By: Bears Butt

I recently posted a story on my cow elk hunt in which the title says “… certain of your target”.  I’m sure a lot of you wondered about that title because the story didn’t have anything in it about that. Well, here is the rest of that story.  I couldn’t tell it at the time because of all the “on goings” surrounding the story you are about to read.

Tracker and I headed out early in the morning to try once again to fill my cow elk tag.  It was a very cold morning, cold enough to freeze the water in our hydration packs long before we got to where we thought the elk were.  I wanted to be in a certain spot when it got light enough to be able to shoot and with a nearly full moon the hike in would not necessitate the use of any artificial light source. It was a beautiful but cold hike.  About a mile up the trail we came to the spot I wanted to be and we started seeing deer as it got light enough to be able to shoot.  A small 2 point was well within shooting distance and it was soon joined by another that was much bigger…still a 2 point, but an older deer for sure.

As we stood glassing around the area, I soon spotted my cow!  High up on the hill next to an oak brush pocket.  I pulled my range finder out and tried to get a reading on it.  Either it was the cold that kept the rangefinder from working or the animal was farther than 500 yards away, either way it wouldn’t read the distance.  But after a quick discussion, Tracker and I decided we could get closer than the distance we were from it.  There was a lot of terrain and brush around to keep us hidden from the cow and so we made our move.

At just over 400 yards, the rangefinder did it’s thing.  Still too far for me on this cold morning to take that shot.  I put my binoculars on the animal and verified it was indeed a cow elk and all by itself on the hillside.  Looking around at the terrain, we decided we could close the distance by half, if we travelled up a shallow drainage to another stand of cedar trees farther up the hill.  We moved quickly, as I didn’t want the animal to run over the top and out of sight.  This was the first time all season I had a cow elk close enough for a shot and I didn’t want to blow it.

We arrived at the cedar tree and the cow was still standing exactly where it was when we last saw it.  Broadside to us, facing to our right.  I had to duck below the cedar tree limbs in order to get a ranged reading on it and the rangefinder said it was a bit over 200 yards away.  A perfect shot for my 7mm Mag.  Using a limb from the cedar tree, I settled the cross hairs on its back and slowly squeezed the trigger.  At the report I figured I would see the elk drop in its tracks.  It did nothing.  Just stood there.  I asked Tracker if he had seen where the bullet hit and he hadn’t.  He was taking his normal video of the hunt and had it focused in on the animal at full zoom…60 power if I’m not mistaken.

My rifle is a single shot and so I popped out the spent cartridge and pushed in a fresh round.  Again, I settled the cross hairs on the top of its shoulder and pressed the trigger….BOOM….nothing!  Tracker said he saw the bullet impact near the animals head and behind it on the hill.  That is when I realized my rifle is sighted in for 200 yards and by holding on top of the back it would be going over it!  What a dummie!  I again ejected the spent round and slid another in place.  This time the cross hairs were settled in the middle of the animals chest and again the report sounded through the clear and crisp morning air.  The cow dumped in its tracks and slid down the fairly steep hillside in the snow.  I chambered a follow up round just in case, but she  laid there dead as dead could be after that last shot.

Tracker had bumped his camera before that last shot and when I said, well, now the work starts!  She is down.  He questioned that to me by saying “Down?  Down?  It’s still standing up on that hill!”  No it’s not, she is down in a heap right where she was standing…was my reply.  Then again he said, well I can see it in my view finder and it’s standing right up there.  He pointed in the direction of the second animal.  I pulled up my binoculars and sure enough there stood a calf elk.  A bit higher on the hill than where my dead cow elk was laying.  Well, I guess I just shot its momma, was my reply to Tracker.  But then I said, let’s get up there and take care of her….and with a slight snicker, I added…I hope it isn’t a bull I just shot.

