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Wyoming Trophy Mule Deer,
Antelope and Elk Hunts

Montana Trophy Mule Deer,
Antelope and Elk Hunts

Cole D. Benton
Wyoming Outfitter #BG068
Montana Outfitter #7296

N E W S

1921 Passaic Road · Clearmont, WY  82835 · Telephone: (307) 736-2277 · E-mail:  grizout@vcn.com

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2016 N E W S


Left to right: Cole Benton, Elaine Benton, Bob Sundeen & Josh Martoglio

The biggest news for us at Grizzly Outfitters, LLC was partnering with Josh Martoglio and purchasing Trails West Outfitters from Bob Sundeen and Janice Cronin in late 2016.  This purchase has been in the works for a few years now and we were able to finalize all the Forest Service Permits to be transferred in Cody in December.  Josh will be the working force behind the new Trails West Outfitters and he plans to continue Bob’s legacy as he has done in the past. 

Some might remember Josh Martoglio when he started out as a guide with us when he was just out of high school.  The continued with Grizzly Outfitters for seven years and also working for Bob at Trails West Outfitters for about ten years.  Since then, he is the outfitter of record for Shoshoni Lodge and has been doing a tremendous job for them sheep, elk, and deer hunting.  In fact, Josh has become one of the finest sheep guides in Wyoming.

Not only will Josh be outfitting sheep, elk, or deer hunting, we can offer wonderful summer pack or fishing trips on the Greybull River.  Josh and Cole are looking forward to helping out all of Bob’s past clients and starting a new friendship with them and many new clients in the future.

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This antelope was spotted by guide Pepper Neustel along the county road where someone tried to poach him.  We tried unsuccessfully to have an archery hunter finish this animal off, but we were unable to do it.  Cole contacted Game Warden Dustin Shorma about the animal because we knew it has to be suffering.  Mr. Shorma gave Cole permission to kill this animal with a rifle.  It took three weeks to locate him again.  Cole destroyed the antelope, but salvaged the meat which was given to the Game & Fish.  The arrow went in the face and came out the back of the jaw which made it impossible to eat.  The cape and horns went to Trophies Unlimited Taxidermy where he will be mounted to be displayed at the Sheridan Regional Game and Fish Office.  This failed poaching attempt caused this animal three weeks of suffering which he did not deserve.  I hope the person that attempted this poaching sees this website and what he or she did to this animal.

Grizzly Outfitters donates several youth hunts each year to various organizations.  We feel getting kids involved in hunting, nature, and the great outdoors is very special.  One such hunt was donated to the Wyoming Wild Sheep Foundation for their fundraiser June 2016 in Casper.  A young lady by the name of Taylor Fazio won a completely donated cow hunt with us.  Cole had a great day with Taylor and her dad Peter.  She did harvest her elk and this is her story on how it all happened:

This was my first time out hunting and I was equally as nervous as I was excited.  We headed out that night and made it to the ranch just in time for dinner.  We ate with Mr. Benton, his wife, some of their guides, and a few other hunters that were there.  When we had finished dinner, it was straight to bed.  We had an early morning.  The next morning we got ready and took off.  We had been driving for a bit when we caught sight of a small herd of elk in a large dish, but there was no way to get to them.  We drove a little further, and saw a huge herd of around 140 elk on the side of a ridge, bedded down.  We snuck over to them, up and down cuts in the mountain, through a few basins, and got up on the ridge across from them.  There were some big bulls.  Mr. Benton and I lay prone on the top of the ridge while my dad and Ed (our other guide) stayed behind.  Mr. Benton had me set on a nice group of a few smaller horned bulls, cows, and calves bedded down off to the side.  We laid there for 45 minutes waiting for one to jump up. Suddenly a cow got up. I followed her across the ridge with the scope, but by the time I was ready to shoot, she had made her way into the larger herd.  Then the bulls got up and the others began to follow.  Mr. Benton then pointed out a cow tailing the others. I got ready to shoot, and she gave me a great broadside shot.  I slowly squeezed the trigger, and BANG, I shot.  I was shaking so bad I hit her in the neck.  At first we thought I had missed her because we saw dirt fly behind her.  It turned out the bullet had just gone straight through.  Everyone was ecstatic, I had just gotten my first animal, and it was an elk!  We then went to retrieve it, and it was amazing.

