On this episode of The Western Rookie Brian and Dan are joined by Chris O’Neal, a big game hunter and shed hunting enthusiast from Wyoming.
Chris grew up in South Dakota pheasant hunting from a young age. As he got older his girlfriend’s dad introduced him to big game hunting for whitetail deer & antelope. Chris’s passion for big game hunting grew the more he learned. He decided to level up his hunts and bought a bow. On his birthday in 2012 he was able to kill his biggest buck, a 177” monster. Present day Chris lives in Wyoming and loves to shed hunt and chase bulls. He devoted himself to learning everything he could about elk hunting and made it a mission to kill a bull elk. He had no idea what was in store for him on his first season hunting the west. This episode shares those stories and so much more.
Dan Mathews: [00:00:00] All right guys. Welcome to you today's show and joining Brian and I on the show today is Chris O'Neill, a big game hunter, shed hunter, just outdoor fanatic. And I'm excited for this. This is our first episode where we've got a guest on the show with two co-hosts, and so it's gonna be a good one. Before we dive into all of that, I gotta fill you in on a few things.
So we're running into roadblocks here on our property. Not habitat wise, not animal wise, none of that stuff. It's just a ton of work here and there, and it's stuff that like, seems easy and then you dive into it and it's just more and more of an issue. But the nice thing is I've been getting deer on trail camera, so although the construction side, the renovation side, the dealing with contractor side is falling through the cracks, I'm pretty pumped about.
The hunting side of things, and I've been running into rabbits all the time, all over the place. And so in thinking about it the other day, I'm [00:01:00] like, dude, I don't want my first animal that I kill on this property to be a Turkey. Because if you guys have been listening for any amount of time to this or to the Nomadic Outdoorsman podcast, you know how I feel about Turkey hunting?
It's something that gets me by, but also I think it's extremely overrated. And so I'm like, sweet. I'm gonna go out and rabbit hunt. My buddy brings this beagle out. We kick up a bunch of rabbits in literally every rabbit that kicked out of a brush pile went on the opposite side of the brush pile from me.
And so I still haven't shot anything. But it's gonna happen eventually, right? It's not gonna just go on forever. I just really don't want the first animal I shoot out here to be a Turkey. And I don't know why. If I see a giant Tom, you better believe I'm gonna take it. But
Brian Krebs: other than that, You
Chris O'Neal: know what, maybe I'll find
Dan Mathews: a shed.
Maybe like the first thing, especially with this episode being about elk hunting and shed hunting, maybe a shed is gonna be the first thing that I pick up or harvest, or whatever you want to call it from [00:02:00] this property. Anyways, I'm rambling now. I'm just really excited to be out here and there's gonna be a lot of cool stories to come.
Most of them are not gonna pertain at all to Western hunting, but they're gonna be outdoors nonetheless. So let's jump into this episode with Brian and Chris. I'm super excited. Hopefully you are too. You're listening to the Western Rookie, a hunting podcast full of tips, tricks and strategies from season Western.
There are plenty of opportunities out there. We just need to learn how to take on the challenges.
Chris O'Neal: Hunting is completely different up there.
Dan Mathews: That person 26 became animals. You can fool their eyes. We can fool their nose, 300 yards, speck to the road, turned into three miles back the other way. It's always cool seeing new hunters going, harvest and animal.
Chris O'Neal: I don't know what to expect. If there's anybody I
Brian Krebs: want
Chris O'Neal: in the woods with me, it'll be you.
Dan Mathews: All right [00:03:00] guys. Welcome to you today's show and joining me and my co-host Brian on the show is Chris O'Neill, a shed, hunter, l Hunter, not, he didn't grow up that way but he's found some pretty amazing success since he started doing this stuff. So Chris, thanks for hopping on the show with us.
Chris O'Neal: Yeah, no problem.
Glad to be here. Thanks a lot. So
Dan Mathews: we're recording from Missouri, Minnesota, and Wyoming, which. Dude, I know before the show we were talking about snow and how it can be a pain. I envy both of you guys. I miss the snow so much. We get today, we were doing concrete and I was getting rained on all day long. I was trying to put a tarp over my barn because it leaks and that's not good for putting new concrete in.
And I would've given anything for just snow, something that's not gonna get me completely soaked all the time.
Brian Krebs: It sounds like a great idea until you get your truck stuck literally everywhere pulling into, I just, I was just pulling into a little [00:04:00] approach shed hunting this last weekend and I'm looking at it and I've gotten stuck so many times.
I'm like, really hesitant and I'm like, no, that really only does look like three inches deep in snow. So I sent it buried. Yeah,
Chris O'Neal: I was gonna say out here it's three foot at least everywhere, snow. So I, you just can't access hardly anything where I'm at.
Dan Mathews: I was about to say if you're getting stuck all the time, is it a truck issue or a snow issue?
Brian Krebs: No, it's a, an addiction to antlers and wanting to get out there issue. And then I just, I want to drive where I shouldn't be driving every shed season. I bury my truck. I got snow chains that I leave in my toolbox, bought a scoop shovel for the truck, bought some, I bought some floor dry just in case I'm trying to pull out all the tips and tricks here.
Just like a mobile snow evac kit in my truck. That's recovery boards. Yeah. We don't have, though, those aren't a thing out here, but I've seen 'em, like all the Jeep guys from Montana and everyone with the Toyota Tacoma's got , [00:05:00] got those recovery
Chris O'Neal: parts. They've saved me a few times. They have saved me and allowed me to get down off the mountain a few times, that's for
Dan Mathews: sure.
They carry them at Walmart. I almost bought some for my new truck. and I don't, I would not use them like 99% of the time. But when I go out to Colorado for elk, when I go up to Wisconsin for deer, and then like in the off chance that we get snow here, I might, I walk into Walmart and right when I walked in the door, I see these it's like a foldable pad basically, but it's like a new version of that recovery board.
And I was like, man, I should buy these. And then I didn't because I realized I don't need them. And I would just have them as a opposer pretending that I go to cool places.
Chris O'Neal: Yeah. Yeah. They're a must out here where I'm at. I got stuck up on the mountain a few times last year and if I didn't have 'em, I would've been up there all night sleeping in my pickup.
No cell service. And if you're familiar with Wyoming at all, There [00:06:00] is no cell service here. As soon as you get out of any town, there is no cell service for a long ways. And a lot of the time I, at that time, I didn't have an inReach and so my wife was like I just would've left you for a day and then maybe called search and rescue, yeah, that's good.
Brian Krebs: Imagine the escalation decisions before inReach is where it's he's been gone a day, he's never done that, but do I really want to call in a helicopter yet? I don't know, , it's like from zero to 100 before those in reaches came out. Now you can at least text her and be like, Hey, pop to tire.
It's a, it's annoying, but I'm just gonna sleep in the truck, wait and fix it in the morning type of thing.
Chris O'Neal: Yeah, I have a I have a whole recovery kit that I made once I moved to Wyoming, and I've got like an air compressor, slime plug, you name it. I've got like everything in that thing, so I'm like, , I hunt a lot of remote places, so I'm like this is like one of those things that's just, I have to make it.
And if I use it once, it's worth it,
Dan Mathews: see I just got an inReach, I've hardly used it at all, but I've got a couple buddies out in Colorado while [00:07:00] I was living out there, working with both of them. They were out on an archery elk hunt. Not even like a deep winter hunt. The weather was pretty nice.
They didn't come back when they said they were going to, and one of their wives started calling everybody. She was calling me. She's do you know where they are? Have you heard from them at all? And I was like no, I don't. I, they didn't tell me like where they were going hunting. That's not a typical practice that they do.
She ended up calling family. Her family was booking tickets to fly to Colorado because they thought they were missing. And I'm like, they haven't even been gone 24 hours. This was just like, they were five hours late from a hunt. . And luckily we've had that conversation, my wife and I have, and I'm like, listen, if I'm out there, there's a chance you're not gonna hear from me for a long time.
Please don't call somebody. I will make sure I get help if I need it. . Yeah.
Brian Krebs: Yeah. I always just send Abby my coordinates of like where camp's gonna be and [00:08:00] she just knows I'm probably not I'll check in if I get serviced, but don't plan on it. And she's probably I don't know, he's gone. I get the bed to myself, , I won't start worrying until he's not back in 10 days.
Dan Mathews: I think my wife would just she'd look at the insurance policy, the life insurance policy, and then decide if she should call or just leave me out there. .
Chris O'Neal: That's hilarious. I've got a similar setup with my wife too. It's I told her, I'm like, give me at least six to 12 hours. I didn't really tell her where I'm at.
I'm like, In when I'm hunting grizzly country. It's a little different though. If I'm hunting where I live at right at the foothills of the Big Horn Mountain range. And so where I'm at, there's not much to worry about. We've got some black bear and some mountain lion, but not much to worry about.
