On this episode of The Western Rookie Podcast, Dan and Brian talk with Ryan Carter about giant elk and what it takes to consistently get on mature bulls.
Ryan is the owner of DC Outfitters in Utah and is known for finding and patterning some of the biggest bull elk you have ever heard of. From nearly 60” wide bull “MJ” to the 450+ “Freak” bull out of Arizona, Ryan has had the opportunity to watch some of the largest elk in the country. Hear his view on what it takes to grow these amazing animals, and how he finds these bulls, patterns them, and gets his clients on them. To follow along with Ryan, check his Instagram at the link below!
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[00:00:00] Welcome back to another episode of the Western Rookie Podcast. I'm your host, Brian Krebs. Dan Matthews is here again this week. He is in the road on the road coming back from South Carolina with the family. I'm sure there'll be some stories and we're gonna do a little BS session before we get our guest in here for episode 59.
So how's it going, Dan? Man, it's going pretty good. Just been on the road all day and still have about four hours left, but dude, life has been good traveling. Moved into an apartment, still getting that buck hard horned on my trail camera and I'm just waiting, man. I just keep hoping every night at 10 30 he's there and I'm like, please just shake your antlers off right there on camera for me.
Oh, that would be the dream. That would be sweet to get like a three part picture of your buck. Fully antler, shaking his head, no antlers to hit your phone. [00:01:00] Yeah, that's my hope. I haven't, I haven't had any other bucks. Hard horn. Until last night. I had one that had a single spike on it, and that was on a different camera.
But everybody I've seen, it seems like people are collecting sheds all over the place, so I wonder why in my neck of the woods they're holding on so long. Yeah. Speaking of sheds, you missed a great episode last week. We had Branson Krebs on who, if you haven't listened to that episode yet, is I just found out it was my cousin.
So that's pretty cool to have a cousin from Montana that's a full-time outfitter and he finds a ton of sheds every year. He dude, the more I can talk to people who find sheds the better. I feel like my odds are gonna be, but at the end of the day, I think I'm just a crappy shed hunter. Branson finds, he said last year he found 200 whitetail sheds and about 50 elk sheds.
Holy cow. Yeah, that would be the dream, man. Yeah, he was [00:02:00] talking, we talked a little bit off air about being cousins and trying to get together on a hunt or something, and they just picked up a new lease, 80,000 acres in Southeast Montana. And when they were holy cow, walking it the first, this is like an outfitter lease, right?
This is part of their business. They don't really get to hunt it, but when he was hunting it with the landowner and the landowner's sister to walk around, take a look at the property, but then also I think part of the deal was like he was supposed to help guide the landowner's sister on an elk.
Or a deer and they're just walking by elk shed after elk shed. And they're not saying anything. They're not picking him up. They're not pointing him out. And so Branson's what is going on? And he's almost like afraid to ask, cuz this was his first contact with the landowner and he's trying to make a good first impression.
And so eventually they split and he's guiding the sister and he's so what's the deal? Do you guys usually like walk by all these elk antlers? And she goes, yeah, we don't really pick 'em up. Cause they're like big and bulky and like hard to carry. They're heavy. We don't really do anything with them.[00:03:00]
Oh my gosh. Yeah, dude, I, yeah, I want to get on a property like that man. Oh, he said it was phenomenal. Like we're walking past match sets big browns. He's that's a 350 inch bowl. Like just walking by all these sheds. He talked to the landowner again just recently before the podcast and the landowner mentioned that they have to go work this set this weekend cleaning off their alfalfa center, pivots for whitetail sheds.
Otherwise they'll pop all their tires and Branson's just thinking oh hello. Pick me. I volunteer. Yeah. Do they need a hand with that? I'm happy to volunteer my services. No kidding. So hopefully in the future years Branson and I'll be able to meet up and do a shed hunt.
He's super busy this spring, building a house. I'm super busy this spring, getting done with residency as me and my wife look towards buying or building a house later this year. So it's not gonna work out this year. But hopefully next year and the future years, we'll be meeting up for a long lost cousin hunt.