Taylor, Age 12



Pat Monroe


Adrian Keeler

Grizzly Outfitters, LLC has some spectacular guides and want to spotlight a couple this year. 

Pat Monroe started with us in 1999, other than Pepper, he has been with us the longest.  He is a great guide in the field and works very hard for his hunters.  Pat always pitches in whenever there is work to be done and always with a smile. His everyday job is with the Johnson County Sheriff’s Department as a Deputy Sheriff.  In an article in the Buffalo Bulletin not long ago he was quoted:  “We are very fortunate to live where we live.  We have the support of our community and the respect.  I appreciate the community for their trust in us.” Pat and wife Jera have five children.

The newest addition to our staff is Adrian Keeler, who started just this year.  Guiding is not a new occupation for Adrian as he has guided many years near Casper. He is also in law enforcement with the Buffalo WY Police Department.  He and his wife Kathy have three sons. Adrian has become one of our Grizzly family and does a fantastic job.

2015 N E W S

We had an exciting 2015 year. Grizzly Outfitters had its first wedding held here at the ranch. This was a very short notice wedding!  Two of our archery antelope clients, Tim and Annie asked one afternoon if they could hold their wedding ceremony the next morning with us. Their original plan to be married on the mountain had to be scratched due to not having the required witnesses.  Being an hour and a half from the nearest bakery, Janet and I went to work to bake what might be called a wedding cake.  Made from two sizes of bread pans, it started to take shape. Tim and Annie went in search of the ideal location for the ceremony the afternoon before. We had just had a rain shower so they went down the draw following a rainbow. Finding their location amongst the pine trees, sagebrush, and sandstone rocks was their first witness, a rattlesnake. Luckily the next morning he was gone, but we did have a nice group of mule deer bucks standing quietly above us to watch the ceremony. Pepper served as best man and I as maid of honor. Annie was beautiful in her wedding dress, hunting boots, and bouquet of sagebrush! After the vows were said and pictures taken, the newlyweds returned to the lodge aboard the Polaris Ranger.  What a true Western wedding. Congratulations Tim and Annie Mead!!

Tim and Anne harvested a buck and doe antelope with archery equipment. They had them mounted together for a beautiful souvenir of the wedding trip.


This year we lost our pack mule Roy at the age of 35. He went on all the sheep hunts over the years and was such a valuable asset. Roy never needed to be haltered or picketed as he just followed along with the horses. Quite a site to see him packed down with gear just wandering along loose! One year Cole was sheep hunting up on Stewart Creek in area 5 when Roy decided that the black bear which wondered into camp needed to leave. He proceeded to run him off all by himself. So brave! If you have experienced being around mules, you know they are so intelligent and he was very mild mannered and never got into trouble. Roy has been retired from the work force for many years now, but was still an important part of the family. We will miss him greatly. 


Roy, and Cole on Chief


Roy and Black Bear


Cole and our Sheridan County Predator trapper Alan Plummer discovered the carcass of a large bull elk which had succumbed to an untimely death last spring. It appears he got wound up into some electric fence wire. In his struggles to free himself , he continued to get more tangled.


Grizzly Outfitters hosted a group of wounded warriors from the Healing Road Foundation last fall.  We had three veterans, two of their boys, and the sponsor. They all harvested doe antelope and our guides Pepper and Brad B. had a blast helping these veterans and their families have quality time in the outdoors. This was also a chance to encourage our youth to get involved into hunting. Thank you Pepper and Brad for donating your time for this worthy cause. 


The Whole Wounded Warriors Crew


Dave, Dave Jr. and Guide Brad


Jason and Guide Brad


Casey and Dad


At the WYOGA (Wyoming Outfitter and Guides Association) Awards Banquet in April, 2015 Grizzly Outfitters took three awards for animals harvested in 2013. In typical rifle mule deer category, client Randy Lewis took 2nd place.  He was guided by Pat Monroe and the deer scored 186 5/8 B&C. In typical archery mule deer, client Marc Murfitt placed 1st with his deer scoring 174 2/8 and guided by Brad Peacock. Our third client, Mike Bright took 1st place in non-typical archery mule deer with a score of 165 0/8 B&C, he was also guided by Brad. Photo is of Cole and Brad excepting the plaque awards.