It's only in grizzly country when I think my wife would probably get concerned if I'm not checking in after a couple hours,
Brian Krebs: so you're either in Gillette or Cody? Depends on which side.
Chris O'Neal: No. So I live south of Cody always. Okay. Yeah. My was like an hour and a half
Brian Krebs: when Dan sent me the [00:09:00] show info.
I was like, oh man, I wonder if he works at Gun Works, .
Chris O'Neal: No. No, I don't. I don't that would be great though if I did . Yeah, no kidding.
Dan Mathews: We'd be having maybe podcast sponsor conversation right now. . Yeah.
Chris O'Neal: Yeah.
Brian Krebs: No kidding. So when you do hunt grizzly country, you like you. bring Dan reach. Is that like a, is that a a ultimatum for you getting out of the house with your wife?
Like you're not in a grizzly country unless you bring this?
Chris O'Neal: That was the whole thing. I was like, and even I was on the fence about buying one right away, just cuz they're expensive. Or whatever. And I was like I don't know. And my wife's no, she's like that. She put her foot down on that.
She's you will not be hunting in grizzly country if you have, if you don't have an in reach. She's that's not negotiable. She just, I don't care how much it costs, buy it, have it, and so I'm like, okay. . It's one of those into it. It's nice. Peace of mind. Yeah.
Dan Mathews: It's one of those things that it's yeah, it's handy.[00:10:00]
Sometimes it's annoying or cumbersome. Like having that my buddy clips his up here and it's a big one. Like he clips it on his backpack. Strap. Yeah. And I'm like, dude, it just seems annoying to be flopping around all the time. But when you need it, , it is gonna be the greatest thing ever. If you a absolutely have to have it.
And we also kind, we compare all of the public-private borders with OnX to C. If there's ever any question like, man, are we getting close? It seems like we are. And sometimes the phone mapping systems will be off by, 20, 30, 40 feet. And so it's like, all right, we just wanna make sure we're not even close to that.
Chris O'Neal: Yeah. I run the other one. The mini the mini. The mini, yeah. That's the one that I have. And so it just connects with my phone. But, it's it's just nice having that peace of mind because man, it's if you, once you hunt in grizzly country, it's a little unnerving. Especially like the being in the dark doesn't bother me, but coming out in the dark or going in the dark it's a little sketchy.[00:11:00]
Brian Krebs: Yeah. Yeah. For anyone that's new to hunting the west, You don't get cell phone reception unless you climb to the top of the mountain. No. And that the inReach minis what, 3 49 for the mini? Yeah. 4 49 for the one. I just found out this year you could connect it to your phone. I was doing the T nine texting on the big one all these years.
Oh no, . Which it not that big of a deal cuz there's nothing else to do from like sunset to 10 o'clock when you're normally gonna go to bed out in the mountains. And but yeah, it's a great investment. 350 bucks. It could be a, out of all your gear, that's the one thing that could probably save your life.
That and a good pair of boots.
Chris O'Neal: Yeah, absolutely. I agree with that wholeheartedly. Good pair of boots and reach and a good pack, .
Brian Krebs: Yeah. The good pack's not gonna save your life. It's just gonna save your
Chris O'Neal: back. . Yes. , do those packouts with those elk, man. It's, it could get brutal. I did four this year and oh man.
I'm, I was thankful I had a good pack at that time. .
Brian Krebs: That's a, a weird flex to say that you put four elk on the [00:12:00] ground. .
Chris O'Neal: I did. My daughter did one I did too. And I helped the boat pack out another one. But yeah. Yeah, it's a flex. That's okay. , if you
Brian Krebs: can flex it. I'm the only one here that didn't pack.
Chris O'Neal: You're, oh dang.
Dan Mathews: All right. All right. So you should be taking notes. I thought I was gonna come into this show, taking a bunch of notes from you guys. I guess we all have something to teach.
Brian Krebs: When you hunt with half the population of Wyoming in your camp, Dan, it's not uncommon for you to have to pack an elk out.
Dan Mathews: dude, I think we had 19 people. Man. I think we had 19 people at our camp this year. And we never see each other out there because we're not like just packing in from camp. It's four wheeler rides in every direction. We might be 50 miles apart. Oh yeah. By the time we actually start hunting, Yeah.
Brian Krebs: Oh yeah. It was this year our group got shafted big time with just application season and the point systems and party sizes. Our party is too big for one, but we didn't have enough points to split. And so me and my brother [00:13:00] got drawn in Montana with the zero point strategy that go hunt wrecked for everyone.
And then the rest of our group didn't draw with one point, and so they all went to Colorado. And so it was just me and my brother on an archery elk cunt. And we, at the time of our lives, saw some monster bowls, but we didn't end up putting anything on the ground. Bummer. Yeah.
Chris O'Neal: The the point system, we a screwed up system.
I don't know how they'll ever fix that. It's, it I'm glad I'm a resident. I'll say that. .
Brian Krebs: Yeah. And Wyoming's point system. it is very complicated between the special draws, the random draws, the, but the preference system, at least that's pretty understandable, right? It's not like a weighted point average like Montana's bonus point system is.
Chris O'Neal: Yeah. The problem is that some of these units though, take so many points to be able to draw that it, yeah. Then you hit, so Max points I believe is 16 points. And you have however many people that are already at max points and you're sitting at 16 [00:14:00] and then you just keep, what do you do after 16?
You just have to keep trying. Yeah, I don't know. I I don't if you guys listen to Randy Newberg, but it was him and Corey Jacobson were saying last year on one of their podcasts, they said that with the amount of people that have max points right now, it would take like 108 years for everybody just to get through the max points.
So yeah, just gonna get worse every year. .
Brian Krebs: Yeah, I don't know, I don't wanna speak for Dan, but I definitely listened to pretty much everything Randy puts out. My brother's been on Randy's podcast. He's met him a few times. One of my elk cunning buddies was in Bozeman and Randy met Randy and he is like, Hey, I go to this coffee shop every morning at seven 15.
And he is I'll be there and met up with him like a week later, just for 15 minutes for coffee and . But yeah, I like what Randy says when he is you gotta really look like, are you willing to waste 16 years not elk cunning? And obviously you as a resident, you have that over-the-counter option, but for us as non-residents, like you really gotta make a decision.
Are you gonna wait and miss out on Wyoming for 16 years in a row? Or are you willing to maybe just put in more [00:15:00] sweat equity in a general unit? So this
Chris O'Neal: is what I've told my good buddies, I'm like, it's generally takes about four, three to four years to draw a general tag in Wyoming for a non-resident.
I'm like, I shot a 360 6 bull last year in a general unit . I'm like like I know guys here that. Have lived in Wyoming their whole life. They're not that hard of hunters and they don't, put in a ton of time out there, but they've never shot anything over a 300. I'm like my second year in Wyoming, and I put in a ton of time for my daughter and for me, this was just a fluke thing.
And I found a 360 6 as a fluke, just right place, right on . Yeah.
Brian Krebs: My brother has shot three Wyoming archery bulls. One was a rag horn and I was standing next to him for that one, and then one was like a 2 66 by, and this lightest one was a 304 inch six by all on him. Over the counter units with archery.
I think he's Batten three for three. In Wyoming with his [00:16:00] bow.
Dan Mathews: That's pretty good, man. Yeah. That's insane. We gotta get him on and chat with him. I need . Oh sure. I just need as many pointers leading up to archery hunting for Alec as I can because that's something that I've always been interested in doing and I have yet to do.
Now I'd like here Chris's opinion, I've got that kind of figured out.
Brian Krebs: I'd love to hear Chris's opinion cuz there's a there's a big difference between rifle and bow to me. I think typically with a rifle, if you're in a decent unit, like your unit has potential, a good hunter, you can glass elk, you can usually always glass an elk.
That's usually not the problem. And then getting to them, being willing to get to them, like it's all about how much you wanna work with a rifle. But when you switch to archery, from what I found, and I haven't shot one with my boat yet, I've just stood next to my brother while he shoots everything under the sun you gotta have that like sixth sense. You gotta know where to stand. You gotta know if to be in front of the tree or behind the tree. When to draw, when to move, when to call. And it's like that, it, you can't just brute force it anymore. Like [00:17:00] sometimes you can with a rifle, just, yeah, grind harder, climb faster.
Make the shot. What do you think, Chris? How do you come down?
Chris O'Neal: You pretty much described my my rifle hunt on my bowl last year because that's about how it played out. Climb hard or climb faster, with archery, that's a totally different beast. No, I haven't shot one with my bow, but I'm a big bow hunter.
I really this was the first opportunity that I had to go after a bull elk. And I really, I just wanted to cut my teeth with a rifle, if that makes any sense. I just felt like I wanted to cut my teeth with my rifle so I could like almost build some confidence to do it. I have been on archery hunts though, with elk and nobody got one.
