KSL Outdoors: Elk hunting at Strawberry Reservoir

(Adam intro) Thanks for tuning into KSL Outdoors, I’m Adam Eakle and welcome to Strawberry Reservoir but we are not going fishing, we are going elk hunting. if you like elk hunting, you are going to love tonights show. We are headed out with my good friends, the Phillip brothers, here at the Strawberry Bay Marina.

(Paul Phillips, Strawberry Bay Outfitters) We’ve been a part of the Strawberry valley for 30 years. Adam and we grew up hunting, we love to hunt. It’s part of our nature.

Chances are, If you’ve fished Strawberry, you’ve run into the Phillips family. For decades they’ve been the owners and operators of the marinas around the lake, but what many people don’t know is they are also very accomplished elk hunting guides here on the Wasatch unit.

(Paul) We work at it really hard. We spend a lot of time looking at and patterning the elk and where they stay what they do, watering holes where they hide. So we do a lot of work to make ourselves successful.

Tonight we tag along with the Phillips boys as they guide four elk hunters. Our first stop is on an archery elk hunt with Troy Woodruff. This is the third day that Paul and Troy have been sitting in treestands over wallows. Check out the video of this cool bobcat, that had no idea they were even there. Paul has permission to take his hunters on a piece of property, called Strawberry Ranches. It’s amazing country with some really nice bulls.

On this evening hunt, Paul and Troy went to a wallow, just to check their trail cameras but decided to climb into the treestands to hunt the last hour of daylight. Not 15 minutes later, this bull appeared out of no where.

Now for those of you that are a little squeamish, we want to warn you. Troy is about to shoot this bull with his bow.

(Troy Woodruff, Herriman) I couldn’t have asked for anything better, the perfect setup. Everything was just ideal, story book.

(Troy) He walked in, he gave me a perfect shot.

Now when hunting elk with a bow, you always strive to take a good ethical shot. This is about as good as they get, the bull is quartering away and his front leg is forward exposing his vitals . These animals are amazing, watch as the bull hears Troy rub his arm up against a limb as he draws his bow.

(Troy Woodruff) We made the shot. We got to watch him actually tumble and fall and we knew we had him right there. He didn’t go anywhere.

The guys climb out of the tree as the bull has only gone 25 yards and expired.

(Troy) Paul phillips, john phillips, the entire Phillips family. I can’t thank any one enough right now. Strawberry Ranch, unbelievable. This is the type of bulls that you see and again, 25 yard shot, he went 25 yards, just un-believable bull, I could not be happier. (paul) Congratulations Troy that is a pig of a bull. (troy) wow!

(Paul) Not only do we get the satisfaction of our clients and their success but we get to do it as a family and be together with our sons.

(Paul) So it’s just a great time.

(Anis Aoude, DWR Big Game Coordinator) Almost every one of our units is either at objective or slightly above.

Utah has a statewide elk population objective of seventy two thousand animals. Right now, we’re actually above the statewide objective by about three thousand animals. Here on the Wasatch unit the objective is fifty five hundred animals, Anis says the Wasatch elk population is over by as much as a thousand. This year the Utah Wildlife Board approved an additional 1,450 cow elk hunting permits on the Wasatch unit. Many hunters have voiced their concerns that this is too many tags and might be detrimental to the herd.

(Anis Aoude) We have issued quite a few permits, but what people need to keep in mind is that even though we’ve issued that many permits, it doesn’t mean that many elk will be harvested often the success rates on those hunts is fairly low. Especially the one that is during the general season it’s about 40% success.

Coming up….

(Keven and Cory hug) way to go!

Rifle hunts with friends, but first tonights quiz question.


Hunting rutting bulls in September is about as good as it gets for me. Doing it with family and friends, even better. Five years ago, on the deer hunt, I met Cory Rasmussen and Keven Tolbert. Life long buddies who love to hunt. This year both drew elk tags on the Wasatch and both are hunting with the Phillips boys.

It’s day two and I’m following Paul and Keven, while on the other side of the unit, John has Cory already on a good bull…

(John Phillips, Strawberry Bay Outfitters) This morning Joe came in and says there’s some bugling up here on the hill. I said ok, I’m going. So i told Cory, let’s go, get up that mountain.

(John) as soon as we crested that hill up there, he bugled right there. So we hunkered down, got our spotting scopes out and found him right in the oak brush here.

(john) should we try to get closer.

The shot is long but Cory has an ace up his sleeve. A custom made long shooting rifle from Cross Canyon Arms.

(shot) (john) you got him…(son) oh yes.

(john) that got him, ok don’t shoot, oh my gosh, you just killed a toad, you just killed a toad.

(high five) Congratulations, not bad. (cory) Second day, that’s awesome, had the boys with me.

(Scott Mortensen, Cory’s Son-in-law) We lost my wife’s mom to cancer last year so it was just nice to get everybody together so we can have something to hopefully cherish.

(Robert Rasmussen, Son) “family is just so important to Cory, just everything to him.