We hiked up the steep hill to where the elk lay dead.  It took us awhile to get to it because it was slippery in the fresh snow and the steepness of the hill and the yellow grass that was laid down with the snow.  When we got to the elk, my heart sank big time….there lay a small bull elk.  A spike with horns about as big around as a grade school pencil and maybe 18 inches long.  I could not believe what I was seeing.  My mind raced back to our first spotting it.  I was certain it was a cow I saw through my binoculars.  At the 400 yard area I was sure once again it was a cow.  Through the 12 power binos I did not see any sign of horns on top of its head.  But then at 200 yards, I didn’t put the binoculars on it.  I put the 6 power range finder on it, but only to get a distance reading.  I wasn’t looking for horns at that moment.  I already “KNEW” it was a cow.  Even through the scope, my concentration was on the cross hairs and the chest area of the animal, not it’s head…again I “KNEW” it was a cow elk.  And after it was down and Tracker saw the calf, I “KNEW” I had just shot a cow elk.

Oh boy was I in a state of deep depression.  Probably the smallest spike elk on the mountain was laying there dead as dead could be and all because of me.  All because of me not pulling up the binoculars at 200 yards and looking closely at its head for any sign of antlers.  All because of me being in a hurry to fill my cow elk tag.  All because of me NOT doing what I have ALWAYS done and that is verifying my target before taking the shot.  Oh well, I did it and now I have to pay the consequences of my actions.

Tracker and I tried to pull the animal around so I could clean it out and we could begin the task of taking the meat back to the truck.  In so doing, we saw some hunters on horseback coming up the trail.  I asked Tracker if he would mind going over and intercepting them to see if they had a spike elk tag and would they like to tag it.  He did so willingly and while he was gone I proceeded to gut it.  Even a small spike elk is a big animal but I managed to have it cleaned when Tracker came back with word that they did in fact have two spike elk tags and they would use one to tag the spike I had just killed.  I was somewhat relieved by that.  We moved the animal into the shade of the oak brush and marked it with Trackers blaze orange vest so they would be able to find the elk later in the day. I also zip tied one of my Bears Butt calling cards around an antler.  I did that because I thought, what if they don’t come and get it and then someone else comes along, sees the vest waiving in the breeze, investigates and finds a spoiled carcass of an elk…I am the responsible party here.  I will need to face the consequences of my actions.  It is my fault and if they don’t come and take the animal I am the one who caused it to lay there and spoil.  I’m not trying to hide anything.

Well, with the animal cleaned out, the cavity propped open with a stick, tucked away in a shady spot, Tracker and I headed back to the truck.  My cow elk hunt is over.

All the way back to the truck…up to Tracker and Bones cabin for some last minute winterizations… and the long drive home, my mind was racing and spinning about what had happened this day.  I mulled it over and over and wondered why on earth I had not taken one last look through my binoculars to try and put antlers on that elk.  I always make sure that what I’m shooting at is what I have a tag for…ALWAYS….but not this time.  My failure to follow through one last time…one last look.  At home, over a cold meat sandwich I made my mind up that I needed to call the poaching hotline and turn myself in.

Sure, I had made a mistake and didn’t identify the animal.  I shot a bull instead of a cow and then found someone who would tag it and take it home.  The animal will not go to waste.  I was done, no harm, no foul…..The DWR won’t know it even happened…everything will be alright.  BUT, in my mind, I would live with that decision the rest of my life.  That is not the right way to do things in this world.  Not the right way at all.  I had the number for the investigating officer in my phone and I made the call.  Matt, I have a confession to make.  This morning I mistakenly shot a bull elk while hunting for a cow.  No, the animal is being tagged by someone I don’t know who has a spike tag.  The animal will not be wasted.  I’m sure they have taken it off the mountain by now.  No, I don’t know who they are.  Yes, I’ll be home this evening, you can come and give me a ticket.

The conversation went something like that over the phone.  Later that evening he pulled up in his truck and came into the house.  He thanked me for being honest and then proceeded to tell me some of the laws of the State of Utah about what I had done.  His words hit me hard as I was unaware of some of what he said.  Shooting a big game animal that you do not have a tag for is a Felony in Utah.  Fines upwards of $10,000 can be enforced.  Loss of hunting privileges for up to 5 years.  Possible jail time and court fees.  Loss of equipment used in the taking of that animal.  AND besides all of that, the animal belongs to the State of Utah!  You can not go around shooting animals that belong to the people of the state and then give them away to someone else!  That animal did not belong to you to be able to give it away like you did!  The person who tagged it and took it off the mountain is also at fault for receiving property that did not belong to you!  That person committed a felony as well.