But I think. You're definitely on the right path there. Like it is. It's a night and day difference. Whereas like you always know that you can reach out and touch something with a rifle as far as you can shoot, basically as far as you're comfortable with archery, that's a whole nother thing, getting in the zone, getting 'em called in.
Like you said, like [00:18:00] generally we'll try to go in pairs and we'll have someone call. Then you always gotta have the call or a ways back behind you when to call. How much to call. Man, that is just such a, and that's something that I'm learning too still. It's, I don't know if there's any right answer to any of that.
It's just a lot of favor has to be on your side, is I think a lot of it is luck and then a lot of it is just educating yourself ahead of time and just knowing some of the right moves to make when they come up. Yeah. Yeah, definitely. It's like everything, when I'm doing it, I always try to analyze almost everything I do, so I'm like, , should I move 30 yards up?
I'm like, huh. Then I'm like, I'm thinking in my head, I'll run a whole process and I'm like, then I'll do it or blow, blow a stalk or something. I'm like, what was I thinking? And but just live and learn, ,
Dan Mathews: how did the transition happen for you? How did that transition happen for you from hunting more in the Midwest to hunting out west?
Like what did you dive into and I guess research, explore in order to figure out how you're [00:19:00] gonna be successful moving out to Wyoming?
Chris O'Neal: So the first part of that cutout I think I got most of it though. So when I moved south to Wyoming I knew that elk was basically on the top of my list because I never had another opportunity to do it. I've killed a bunch of big whitetail back in South Dakota. So , I was over the whitetail thing.
Now I have an opportunity to get after elk. And moving out here, I started to read the regulations and stuff like that. And man, that was like, that was very overwhelming. Like I like I almost didn't even get tags my first year just because I felt so overwhelmed by reading so many of the regulations.
And it was like, it was day and night coming from South Dakota to Wyoming. There was just so much more here and so much more to know. And then, we didn't hunt a ton of b l m back in South Dakota where I was at. We, we hunted national Forest and stuff like that, but we didn't have a ton of B L m.
So it was like just trying to learn all the laws [00:20:00] and all the regulations. Man, that was brutal. But yeah, I did meet ,
Brian Krebs: I got region G tag, but I also have this type two. and type I think type two means I can shoot whatever I want, but somebody said, if you have the wrong type, you can only shoot cows on private land.
And I wanted a hunt unit 56, but I got a region g i, . .
Chris O'Neal: Yeah. Yeah. It's it was like the waters were just so muddied with regulation and different jargon. Some of it I didn't understand. And then I ended up meeting some guys out here that were picking to Elk cunning, and I got in with them, and then I just annoyed them to death with all the I'd be like, what?
I'm like why? What does this mean? This type three, and I can only hunt north of this area. I'm like, what is that? And he's oh look, yeah, that's yeah. A basic thing. And I'm like, makes no sense to me, explain all this. A bunch of my buddies, I think I just really annoyed them because I asked them so many questions.
But in doing that, I basically, I gained the confidence to be able to go out and tag [00:21:00] out and stuff like that. But yeah, it's a process. It's a process for sure.
Dan Mathews: It really is. Having somebody out there to actually talk to and get that advice from that's huge. The nice thing is there's a lot of hunting apps now that are putting information out that help you with that, and obviously with podcasts and YouTube channels and TV shows.
Hunting the West, I feel is becoming more and more doable are, growing up probably in my teens, even in high school, I just never thought it was possible. And I wish I knew what I know now about Western hunting because I would've started doing it long before I did. Oh yeah, that's exactly,
Brian Krebs: I remember growing up and.
And I think I was elementary school still and my dad and my brother were leaving for an elk hunt and I was like, they were up at the crack of dawn loading the truck up, driving out like I'm waiting for the school bus, like hoping the school bus is running late cuz I just want to be around. And I was obviously way too young to come with, and at that point all [00:22:00] I knew was like, it sounds like awesome.
And like all you have is stories, like verbal stories of what it's like. Like we wrote in and there's this canyon and the drop camp. And then, they went with Jake Clark outta Wyoming one. One of the world's Best Elk Cunning Outfitters. They're talking about the cook tent and they had they got all the four, you went in with 39 mules and the cook tent had an electric fence around it and they just shut down their operation the week before on the other side of the ridge, cuz there's too many grizzlies over there.
And they're trying to describe it. You, there wasn't that much elk hunting content to watch back in, this would've been the two, like 2099. The YouTube wasn't really a thing. Sometimes you could find an elk hunting show on the outdoors channel, but not really. So like everything is just like the R e f Bugle magazine and like pictures and you're trying to like paint this picture, but it's just a one big mystery.
Like as soon as that truck drove out, like I had no idea after that what the story was like. And I just remember that was the moment for me where it's like there's something out there and I want to go find it. One day it [00:23:00] took me 15 years to do it, but. . Yeah,
Dan Mathews: that's
Chris O'Neal: it was crazy. That's about how it was when I moved out here, when I moved out here.
All of a sudden I'm driving up towards the mountains and I'm seeing these big oness, and I'm like, that's, I'm like, I've never seen a Wal tint in South Dakota. And I come out here and then there's Wal Tints everywhere where people literally take the entire season off and they live in 'em. I'm like, what?
So that was crazy for me too. We just wanted an experience to come out here and going from, South Dakota to here was just day and night. Once you
Dan Mathews: put that work in though, and actually try it. Yeah. . Yeah, definitely. Once you put in that work though, and actually try it, you realize how doable it is.
Like before, before having ever been out there, I would've thought it was just as difficult to plan a Western trip as it was to go to Africa and try to shoot the big Five. But really once you start to do it it's all about how much work you're willing to put [00:24:00] into it, how much research you're willing to do, and just really figure out where you should be hunting the point system, like how you can get a license to start and then where you should be hunting the gear and stuff that's so readily available.
There's so many like gear checklists for western hunting out there now that people can take a look at. But yeah, once you start doing it, you build that confidence for sure.
Chris O'Neal: Oh, abso absolutely. Even now, like I'll still look through those gear lists and stuff like that, and then I'll send 'em to my buddies and everybody.
Like I, I really like gear too, so I'm like, I geek out on that stuff just a little bit you, so I'm like, . I'm like, oh. I'm like, I really need that new sip jacket to go . So at least that's how I always sell it to my wife. But, just like you said though, there's so many apps and there's other things out there that can really prepare you to get out there and doing those things.
But like for me, it was just like, I always had some like off questions that like I would see like side-by-side. I'm like, every trail and I'm like, [00:25:00] it doesn't even show that this is a trail. I'm like how can people be driving on that? Cause that it's not common where I came from. And so it was like a lot of small stuff like that, and I, I could do some research and something would say, yes, so you can drive here, or no, you couldn't. I'm like, I don't wanna be driving and on a trail and and get in trouble. That was my biggest thing. I was just more scared of losing my hunting rights or getting in trouble than anything.
So I was like, I don't almost wanna do anything , without somebody to help me out here a little.
Dan Mathews: Yeah, that's definitely a nerve wracking part of it. Making sure that you're legal. I think that should be, yeah, at the forefront of everybody's mind. Hey, if we're gonna be out here doing it, let's make sure that once we shoot a bull or a bear or a mule deer, it doesn't get taken away from us.
Chris O'Neal: Yeah. Yeah. That's a, that's a real thing. For me, like I was, like even before I shot my bull, I'm like I pulled out my phone, even though I was miles in. I pulled out my phone and still checked. I was like, just to make sure so when I shot my bull this year I dropped a [00:26:00] pin where I shot from, and then I turned on my tracker and from where I shot.
So I was like, just, I was just so sketched out about all that. But, I was still five miles in I just wanted to make sure I was legal and double checked everything. So there was no chance of anything being wrong there,
Brian Krebs: the, yeah, the, I've never come across a game warden that's like actually out to get people.
Every time I've come across a game warden, they're the nicest guys in the world. They love what we do. And even when I was in Colorado, I did a solo alpine archery, or not archery rifle elcon. I shot a bull last light. I didn't get off the mountain until one 30 in the morning and that was just a quarter room.
And then I went back in, in the morning and got 'em out of there. Then I, he drove out and I was gonna cape 'em and do the shoulder, right? So I'm in the parking lot or like this parking area where everybody, all those side by sides pull off and unload their trailer. And I'm trying to cape out this skull and the gay mor, same game horn I've saw three, four times throughout this week.
Cuz I was camping in goofy spots. He probably thought I was a lunatic. And he's Hey,[00:27:00] you're, you put, is that what's underneath that black tape on his an. , and I've always just electrical tape the tag straight to the antler, the whole thing up to down. Like it is not coming off of there because you're right, like five miles in, you could hit a pine tree and just rip that tag off if you just rely on their tape.