Randy Lewis

Marc Murfitt

Mike Bright

2014 N E W S

Cole went on a stone sheep hunt the fall of 2014. Our friend Keith Stansel accompanied him to British Columbia to hunt with Bluestone Guiding and Adventures with Billy and Devlin Oestreich.

After a grueling eight days, Cole harvested a beautiful ram. This was the best sheep he has every taken.

On the fourth day of the hunt, they came across a black wolf trying to take down a cow caribou. Of course it didn’t take long for him to put this wolf down! This trophy made the hunt complete.

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Elaine took a vacation this year to California. She and Cole’s dad’s wife, Jenny visited with several clients in route. We learned so much about large scale dairies, almond and walnut growing, orange groves and seeing firsthand how California’s several years of drought has affected the agriculture industry as a whole. Then we drove on north to Mendocino and stayed at a resort near the ocean.  Believe it or not this was my first time seeing an ocean, fascinating! We visited Napa Valley, botanical gardens, train ride though the Redwoods, and a personal tour through the Narvarro Vineyards. A long 1,800 miles, but saw much diversified types of landscapes and we were amazed constantly.

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Ocean View

Seaside View

Redwoods

Narvarro Vineyards

This 7x6 bull was found by Tyler Benton and Colby Richens while guiding hunters for Grizzly Outfitters in October 2014 in Wyoming.  If you will look at the base on the back of the left antler, you will see where another bull drove a horn into the skull of this unlucky 350+ bull.  The broken horn was still imbedded when found. This had to have been a terrible death. The two guides recovered the bull and notified the Game & Fish.  Tyler is having a European mount done with our taxidermist Tom Entinger.


Our grandson Kale and the whole Benton family were saddened with the loss of his beloved horse Ladybug.  She was unable to recover from a bad case of colic in May. Ladybug taught both Kale and Kade so much about horsemanship in their young lives. She will be greatly missed.

2013 N E W S

We lost two very close friends and clients in 2013. Gary Ploeckelmann of Brookfield, WI starting deer hunting in Wyoming in 1974. We were employed for Kendrick Cattle Co. at the time when he and three buddies arrived to hunt.  He immediately became part of our family.  He traveled countless times to Wyoming to visit, bringing almost all of his family members one time or another over the years. We in turn visited Wisconsin many times. Gary had a heart of gold and would always be there to help a friend. He traveled to Africa frequently and discovered a great love of that country.  Gary battled many health issues in the past years, but always seemed to rally.  He found eternal peace on September 25 at the age of 60. Gary was one of a million you could really call a true friend and he will always remain in our hearts.

Jerry Crone of Prosser, WA hunted with Grizzly Outfitters with his wife Jacque. They traveled to Wyoming to hunt five times, always harvesting great animals.  Jerry succumbed to a stroke shortly after Christmas.  We will miss Jerry, but hopefully Jacque can once again come and join us at Grizzly Outfitters. 


Gary Ploeckelmann


Jerry Crone

This fall an elderly neighbor was having trouble harvesting her cow elk in Montana. Cole worked for Mary Jo Reavis and her husband Joe when he started working for Kendrick Cattle Co. at the age of 17. She has remained a close neighbor for over forty years, still running her ranch by herself.  When our client Jim Digiandomenico from PA heard of her dilemma, he donated his cow elk for her freezer. Our guides Pat and Pepper along with Jim set out one morning to accomplish this task. Shortly that morning they found the perfect cow to harvest. They delivered the cow to her door and loaded it in her pickup for the trip to the locker plant. Thanks to our hunter, he made one woman very happy to have wonderful elk meat to enjoy for the coming year. Thanks Jim!


We received this wonderful letter from Bill Tatum, father of a donated youth elk hunter in Montana.

Dear Mr. Benton,

I can't thank you enough for inviting John and me out to your ranch to hunt elk. I was in a training session when my wife called and told me you had spoken with Kathy Widdicomb and there was an opening. I had a hard time concentrating on the rest of my training. When I got home and told John he said this was better than winning the lottery!

Suffice it to say John and I didn't get much sleep Friday night. He was just too excited and I was afraid I would wake up in time. We met up with Pat, who I have to say is a true professional. I could tell he loved what he did and was passionate about getting John on some elk. Hunting with him was like hunting with a good friend. He was very patient with me and John and about as nice as they come.

