Bow Bull of a Lifetime

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Day five

We heard seven or eight bulls on the fifth morning. Again, we checked them all out and again, we didn’t see anything I wanted. We weren’t trying to call them in really. We were just sneaking in to their bugles to look at them. We always went to the one that had the gruffest and the hoarsest bugle. They are not always the oldest but that is what you have to do. You are playing the odds when you single them out.

Bull with hot cow
When there is a hot cow in the area, the bulls
will be in a frenzy. When that happens you will hear it from their non-stop bugling.  At times like this, you can
often walk right in among them and shoot the herd bull.

That afternoon we saw and heard lots of bulls again. As luck would have it, we saw Brow Tine, only this time I was in the middle of five bulls. He was the bull to reckon with and he just circled up the five cows and ran them over the mountain to keep them away from the other bulls. As he was going over the top, I realized he was a lot bigger than I had thought. His thirds weren’t short at all. In fact, they were well over 20 inches long!

All I could think about was what it would be like to take a bull of that quality with my bow. Those other four bulls were in a frenzy. There must have been a cow in estrous in that herd and they were completely on fire. The best thing to do when they are in a frenzy like that is to walk right toward them. But as soon as I saw Brow Tine leave with the cows I backed out. There would be another day.

Day six

The sixth morning wasn’t productive; it was kind of like the lull after the storm from the day before.

That afternoon we were trying to cut the distance on two bugling bulls when all at once Richard hissed, “The big bull is coming straight at us.” We hid behind some trees. He never knew we were there but he turned toward the top of the mountain.

We tried to catch up to him but I didn’t want too hard and bugger him. He was going silent and the tendency is to push too hard at times like that and spook them. I tried to bugle to get him to sound off but he never would make a noise so we backed off. It was the last time we saw him that day.

I did get within 50 yards of 350-360 class bull. There was brush between us and he never would come out of the thick stuff. I probably would have shot that bull even though I had seen the big one. I had only ten days to hunt and it was already the sixth day. We waited and then snuck out after dark.

Day seven

The seventh morning started out well with us seeing a lot of bulls, however, at about 10 o’clock we heard two bulls bugling that really sounded big. We finally eased in on the first bull and he was bedded with a few cows around him. Richard and I got to about 55 yards and glassed him. Richard estimated that he would score about 350 inches. I told Richard that I could crawl to about 40 yards and take him.

Richard looked at me and said, “I think that bull that was bugling about 300 yards over that way sounded awfully big.” I decided to pass up the chance at the 350 bull for now just to see what the other one looked like. I never thought I would ever pass up a 350-inch bull in my life, but as I said, I was still hoping to shoot that monster. Like the television show Deal or No Deal, I was going to hold out in hopes of a big payoff.

We eased over toward the other bull; he was bedded a thicket too. I told Richard that I would crawl to him. The wind was good and I got to a tree about 32 yards from the bull. I was so disappointed. He probably would have been a 370-inch bull but he had five points broken off.

I signaled to Richard to call with my Knight & Hale cow call. All of a sudden, the bull stood up and started walking straight toward me. He actually put his nose on the tree I was hiding behind. I know what a bull in rut can do if he gets angry enough. I didn’t want him wearing me on one of the few points he still had left so I jabbed him in the nose with end of my bow. Now both of us were scared. He jumped back and walked straight to Richard, bugling all the way down the mountain.

That afternoon I decided to hunt close the waterhole where I saw Brow Tine the first time. It was about 4 o’clock when I had heard a chuckle from 200 yards away. I thought, ‘Here comes a bull to the water.’ I set up behind some pines, not anticipating what was about to come out of the trees. I could not believe my eyes. All my dreams of killing a monster bull instantly started playing through my head. He was coming straight toward me.

I have been hunting elk for 14 years and I have killed some very nice bulls but I had never seen a bull that big before. He came within 20 yards of me. Thank goodness, the wind held my way. He got to the water and stood facing me as he drank. It seemed to last forever. I kept telling myself not to look at the antlers but I couldn’t keep my eyes off them. I knew when he came out of the water I would have one chance for a shot. I ranged him at 42 yards. As he turned to walk away, I whistled and drew my bow. He looked my way and stopped just long enough for a broadside shot.

In an instant the shot of a lifetime was on its way. I practice many hours each year getting ready to hunt, but I have never taken a more important shot in my life. It felt good and I heard the arrow hit him. The bull trotted about 80 yards and lay down. What a relief.

Gary Keeton Bull Elk
Gary Keeton with his giant bull. You can see the extra brow tine on the left side and the broken sword point. If the bull’s left side had matched his right side and had he not been broken he would have been a new world record.

I immediately called Jim on the radio and told him what had happened. He was hunting by himself about a mile away and said he would be over in an hour. It seemed more like five hours when Jim finally came through the pine trees. In hushed but excited tones, I told him the whole story and then took him over to where the bull was standing when I shot him. We found blood immediately and arrow from my Mathews Switchback. It had been a complete pass-through.

I told Jim that I thought the bull was still lying in the same place. As we approached, he got up and started to trot down the mountain. I was stunned but decided to follow. The bull stopped again in some trees and I watched as he lay down again. I said, ‘Jim let’s get out of here and come back later.’ After talking with Richard, I decided to wait until morning. That was the longest night of my life.

Bright and early the next morning we were at the spot where I left the bull. He was still there, stone dead. It was cool that night and I saved all the meat. I had a taxidermist standing right next to me so the cape was perfect. Richard mounted the head for me and did a great job.


After getting my bull quartered and out to the locker plant, I stayed to hunt with Jim for two more days until I had to leave. We got close a couple of times. Jim finally killed a 340-inch bull on the 11th day of his hunt - the day after I left.

Jim with Montana Bull
Jim Worthan with a giant bull he shot in Montana
last year.  Unfortunately, he wasn’t able
to snap a photo of himself with the bull he shot on the Arizona hunt.

The antlers on the bull I shot have a gross score of 393 inches even with ten inches broken off the sword point on the right side. He is an old beast of a bull with nine to ten inch bases and heavy mass all the way through the long beams. It took nine years to draw that tag, but it was the bull of a lifetime.



Garden Prairie, IL
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