Involving today’s youth in proper gun handling techniques and hunting skills is important to the crew at Big Horn Outfitters LLC. Making sure young adults are taught proper hunting and gun etiquette also serves as a way to teach our younger generation discipline and at the same time introduce them to the beautiful outdoors. This past year a unique opportunity presented itself when Don Terhune was speaking with Mike Christianson of the Big Brothers and Big Sisters pass it on program. Mike spoke with the crew at Big Horn Outfitters LLC and explained how they are currently taking on the responsibility of getting underprivileged youth involved in outdoor activities specifically hunting and gun safety.
Don thought it would be a great idea if some of these kids could get the opportunity to go on a fully guided trophy New Mexico Elk Hunt as in the past they had mainly been limited to birds and/or doe hunts. We at Big Horn Outfitters LLC as avid sportsmen find it our responsibility to do our part in getting youth involved in hunting and outdoor sports. After discussing it with his partners Dan Adair and Daniel Nicolds, Don Terhune of Big Horn Outfitters LLC decided to donate a Land owner tag and fully guided New Mexico Elk hunt to the program. This New Mexico Elk hunt would give a youth the opportunity to hunt in one of premier New Mexico hunting units. Mike Christianson who is the head of the pass it on program in Kansas told us he had a great young man for the hunt. Loren Wiseman and his Big Brother sponsor Rich Ritter contacted us to set up the hunt.
This was the youth muzzleloader hunt so Don Terhune arranged to get a muzzleloader Loren could use on the hunt. Loren’s big brother sponsor was not familiar with muzzleloaders so Don took time to show Loren how to use one and took time to go shooting with him so he would be comfortable with it on the hunt. Gun safety and proper hunting etiquette is extremely important to the guys at Big Horn Outfitters LLC. Mike arranged to have Mark Copley with Shazam productions record the hunt for the show stepping out on the outdoor channel. After weeks of scouting Loren and Rich arrived the day before the hunt. After getting settled in we had a home cooked meal at the big horn lodge and discussed the hunting strategy for the next morning.
We decided on an area that had showed great promise in our scouting trips. It held a lot of quality bulls in the flats and rolling pinion junipers. We arrived 30 minutes before daylight to the sounds of bugling, which is the male or bull elks calling out to other elk, and bulls fighting. As daylight came there were elk throughout the bottoms. It held six different herd bulls and numerous satellite bulls as elk were leaving the flats in every direction. We quickly looked over the herds and choose the bull we wanted to go after. A plan was made and the hunt was on. The biggest of the bulls was heading out of the valley on the opposite side so we headed for cover and began to work our way toward the big herd bull. By the time we made it to where the bull was he was out of range for a novice hunter. Rather than push the herd we decided to back off and try again that afternoon. We headed back to the lodge to meet up with Dan and Don who had been scouting another area. Upon arrival they told us of a big bull they had seen earlier that morning.
We made the decision to give that area a try during the evening. When we arrived at the high mountain meadow we moved into position in the tall pines where the big bull and his herd had last been seen earlier that morning. We waited with anticipation hoping any minute to see the bull and his cows, only to be disappointed by the herd never appeared.
We rose again early the next morning back to the flats that we had seen the elk previously. This time we moved into position while it was still slightly dark out due to the early hour, waiting where the big bull had been seen the morning before. There upon first light we saw the the biggest bull and his cows going out the opposite side. Once again we headed as fast as the four of us, me, a cameraman, Loren and his sponsor Rich could move to cut off the bull and his cows. After what seemed like forever and gasping for breath we were finally in front of the herd. We positioned ourselves to intercept them in an opening then got Loren set up as quickly as possible then waited. We then heard a bugle that seemed as if it was right on top of us and the bull steps out. A quick cow call and the bull stops, what happened then has happened to even the most seasoned of hunters, the excitement of the chase, the exhilaration of coming so close to such a magnificent animal, the pressure of the moment and a shot that goes astray. We don’t even have the chance to feel the disappointment from the bull and his cows running off because at that very moment we get a call from Dan and Don on the radios. They have a bedded bull spotted and we are on our way to meet them. As we meet with them a plan is made and we begin a stalk on another mature bull.
After about an hour of stalking we reach the trees the elk are bedded down at only to find nature is not on our side this morning, the wind shifts and gives us up. Now we have time to discuss the mornings events refuel ourselves and get ready for the evening hunt. After lunch and a short nap we find ourselves glassing another bull bedded in this magnificent mountain range. Once again we are on the stalk as we close the distance we can hear the bull bugle and our excitement is at its all time high. We once again spot the bull, this time he is 200 yards and we are out of cover but Loren is young and is not comfortable at this distance. We decide to ease forward watching the bull and try to close the distance to 150 yards. When the bull looks away we slowly move forward after what seems like eternity we get to 150 yards. We get the bi-pod set and Loren in position, but the events of the morning have Loren a little rattled and he is not totally comfortable shooting at this range. Rather than pressing the young hunter’s confidence we decide to back out and try and close the distance from another angle. As we move to our new position we are not able to get any closer than 150 yards. As we get set up again Loren is not comfortable with this distance, we are losing light, the cows get up and begin to move off and the bull follows. Another exciting enjoyable day in the field with no results, but the several bulls we have seen have our spirits high. The next morning brought much of the same lots of bulls lots of bugling, but unfortunately the bulls are just outside our comfort zone.
After the hunt on the third morning, Daniel decided to try a different strategy and switch with Dan Adair. They made a plan and decided to go after the big herd Daniel had pursued that morning. When we got to the place where the herd had gone into the trees the previous day and started to set up for the evening hunt a storm had started to blow in. The wind was howling and Dan new that they would not move until late so they scratched their plan and decided to head up into the timber and bugle periodically to possibly attract more bulls. Knowing they would have to be close for a bull to even hear them in this wind. They slowly worked their way up the ridges hoping to get an answer. After about an hour of walking, they finally got the answer they were looking for, it came from a mature sounding bull about a quarter mile away. They crossed two small canyons and as they scanned the ridge the bugle had come from they started making out shapes of elk in the brush. As they stalked to the bottom of the ridge they ran into a mine field of cows. Hearing the bull bugling and running back and forth across the top of the ridge they knew that they would have to back out and circle around the cows to get a shot at the bull. We skirted the ridge for about a quarter of a mile and decided to top out and cut back towards the bull using his bugles to locate him in the thick brush. We stalked closer and closer until the bull sounded like he was on the other side of the brush. In fear of startling the bull they decided to wait and see if he would present a shot. After a few minutes two cows walked threw an opening about fifty yards away so we setup for the shot knowing that the bull wouldn’t be far behind. We could see the bull heading towards the opening but at the last second he turned and headed back in to the brush to push out more of his cows. As he went through the trees he stopped and let out a bugle giving us a clear window of his vitals. Loren then rested his gun on his sticks and took a steady shot we heard the smack of the bullet hitting its target.
As the smoke cleared Loren reloaded his muzzle loader and headed to the spot where the bull had been standing. When we got to where the bull was we could here crashing and thrashing in the brush above us confirming that Loren had made a good shot. As we crept up the hill to get a follow up shot it got quite and we noticed a buff spot underneath a pinnon tree. There he lied, Lorens first bull, a beautiful 6×6. Everyone high fived and congratulated Loren on his first bull, still shaking with excitement Loren said that this is a hunt that he will never forget.