(Son) His whale tail is even bigger than I thought! (john) OH my gosh, he’s just a baby. (laughs)

(Cory Rasmussen, Sandy Hunter) yeah i think he’s pretty cool. (adam) You’ve had a lot of adversity the last couple of years. What does this mean to you? (cory breaks up) It means a lot.

(Cory) “it’s great with my boys with me.

(Paul) We have some people who get emotional about it and wait many years, 14-15 years to draw this tag and so it’s important to have a good experience and we try to bring that to the table to our clients. To try increase their odds, their advantage and take them to the spots where they are going to be in elk all day long.

(Cory and Keven hug) Way to go. (cory) sorry he wouldn’t let me leave without killing it. (keven) that is so awesome.

(Robert) oh Cory and Keven they are like two young kids that never grew up.

(Robert) for them to share this together, this is what they’ve both ever dreamed of and they both have a tag, once in a lifetime for them.

What’s great about Strawberry Bay Outfitters is the family atmosphere. Paul’s, two sons Cameron and Josh, guide as well. And when a bull is down, the whole family and their friends are there to help pack it out.

(Paul) I have Cameron and Joshua who have grown up with me doing this and someday I hope they take the reins from me and continue this on and make memories for our clients.

(adam tag) You actually came down in points a year so you could be here with him..Why? (cory) it’s important that we could be here together. (adam) that’s important to you, why? (cory) these guys two, this one. (adam) just a bull without them right? (cory) that’s right. (cory) that’s exactly right.

(tag to the tag) (adam) well one more to go, we’ve got more here coming up on KSL Outdoors, someone else has to tag out here in a second, but first back to the guys at Fish Tech for tonights fishing report.


(Intro) Welcome back to KSL Outdoors, I’m Adam Eakle. Well Cory’s meat here in the freezer at the marina. It’s time to get Keven, head up the mountain and see if we can get something as nice as Cory’s bull.

(Keven looking at bull through spotting scope adaptor) I forgot how big they are.

For a solid week Paul has been dragging Keven, his son Shane, and I around the unit looking over dozens of bulls.

(Cow calling and bull bugling)

Some days we were right in the middle of the herd. Others….

(paul watching bull in wallow) Oh my heck! (laughs)

we watch them at 1000 yards through our spotting scopes, rutting and taking a mud bath.

One afternoon, driving back for lunch.

(Getting out of truck) (paul) that’s a big seven let’s look at him.

We spot this heavy bull, right off the road. Paul takes a good look and decides to have Keven pass….I can’t believe it.

(Adam) What’s your problem? What didn’t you like about him? He was a little short, but heavy. (paul) yeah he was standing in the road and we just cannot shoot one standing in the road. (laughs) seven point or not.

(paul) I know Keven is going to be upset about that one, great bull.

(Keven “Frank” Tolbert) that bull had mass. (laughs) (paul) yeah he did, he was heavy, he had great mass.

And I’ve got to show you another bull.

(bull lifts head) Oh my gosh!

We’ve hiked three miles to get away from other hunters and found this bull raking some willows just before dark.

(Paul) He’s probably above average for what is on this unit.”

(Keven) I’m passing. (paul) and you won’t be mad at me if we do worse? (keven) that’s hunting.

(Paul) Look at that back end. Your dad is going to let that go. (keven) what do you think? (Shane Tolbert) don’t ask me.

The rut wasn’t as intense as we’d hoped. The bulls would talk a little in the mornings and evenings.

But that was it. We’re nearing the end of the hunt. I have to get back to guide some hunters myself, Paul is just getting ready to drop me off at my truck,
[Notes:Great shot of bull on 33 at 53:44]

when we spot this huge bull, feeding on a ridge.

(Paul) you on him? Ok, shoot him right on his back.

(Paul) he’s a giant, giant bull.

(shot) (adam) over his back. (paul) ok, shoot just a little low then. (shot and hit)

(paul) that got him.

(Paul) watch him Adam

(Cory and Keven hug) (adam) that’s a big bull.

(Keven) I’ve been saying all week, as soon as Paul says shoot, we are shooting and it was like shoot, shoot, shoot.

Our celebration is a bit premature, the bull is hit, but not down. We dive into the canyon and Keven is able to finish off a fun hunt.

(Keven) Saw him going down here and all of a sudden Paul says there he goes up the bottom, shoot, shoot. i was like ok….laughs.

(Paul) I hope he looks as good on the ground as he does from right here.

(Adam) well there he is behind me, the guys are hiking up. it’s a beautiful bull, they don’t know it but he’s a six by seven.

(Adam) Congratulations Keven, you worked hard for it.

(Keven) I’ll tell you everybody that hunts, ought to hunt with Paul, man he has the passion.

(Paul) that is a giant back end bull and we are really glad we got that bull it was a long chase. (adam) 22 inch swords, probably better if he hadn’t broken them off, 15 inch fifths, right around 49 inch beam, you can’t beat that here on the Wasatch and you know. the guy knows more than fishing. (paul) I do this is a passion of mine. (adam) well we’ve got a lot of work to do while we are breaking this bull down, let’s dive into tonights Utah Field Guide.

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