He goes, oh, that's my tag tagged it. He goes, oh no, that's gotta stay with the quarter. That's got the sex proof. And I'm like, all five pieces are here with me in the truck. Like I it's all one elk. Like I, I was under the impression, as long as the tag is attached to the elk, I'm good. He's Nope, in Colorado that's gotta stay on the corridor with the proof.
And he dug it out of the bag and took it off and taped it on himself. He's there you go. Now you're legal. And I'm like, all right, thanks man. He's oh, you better shoulder mount that thing. I could tell you were looking at doing a euro and I'm like, wow, this is a crazy
This is a crazy situation. I can't believe this is happening. And he is and if you wanna fill your mule to your take, there's a 180 up in there. You gotta, he beds down early though, so you gotta wait on him. And I'm like, I think [00:28:00] I'm good, officer. I think I'm just gonna go home.
Chris O'Neal: For the most part here in Wyoming I've they're as solid guys as you could run into, like I have never met one.
That is not just like a, just a great average guy that, you can meet any other hunter. So they've all been great here. South Dakota, I have ran into a couple , but you'll have you'll have people in, like not the best people in any profession it is what it is.
But I, here in Wyoming, they've all been great.
Dan Mathews: I found if you get a complaint called in about you, they show up with a lot different attitude. And we didn't do anything illegal, but we hunted a field that was, I could see a gas station, I could see a Denny's, and I could see a Motel six from our goose pit.
And so we'd be sitting there shooting geese. People would be stopped at the stoplight, looking over watching geese raining out of the sky. And so it was like every time we hunted, conservation was showing up. C P W, they'd pull up, they'd check everything. [00:29:00] It was like three hunts in a row. And by the third hunt, they were definitely a lot more chilled out.
They're like, Hey, just so you know, we didn't get a call that you're doing anything illegal, but we have to show up. We heard there were gunshots over here. We know you guys hunt here. Here's our check. You're good. And they even went as far as Hey, raise your hand if you were here yesterday and the day before when we checked.
And so we did. And they're like, we don't need to check you guys. You're good. We're gonna get outta your hair so you can keep shooting geese. Yeah, everyone. Everyone's yep, that was me. .
Brian Krebs: We checked four people and there's 10 of you. . I have a, I knew some people, I knew friends of friends that were got busted waterfall, doing waterfall stuff on Snapchat cuz somebody was salty and sent it to the game warden and they were all floating a fourth shell and a Beretta.
If you have a new Beretta, you can float a fourth shell in it. Oh yeah. Little tip to everyone. Yes. And so they were all floating shells and you could tell on their Snapchat story and somebody that wasn't invited got sent it to 'em and these guys were just [00:30:00] real goose killers. Like they're limiting out in the fall, snow season.
50 geese of person and a 10 person spread.
Dan Mathews: Geez dude. I love that. Yeah, I love that you threw in that tip about floating the fourth shell. This is now going to be the western that's
Brian Krebs: for target practice and clay is shooting .
Dan Mathews: That's target practice and clay shooting. I'm like, yeah. We're gonna give you guys awesome western hunting tips and how to get in trouble with the game warden when your.
Brian Krebs: That was North Dakota. It's west of the Mississippi. Oh,
Dan Mathews: hey. Yeah. So Western hunting, there you go. We're gonna teach you how to be legal for elk and how to, ignore the rules for geese. I
Brian Krebs: get it, dude. No the moral of the story, Dan, was that they got busted for doing the wrong thing.
Dan Mathews: Exactly. We're gonna tell you how to do the wrong thing so that you can avoid doing it that way. .
Chris O'Neal: Yes. Don't make their mistake and put it on Snapchat
Brian Krebs: when it says one in the chamber and two in the magazine, that also means no other Shells, anywhere [00:31:00] else. . ,
Dan Mathews: dude, you just gotta learn how to three gun.
And then it's you don't even have a plugin. Have you seen those jokers reloading? They're reloading faster than I can pull the trigger. Oh,
Brian Krebs: I had a different thing in mind that makes more sense. But when you said three gun, I was like I always hunted with two shotguns. Because there's a rule that you can't have more than three shells and one shotgun.
There's no rule how many shotguns you can have laying by you. So everyone on our crew would just bring two shotguns.
Dan Mathews: Hey, there you go. That's one way to do it. .
Chris O'Neal: I've done a lot of goose hunting and never did that. .
Brian Krebs: You have to have two shotguns to bring two shotguns. See,
Dan Mathews: the only got, the only time I would bring two shotguns is because the two shotguns I had were so crappy that they basically made one whole shotgun.
So if one didn't work, I could typically rely on the other one to fire a couple times at least. Oh
Chris O'Neal: yeah. That's
Brian Krebs: funny. Yeah. We never really talked about Western Waterfall, but there are, there's a huge Western Flyway. [00:32:00] It's all the ducks that take a right when they get to Dan's house and they go over to Kansas and Nebraska and then the flatlands of, and
Dan Mathews: you mean all of the ducks?
Is that what you
Brian Krebs: mean? When they either take a right or a left, I'm just saying. Oh yeah. The ones that go right
Dan Mathews: they all go left or right. None of them continue straight. They see it as a detour every time they get north of my house. ,
Chris O'Neal: there's a huge Flyway where I live at, right here and it's crazy.
But I used to be a really hardcore waterfowl hunter and then, I just felt like I spread myself so thin like doing so much different stuff. And so I've like intentionally not done any waterfowl hunting since I've been here, just so I don't like just stop elk hunting and start waterfowl hunting or something.
Brian Krebs: Do you feel that way, even when it relates to big game in a state like Wyoming or maybe even like Montana, Colorado, where there's so much opportunity, archery, mul deer, and then pronghorn and elk, and then you mountain bear and all of these things. Do you start to feel that way, even with just sticking within the walls of big game?[00:33:00]
Chris O'Neal: That's my thing. It's it just it's all or nothing for me. So it's for me, if I wanna shoot a big meal, deer, like that is my focus, I've spent off season finding where they're at, I, I shed hunted, do anything and everything I can. Or at least that's what I did with Elk last year.
And I spent the entire off season just finding out where they wintered, where they summered all that information about them. And then, so it was like I just consumed myself with that. So when it came, time to hunt, I have . Even guys that have lived here their whole life, they're like, Hey man any chance you can help us out or give us some tips where to go?
, that's awesome. Yeah, I could, I could help you guys out a little bit. But it's so it's for me, it's like it's I have one main focus and that's what I gotta be like zeroed in on. Otherwise, I feel like it just takes so much effort to find big bulls or big mules, it just really takes a lot of my time to focus in and find those if I wanna shoot, a trophy animal.
Brian Krebs: If you, when you're trying to find these animals, just something, like [00:34:00] something that sparks your interest. Are you doing all glass? Are you putting out some trail cameras at like different spots and just trying to take an inventory?
Chris O'Neal: strategy of choice? I will run trail cams this year. Last year I did not basically what I did was, , I went into all the places. I would basically find an area that I wanted to go into. I would go into it, and a lot of the times guys just won't go into the nastiest country. If you can get a horse in there out here, and if it's just nasty country, generally guys won't go into it.
That's it's 2000 feet, you gotta go straight down and, like a lot of guys just won't do that. So I always tried to put myself in places where I knew there was animals and I knew 99% of people wouldn't go. And so that's what I did. Whether it was, I always didn't go back super far, but, I went into some really nasty stuff, but I also found some really big animals.
, that, that was my strategy last year and it worked
Dan Mathews: out pretty well. Yeah there's [00:35:00] like a, it doesn't seem like there's a lot of guys in the middle. , right? There's the guys who are like, dude, I'm going as deep as I possibly can. And then there's the guys who are riding the two track and hoping to see something crossing the path in front of them.
I've talked to a lot of people out on the trail and the guys that I talk to that are telling me stories and showing me pictures of bull after bull that they kill are doing that, they're just diving in deep. They're going in the nastiest places. Yeah. And those elk can get in anywhere. They're like they're like one step under a mountain goat.
I feel like I've watched 'em climb up and down some nasty stuff and they're like, dude they hole up. Once they get that much pressure, they're holding up where nobody else wants to go. So for the guy that's willing to go there, there's gonna be opportunities.
Chris O'Neal: So here's a prime example where I got my bull at this year.
There, it's like a really common place where guys go in and it's 10 mile in just to get. to where most guys start hunting. And then everybody takes horse back [00:36:00] in just because it's so far in. And then you have to go up this mountain side that's 20 something switchbacks to get to the top of it.
Grizzlies hang out. Cause a lot of horses die on it. They like dynamite. The the horses off of there so the grizzlies don't get the taste for horses, so that's a real thing. You can look that up. But so when I got my bull, we were about five miles in, but I just, I found some nasty terrain that other people, I guarantee haven't been.
And and took me 30 seconds once I got to a good glassing spot, took me 30 seconds to pick out my bull. We walked in, in at 3:00 AM and so when we got outta the pickups and started hiking in, and we do basically about the top of the mountain where we needed to be, we waited till sun came up, and then we, basically hunted from there.
