A Nevada Dream Come True
The 2016 Little League Baseball championships had just ended and my son Madsen’s team had won the prized opportunity to represent the State of Utah in Vancouver Washington in the Regional Little League Championships. Just weeks prior to our departure to Washington, I received a call from Tracy Turner from the Community Foundation of Western Nevada, a nonprofit corporation with a mission to support projects that rehabilitate Nevada wildlife habitat. Tracy congratulated me on being the 2016 winner of the Nevada Dream Tag for Elk. I had donated to this good cause by purchasing some $5.00 raffle tickets for the elk and mule deer species, but I never imagined my name would be drawn.
Having been informed of the coveted tag, I reached out to a few friends as I had little ability to invest in extended days scouting. In addition to work and managing employees, I had coaching obligations that required me to prepare our team for the Vancouver tournament the first week in August. The Dream Tag’s ability to hunt nearly the entire state was exciting, but it seemed overwhelming. Where to even start? For the first time in my life, this do-it-yourself (DIY) hunter seriously considered contacting and hiring a guide. With the help of my good buddy Travis Holmes, the decision was made to embark on this journey solo. The DIY tradition would be honored.
On August 2nd our suburban was loaded with baseball gear as we found ourselves on our way to Vancouver. We departed long before the sun rose due to our Nevada detour. My mother questioned my father, “Why is our son exploring the Nevada desert on his way to coach baseball in Washington?” It seemed very strange to her. My father just chuckled and provided my mom with two images of “The” amazing bull.
I shifted the vehicle into park while my sleeping kids shifted in their seats. My wife lifted her head and asked, “Where are we?” I told her we were in the middle of the Nevada desert and asked her to go back to sleep. Flashlight and GPS in hand, I swiftly hiked to the predetermined spot. Before the kids knew it, I was back behind the steering wheel, and we were off to Washington.
Baseball adventures were followed by short but frequent trips to Nevada. At times, my dad or brother Chris would accompany me. Other times I would go solo. My sons provided occasional company when their schedules permitted. Dad would drop me off in one location and retrieve me in another. Chris provided additional glassing support. The boys continued to learn that hunting is much more than luck. My hiking boots and Dad’s wheels covered numerous miles as we explored the terrain, watering holes, glassing points, and feeding and bedding areas.
Dad and I found ourselves in our predetermined camping spot before the opening day of the archery season. My boys, busy with school and athletics were unable to join. Camp was set up and we found ourselves glassing. Dad in his lawn chair found it quite unusual to be glassing all day for one single animal. In fact, the only animal he saw that day was our target – our bull. I must say, Dad was not disappointed! His velvet was partially gone and to my dad, he was as impressive in real life as in the photos and video I had produced.
Opening morning we found ourselves all alone – with this amazing animal. Dad and I patiently watched as this magnificent creature disappeared and bedded for the day. Lunch was enjoyed and plans were laid. Dad found shade and watched from a distance as I paid the price to get in position. I was notified when the bull had reappeared and began to feed. I began to slowly descend on the sharp, jagged and loose hillside. Dad had a difficult time tracking both me and the elk. I had a difficult time spotting our target. Standing broadside his head was turned in my direction. The thick terrain prevented a proper shot as the elk bolted away. Frustration later turned into laughter as Dad and I teased each other about the experience. “He’s by the dead tree,” Dad instructed as I gazed around and could not count all of the dead trees! “I’m under the gray cliffs,” I explained as Dad tried to locate me underneath one of several cliffs. It had been years since Dad and I shared a hunt together and he had only been on one spot-and-stock archery hunt prior to now. Neither was I accustomed to having support on the other end of a spotting scope. We were able to find the bull again the following morning, but his location was not optimal for another attempt. Unable to hunt the afternoon and evening, we hoped to find him in the same north-facing slopes on our return to area.
Sleep was often distant as I juggled work, supported family activities, and searched for “our boy” who had disappeared in the Nevada wilderness. A heavy cost over a two-week period was offered and our bull was finally relocated just days from the end of the archery season. The active rut produced yet another dilemma as Dad and I were able to glass an additional bull that pushed over the 400” mark. “Our” bull was a very unique and heavy 7X8 while the other 6X6 bull was unreal, wide, and long. Astonishment set in as my dad and I sat and watched these two 400” bulls roughly 800 yards from each other competing for the same cows. What to do? Which one should we go after? With little thought, the decision was easily made to remain on our current course.
Patience and perseverance were at the heart of our hunt as Dad and I were finally able to secure our Nevada Dream. Similar to our first close encounter, the day began watching our bull retire to his bed. However, as the dark began to sneak over the foothills for the final time, Dad and I sat in amazement, unbelief, and reverent gratitude as our Nevada Dream had come true. Imagine if I had forgone the opportunity to donate to the Nevada Dream Tags Charitable Fund.
Thanks Dad for sharing the journey. Thanks Travis, Chris, and boys for unmatched support. Thanks to my two “girlfriends” (wife Amy and daughter Emma) for sacrificing and allowing me to take this ride.