Later that morning Pat got John an opportunity for a shot at 224 yds and unfortunately he missed. I was surprised as well as John because he's put in a lot of time shooting and is a better shot than I.  Pat and I thought he may have hit a branch or maybe John succumbed to "buck fever" and pulled the shot.  John wasn't sure. We checked the area and found no blood. On the way back to the pickup we found the same bunch of elk and the cows all looked fine. We also saw a great mule deer buck with nice kickers off the back.  Pat knows of the one. Pat reassured John on the miss and told him we would find some more elk.

We had some lunch and continued hunting. John really liked the sandwiches; his compliments to the chef! Pat spotted some elk on top of a far away ridge and we were on our way. As we were sneaking in on the herd, Pat saw three public land hunters down below the ridge. The elk were in a small park and we were getting John set up. We heard a shot and the elk were off to the races. After they cleared out Pat went to check to make sure the hunters were on public land and John and I backtracked to see if we could find the elk. Sure enough John spotted about 30 elk on a knob approximately 900 yds away. We snuck to within 264 yds. We saw the Big Six bull in that group Pat had told us about and both John and I were just amazed! As John was setting up for a shot on a cow, I had to remind him he could only take a cow after seeing the big bull:}, the elk saw the other hunters and spooked over the knob. We met back up with Pat and tried to catch the elk crossing in the flats below. We didn't catch up with them, but on the way out John spotted a big heard way out across the flats. That heard had the Big Seven Pat had told us about. Awesome!

We thanked Pat and said our goodbyes and went on our way. I thought John would have slept all the way home after having been up since 2:30 a.m., but instead couldn't stop talking about the day we had! Sure, he was a little disappointed he didn't get something, but I think it was overshadowed by the experience of the day. He even commented that being outdoors and hunting and seeing all the animals was way better than any video game or watching TV! I have to agree.

On a side note week prior I had taken the rifle John used to check zero. At 100 yds all three shots were touching. At 200 yds it was within a 50 cent piece and at 300 yds I was hitting a 10" gong with no problems. On Sunday we went back to the range. John shot at 100 yds and didn't hit paper. I shot and didn't hit paper. It turned out to be 8" high. I readjusted and then it shot low and then all over the place. I couldn't pinpoint the exact problem, but we both felt better knowing it was something with the gun/scope and not John. Please pass that info on to Pat. I know he felt bad for John too. I'm also kind of thankful John didn't get a shot the second time around for fear of wounding the elk or missing again .

We will never forget this experience and the memories associated with it! You have a beautiful piece of Montana. Thanks for sharing! As a token of our appreciation I've enclosed is a gift certificate for Jake's Steak House here in Billings. I hope you and your wife can use it if you ever make it up. If not, I'm sure Pat would use it on one of his trips to Scheel's. Thanks again Mr. Benton!

Sincerely,


Boarder Fire

The 2012 season was one of the best for Grizzly Outfitters, LLC in 15 years. Our clients went home with some great animals taken in both Wyoming and Montana. We had a wonderful time visiting, hunting, and showing them our operation.  Our goal is try to treat all our clients like family and make them feel at home. We had clients from all around the U.S. from Hawaii to New York and Canada to Texas.


Fire Chief Fritz Bates

This past year could be called the summer of drought and wildfires for our property and leases.  We had eight fires on our large block of leases.  The largest was on the Montana side, north and west of the lodge. Hundreds of acres of pine forest and rough sagebrush were destroyed.  The closest to the lodge was the “Boarder Fire”. Cole spotted this fire within minutes of starting, just a few miles NE of the Cabin Creek lodge located on our neighbors September 21st. Yes a wildfire in September.  Cole had just finished harvesting two bull elk for two clients from Hawaii. I was asked if I would provide food since I was the closest person in thirty miles with a fully stocked pantry that time of year. We were all put to work within a very short time, even Mike and Vince our hunters, helping me deliver food for the over 50 firefighters. I also called in guide Pepper and wife Ileta. It takes a lot of help the produce meals for three days for that may firefighters!  There was another fire on July 12th called the “Passaic Complex Fire” located on our neighbor Russ Green’s just east of the Squaw Creek Camp and south of the main lodge.  It was in a very rough pine forest area.  Firefighters had a very hard time even getting into the area to fight.  I was asked to feed these hard working guys also for three days also.