And we just, we kept going up and up and further in. So is that, how many
Brian Krebs: guys were you with on that little adventure? [00:37:00] Oh,
Chris O'Neal: I was with one guy. So that's all I've ever, that's all I've ever hunted with is one other person. I, I get, it's just sometimes it seems crowded if you hunt with more, to maybe three max.
But I've hunted with three guys before. But it's basically because me and one other guy that was experienced was trying to help another guy get a a meal there that this guy had no, no idea .
Brian Krebs: I was just doing the math 360 4, was it 360 6?
Chris O'Neal: 360 6 and five eights .
Brian Krebs: 360 6 bull. You're probably looking at like in Wyoming, that's gonna be an eight to 10 year old bull.
The one I shot, the one that you see a picture of, that one was eight and a half in North Dakota. And I weighed every quarter. So I can tell you, you're looking at 82 pound rears, 66 pound fronts. The head on that thing I didn't cape him out. So the neck, the head, the fur, the antlers, and all the water that was in his hide weighted 175
Chris O'Neal: pounds.
Geez. So we're guessing, and this is just a rough guess, is about 250 pounds off of my bowl of [00:38:00] meat between, yeah. Of meat. That's what we think. We got off as roughly around 250 pounds of meat. He was a big mature bull and plus
Brian Krebs: bone. And like those sheds, the, my tax numbers was cut my antlers off because he couldn't fit 'em through a doorway.
And so I weighed 'em. They both sheds weigh 11 pounds. So there's 22 pounds of just antler, that skull and the, all that, it just adds up. And then I was thinking like five miles, two guys. That's probably, do you go two trips?
Chris O'Neal: So let me tell you the story of mine.
Dan Mathews: Yeah. Let's dive deep into this because I wa I like when people just share, start to finish.
This is how it played out. I'm curious about this .
Chris O'Neal: Okay. The guy that I went with him and I had shed hunter, stuff like that, and he was a good shed hunter, everything. And I had one weekend one free weekend that I was that I was able to go and try to fill my general tag because the following weekend is when my daughter's season was coming open.
And so I was just gonna devote all my time to helping her get her both. We [00:39:00] made a plan, whatever we could get out there and. We go in and sunlight comes up, he was like, oh, it's a really good area. And I was like I said, I don't know, man. I said, there's some things here that I'm not seeing.
I'm not seeing any tracks. I'm not seeing any out droppings, and I'm not, I haven't seen any rubs on any of the trees around, I'm doing a ton of glassing. I said, I think we're gonna, we need to kinda keep moving. We need to go up a little further and so I can get a better viewpoint to, to do some classing.
And he was not big into glassing, and so I was like, ah, that was weird, . I was like, okay. And so we, we get further in and further in, and I'm still not seeing the sign. And he goes I think we need to go further into the trail. And I said I said, I don't know. I said, there's an area up here that I can see on OnX that I want to take a look at first.
It'll give us a really good viewpoint. We'll be able to see miles so we get to the top. That's when I spot my bull. Like literally we get to the top and I said, Hey man. I said, why don't you glass over there to the left? I'll glass here and [00:40:00] we'll go from there. He said, ah, I, I don't know, man. I don't think I'm gonna glass.
Okay, all so I pull up my binoculars, 30 seconds. I spotted my bull and we are so high. And I was like, oh man. I was like, that is a monster bowl. I was like, we gotta, he was moving away from us, so I said we gotta make a move on him. Like we, we can't mess around. He's walking away from us. And so my buddy goes let's just go down.
We'll go back around and, we'll try to get to the spot to get to him. I was like, that will take us over two hours. I was like, now that, that's not gonna work for me. , that will not work. I was like, this bull is moving faster than that. I was like, and if he gets out of here, I'm like, he's gone. I feel pretty confident.
I've spent a lot of time in the mountains. I work out all the time. I'm in really good shape, and so I was like, look man, I found a good spot over here. You don't have to follow me. I said, but I'm going off the side of this mountain right here. I found a shoot that went to the bottom, and I was like, [00:41:00] it's jail.
It's deep. It is nasty. I said, you don't have to go, but I'm going. And he goes, oh, okay. I'll let you go first and then I'll follow you. I said, okay, that's fine. Fair enough. So down I go and I'm almost running down fast as I can get down and it's, I thought it was around a thousand feet.
It was over a thousand feet down. Once I looked back at it on OnX, I can't remember what it was for sure, but it was a long ways down. And I get down to the bottom. I had to climb up the hill to get a good shooting point, and I had a rock I'm sorry, halfway down. I glassed him back up and I saw that he batted down beside of this rock.
And so I had a really good point of reference. And so I was like, okay, he's bettered down. I take my time and not, wind myself and just get Ben outta shape here and make a stupid mistake and hurt myself. Took my time, got to the bottom, had to climb up this other pretty steep hill.
Get to the top, find the rock. I cannot find the elk. I'm just glassing. [00:42:00] Probably, I don't know how long I spent glassing, but I could not find him. So I moved up up the hill a little further. Just as I moved up, I caught his antler just move. And so he was beded between two junipers and I just saw the movement of his antler.
So found him, got a good viewpoint on him. My buddy came over and he had a tag too, and he goes I'll back you up. And I said, okay. I said he's beside his tree. So my buddy never even saw the elk the entire time. never once, not until we walked up on him. And so I arranged it. It was, I think it was 338 yards.
I do a bit of long range shooting, so I was, I felt super confident in that shot. I had a perfect vital shot. I shoot a six five PRC put it right in the money. He stood up started a quarter away. I put another one in. And then he walked around the juniper. I was just about to put a third one in him and he, I just saw him just tumble.
I said, okay, hopefully [00:43:00] he's done. My buddy goes I never saw it, but you know what happened? I said if he's down over there, I'm pretty sure. So I don't know how long it took us, cuz we had to go through another bottom to get to him. Once we got over there, he was piled up into a juniper and then that's when I could really see how big he was.
My thought, looking through the scope was I tried to focus in on his vitals and not look at his horns because I knew he was big and I was like I could feel myself already not starting to hyperventilate, but I could tell my breathing was starting to change and I was like, I just had to zero in and focus on the shot and not even pay attention to how big he was.
So get over to him. Monster, big gigantic goal and So whatever, we take some pictures, everything's good. I go ahead and quarter him all up and get him in game bags. We get 'em hanging up, all that jazz and it took us like an hour and a half or so to get all that done and we're ready to go.
So I run a XO 4,800, get that packed. I have it just slammed. And I said, okay. I [00:44:00] said let's let's go ahead and throw some meat in your pack. And he goes, oh man. He said I can't put meat in this pack. I said, , what do you mean you can't put meat in that pack? ? I was like, what do you mean ? He said, no, that this can't, this pack can't haul meat.
And I was like
Brian Krebs: I was like, I bet I could make it haul
Chris O'Neal: meat . I was like, my daughter's, my, my daughter's backpack could haul meat if I wanted it to. I was like, look, man, I don't know what your reservation is about putting meat in the pack. I said, but if you're worried about ruining in a pack, I was like I'll buy you another one if that's the case.
I was like, I need another pack. I can get one for my daughter or something. I was like I'll buy you another pack if you're scared of getting blood on it or whatever it may be. He said, no, dude it, it doesn't haul me. I said, . I was like, okay. All right. Okay. . So like a little bit of frustration on that end and I still don't know what happened there.
But he agreed to to pack the head and so basically we were so far [00:45:00] in I the hide we was roughly around like 30 pounds on it. And so I was just like, either I'll buy a hide or I'll take the one off my daughter's bowl if she shoots a good one, yeah. Or if she shoots a bowl, whatever I'll take hers just depending.
I was like, if I had to buy one, I'll buy one. So I ended up flushing it out and getting all the hide off of, and. And so he carried the head. And so we put in my pack, we ended up putting a front quarter in the 4,800, and then I had boned out meat as well. So he put, he stacked that on top of my xo.
And then I just basically had to try to manage between my shoulders and my neck to balance it as I was walking. And then I carried another meat bag in my hands. . Yeah, that is a lot of meat. And so I had my 10 millimeter with me. He carried my rifle and his rifle. And basically what we did is [00:46:00] we leapfrogged, we went about, we would go as far as I could possibly walk, and then I would stop, drop my pack.
We would go back, get another load of meat and bring that meat back to the pack and everything else. And so we just leapfrog doing that all day long. So from, I think it was either 11 or 1130 when we started packing. And we got back to my truck at six 30 that night. That's actually such a pretty good
Brian Krebs: time.
Dan Mathews: I was gonna say, I was expecting a lot longer than that, so especially if he had the head literally no meat.
Brian Krebs: Did he carry any meat on the second trip?
