The Brown's park bull
May 18, 2001
Outdoor pursuits that have a goal of bringing back edible bounty, such as a fish or a game animal, more often than not provide the lion's share of enjoyment from associated experiences rather than from the harvest. But once in a while a special animal, bird or fish is captured that forms a gleaming centerpiece among the treasured elements of the adventure. If we are lucky, maybe three or four of these special trophies come our way in a lifetime – a wide beamed 10 point whitetail buck; a 26 inch brown trout; a hundred pound tarpon.
I have taken the giant tarpon and the wide 10-pointer but not the big brown. But last fall I did take a trophy I had long dreamed of; a huge 6 X 6 bull elk. And even if I hadn't caught up with the 850 pound bull, the hunt would have been reward enough, for it happened in a part of the world and under circumstances that bring one great pleasure.
Years of waiting
It took 13 points under the Colorado drawing system to get a license for the special hunt area. That's 13 years of applications, on time each spring and error free, to get access to Game Unit 2 in Butch Cassidy's old hideout country up where Wyoming, Utah and Colorado all join. My hunt was in Brown's Park, called Brown's Hole by Cassidy and friends. I know the country because I used to work there.
In my quest for this bull I hunted public land and one private ranch, owned in my working days by Boyd and Wanda Walker. Boyd has since died, and Wanda runs the ranch alone with help from one hand and daughter Dawn's family who lives almost 50 miles away. Some time ago, when Wanda was in her mid-seventies, I called to ask her how she was doing. "Oh, I was roping a bull the other day and he jerked me off my horse and I broke my shoulder. Other than that I'm doing okay," she replied.
One can easily see that a hunt is enhanced by the people and the country that become a part of it.
I could hear the bull's as he bull was leaving a watering area with his herd of 6 or 7 cows and, as I would learn later, an unwelcome lesser bull that hung close by, pestering the old master into almost constant bugling. The cries were intended to scare off the interloper. I stood in the cool of pre-dawn and listened to his long screams that ran up the musical scale to the highest whistle and back down again to a deep guttural groan.
Other bulls in the area could be heard answering his threatening cries, but I knew this is the one I would follow. That last, deep note of his bugle seemed to shake the ground and conjured visions of wide antler beams and ivory tipped points.
On this third day of the 11 day season, I was toughening up to the long, lung-bursting hikes in rough, rimrock terrain following the herds that move from nighttime grazing and watering areas to their daytime beds often miles away. Two other bulls had outdistanced me on the previous mornings. But this morning I was rested and inspired by this bull's hair-raising cries. I struck out toward him in the gray light of dawn.
To be continued next week.