Yeah, [00:04:00] man. We've got some big news, you and I about shed hunting. Yeah, we do have big news. Just finalized the plans, what list last week? Yeah. We finally set a date to get out with Steven and hopefully find a ton of antlers. The pictures that he's been sending us in the group texts have been mind boggling.
And I'm like if we find half that many sheds in our trip out there, because a lot of these pictures are single day Yeah. Deals, where're, like, he goes out and they just find a pile and I'm like, man, if I can find like a couple nice sheds that aren't completely chalky I'd be happy with chalky ones even, but if I could find a couple of brown sheds, oh man, I'd be over the moon.
Yeah. My goals for the trip would be to find a good six point brown elk shed and a good. Four point brown meal. Deer shed I'm not even talking big, like just a good brown elk and a good brown meal [00:05:00] deer that would make my entire trip. Oh yeah. Just nice and clean. I feel like one of us is gonna find a match set.
My, my fear, what I would hate, I mean it would still be cool, but I would hate to find the second antler and somebody else found the first one and then I have to give my antler up to complete the set or, yeah, I don't, we'll have to talk about shed ethics cuz I probably wouldn't care that much to keep it matched unless it was a freak.
But yeah. What if you're like walking a line and all of a sudden you see my dog grizz come flying outta nowhere, drop his head, pick up an elk shed and run back to me and you're just like I didn't see it, but I would've stupid dog . No. What I'm gonna do, I'm gonna bring a Super Soaker to use as like one of those spray bottles for a dog.
So if he gets in front of me, I'm just gonna spray him like, no, no bad dog. Yeah. I've always told people when I shed hunt with him and Grizz, I'm like, Hey, you're probably gonna see it [00:06:00] before him. So if you do just be like, Hey, I see one and then let Grizz find it. And even if he brings it back to me, like I'll give it back to you.
But I just want to keep him on antlers and keep him getting better and better. And so I've always said if Grizz is in front of you, just call the antlers before he finds 'em. Otherwise, if he just drops his head and picks 'em up, he's going to count them as his and then bring 'em right back to me.
Yeah. That's gonna work to my favor cuz as soon as I see him get alert, I'm gonna be like, oh, I think I see one. And then I'll just wait to see if it actually is one or not. When he is running and he just stops on a dime and spins around, you're like, oh, I got one over here. . Yep. Think I got one. Yeah.
I'm a curious to see how he does with elk sheds cuz I would assume. The visual aspects of a shed are gonna be better for him cuz it's bigger. The scent aspects of the shed are probably gonna be stronger. So I'm hoping he does better on elk sheds than he even does on Whitetails. Yeah. What I mean the freshness of them.
Obviously you're hunting fresh sheds there, but they've gotta put off a lot more scent [00:07:00] shed when they drop fresh. Yeah, for sure. I mean there's just such it's a much larger pedicle and just the overall shed itself is so much bigger that hopefully he's just on top of it and he's finding him left and right.
He is site trained and scent trained and I did work with him a lot with a set of elk sheds I bought when I first got 'em. I bought a set off eBay just for that reason, but that was a few years ago, so I suppose I could start playing around. I have two little rag horn sheds behind me. I could start playing around and at least get 'em back on track for like scent.
and cite on the small one and just make sure he like doesn't run past a big brown elk shed hopefully. Yeah, that would be, the thing is, unless we see it, we're not gonna know. Yeah. And I'm sure there's gonna be those that slip through the cracks, but knowing Steven and knowing how good he is at what he does and the spots that he has, I feel like we're gonna get into them.
And when we [00:08:00] talked, he said there was very few times that they've gone out and got skunked. Yeah. He talked like, yeah, we've got, like we've gone out and not found any before. And then I'm like, oh no. What if the, just our luck that happens to us. And he is but like only on one walk or one day, like never on a whole trip.