Chris O'Neal: On the second trip he carried a bag. Yeah, he did carry a bag on the second trip. The thing about it was like I, that was the thing. So my first year here your first year in Wyoming, you're not considered a resident until you've been here a full year.
And so my first year here got non-resident tags. When I shot my first cow elk in [00:47:00] Wyoming, I found out real quick that I was not in shape for mountain hunting . And so when I packed up my first cow elk I told my wife, I got back, I was like, I couldn't breathe. I thought I was gonna die. I was like, this is not good.
I was like, my goal for next year is I will be in prime ship for elk season. And going into this last elk season, I, from February all the way until, I got my, I worked out six days a week if I could. If I didn't work out six days a week, I was in the mountains on those other days off. And so I did anything and everything I could to get myself in shape for this.
And so coming out, it, it sucked. But I felt like if I could have put more on my exo, I probably could have carried out more. I'm not even kidding. dang,
Dan Mathews: man. That's gnarly. I can't imagine being back in there and having that conversation with somebody.
Brian Krebs: The grizzly bears wouldn't have been getting a taste for horses if it was me, I'll tell you that much.
Dan Mathews: So you can stay here right? Where this bull went down, you're gonna stay out here with it. I can't imagine that we had a, I think I've talked about this on this podcast, maybe not. My first bull. We were several miles back. We had cell service and there were some other people not that far.
They were up by the side, by sides. But we were on foot several miles back, and it was just me and my buddy and we're like, all right, we're gonna make this happen. Luckily we got through to these other two guys and they bomb in meet us there as we're boning out meat. And one of the guys, Dan, he's twice my age, and he gets down there and he doesn't have a pack doesn't even have a backpack, , no nothing.
And I'm like, All right. At least he came to, to hang out. I don't know. This joker throws a whole quarter on his shoulder in the meat bag, and he beat every one of us up the mountain. [00:49:00] And I'm like, . I guess that's one way to do it. I don't know why you would do that, but, all right, dude. Thank you very much.
I'm like, dude, I owe you a packout. For sure. .
Chris O'Neal: So about halfway through the Packout it like, I got to a point about midday where like I was hurting pretty bad and I said look dude, I said I saw this thing on some something. I was like, let's try cutting down a tree and we'll hang a couple of the meat or the game bags off of it.
We'll just both put it on our shoulder and we'll carry it. Oh, I be travo. Yeah. Yeah. That works real good on flat ground. That does not work good in the mountains going up and down hills, , because then all the meat either goes forward or, goes backwards, however, and it was, that didn't work.
We made it in about a hundred yards with that. And I was like, let's just keep doing this, it was good progress. At the end of the day. We made good time. And my, like I said, my buddy, he was like I don't know how you carried that. I was like, dude, I spent all year long with in the gym prepping [00:50:00] for this.
So I was like, I just powered through it. But yeah, it was it was touch and go for a little bit with the conversation. I was quiet for a few hours. .
Brian Krebs: Do you, so when he, when next fall comes and he is Hey man, want to go hunting? He gonna be like, ah, I actually gotta fold my dish
Chris O'Neal: towels this weekend.
Yeah. Yeah I don't know. He's a really good dude. He is, but I don't know if we'll be hunting together again. , let's
Brian Krebs: do an antelope pun. Yeah,
Dan Mathews: I'd be out on that one for sure. I also don't know who came up with the whole meat pole idea on the shoulder. I hate that method. I have never had success with that method on flat ground or hill country.
Like we tried it in Georgia a couple weeks ago with a pig. There were four of us and we, the four of us tried to carry this pig out and we had just gutted it. I think it weighed about, I think it weighed out at 1 65 or something like that. Four of us all carrying, it was [00:51:00] worse than one guy dragging it on the ground, like way worse.
And I'm like, why? Why would anybody use this method? I don't know what application that makes. . Yeah.
Chris O'Neal: Yeah.
Brian Krebs: It didn't work for us. I've put full meal deer in a pack. I've put a full whitetail in a pack. The, my North Dakota bowl. I put a front and a rear in my pack. And then when I got home, that was the, I put it all back in my pack when I got to my garage so I could hang it off my scale, like pack and everything.
And it weighed 146 pounds. Oh my gosh. So you're almost there. Yay. You're almost there with that pig.
Dan Mathews: Yeah. Yeah. I, that's a lot of weight.
Brian Krebs: Everything though. Dan always thinks I'm gonna be smaller than I am every time I see him, but I'm a bigger pig. It's because you
Dan Mathews: look just like this guy that I used to know and he was, he, identical.
If you were to take like almost two feet off of your frame , that was him. And so every, like the first time I ran into you or met you in person, I was like, whoa, dude. That is [00:52:00] not what I was expecting at all.
Brian Krebs: Yeah, so it's a lot different, like percentage of body weight to add two quarters to me versus someone like Dan.
You mean it's, that's my job, I guess in the IL cruise. I'm the pack mule.
Chris O'Neal: Yeah, that, that's my goal. That's me too. So now I ended up getting my daughter a good bull. I'm guessing it was over 300. I didn't officially score it, but I'm guessing it was over 300. And then when we came out, I packed out the head myself that night, and then I made her pack out the neck meet and the loins and then, so we hung the rest of the front quarters and he quarters in some junipers overnight.
We went back the next morning and she packed out both front quarters in my xo and then I had another external frame pack that I packed out both he quarters. Then that was, yeah, that was brutal too. That was really hard. It's like one of those things, it's embraced the suck. I see a lot of stuff online and man, I just like [00:53:00] going into the elk season like that man, I just, I get motivated just, for that time.
And so once it comes, I'm like let's do it. My daughter's like almost crying. She's this is so heavy. I'm like, you got it. Let's go. Come on. She's okay. And then when we got done, she was like, oh, it wasn't that bad, . I'm like, I told you,
Dan Mathews: in the moment it just feels like it's never gonna end.
And this year, yeah, I was nervous actually going out this year because I went in deeper than I have. I shot a bull where I was told to never shoot one because of the terrain . Everyone's do not do it. Do not. Literally, I was with three guys when I started hear hearing bugles, two of them bounced out.
I'm like, we're out here hunting. We heard bugles and you're going the other direction. This doesn't make sense. So it's me and one other guy. And before the two left, they're like, you're not supposed to shoot one back here, right? And I'm like, dude, I don't really care what everybody says. If the right bull steps out, I'm going to shoot it.
So I did [00:54:00] and I was like, dude, this is gonna be tough, man. I've been back in Missouri for a couple years. I'm not used to the elevation. Yeah, I've been working out, but the elevation can really take a toll. It's no joke when people talk about it. So I get in there and it had to have just been the fact that I had killed my biggest bull ever.
I packed that elk out, dude. I I didn't run up the mountain, but I beat everybody up the mountain by a long way. Dropped my pack, turned around, went right back down, grabbed another dude's pack, put it on, booked it up the mountain, dropped that one, went back to help another guy, and he is no, man. I got this.
I'm close. I'm close. and it was to the point where one of the guys, he's got some serious medical issues and so he is got, he takes a lot of prescription medication and he goes, dude, did you like get into my Adderall or something? And I was like, what? ? And everyone's dude, he was joking about it, but he mentioned it so many times as a joke that we were do you actually think Dan took [00:55:00] your Adderall?
And I was like, dude, that's a great compliment. Thank you so much. Also, I'm gonna pay for it tomorrow. But it, I don't know, I just got a second win this year. I hope that happens every year, but now I'm gonna go into it too confident and underperform. I feel like
Brian Krebs: that's what happened to me. I think you train your mind on some of those shitty ones.
Yeah. More so than your body. I think. Like I got to the point where I'm in worse shape now, but packing meat out is, because I'm just used to it. I've done it before. I know it's gonna end and maybe I'm better at mountaineering. We picked better paths out. We're not changed as much elevation, but it's just my niece shot her first bull two years ago with a rifle and it wasn't a, any big deal to throw two quarters on.
I put two on somebody else, put two on, and then, a couple people. My dad was along and we didn't give him any extra weight. He just carried an extra gun. But it's it's a, once you've done it, like once you've gone to those ugly paces and you've had that really sucky climb where your lungs are burning and it's [00:56:00] not ending, everything else seems easier after that.
Dan Mathews: Yeah. The, yeah, I the mental side of things is definitely, if you can train your body, that's awesome, but you really do have to just endure the suck sometimes. It's gonna be brutal. You're gonna think this day is never gonna end. I'm never gonna make it to the top of the mountain or back to camp, or the truck, or the side by side.
and you just have to put your head down and go. And there are some people who just have too much quit in them for elk hunting or for packing out meat. Tell I think that's I'll you. What a great excuse though. This pack actually can't carry any meat.
Brian Krebs: I was gonna say this fall, when he goes hunting with you, you should give him your old pack and be like, here's a new backpack.
