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Cat and Mouse – A B&C Audio Adventure



By Ronald N. Franklin
25th Big Game Awards Program| From Legendary Hunts

I had just received the news I had been drawn for one of the toughest units to get a tag in the Arizona draw.  I called everyone I knew to pass on my good fortune.  Everyone was so excited and ready to help on the hunt.  Then the sleepless nights started, dreaming of big bulls screaming and rutting.  A few weeks later, though, I found out that I had drawn my second choice and not the unit I originally thought.

I started scouting, going every weekend and any chance I had some time to slip up to my unit.  My brother Charlie, who also had a tag, was getting information from co-workers since he worked in the area we would be hunting.  That information really came back to pay off in the long run.  

No really big bulls materialized during my scouting, but as the season approached they started to rut.  Some really nice bulls started to show, and I could tell from the antler growth on even the young bulls that this was going to be a great year to have a tag. 

The season started uneventfully.  We saw nice bulls everyday, just nothing I thought was worth taking so early in the season.  It’s amazing how each year it seems the elk change.  One year it’s all about bugling for a response, the next year it seems that a cow call was the ticket, but this year it definitely was the cow call I had.  That call seemed to be the only one to get a positive response without sending the elk out of the country.

About a week into the hunt, things got really interesting.  My buddy, Travis Mast, was supposed to join us, but got held up at work for a couple of days.  I was excited because the last time we hunted together we had an opportunity at a huge 375-class 6x7 bull.  That year my shot didn’t connect.  Since I was hunting alone for a few days, I tried an area that Charlie and I had heard about.  Supposedly, a really big bull had been shot at and missed earlier.  I ran into another hunter who had heard of this bull, but said he hadn’t seen it.  He seemed to say it with a gleam in his eye.  Ha!  I thought to myself that he wasn’t giving it to me straight.  The bull had to be around.  The stage was set to find the bull of a lifetime.

Another satellite bull walked within 15 yards of us. As we moved up, we saw a few cows and heard a big smash as two bulls were crashing and fighting.

That night, Travis showed up around 3:30 a.m. after driving all night to get there.  When my lantern kicked on at 4 a.m., he said he might skip the morning hunt and get some rest.  Then he jumped up and said he didn’t want to miss anything.  Driving out, I told Travis about the encounter with the other hunter.  I also told him that I knew this big bull was still around.  

What unfolded over the next several hours took teamwork.  We arrived at our area of choice about an hour before daylight.  We sat in the predawn silence and heard only one faint bugle way off.  We moved up the ridge, where I had patterned the elk and their crossing each morning.  We decided to wait near a water hole until something stirred.  As the dark turned gray, a bull sounded off a bugle in the distance.  We both pointed about 90 degrees off from one another, so we split the difference and off we went!  

As it started to get light, we heard the bull bugle several more times, which helped us to pin down the direction.  We knew we had to get there before they started to feed off, so we ran to intercept it.  Eventually, we stopped to catch our breath.  Just then, Travis said, “Stop. Did you hear that?”  

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We crouched down just in time to let two satellite bulls walk right by us at a short distance.  As we started to get closer we saw very fresh sign.  This was getting really serious, really fast.  Just then we caught movement.  Another satellite bull walked within 15 yards of us.  As we moved up, we saw a few cows and heard a big smash as two bulls were crashing and fighting.  Then Travis whispered, “Oh, my gosh!  It’s huge! I’m counting 10 or 12 points!” 

Just then another bull bugled behind us, which worked to our advantage. It brought the huge bull around to our side of the cows at 80 yards.  The bull then started to rake some trees.  Finally, I decided every time it put its head down to rake, I would move up.  This cat and mouse game went fast when I finally realized I was within range.  

Everything was perfect.  The bull had its head down, and I drew and released.  Time froze, everything stood still, and the bull just turned and looked the other way where the arrow had blown through and bounced into the trees behind it.  The broadhead had done its job.  It took like what seemed forever before anything happened.  I had already removed another arrow from my quiver when the bull started to run. It was almost like a dream.   The bull went 40 yards and then it was over.   

Travis charged me and started hugging me as I just stood there in shock.  It was like it was meant to be. I would like to thank all the people who made this hunt possible:  Steve Sherwood of TNT Taxidermists who was a great help and went above and beyond; to my friends and brother who helped with the hunt and scouting; and most of all to my wife and son who understand my passion for hunting and allowed me to chase those dreams I had of a summer of big bulls screaming and rutting. 


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"The wildlife and its habitat cannot speak. So we must and we will."

-Theodore Roosevelt