Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A Hunt Without Grandpa

Hello there friends!  Happy Thanksgiving!

We've got quite an amazing treat for you today.  I'm not going to give much of an intro on this one, as I do not want to distract from this one-of-a-kind story today.  This is quite honestly (in my opinion) one of the best hunting stories I have ever read.  Not only is it a tale of another great, successful elk hunt leading to a trophy bull, but this story is rooted deep in hunting tradition, legacy, and personal feeling.  If you have never taken the time to read a full story on our site before, today I hope you would take the time for this one from Falyn Owens, of Panguitch, Utah. 

This article is 100% her work, unedited by myself, and again, is one of the best written pieces we have had on here, if not the best!  I have to thank Falyn again for putting so much time and personal feeling into this, and for sharing it with our readers.  I hope you enjoy!

A Hunt Without Grandpa

I kept reading Facebook seeing so many of my friends posting the charge made to their credit cards notifying if they were “successful” or “unsuccessful”.  I was nervous as I opened my online bank to finally see that elusive big bull charge!!!!  First thing I did was call my dad, second thing I went to tell my Grandpa “PeeWee” Owens.  He was always one of the first people I talked to about hunting- I still remember his laugh and smile when I told him.  He was almost as excited as my dad.

The significance of this hunt started years earlier. I was lucky enough to be instilled with a love for fishing and hunting at a young age.  Hunting and Fishing are some of the greatest memories I have with my Dad, Grandpa and cousins while I was younger.  One of my most fond hunting memories I have in my life came while hunting an Antelope with my dad and Grandpa years ago.  From the time the sun came up to the time I shot was about 15 minutes long, but I will never forget the proud look on my grandpa’s face when the antelope was down.  He picked up my .243 shell and made sure I saved it.  I was asked to submit the story of my antelope hunt to a magazine. I wrote a story and sent a picture of my Grandpa and me- something he was extremely excited to see when it was published and talked about often.

When I learned I drew- the excitement continued as we found out my cousin, Zach Owens drew as well.  The downfall is we were now not only scouting for one big bull, but we needed two.   Zach, his brother Spenser, and their friends spend a lot of time in the mountains as well as my dad and one of my good friends, Jonie Barton and her family.  Everyone was now on high alert to look for some big bulls for the Panguitch Lake late hunt. 

In July my Grandma and Grandpa went camping to one of their favorite spots.  My 6 year old daughter Byntlee, begged to go roast marshmallows with them, something we did often when they camped.  My grandpa was full of life that day; he was in such a joking mood.  The next morning things changed drastically.  He got sick and had some difficulty breathing; he had been on oxygen for several years but this day was worse.  He just didn’t snap out of it.  One of the last things we talked about was my elk hunt before life-flight took him.  He said to me, “Falyn, can you believe these crazy doctors just told me I shouldn’t go as high as Panguitch Lake anymore that I can breathe better in a lower elevation.”  I said, “PeeWee does that mean you can’t go elk hunting with me anymore?”  He said in his crazy PeeWee way, “Bulls****, I will be there on your elk hunt, I promise”.  The next morning my Grandpa passed away. 

I was heartbroken and devastated.  We had always been fishing and hunting partners.  My Grandpa has taken a good portion of his grandchildren fishing or in the mountains.  He taught his kids the value of hunting, something they all still passionately do.  After things settled down I thought about giving my tag back; I didn’t want to bring a bull of the mountain without my Grandpa seeing it and getting to relive the story with him.  Instead, I asked my Grandma if I could take his orange coat.  The same orange coat he wore on every hunt he went with me on.  The oversized coat that always made him sweat, while everyone else froze and he wanted the heaters shut off.  I took it to my house, because my Grandpa made a promise- he would go elk hunting with me. 