I know this one hauls meat. Hey, let me
Dan Mathews: see that one real quick. Just check it off the mic. No
Chris O'Neal: more rotting for us. no more. That's how you weed out stuff like that real quick. Like I said, the so like after the whole experience, I looked back and I was like, oh, there was a lot of red flags.
I was like one, we went into grizzly country early, but he was like, oh, I [00:57:00] forgot my pistol. I was like, okay, I get that. Whatever. He might have forgot your pistol. And then we were in a ways and he was like, oh, by the way, he is I don't have my gun loaded either. And I was like, . I was like my gun's loaded.
My pistol's loaded. I was like, so I'm ready. So I was like, if anything happens, whatever. So yeah, there was that. And then when we stopped and we started glassing, like the no glassing thing, and then I was like, I was ge know trying to look around and analyze everything I could see around me.
I'm like, no poop. There's no, no rubs anywhere. I haven't seen any fresh tracks I have, and so just a lot of that stuff wasn't showing me that anything had even been there anytime soon. And he thought it was a good spot right away. So I was like, ah, and those are, were all red flags, and so I just added all those up and I was like, ah, it's, yeah, good dude. We'll still be friends, but I don't know if we'll hunt again. , is this guy married? This is like a, this is like ? Yeah. Yeah. He is married .
Dan Mathews: Okay. So I've got a theory man. I've got a theory. He [00:58:00] gets an elk tag. Tells his wife that he's going elk cunning and all he wants to do is go out there and drink and hang out because
Chris O'Neal: he doesn't drink.
He doesn't drink. Oh
Dan Mathews: dude, maybe was he gonna
Chris O'Neal: kill you out there? Great theory, Dan.
Brian Krebs: No, he didn't bring his gun. Everything was unloaded. He brought his
Chris O'Neal: rifle but it wasn't loaded. And then, so as I was cutting the elk up though, by the way I would I would like be focused on trying to make my cuts and make it clean and get as much meat as I could.
And I, after a minute or two, I'd always like look around or stand up and just see my surroundings and just, make sure, cuz we were in the heart of grizzly country. And there had been several attacks not far from where we were. And he was like, oh, you're really nervous, aren't you?
I'm like, Gonna be cautious here, bud. I was like, I, not, I'm not crazy about where we're at, but I'm like I just don't want a grizzly to run . There's a lot of red flags there. But overall I learned from it. I know that we probably won't be hunting [00:59:00] again, and I know next time whoever I do go hunting with to make sure that they have a good pack and that they're gonna pack meat
Brian Krebs: Yeah. This is gonna be a reoccurring segment on the western rookie. On what? On red flags and a hunting partner. Yeah. And what to look for in a good hunting partner. . It's look for the guy that post p photos of the pack out, not the trophy . You want that guy that's look at what I just did.
Yeah. Look at the weight on this pack.
Dan Mathews: That's good. Yeah. Make sure your shed hunting buddy isn't throwing. Like a quarter mile into trip.
Chris O'Neal: Here's a Yeah.
Brian Krebs: And talk about the, but I didn't quit. That's what I want everyone to know. I didn't quit you. I said, you go pick that shed up. Just gimme a second.
Dan Mathews: the vomit out of your long red beard and said, let's go find some more.
Brian Krebs: goes that descriptive.
Dan Mathews: It wasn't, at least he's not
Chris O'Neal: a quitter.
Dan Mathews: Man. That is awesome, dude. It sounds like you've got this stuff figured out. Like just the mental side of it. The physical side of it, and you're looking in places that other [01:00:00] people are like, aren't gonna put the work in to go to and obviously Yeah, it's paid off already.
Chris O'Neal: Like moving out here though it was totally different for me. I had hunted elk one time in South Dakota before and it was just cow elk. I didn't know anything about it. I ended up getting one. Just by being lucky, basically. But when I moved out here, there were so many things that I needed to learn.
Like I did not know that they hang out in elevation bands, basically. And there's so many of those like small things that like elk hunters know. But I was an elk hunter and I was a whitetail hunter or an antelope hunter, and so coming out here, I had to learn all that. But for me it was a all or nothing thing.
Kinda like I was telling you guys where I don't want to start hunting waterfowl now or anything else because it's all or nothing like, and once I did that, I just, I really dove into it, learned everything I could as far as like aspects of that. Like where their stand, elevation bands when they come up and they go down and man, that stuff was really good.
And for me too, [01:01:00] I think one of the best things that I did was getting in shape. That was, I, I don't know if I could have done half of the, I don't even know if I could have made it in half of the places that I did if I didn't get in shape. , and that's me. Like I have some other buddies that are, they're big guys.
They're outta shape. They still go in there where I do, but I just, I couldn't do it if I was outta shape.
Dan Mathews: Yeah. Going into it, physically prepared. It puts you in a different mental state right out of the gate. Yeah. Just knowing, hey, my body can do this. So that's not gonna be a limiting factor.
Chris O'Neal: Yeah. And yeah, it was like, same way with my daughter. It was like when she drew a very rare tag to draw out here that was a very hard draw hard tag to draw. And she drew her first year. And . I spent a lot of time finding the bowls for her and stuff like that. But I told her, I was like, look, you need to start working out with me.
You gotta get in there, we gotta get in the gym. And she never did. Come season I was, she was not getting, catching a break for me. Not at all. Yeah. When we did spot the bowls, they were probably about two miles away. [01:02:00] And she goes, the first thing she said is we're not going after them, are we?
I was like, . Yeah. Yeah, we are. Yes we are. And so she's oh my. And the last half mile was like all uphill and I just sprinted straight uphill. And so I basically, I got up there, we were right at the time. We were gonna start running into a shooting light issue and things like that.
So I was like, we basically, we have a half hour to get to where we need and we have this half hour window to find the bowl we want and to make the shot. And so I basically, I ran to the top. Found the bulls where we could get a shot on 'em, got the rifle and everything set up and had everything set up for her.
And then finally she caught up to me, she couldn't breathe, and she's oh. I was like, I don't wanna hear it. I don't want to hear it. I'm like, you just gotta make this shot. And so she ended up doing it. And I told her I was like, if you would've been getting in shape with me, it might not have been that bad.
But she pushed through the pack out and everything else. And then she told me [01:03:00] after the first night, we got home at three 30 in the morning. She goes, I don't want an elk tag next year. the second when we went back and got the rest of it after we got done with the pack out and we got back home, she goes, I don't maybe just talk to me next year.
And then she said it wasn't that bad. I said, okay, all right, I'll take that. So I would constantly, I
Dan Mathews: would love it her about it. I would love it if your daughter and your buddy who doesn't carry meat in his pack Ooh, are both on a different podcast, and they're like, dude, we're never hunting with that guy again.
We're never doing it. .
Brian Krebs: Yeah. I thought you were gonna say I wanna see your daughter and this other guy on the next bowl where she's just lapping 'em with two fronts in her back.
Dan Mathews: That would be amazing also. Yeah. . No, I'm thinking they're both going. That guy's crazy, dude. Like he's sprinting up hills.
He's going way back in there. I'm not going back with him.
Chris O'Neal: Oh, we have
Brian Krebs: three brothers that's always in our group and. One of 'em is in insane shape, the other one is a better [01:04:00] shape and he's in the military. And those two will not quit. And they just put the rest of us through hell cuz they're just like Billy goats.
And they like, literally, he's let's run up to the top and check these elk and the one that's in the better shape just literally rant straight up the mountain. And I'm like, God damn it .
Chris O'Neal: Yeah. That I know my my wife and my daughter they talk a bunch of smack about me cuz they're like, he's just, he's so crazy, but I'm like I'm like, this was the plan the whole time.
We just, we had to get it done and like the suck doesn't last that long, yep. Couple hours. That's temporary man. Just really sucky a day or two. That's it, I'm like I could sacrifice for that. ,
Brian Krebs: I always wanted to make a t-shirt that said it's not gonna hurt as bad as regret.
Ooh, yeah, just wear that like in the gym and wear that when you're on the elk hunt, because if you would've walked away from that 360 6, like your buddy convinces you like, it's not worth it. It's grizzly country, I'm not ready. My gun's unloaded, my boot came untied. Let's just go back. And you would've walked you would've saw that bull and left him there.
That would've ate you for so long [01:05:00] forever.
Chris O'Neal: Yeah. That wouldn't have happened. I'm not that kind of a person. , there was like, there was no talk. Like I had committed, I probably would've done some like rock climbing stuff to get down to that bull. I was ready. That goes back to the whole, all year long I spent doing this stuff and like preparing for it.
And man, when it came time I was like, let's go . And like you said, when you sought something way down away from everything, I don't even put that stuff in my mind. I'm like I'll, if I find a big bull, I'll, we will shoot it. We will do whatever we have to do and we'll figure it out later. It got in there, we'll get it out.