And I'm like, oh, thank God. . Yeah. Yeah. No kidding. Hopefully it's not like the freak, oh, this is the first back to back days that I've ever had. But what all are you bringing out? In terms of like gear, while we are actually shed hunting, not necessarily like camp gear, but like for optics, are you bringing a spotter?
Just binos. What are you thinking for that? I will definitely I will definitely not go west without my spotter. That's just the point. I am in life. I don't necessarily need, say I'm gonna carry it every day or bring it out of the truck, but I'm just not going west anymore without my spotter. I will carry my binos every day.
But that brings up a good topic cuz I'm split 50 50 down [00:09:00] the Leopold Vortex line. And if Vortex is listening to this and they want to help make that better I've been leaning more towards Vortex lately, but the two pieces of optics I would both be bringing are Leopold 10 20 fours and a Leopold spotter.
Nice. Yeah. Yeah. I'll be bringing all my Vortex gear out. Similar to you, like depending on Steven's recommendation. If we get into a spot where he is we're not gonna be glassing super long distances, then I'll probably leave that back. But if he's saying Hey, we're gonna be an open country, we're gonna get up on a hill glass a little bit, see if we can pick some out.
You better believe I'm bringing that spotter cuz that glassing for sheds is, glassing in general has turned into one of my favorite hobbies. But glassing for sheds when I'm out hunting, I have fallen in love with it because typically if they're on the opposing hillside that's facing you, you can pick 'em out.
Plain is day. Yeah I would, I'd really to see what Steven says cuz if we get to a spot [00:10:00] where it's hey we're gonna park here, run this finger ridge down and then we'll, and then we'll jump off and start shed hunting. Like I would be okay with running that finger ridge down. Bringing the spot or setting it up, glassing the whole area before we take off.
And then if if worst case, I just leave my spotter there and mark it for the day and then on our way out just pick the spotter back up. Or if we hunt a spot and then we got a couple hours of light left and we go like just basically glass tomorrow, spot in the last hours of light as that setting sun is just drilling the slope that's really might make him shine.
So it'd be interesting to see what Steven's like strategy is. I'm obviously just gonna do whatever he says, like a little golden retriever. Yeah, no, I think that's smart. Going off of his recommendation, obviously this guy's got more experience picking up sheds in that kind of terrain than you and I have combined times five, but I'm just pumped to get out there. And it's funny cuz I told my brother that we were gonna be.
going out to Colorado to shed hunt and he's oh dude, you should totally come up here. [00:11:00] He's in Steamboat Springs now. And he said they were driving around just looking for animals the other day. Oh yeah. They ca came across about 700 antelope. He said they saw 28 bulls all together still holding.
Wow. And I can't remember, I think he said about 250 mule deer they saw. He's so if you want, you guys should totally swing up here and check up here for sheds too, because, I found out where all the animals are. And I'm like it's a matter of getting the permission as well. It's one thing to, to see the animals, but to get permission on the property that they're on when they drop.
That's a whole different ball. Yeah. Yeah. And speaking of elk sheds I see our guest is here today, Ryan Carter. Ryan is also a huge elk shed hunter and finds some monster sheds every year. So let's get him in from the lobby and let's fire this episode off. What do you say? Sounds good. You're listening to [00:12:00] the Western Rookie, a hunting podcast full of tips, tricks and strategies from season western hunters.
There are plenty of opportunities out there. We just need to learn how to take on the challenges. Hunting is completely different up there. That person, 26 game animals, you can fool their eyes. We can fool their nose 300 yards back to the road, turned into three miles back the other way. It's always cool seeing new hunters going harvest an animal.
I don't know what to expect. If there's any way I want in the woods with me, it'll be you.
Hey folks, welcome back. We got Ryan Carter in the booth right now. As we said earlier, Dan is on the way back from South Carolina with his family. So if you hear any road noise, that's just to be expected. He's gonna hop on and off mute as we go. But Ryan, how you doing today, man? I'm doing good, man.
Doing good. Beautiful. Sunday, it's March. It's March. Shed season is [00:13:00] rapidly approaching. In terms of shed season, Utah just finally joined the rest of the Western states with the shed closure. How's that treating you guys out there? It's probably needed this year. We have record depths of snow.
