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Utah Bull Elk of a Lifetime

What do you do when you check a once-in-a-lifetime elk hunt off your bucket list?  If you’re Ron Ten Berge, president and general manager of Knight & Hale, you start planning for the next opportunity to do it again.  According to Ron, his recent hunting experience as a guest of Mossy Oak and Under Armour in Utah, just north of Salt Lake City, was almost too good to be true.

“I’d never taken an elk before,” he states, “and the Mossy Oak folks wanted me to get a chance at one at the peak of the rut.  There’s nothing quite like glassing over large canyons, seeing elk all over, watching them scream and chase cows.  It’s quite a sight!”  And being out West in the beautiful high country at an 8,000-foot altitude, with cool, crisp weather and the aspen trees just starting to turn, you couldn’t have asked for a better setting.

On the first afternoon of the first hunt, with guide Pepper Murray, an orthopedic surgeon who’s been hunting 40 years and actually takes his vacations so he can guide, Ron glassed several bulls about one mile away.  The two decided to get closer to the action, when they stumbled across a monster bull in a separate location.

“The scene was absolutely magical,” Ron explains.  “We were hiking down a ridge and came across a wallow when two satellite bulls popped out of a canyon.  I knew I wanted to take an older, mature bull with a good score, and as we watched these bulls and several cows, the herd bull made his way toward the scene.  It was breathtaking; the sun was going down and backlit the giant bull as he was coming up, bugling and screaming at the top of his lungs, shaking his head, and tearing up the trees.  I can barely describe it.” 

At that moment, Ron hadn’t yet decided to take the bull.  He was trying to be fairly selective, as this was just day one of a four-day hunt.  But when his guide leaned in and said, “This is a really good bull,” he knew to take it to heart, and he decided that if he was presented with a shot, he’d consider it. 

“We moved in to about 180 yards.  The cows were right in front of us, and then the bull came out.  He was a giant!  I knew I’d better take him.  I actually shot him three times with my .300 Winchester Magnum.  He was a tough, old critter. Of course, my marksmanship could have been better.  My gun was sighted in too high, and there was so much adrenaline pumping through me.”

Once the bull was down, the men had to travel down the steep canyon and up the other side to get to the enormous elk.  “We walked up, and all I could think was, ‘Oh my goodness – look at the mass on him!’”

Ron’s monster bull was about eight-years old and scored a 368.  That’s not just a pretty impressive first elk, that’s a pretty impressive lifetime elk!  And other than taking him, showing him off back at camp was a second high.  Many seasoned hunters there had taken 15 to 20 elk in their lifetimes, but none were even close to this size.  As Ron retells it, “There was a lot of pride on my part and possibly some envy on the part of other others when we returned with that critter in the back of the truck.  But they reminded me – many, many times – that I will likely never get another one quite like this again!”

What’s even better than the lifetime memory of Ron’s picture-perfect elk adventure is that Mossy Oak caught it all on camera.  The team filmed Ron’s Utah hunt, which will air on “Hunting The Country” sometime next fall.