Months passed and I accepted a new position at my job, one that involved a lot more travel.  My first international trip scheduled was to London departing in November arriving back into the US- 11:00 p.m. the night before my hunt.  While in London I talked to my dad and he told me he and Zach had found two worthy bulls and they had been watching them.  They knew where they would be the opening morning.  My flight left London,  a few hours into the flight the oil pressure began to drop drastically and the plane had to make an emergency landing in Goose Bay, Canada.  The plane was filled to capacity and the airport was small.  They didn’t have enough people to get the entire plane through customs so they asked our patience in just waiting until a new one arrived.  Four hours later- the new jet finally arrived causing everyone to miss their connecting flights for the night.  I had to call my dad and tell him it was impossible for me to get home, I was going to miss the opening morning of the elk hunt. 

The next morning I made the trek home. I was so excited when I got the picture of my cousin’s elk!!  He did it- he got a very beautiful, massive 360-class bull.  It was a great hunt for him.  I later found out he packed my Grandpas funeral program in his pocket for extra help.  My dad called on my last leg of my flight and told me he went up and watched the elk that he had been watching for days.  He was so excited most of the hunters were headed back in at 10:00 a.m.  He was still watching the elk- however the elk made a fatal mistake stepping out of his hiding spot as a hunter drove by.  The hunter was elated to pop down the 370 class bull.  My dad again- devastated. 

I arrived home late on the opening morning, got my bearings back- sat out my gun, my new camo, my tag and my Grandpa's coat.  When I woke up the next morning we headed out; my grandpa’s coat sat in the middle of the truck the entire morning.  We saw a herd of elk that my dad knew there was a unique 5-point bull in.   We quickly got around the mountain that they were coming down.  They were coming so fast, 200 plus elk.  I have always been a little afraid of an elk stampede so I was NERVOUS, my knees were shaking.  Several of the elk went flying up the other hillside, my dad reminded me to be patient, don’t shoot the rag horn six points wait for the unique 5 point.  At the tail end of the herd, the bull began to make his trek down.  At 80 yards from me I got a dead rest (I have no clue why I did that- I usually shoot better off-hand) and a deep breath squeezing the trigger.  I melted as dirt flew on the other side of the giant creature. 

 I ran down the road a few yards and pulled my gun up in desperation and shot again. He went into a grove of trees, and finally showed himself in a clearing.  I shot again and missed.  We waited to watch all of the other elk come out of the trees.  We never saw the bull he must’ve have went the opposite direction.  We walked up to the area and found the tiniest speckle of blood on a rock.  My dad is an avid lion hunter and his hound dog instinct kicked in.  He was looking at every track to find more drops of blood.  We walked up and down the hill tracking and searching.  He called my uncle and his son to come up and help.  Hours later after most people would have given up we were onto the track walking over the top of the hill one last time.  We could hear branches breaking and finally saw a big bull running through the bottom of the canyon.  Everyone shouted and I got ready to shoot, I was so nervous I jacked a bullet out and jammed the next bullet.  We cleared that mess up as the bull slowly started to run up the other hill.  I shot, later to find out from the mark on the bull I grazed his belly, shot again hitting his guts, one more time grazing the hair on his neck as he hit the skyline he took one look back and I knew it was my last chance or we would be tracking again.  I took a deep breath and squeezed, the bull hit the ground, rolled and stood up enough to slide about 10 feet and died.  The range finder said my last shot was almost 600 yards with my lucky .243.  I know there was a lot of luck involved in that hit, the bull walked into my bullet; my guess is my Grandpa gave him a little poke to help get him there.

My friends and other cousins all hiked up the hill to help pack out my kill.  Before they arrived my dad hiked back to the truck where I shot the first time and grabbed my Grandpa’s coat and brought it back up to me.  We took some pictures with his coat.  I could tell my Grandpa was just as proud as he was on my antelope hunt, I knew he was smiling at us I saved my brass and took it out and placed it on his grave.  It was hard taking the bull to show my Grandma and not having him there to relive the hunt with.  We took some more pictures with my bull and Zach’s bull on Grandpa’s front lawn.  Two epic hunts, two awesome bulls both dedicated to the same man, a man that taught generation after generation the importance of family and the value of hunting.