Some of our ski resorts are reporting 600 inches. I've sued. There are dead deer, elk everywhere. In fact, right here behind my house, it was a herd of about 21. Do that kind of. Cruised into a canyon three weeks ago, they've never come out. I'm sure they're dead. As a sportsman, it's our job to watch out for wildlife.
And if there's a chance that we're gonna push 'em, I think it's a good thing we're laying low. Yeah I definitely agree. And you see a lot of commentary on the Utah shed closure, and a lot of people obviously are emotional about it, and they're saying, why should we not be able to do what we want?
But everyone else can do what they want. Snowmobilers, bird watchers. And it, to me it's yeah, but snowmobilers might cruise through a valley, but they're not trying to go [00:14:00] right where the elk are bedding. Yeah. I don't know. There, there's already harassment laws in place.
I hate when we do mandates like masks, it makes me mad. Yeah. But as a sportsman and as a guy who just loves wildlife, I. I'm okay with just waiting. I know it doesn't work. I know people are gonna go anyway. But a shed isn't as important to me as seeing bowl X make it through the next spring.
So what it's okay. Yeah. And talking about Bowl X Oh, sorry. Go ahead, Dan. Oh, I was just gonna say, yeah, if you can look past the, current season or the current position that you're in, whether it's shed hunting or actually chasing after big game animals to the bigger picture.
If you can prevent a population or a group of animals from being pushed out of a feeding area as it's coming close to the end of winter, it makes sense. And those sheds are still gonna be there. Somebody else might come and pick 'em up, but if [00:15:00] nobody's supposed to be out there, hopefully they're still in that same spot when you come back to look for 'em later on.
Agreed. Heck yeah. The odds aren't high. The big thing about right now, everyone's excited about all the water, right? Everyone keeps using this word moisture, and I hate it, but there's a ton of water coming down. We have a ton of snow and everyone's excited like this year's just gonna be awesome.
One thing people need to take into account is body fat. Elk and deer don't do well on antler growth. The following years, their body fat isn't high. So yeah, we're getting a lot of water and I'm sure the animals that make it are gonna bounce back. But we've gotta be able to do our best to let these animals just creep through the last, three months apart.
Because in all reality, until about May 31st, these animals are gonna struggle. . Yeah. And you've definitely got a unique viewpoint on these animals because while some guys like to just go out and find some antlers, [00:16:00] you're tracking these specific bowls for a long time. I've been following you for, ever since I had my North Dakota elk tag.
And even then it's Hey, here's the, this is mj. He's got the yearly update. Here's chunky monkey. We're back on him this year. You're following some of these bulls from the time they start really showing some character at, 4, 5, 6, all the way up until the end of their lives. Sometimes it's 12 years, you're following this bull for six years in a row.
So you really get that viewpoint of what this animal's life is like, not just this shed season and two antlers. Yeah, I, that's what I enjoy. I, that antlers are fun to find, but I like scheming. That's the word I like. I like following these animals and trying to figure out their routines and their patterns.
I, it's hunting it's not the kill that I really love. Yeah, I like all of it and I like all bulls, whether they're six or 14, but there's some bulls that I really, they set a hook on me, yeah, for sure. And then being [00:17:00] able to track those year after year, you're doing a lot of trail cameras.
I thought I had a lot of trail cameras back home on our whitetail farm, and then I started hearing talk about trail cameras and then picturing, it's not a whitetail farmer. You're driving a ranger around to every tree and you don't even have to get out to check 'em. You're going miles in with a backpack full of batteries.
That's a whole different landscape of putting trail cameras. Yeah we do some work that's for sure. You're playing like the computer version of chess online where it knows all of the moves. And me and Brian are over here playing checkers on a board that we crafted out of materials that we found at our house.