Many of our watering holes became very low and some dried up completely.  This coming spring we will be praying for lots of moisture. What would really be nice is a very wet snow with lots of wind to blow the draws full of drifts.  This would melt down and really give the reservoirs a good drink.
Boarder Fire Photos
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"Squaw Creek Camp"

We built a new Lodge, the Squaw Creek Camp, to replace the old Hanging Woman Camp.

Desert Sheep Hunt - Cole's Grand Slam

On March 12, 2009 a 28 year quest has ended for me. I took my first Rocky Mountain bighorn in September 1981 in Wyoming with the help of a great friend and neighbor, Glenn Green (deceased).

The sheep bug took over from there.  Since that first hunt I have taken another Wyoming bighorn, two Dalls in Alaska, and a stone sheep in British Columbia. Garth Carter’s Hunting Services has been putting in for a desert sheep tag for me in every state that has non-resident licenses except California. Like everyone else, each year you hope it’s your year to draw one of these coveted desert sheep tags.

Having attended each GSC/OVIS conventions since their first one, I always take time to visit with a lot of the outfitters. On Saturday the 21st of 2009 the convention was almost over when friends of ours, Bob and Cindy Finn, came over and was visiting with my wife and me about a desert sheep hunt he  was about to book. Bob said this agent he was working with had one other tag available on another ranch with a different outfitter. 

Bob introduced me to Les Ezell of Sierra Grande Adventures, Inc. and the outfitter Ubaldo Lopez with El Rodeo Hunting. It wasn’t but a short hour later, with dozens of questions, and my wife’s permission, the hunt was booked. 

I met Les Ezell and one of the guides on March 6th in Hermosillo Senora Mexico.  We drove until midnight to get to the hunting area.  Ubaldo Lopez was there with another sheep hunter when we arrived.  We began hunting immediately the next morning.  Over a three day period, we saw several rams, but none quite as good as I wanted.  The third afternoon we left this ranch and drove 2 ½ hours to another ranch closer to the coast.  That evening we saw eight different rams, two that were exceptional, but it was too late in the evening to get on them.  The next two days was spent trying to find the two largest rams.  On the fifth day of the hunt, two of the guides and I were walking one mountain range while Ublado was glassing another range.  Ublado spotted a very good sheep but had no way of getting a hold of us.  That evening he told us of this ram and the following morning we went after him.  He was near the same place as the evening before.  During the hunt we had quite a few problems with the wind changing and today was no exception.  We tried every angle and after half a day, we were finally able to crawl within 244 yards of this ram.  When he dropped with the shot, and we were walking toward him, the realization hit me that today was the end of a 28 year quest for the Grand Slam of North American Sheep.

I can not say enough about what Les Ezell did to make this hunt happen.  His knowledge of Mexico the people, their language, and hunting in Mexico is what made everything possible.  Having Les with me on the hunt just put the icing on the cake.  Ubaldo and his staff were superb.  The ranches we hunted had plenty of sheep with little hunting pressure.  The ram I took was ten years old, heavy broomed, and the best sheep I have taken in the 28 years of sheep hunting.

My Second Dall

On September 8th, 2007 I flew into Anchorage, Alaska where I met up with my outfitter Bill Stevenson’s wife Kelly.  She drove us about 100 miles north to their home where we got our gear ready, shot rifles, and Bill immediately made two trips with one of his Super Cubs flying us part way up the mountain.  Due to bad weather, he could only fly us a short distance and had to set down on an old strip.  My guide Cash and I walked on into the night until coming to an old one room mountaineer shack.  Bears had been there before us, so it took a little house cleaning before eating supper and spending the night.

The next morning we continued climbing then spent the rest of the day crossing a huge glacier.  This glacier averages two mile wide and is 25 miles long.  Reaching the other side in the evening, we set spike camp up and had a quick bite to eat.  Cash then left me and walked back out on the glacier looking for a route into a basin behind camp.  There was supposed to be some rams hidden there.

We were up at 3:00 AM the next morning and stared climbing to a spot overlooking this basin.  This climb took several hours in the dark.  At 7:00 AM we reached the top just in time to see the rams go down and out into the middle of the basin with no cover between us and them.  We spent the day waiting for the sheep to make the next move.  Part of the time was spent watching a black bear and a goat on the far side of us.