Oh my hell.  What have I done?  Not only am I in trouble, but I involved a complete stranger in my stupidity.

He didn’t give me a ticket at that visit but insisted we keep in touch and that he would issue a citation after talking to his supervisor and doing a bit more investigation.  He wanted to see any pictures that may have been taken and we went to Trackers house and looked at his video of the scene.  Tracker was more than helpful to give them a copy of the shooting, but in it, there was no hard and clear evidence that I had indeed killed a bull elk.  You could see the missed shot hitting the dirt behind the elk (my second shot) and you could clearly see it was a small spike elk, but Tracker had bumped his camera and by the time I shot the third shot, he was zoomed in on the calf elk, farther up the hill.  The next scene was me standing over a dead elk, but you could not see the head and antlers.  There was NO proof positive that I had shot a bull elk.

Later, Matt confessed that his supervisor told him to drop the case, as there was no evidence.  But it was my insistence that I had indeed shot a bull and that I needed to pay the consequences of my actions.  I would have been fine with it all because I did turn myself in, had he not cited me, but he did.  On the ticket, he stated there was a $0 value to the animal that was taken.  That meant to me that he was very grateful for my action to turn myself in and that more hunters should take responsibility of illegal actions in the field.

I had to wait until yesterday, November 28, for my court appearance.  I met with the State prosecuting attorney and told him my story.  He called Matt and the two of them discussed what should be done in my case.  We made a plea agreement and the judge ultimately concurred….I will pay a $200 fine to the Poaching fund and tell my story to a Hunter Education class in either Box Elder or Weber Counties.  (If someone has a class going on and wants me to come and tell my story, leave me a message on here).  After sentencing, the judge too commended and thanked me for my actions and taking responsibility for what I had done.  He too wished more hunters would be responsible Sportsmen.

Talking to the attorney, he said that minimum charges for a case like this is $500 for the court fees, $1500 for the animal taken and $1500 for giving away state property.  And that my punishment was extremely small, but because of all the circumstances and for me turning myself in, when I could have just walked away, was the reason I was given what I was given.  Let’s not punish the ones trying to do the honest thing.

Well, there is the story.


ALL ANIMALS IN UTAH BELONG TO THE STATE OF UTAH.  UNLESS YOU HAVE A LICENSE TO POSSESS THE ANIMAL YOU HAVE JUST TAKEN, YOU DO NOT OWN IT                                     AND CAN NOT GIVE IT AWAY, OR CAUSE IT TO BE WASTED. (Side note:  You can NOT give your dead deer or any animal away while in the field.  You can only give that animal                                    away at the recipients residence, a butcher shop or at your own residence.)


Those are the lessons I will be sharing with a class taking hunter education.  You see, there is more to hunter education than being safe while hunting.  There are laws that govern ethics.  I feel a whole lot better now that you all know the story.  It’s been a long, long month of trying to keep this a secret.  But I didn’t want to let the cat out of the bag before I knew the outcome of the entire process.  THERE…I can sleep better now.

November 29, 2016

Bears Butt


Tracker started feeling like he was part of my issue and asked me to do him a BIG favor.  Of course I will do him a BIG favor.  He handed me $100 to pay half of the fine to the Poaching Hotline.  I didn’t want to take the money and I tried to give it back, but he insisted, so I took it.  He feels like because of him going and talking to the other hunters who eventually took the animal that he should be involved with the fine as well.  At any rate, his conscience is clear.

Last night I went to a hunter education class in Roy and told my story to the 40 some students in the class.  As I spoke to them a couple of them were cringing in their seats (I’m not sure why) and there was one lady in her 30’s with tears before I was done.  There was nothing to be so emotional about, at least in my mind, but she was taking it pretty hard.  Some of the really young kids didn’t seem to be understanding what I was trying to tell them, but the bottom line I repeated at least 3 times were the “lessons learned” in my story above.

When I was done, I fielded a few questions from the audience and then the instructor asked me a question or two.  I thanked him and the class and then came home.

I had a very good feeling as I told my story and after I was heading home, I even felt better about it all.

I will GUARANTEE you that I will NOT take a shot at an animal that I can not ABSOLUTELY identify as one that is legal to take with the license I have in my possession.  If I do make this type of mistake again, I will quit hunting all together.

