Welcome to KSL Outdoors and welcome to elk camp. I’m Adam Eakle, along with my wife Tonya Eakle. You know Tonya for the last 11 years I’ve been coming up leaving you and the kids for a week or two at at a time and I’ve been up guiding elk hunters here on a Northern Utah CWMU and lo and behold you drew a tag. Woo. Pretty excited? Yeah I’m pretty excited. It’s a once in a lifetime chance to come up with you but you know I asked for a different guide but they still paired me up with you. What’s up with that. You know I’ve had the chance to take people like Tiffany Lekoski, Eva Shockey last year and this year they stuck me with the ‘warden’. Oh. You ready to go hit the hills. Yeah. Alright let’s do it. Woo. Let’s go.
My wife is one of twenty hunters that have drawn an elk tag for this CWMU.
Our guides look forward to this week as much as anything.
Here, every elk hunter is guided and given free lodging. It’s no doubt one of the best hunts in the state.
The CWMU program is a program that started in Utah in the early 90’s as the PHU program, posted hunted units. Later we changed it to the Cooperative Wildlife Management Units.
It allows the private landowner to sell access to the wildlife on his property. It allows us to gain access for public hunters without paying a trespass fee.
We use that to encourage private landowner to manage for wildlife. It provides an incentive to manage for wildlife for large tracts of land. Has it been successful?
It’s been great, it’s allowed us to really, really grow especially elk populations in Northern Utah.
I think there is several benefits to the public. One is increased wildlife populations, decreased damage payments for the division which means we can carry more animals. Access to private lands.
And keeping areas open that would otherwise be developed.
See the green ones out there?
Part of the hunter’s responsibility is to know what their limits are.
Fire in the hole.
Did I get it?
From practice we know that Tonya is capable of making a three hundred yard shot.
The public hunters are the key to the success of the program. A lot of what we tell the CWMU operators is that, if they’ve got 10 public hunters on there and they’ve got 50 private hunters or, whatever they have. Those 10 public hunters is what allows you to have the others hunters on your property so treat them accordingly. A lot these guys treat them better than the paying hunters that come on their property so. That’s how crucial it is.
On this particular CWMU there is a no wounding policy. So if we draw blood, or if Tonya draws blood, that’s it, that’s our bull. We have to get that bull. Otherwise we go home empty handed. So she looks good out to three hundred yards. We are going to go chase a bull that I saw three weeks ago when I was guiding another elk hunter. Just a really cool bull. It’s actually a six by seven he’s got a fifth that follows his beam there on that one side.
He’s old, mature, exactly what we are looking for. So we are going over to a canyon that I know very well and see if he hasn’t moved too far.
He’s a five by six but I think he’s a bull we could shoot. He’s old, he’s got great thirds. Let’s go take a look at him.
He’s a good bull. But I think we could get a little bigger. He’s got giant thirds for here. He’s got like 18 inch thirds. He’s fronts are ok. His swords are ok. His one fifth is about 8 inches. His other fifth is really small.
I don’t think we are going to shoot him.
We got into areas and you’d see them, and you’d hear them on both sides of you.
It was really cool.
There’s a bull coming up out of the bottom.
There he is. No kidding.
We found the bull, he’s uh. That’s him. He’s intact. He’s on the wrong side of the canyon though. He hasn’t moved in three weeks, but maybe five hundred yards. Now we’ve got to figure out how to get him.
I think he’s going to feed away from us. I don’t think we’ll be able to get to him.
One of the best perks to hunting a CWMU in my opinion is the lack of competition. We literally have this entire drainage to ourselves. That can make a great elk hunt. Enjoying that and showing it off to my wife only makes it that more special. We won’t get on this bull tonight, but it’s only day one. We’ve got five full days to get it done.
It’s day two. We’ve come in a little bit different area. We are going to come down the bottom of the drainage this time. Got the wind in our favor. So we’ve got to find him. Yea. It’s a long hike but at least we are in the bottom. We won’t have to hike out of here, we just have to hike back up the drainage so. Ready? Ready. Alright, let’s go.
You know, many CWMU’S hold limited entry quality animals. The only difference is that these animals reside on private property. The DWR says that’s not the only difference. Operators are able to do things that the DWR just can’t.