In the late afternoon, the six rams started grazing toward us.  With the wind in our favor, we made a rush to a chute and started down it.  Within just a few minutes, we were at the bottom of the chute crawling out for a rest across a rock for a shot.  The wind changed and the rams made a run for it.  They paused once and I was able to put two shots into the largest ram with my Browning single shot 30-338. He went down.  With some quick photos, caping, and deboning, we loaded everything and started back to our spike camp.  We got there just at dark.

The following morning we reloaded everything including camp. Dropping onto the glacier, we strapped on our ice cleated clamp-ons and walked out across the glacier.  Bill was able to land his Cub on the far side of the glacier and picked us up there for the flight back to his home.  The following day we checked our ram in with the Game and Fish in Palmer.  He was 11 ½ years old with an outstanding cape and will have a life size mount done. I was then headed back to Wyoming with my second Dall ram the other was taken in 1995. I can not say enough about the hospitality shown me along with Cash being an excellent guide.  Bill Stevenson’s flying ability is second to none.

The Six Man Ram

As many of you will remember, this story started in May of 2006 when Russ Green drew an Area 5 bighorn sheep tag.  After 38 years of applying, Russ was ready for this hunt.  Nothing could go wrong, could it? No one would ever have dreamed that a large portion of the Greybull River would be burning from July though August in 2006.  This fire was large enough that the Wyoming Game and Fish gave all Area 5 tag holders an opportunity to turn their tags in with a guarantee of receiving one in 2007.  Russ was one of 18 other tag holders who did turn theirs back.  Now a year to wait.

August 28, 2007   Russ along with his son Travis and good friend Bob Sundeen took camp in and set it up.  They immediately started riding and glassing for sheep.  Early the morning of August 30th, I met my son Tyler and his father-in-law Wayne Nelson in Buffalo.  We drove to the Jack Creek trail head, saddled horses and headed up the Greybull trail.  Bob had already taken most of our gear in, so we only took one pack horse.  Four and a half hours later, we were in camp.  There is a lot of history with this hunt as Russ’s dad started me sheep hunting many years ago.  Now, I’m one sheep away from my grand slam!

Arriving in camp, we were greeted with stories of a ram, one of several Bob, Russ, and Travis had been watching on the mountain above camp.  While eating supper, we discussed several options on how we might try to have an opportunity at this one impressive sheep.  With plans made, we hit the bedrolls.

Awaking early, we saddled horses, made lunches, and ate breakfast.  Taking horses as far as we could, Russ, Travis, Tyler and I started climbing.  Bob and Wayne stayed low and went out the other side where hopefully they could keep an eye on this ram.  He was not in a place we could get to.  The ram needed to come out to us.  As the day wore on, we saw around 25 other rams, but none as good as the one in the cliffs.  Lots of exercise, but no luck today.  Returning to camp in the dark, Bob and Wayne said the ram was still there.  OK, plan B.

The following morning, the four of us started out again with Bob and Wayne once again staying behind to watch what this sheep may have in mind as we could see him from camp again. There was an area in those cliffs that he certainly enjoyed more than we did.  After two hours of riding, we tied up and started climbing.  If we could get above him and if he would come out to us, we had a chance.  We spent several hours of glassing and working our way to the end of the mountain.  We immediately found the two smaller rams that were part of this group of four right where we wanted them.  Bad news though, as the ram we wanted and his other running mate would not show themselves.  There we lay for the next two hours.  The sun was getting lower, but the ram we wanted still held out from showing himself.  If something doesn’t happen very soon, we were going to spend the night up here as there is no way of getting off of this mountain in the dark without getting someone hurt.  We waited, and now could see the horns of the two biggest rams, but they would not show themselves.  It’s going to be dark soon.  Time to throw some rocks.  After rock upon rock, they finally moved, but the wrong way.

I grabbed Russ and said “let’s go.”  We made a run for a spot below us that I thought we might get a shot.  Tyler and Travis stayed high to follow the sheep as they moved.  As we got into position, there was no doubt everything we had worked for was about to go down the drain.  We had one chance at about 300 yards and then they were going to be gone.  I said “can you make that shot?”  His response was “yes”. One shot from the 300 H&H with double set triggers handed down from his dad.  The bullet went home; the ram made three lunges down toward the cliffs and then started rolling.  That was the last we saw of him until almost dark.