Bears Butt

It’s March 2017,  I made my way up to Logan to the 1st District court with my papers in hand…one showing where I did in fact pay $200 into the Help Stop Poaching fund with the DWR and the other a signed paper showing I presented my story to a hunter education class in Roy.  They took copies there and then sent me across the street to the county building.  There, I went to the county attorney’s office and again copies were made of my papers.  Now, except for the six months probation, I have completed my obligation to the court system.  I expect to receive some sort of release papers from the county attorney once my probation time is up, sometime late in April of this year (next month).

Bears Butt

Written on November 29th, 2016 , Hunting Stories
By: Bears Butt

Back a few months Weasel and I were on our way up hunting and came across this situation:


Dry roads, a dicey little “S” turn and these guys lost control and crashed.  Luckily nobody was in the car when we came past and they had put a sign in the window to please not tow the car.  The fear that must have been in them when they lost control and crashed must have been intense!  I hope nobody got hurt badly.

This morning Weasel and I decided it would be a great morning to go high up above town and hunt down a ways to see if he could fill his Extended Wasatch deer tag.  The road is pretty long and really rough in some spots so we decided to leave town about 5:30….That would give us a full hour and 1/2 to get to the top and start our hunt.

Two days ago it snowed a bit.  Probably 6 inches up on the top of the mountain and yesterday it was pretty warm, which should have melted most of the depth.  Of course there would be some slick spots in the road along the way, but 4 wheel drive should take care of that.  I don’t have chains for my rig and I thought I should invest in some, but that will be for a future rig.  At least that is what my mind is saying.

I picked Weasel up promptly at 5:30 and after we loaded his stuff we headed off.  A quick stop to top off the fuel tank, grab an orange juice and water and off we went.

The drive was a good one and soon we were on the dirt road leading up the backside of the mountain.  Dirt and gravel soon gave way to spotty snow and ice and it was obvious there had been a LOT of traffic on the road yesterday (Thanksgiving Day).  We hadn’t gone too far and soon we were passing a camping area called Doc’s Flat.  I told Weasel, “If I had chains I would be putting them on right here”…which I would have, but still I have 4 wheel drive and good tires, we should be OK.  Around the first bend and the ice was sure slippery, but the front tires kicked in and up the road we continued.  The next bend had other ideas for us.  The road in this stretch is pretty steep and there are lots of tire made moguls in the road.  The Trooper spun out!  DAMN!

Well, we ain’t going any higher, I told Weasel, who knew it all the while.  I popped it into reverse and began going back down and around the bend we had just came around.  Suddenly, the tires locked up and we were sliding backwards uncontrollably.  It was still dark outside and so I could not see where we were going, all I could do was look at the road out the front windshield and try to keep the rig in the space provided.  The hill sloped slightly to the down hill side and even though there was a forest of oak trees alongside the road, there were plenty of spaces for a vehicle to slip through and crash down the 50 or 60 yard embankment.  The embankment, by the way, is about a 60 degree slope.

As we slid around the corner the rig suddenly began picking up speed,….like all of a sudden… because the pitch in the road increased a great deal and gravity was having a very fun time with the weight of the vehicle and the icy slickness of the road.  Hang on was all I could do…Try not to panic….Don’t crap your pants right now, there will be plenty of time for that in a minute….Jesus take the wheel would be appropriately played at this moment in time!

The headlights began sweeping side to side as we back slid quickly down the roadway.  And then suddenly the back right corner of the rig hit the high side embankment which caused the front of the rig to begin turning sideways in the road.  The sloping roadway was pulling the front closer and closer toward the drop off!  Nearly 90 degrees to the roadway we slid.  Oh My Hell!  Was my thought!  We are going over the edge!  The headlights cast out into the tops of the oak trees and I could not see the road any longer out my side window.  The windshield was viewing nothing but blackness and the oak limbs showing in the bright beams of the headlights.

Lots of things were passing through my mind but as of right now I can’t tell you all of them.  Some of my thoughts were how to maneuver the rig down through all those trees without rolling it over, if in fact it didn’t roll when it went off the edge.  I was certain the front tires were well off the edge when it suddenly stopped sliding!  My heart was pounding like crazy and when the reality of us not going over the edge finally came through to my already convinced brain that we had gone over.  I continued to looks straight ahead, hands gripping the wheel firmly and I said to Brandon….You get out slowly there isn’t any sense both of us die in this…..