Dan Mathews: Oh, I turned straight to the guy that I was with and he's are you really going to? And it, it wasn't like he was trying to talk me out of it, but he was genuinely curious dude, are you actually about to do this? And I was like, yes, I am. And I said, and I won't ask for anybody to help. I'm not gonna expect, because everyone else had said, don't do this because we don't want to be part of it.
I said, I'm not gonna ask for help. If it takes me three days to pack this elk out, I will. [01:06:00] There's snow everywhere. Like it's gonna stay cold. The only thing that might happen to it is something gets to it, right? Because we don't have a ton of mature trees. There's hardly anywhere to stash this meat to keep it away from predators.
And so I was like, dude, I'm just, I'm gonna do it. And then of course, everybody, where'd you shoot it? Where'd you shoot it? And I tell told 'em, they're like, You're kidding me. You're kidding me. Next morning I woke up to get ready. There was five people ready to go pack it out with me because that's the group that I hang out with.
They're like all, they're all in. We're all out there to help each other. Oh yeah. I packed out, there were seven bulls killed in camp this year. I helped pack out five of them, and so I'm like, dude, I shot mom. That's awesome. I shot mine day one. I hunted every morning and every evening the whole rest of the week just trying to find other people, elk.
I'm out there to hunt, man. Like I feel home and I tell my wife that I hunted for one day and the rest of the time I sat in the [01:07:00] tent and drank and played cards. She'd be like no, you're not leaving me with the kids for that long just to go mess around. You better be hunting. You better be putting in the work.
Brian Krebs: Wow. Seven bowls in camp. You shot yours on the first day. I'm starting to think, Chris, that you and I should just Sneak in. They're not 19 people. They're not gonna notice two more dudes.
Chris O'Neal: They really wouldn't do. Yeah, we could probably pitch a tint right alongside. They did. Whatcha you talking about?
Dan Mathews: guys have been here for the last three years. .
Brian Krebs: We'd go through the taco line as with 'em, pretend like we know. Yeah, we came with you. That guy . Justin, we're with Justin. He invited us. We're, we live down in,
Dan Mathews: Boulder. I'm not gonna be able to air this episode because a lot of the guys at Elk camp watch it, watch this pod or this podcast.
So they're gonna be like, your voice sounds strangely familiar. .
Chris O'Neal: The yeah, so on my daughter's bowl, she for herbal, she actually missed the big one. And she ended up shooting the smaller one. I had what I think was a 400 [01:08:00] inch bull picked out for her. And wow. Why are
Dan Mathews: you guys entertaining?
Coming to my elk Camp , this is we are going with Chris, but 100%.
Brian Krebs: Because did hear the part where she said she got a really rare youth tag. . Yeah.
Dan Mathews: Really rare dude. I identify as a 12 year old. . .
Chris O'Neal: Yeah. Yeah. That was another hard thing coming out here too. So in South Dakota, there's no age limit for kids to hunt.
I have four kids and so my two oldest have been shooting I think both of them shot their first deer when they were eight. Daughter was my oldest one. She's 15. And in Wyoming you have to be 12, I think it is, before they can hunt here. So she, ended up drawing this super rare tag, like my my neighbor applied, has been applying for the same tag for 20 years and hasn't drawn it yet.
dang man. There's big bulls in this unit. But you can it's so hard to find. It's [01:09:00] for me, I'm like, do I apply for this tag every year? I know I could still hunt on general units, so if I don't draw this tag. So yeah, we'll see how that all
I'll send you guys some pictures after this.
Dan Mathews: Yeah I'm all about that. I wanna see these pictures and obviously we need one for a podcast episode. But listen I feel like one, we're gonna have to figure out a structure with co-host because this podcast flew by, I can't believe we're like at an hour and 15 minutes already and we haven't even touched shed hunting.
So we might just have to schedule a part two with Chris. And yeah, we're gonna have to do something because we could keep talking, but we'll definitely be swapping some pictures, sharing some more stories. . In the meantime though, Chris, where can people go and find you? Where can they follow along?
Where can they see some of these pictures?
Chris O'Neal: So on Instagram, it's the world's most average hunter. That's what I'm [01:10:00] that's what I'm running with
Dan Mathews: right now. That is the worst name for you ever. It's
Brian Krebs: not tomorrow.
Chris O'Neal: Come on. My thing is I feel like I'm an average guy that, I just take it seriously though.
I take it maybe a little bit more serious than most, but it's
Brian Krebs: that's where the world's most comes in. ,
Chris O'Neal: the world's most average hunter. But so yeah. But that's what I'm running now. I, I try to keep up with it just as a funny little thing as I'm like, but I'll be posting some more stuff on there coming up soon.
Especially going into shed
Dan Mathews: season, . Yeah. Absolutely. Dude, I really do appreciate you hopping on this was an awesome conversation. I feel like we need to do a conversation while we're all sitting at l camp one year though. Yeah.
Chris O'Neal: You guys could always come out and do some shed hunting.
I've got some good spots. ,
Dan Mathews: you are speaking Brian's love language right now. ,
Chris O'Neal: that's
Brian Krebs: the sixth one. It's right after gifts, words of appreciation.
Chris O'Neal: sheds Tlers. [01:11:00] Yeah. People were like, what ISD this shed
Brian Krebs: what? Actually you'll seen most
Chris O'Neal: shed ever, most
Brian Krebs: of those sheds behind me came outta South Dakota.
Chris O'Neal: No kidding.
It was a thing for, I didn't shed hunt in South Dakota that much. It was only when I came out here in Wyoming and I started seeing how big the bull elk shit that I got bit by the bug. Like I picked up a few here and there in South Dakota. But nothing, I wasn't crazy about it.
Like I am here. That'll be a lot more
Brian Krebs: crazy too, if I was picking up 15 pound AERs. .
Chris O'Neal: Yeah. Yeah. I'll send you some pictures after this is done.
Dan Mathews: Hey. Hey Brian, you need to before we hop off, you've gotta show him your shed that you showed me before we started recording. Oh, this one? No, not that one.
Brian Krebs: Which one did I show you? Oh, the . Oh, the other one I forgot which day. I was like, I'm starting to get confused here. This is a shed I found in South Dakota, 6,500 acre piece of property c r p and [01:12:00] grain, egg fields.
For the listeners that aren't watching this, I have a marvelous, just a Boon and Crockett class of 2032 two inch Spike
Dan Mathews: class of 2032. Yeah, that's about right. Oh man, that's good stuff. Yeah. Guys, I appreciate both of you guys chatting. We're definitely gonna have to do more episodes as a group because that was a great episode.
But good luck on the upcoming seasons. Good luck on the upcoming draws. More importantly, I mean that Steph is right around the corner, so hopefully you guys both get good tags and fingers. My fingers are crossed for the same thing.
Brian Krebs: Yeah, I have no idea what you said. It
Dan Mathews: broke up . Oh yeah. Perfect. I basically said good luck this season. Okay, .
Chris O'Neal: Awesome. All right, thanks a lot guys. I [01:13:00] appreciate it. Thanks.
Brian Krebs: Coming me on. Yeah, thanks for being here, Chris.
Chris O'Neal: Thanks. Yeah. Touch base with me on Instagram there and I'll I'll send you some pictures back
Dan Mathews: and forth.
That sounds good. And that is gonna wrap it up for today's show, man. I am, I'm fired up. I wanna get out and chase after some pelican and some mule deer. Right now. I'm telling you Spring's coming. There's turkeys, but I just, there's something about this time of year we're, in preparation for next year, this upcoming 2023 season and filling out the applications and trying to get preference points and trying to get drawn on and all of this different stuff.
This time of year is really exciting for me, and I hope it is for you guys if you haven't put in for points yet. If you haven't been trying to draw, maybe this is the year that you do that, and I'm really looking forward to starting to get those messages, the pictures, the emails saying, listen, I've been listening to the Western Ricky you and Brian or this.
This guest [01:14:00] that you had on the show really inspired me to get out there and do this, but more than that helped. Just show me that it's not impossible, that this isn't like a 10 year hunt. This is something that you can do year after year or every other year. And hopefully you guys find success with that.
Hopefully you guys take tips and tricks away from this podcast that help you harvest big game animals out west. That's my goal. I know that's Brian's goal and we're learning right alongside of you guys. So feel free, shoot us an email, shoot us a message on social media and tell us all about it, what you've learned, how it impacted your hunt this year, or how you plan to use it in upcoming years.
And I'm hoping to get Brian more involved with the podcast on the social side of things because that guy is a shed hunting freak man. I don't have, if it were up to me to post, shed hunting pictures, I guess I would just never have anything to post. But [01:15:00] Brian's going out constantly finding sheds with his dog, Grizz.
And I do want to spend some time out west shed hunting anyways. Gosh, I'm just my mind. Is going a thousand miles an hour right now. I'm pumped. Yeah. That's all I got for you though. So until next time, guys, get out there and chase a new adventure.