on my adventures.
Make sure to follow Chris and his adventures on Instagram at @PackNRacks
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