Following the rolling blood trail for almost an hour, I found the sheep where he had crashed into a crevice.  A few quick photo’s with the four of us and I radioed Bob that it looked like we would be here for the night.  We cleaned the sheep, and dug into the side of the mountain for what was going to be a long night.  We made use of the space blankets we packed and kept a fire going until light finally started showing the morning of the 3rd.  We quickly caped and quartered the ram, split up the load, and started crawling out of the hole we were in.  The next four hours were the worst climb I’ve ever had to make sheep hunting.  When we finally topped out, Wayne and Bob met us with food, water, and our horses.  It was an enjoyable trip back to base camp.  We all agreed on one thing, if it wasn’t for all six of us working together, this ram probably would not be headed for Russ’s wall.

Three Antlered Bull
By Cole D. Benton

     On September 29, 2005, two of my guides had been out scouting for deer for the season opening the next day.  Pat Monroe and Josh Martoglio came in to our lodge very excited about a large bull elk they had just been seen north of us about two miles.  The three of us went back to where he hade been so I could look at him.   Although only a short amount of time had elapsed, the bull had moved into the timber.  We waited him out.  Both guides knowing I had a license for this area wanted me to take the bull.  I still had two elk hunters coming in yet and I said I wouldn’t shoot an elk until they were filled.  Suddenly the elk came out of cover along with several cows, calves, and younger bulls.  It was hard to believe what we were looking at.  His right horn was a beautiful 7 point.  On the left were two full size horns!  One good look and they were gone.  It shouldn’t be too hard to find this bull again as all of these elk stay here all year.  We filled two elk hunters along with our deer and antelope hunters.  We saw a lot of game and never saw the three antlered bull again.  Should I have shot him when I had the chance?

     One year and six days later on October 5, 2006 my son Tyler had a half day break in between guiding deer and antelope hunts.  Tyler asked to take advantage of the short few hours and hunt an elk for himself.  We only had one elk hunter yet coming in, but not until October 20th.   There seemed to be plenty of elk around, so I told him to go ahead.

     Tyler was accompanied by another one of our guides, Curt Shatzer.  They said when the elk were located, that there was a cow in heat and bulls were everywhere!  They had their attention on a large bull and went after him when out of nowhere came this same three antlered bull that we had seen over a year ago!  Tyler said it didn’t take long to change his efforts to this bull.  Two great things happened.  Tyler was able to harvest this wonderful elk and Curt filmed the entire hunt!

     After a closer look, there were definitely three individual antlers.  The bull gross scored almost 370 BC.

Another Chance At Life

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On October 10, 2005 all of our hunters from our second hunt had departed by noon. Immediately following, our guests for the third and final hunt in Wyoming started arriving. Included in this group were three gentlemen from California. Two of them, Ron Toste and Steve Schaad, were repeat clients of several years. The third person, Dave Graff, was hunting with us for the first time. I never take over two hunters at a time to guide, but this time they asked if I would take all three of them as a group. Ron and Dave had deer tags and Steve had an elk tag. Everyone wanted to be involved with the elk hunt. We take a very limited number of trophy elk clients each year, so it is very special to get the opportunity to hunt this unit.

It had rained then turned to snow the third of October then rained again. We received over three inches of moisture out of this storm in NE Wyoming. Due to the mud, our vehicles were at a stand still except traveling on the shale county road. I explained to the entire new group of hunters that all hunting would be done on foot and ATV’s would be used only to retrieve game, no hunt would be done off of them. We require all rifles to be checked before heading out into the field and begin hunting that first evening. Due to the mud everyone waited to start out the next morning so a full day of hunting could be done.

Our first hunting day started out with the wind from the wrong direction. I had chosen a large roadless area to hunt where we had previously spotted some elk. I knew there would be some big buck deer also in this area, so I explained to the hunters due to the wind from the wrong direction, we would have to walk north to the Montana state line, cross two drainages to the west, and then hunt back to the south. No problem, these guys were fresh and couldn’t wait to get started. They would feel very differently about seven o’clock that evening! I knew this was our best chance because of the mud.