He eased himself out the passenger (up road side) of the rig and I just knew the weight shift would put the rig the rest of the way over the edge.  The rig stayed put….I set the emergency brake, put the rig in park and eased off the brake pedal.   There was an ever so slight forward movement at that point, but I knew then the rig was not going over the edge.  At least not at that moment.  I too eased the door open and slowly got out.  When my feet hit the icy road I almost fell on my butt, but caught myself on the running board just inside the door.

I must admit, that was the most terrified I have been in a very long time and had I not taken my morning’s morning before leaving home, I most certainly would have done it during that slide.


This picture was taken several minutes after the rig had stopped and I had time to gather my wits.  It looks like the tree has stopped our forward movement, but that tree was at least 10 feet on the other side of the rig.


The slide marks can be seen clearly in this picture.  There are no trees near the front of the rig.  The ones in the picture are 5 or more feet on the other side of it.


Inches of snow covered dirt is all that is keeping the rig from going down into this:


I have a whole lot of belief that divine intervention played a very big part in why this rig stopped on the edge like it did.  THANK YOU LORD!

It wasn’t a huge decision that needed to be made to call for a tow truck to come and save our butts.  I didn’t dare move the rig from blocking the entire road even though I had a come-a-long, high lift jack and chain.  Had there not been the option of a tow vehicle, we would have given it hell and I’m sure gotten out, but I didn’t dare touch the rig for fear it would end up at the bottom of that oak filled chasm.

As we sat there keeping warm and talking about our wonderful fate and how it could have all turned out much uglier, up the road came a guy on a 4 wheeler.  You see there are lots of guys still bow hunting the Wasatch Front and this was one guy who wanted to be “where we wanted to be” at first light.  Upon seeing our dilemma and realizing he could not drive past us, he went back down to warn others who he knew were coming our way.  His warning went unheeded and soon we had 4 more guys on 4 wheelers itching to get around us.  I told one of them that if the rig went over while he was messing around I would hold him totally responsible….he backed off….And then went to digging away the high side embankment to get their rigs past mine.  I ended up taking off the spare tire to help them get past.  After they were around us, one of them had a very tough time going up the road around the corner where we spun out initially.  We even went up and pushed him until it looked like he had it under control….slicker than snot on a door knob….and cold…..

Nothing we could do now but wait.  Well, we decided that maybe we could chop some of the ice out of the road in case the tow guy couldn’t make it up to us.  So we did.



Heck we only have to chop it to the corner down there………

And soon we heard the sound of the tow truck coming up to save us.  He drove up first and then went back down a ways and backed up to come to our rescue.


You can see the road looks flat, but when you have had the wits scared out of you, there isn’t any way in hell I was going to try and manipulate that rig of mine out of where it was and try getting the front tires pointed down the road.  You can also see from the reflection that it is icy as can be!

He backed his rig up nearly touching mine and hooked up a cable to my front tire.  He told us, “Heck, most of the time I’m pulling rigs up from down in there”….as he pointed down into the chasm.  I could see old tire tracks from rigs that went down there before.  That is not a place I wanted to have my rig.


Using his “I’ve done this before” knowledge he got the rig pointed down the road and we followed him off the slippery place….Weasel paid him a meager $200 for his services and off he went.

Looking back at the whole deal, we were SO VERY FORTUNATE to not have gone off that cliff.  Had we gone over nobody knows how long we would have been down there before someone noticed us.  We will never know how our injuries would have been, but for sure there would have been some broken stuff.  Maybe we were within seconds of both being killed.  I thank the Lord for saving us from any of the “what ifs”.

Coming down off the mountain I decided we needed to have breakfast at the Rusted Spoon….it was a wonderful breakfast.

November 25, 2016

Bears Butt


Written on November 25th, 2016 , Uncategorized | Stories, Ramblings & Random Stuff From an Old Mountain Man is proudly powered by WordPress and the Theme Adventure by Eric Schwarz
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Just some of my old stories, new stories, and in general what is going on in my life.