They have a lot more flexibility as a private landowner than we do as an agency. They can offer special hunts to wounded warriors, special needs, just a lot of times youth and kids that have a hard time or even adults that have a hard time getting out.
They do that all the time. As a big agency we don’t have the ability to administer a lot those special needs programs. But thru this program we are able to do that and cooperate with a lot of these guys and it’s great.
It’s a good shot.
Not quite big enough. Cool bull though. Yea. Did you like him? Could you have shot him? Yeah. I was right on him. Right behind the shoulder. Yeah. He would have been dead right there. Let’s go find your bull.
Turns out, my wife isn’t the only female hunter in camp this week.
Did they give you an age? Uh, nine-and-a-half years. Ok. Yea. Nice old bull. He’s awesome. He’s cool. He’s pretty. Heavy.
Why did you decide to put in for a CWMU? Because I knew that I was only going to have one opportunity for an elk and I wanted it to be a good experience. And? It was awesome. Treated very well.
Seen a lot of animals. Got to see a couple of bulls fight. I got to see ten nice bulls. Didn’t feel pressured at all to shoot. I got to shoot the one I wanted. Very happy with what I got.
This is a once in a lifetime and I would never have this opportunity if it wasn’t for the state allowing me to be able to do this through the CWMU.
Oh I see him.
We’ve hiked to the bottom of the drainage looking for Tonya’s bull. All that we find are a bunch of young bulls. So we hike all the way out, about 7 miles. My wife is getting tired, but to her credit she doesn’t say a thing.
I did ok the first day. Second day, um, you worked my butt off, so.
That evening we decided to go after two different bulls. Both were in the same drainage. A quick ride and hike and we were right where we needed to be. The only problem…Tonya’s guide got her a little too close to the elk.
We got up on that one bull. And it was really close it was a nice one. Fifty yards and I couldn’t get on him because he was so close and I was trying to get him into my sights, but I couldn’t, I couldn’t do that very, very easily. So he got away. You had a meltdown. We hiked some more.
If there’s one thing that I learned while hunting with my wife, it was to not put too much pressure on myself or her. It took me that second day to realize, that for her, it’s not about the size of the bull just that we were having a good time and believe me, we are.
. It is day three, and we’ve gone into an area that we haven’t hunted. But, my buddy Brett has told us about a couple of bulls in the area that are big and old. Just what we’re looking for.
We’d shoot him, he’s pretty. Is he close enough?
This cool bull is one that Brett told us about.
See him up there? He’s up by the road. Just left of the road up there.
He’s four hundred and fifty.
That’s about a hundred yards further than we practiced.
He was a big one. A little far away. About 450 and I had only practiced to 300. You know, I mean he was standing there just broadside just like I would like him. But…That’s a long shot. That’s a long shot.
So we passed on him. And it was just a brief opportunity. Then he went around the mountain. With his cows, yep. So we followed hoping to call him back down but he didn’t and another one came in.
Here he comes!
He was probably about 40 yards? 40 yards, staring right at me.
No, no, no.
So, we started moving again.
There was a couple of different bugles and then he came out of the clearing area.
Rack one in.
Slow, take your time.
See him broadside. Wait until he turns sideways.
He was facing us. I got my sights on him and steady.
You had me wait until he went broadside so. He shouldn’t have gone broadside. I practiced for that.
Right there! Good shot! Rack another one in. Rack another one in. Hit him again.
Right there, through the trees. Just right in the side. Take your time. He’s not going anywhere. Nice shot!
Boom! You did it. He’s rolling down.
I don’t know what he is, but he’s a good bull.
Standing up even.
He didn’t go far.
Eww, he’s smelly. He stinks? Congrats baby. Thanks. Nice bull. Yea. Oh. Pretty. Nice six by six. Cool. Good job. Cool. I’m excited and you know what? I’m looking at your shot. Let’s see where I got it. Perfect.
We were just saying this is your first bull ever. First elk! Yeah. Can you believe it? You were worried that I wasn’t going to shoot it, weren’t you? I was worried. She shot a stag in New Zealand and uh, about 8 or 9 years ago with our buddy Tony and you cried. I did. No crying this time. No crying this time. There’s no crying in hunting. But you weren’t cold. I was worried you were worried you were going to be cold. I was worried, but, you know, Kings Camo hooked me up. So thank you.
And the best part is. We’ve got help on the way to help us pack this bull out. I love it. Me to.