We unloaded from my pickup just at light. The march north went well. We glassed several nice buck deer which one was exceptional. I wanted no shooting until I knew if the elk were here and where they were located. When we hit the state line, the walking became easier as we headed west. This timbered country was sandy and we did not have to deal with the gumbo mud. As we reached the bottom of the second drainage, where I wanted to start hunting south, two things happened. First, the wind took a 180 and was now out of the north. Exactly what we didn’t’ need. Secondly, this country is full of old homesteads and history. We were just passing within about 100 yards of one of these homesteads and Steve wanted to look around. I said “go ahead I’m going up higher on this hill and start glassing.” We just got separated when Steve started hollering at me. This is not setting very well with me! We had just walked several hours to get here, then the wind changes, and now this guy is making enough noise to empty most of northern Wyoming of anything with four legs. I ran back to him as fast as I could to tell him to be quiet, but he was making all kinds of hand signals of which I understood none. When I got to him he was saying something about elk and pointing at the homestead. In the back of my mind I’m thinking this guy has gone goofy and may need to be put out of his misery. After getting Steve settled down he starts to tell me what happened. All of these old homesteads had cellars. When Steve approached this one to get a better view, the cellar exploded with activity back at him. During or right after the snow storm we received several days ago this large 6x7 bull elk had walked out on the cellar roof which was covered with dirt and fell through. With his large antlers all he could do was stand up and lay down. His left horn was hooked in a supporting post and a lot of the hair was gone off his back from part of the roof.

We all agreed that saving this elk was now a priority. We quickly hunted our way out, passing up several nice deer. Reaching the county road at 4:30 that afternoon, we raced back to the headquarters. I loaded up an ATV, rope, chainsaw, shovel, chains, and dehorning saw. Leaving Ron and Dave behind, Steve and I went back to the elk knowing darkness was close and that this poor bull had little time left...

As I started shoveling dirt off the supporting timbers of the remaining roof, I told Steve to be very careful as the rest of the roof could cave in and I did not want either of us to end up on top of that set of antlers or under his hooves. As soon as we started working, this guy started grinding his teeth and never quit. After removing the dirt from the timbers over the cellar hallway, I broke off the rotten boards and chain sawed the two big supporting timbers off to give him an opening out.

There was an old ladder in one corner that he couldn’t get his horns by, so we ripped it out right in front of his face. This was very difficult to do while still trying to keep our distance so he couldn’t get us with hose horns of his. We then shoveled more dirt off both sides so the hallway would be V-shaped to allow for his horns on the way out. Where this elk was standing, he had to make a 90 degree turn to get in the hallway to leave. We thought that everything was just right to allow his escape, but he wouldn’t move. Maybe a little persuasion would help. We got the shovel and an old 4x4 behind him and pried on his hindquarters. I learned something new real quick. Elk can kick quicker and more repeatedly than any mule, horse or cow. Now all he wants to do is look over his shoulders at us instead of the escape route. I put a rope on one tine of the left antler and pulled his head around so he would look at the opening. With the rope on only one tine, it would come off by itself if the bull headed out. Again with his head pulled around and facing the right direction, we pried on him again. Same result, all he wanted to do was fight us and kick. He was also starting to paw the ground now with a front hoof. This is not a friendly sign! Steve mentioned that maybe we should leave him for a few minutes and maybe he would go out on his own. We tried this but all the elk did was tried to figure out where we went.

I thought maybe if I removed more of the roof this would allow him more moving room. I caved a bunch more off around the elk while staying clear of his horns. While I was doing this, Steve asked me what to do if the bull got out and instead of leaving, turned on us. I said “Kill him!  If you don’t he will try to kill us. That was a terrible thought, but those horns would be deadly if he attacked.

After caving more of the roof in it looked like he had plenty of moving room. Once more we got the shovel and 4x4 and pried on him. He’s definitely got plenty of moving room now, because he made a lunge at us with his big antlers and almost got turned around in the cellar. That’s enough, he sees the opening. He is terribly mad and dangerous. Before one of us gets hurt, we let him stand and get his bearings. When he calms down and it gets dark, maybe he will leave on his own.

We returned to our hunting lodge about 8 PM that night. The local game warden Alan Osterland was called and the story told. We talked about tranquilizing the elk the next day and drag him out of the cellar if he had not left on his own and arrangements were made. The following morning at daybreak we returned to the homestead. We were very happy to see that the bull had walked out on his own during the night and he was nowhere to be seen. Good luck big fellow!

I would like to express a very special thank you to our three California hunters for giving up precious hunting time for the sake of saving the life of this majestic animal.

...Cole Benton

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