Yeah, it's all the game man, but some versions are harder. That's all. That's all I do have to jump in. I forgot to hit the record button, so I'm gonna hit that right now and we will capture some of this video cuz there's definitely, I want to, I want people to be able to see Ryan's backdrop cuz Ryan has a bowl that he calls [00:18:00] chunky monkey.
He's followed this bull for a long time and it is probably one of the best backdrops we've ever had on the podcast. This thing is a toad. Oh, I don't think there's a question. That is definitely the best. Brian, don't get me wrong, I love your shed rack behind you. It's phenomenal. But dude, that bull, I'd trade a lot of those sheds for just an opportunity at that bull.
I would too. . Yeah. Yeah. There's something about Big Elk and that's originally what drew me to your page and following your story, Ryan, is I got that once in a lifetime. North Dakota elk tag that had some really good bulls in that unit. And then from the second I started googling like big elk, how to locate a big bull, how to stay on a big bull.
It was like your name was every other source, like every other podcast was like tracking big bulls with Ryan Carter, whether it was a gritty episode or someone else's. And then all these, like Instagram hashtags kept pointing back to your page. And so that's when I really started [00:19:00] understanding you're taking this big bold, this big elk game to a whole new level.
That's nice for you to say. I screw up just like everybody else. I, but I do trying, like that's my, I love trying, I'm cool with it. I think the difference is you might learn things that didn't work along the way, but you don't stop, you get back on that bowl. I remember one story, I don't know it, it's, you hunt with a Kyle a lot and I don't know if it was Kyle or not, but I think you guys were after MJ and something happened.
It didn't quite work. He came in, but he was too far away and I remember the podcast, he really just told him like, Hey, he's gonna be back in 12 days. You can keep hunting, but I don't expect we're gonna see him for 10 or 12 more days. And sure enough, like day 19 of the hunt he came back on his pattern and he got him.
And so I think that's the difference is a lot of people would be like, oh, it didn't work. Let's go chase this other bull. Yeah Kyle's a [00:20:00] different breed and this is that, this is a credit to Kyle more than it is me. And that what he did is he walked in on him in the dark, on his way to his tree stand.
And he got up. He wasn't like super scared. In fact, he didn't run real fast. His, he was so wide that bull, if I remember right. He's 57 on his inside, like he's stupid wide. When he walked away, he just tipped through the trees and did his thing. And I, but I still told Kyle, I said odds of him coming back between our next 10 day window or just bad, go home,
And the problem with Kyle is he just won't he sits on these elk till it, it's go time. And to his credit and perseverance, that bull finally came back in. He killed him. , yeah. To sit a tree, stand in the mountains for 10 straight days. I'm sure he's sitting morning to dark, not taking any chances for one animal, and you're going 10 straight days without getting a glimpse of him.
Man, that's mental toughness. [00:21:00] Yeah. Yep. That guy, I, last year he came again. And I love having Kyle in camp. Like his optimism is just, it's contagious, right? He, it almost irritates the shit outta me. But he, last year he sat for a bull we call JJ for 25 days before I made him pull off the bowl and go chase some other elk.
And that's, it's a pretty cool story, but it goes to show how dedicated that guy is. So when you say that Kyle's coming back to camp, you're hunting a super hard to draw tag in Utah, right? I looked at the odds and I'm in for it. I just jumped from like 0.2% to 0.4% chance that I'll get to come hunt with you next year.
But, so you guys are really leveraging like the Utah game and fish tag [00:22:00] auctions to be able to get your repeat clients back in camp year after year, right? Yep. And to Kyle's credit everyone has this opportunity. They auction off tags e each unit they take a percentage and they auction off specific tags for certain areas.
He likes to do this Boulder archery hunt that's, he hunted this bull. He sat on this bull for 18 days before I got mad at him, and then he almost killed another bull called Uno and. He's just awesome. But Kyle, it lives in North Dakota. He's probably up in your neck of the woods somewhere. Does well via the oil industry up there.
And that's what his goal is to try and buy this archery tag every year. There's only one, it's not cheap, but it's not terribly expensive considering the class of bull he's chasing. And that's his, that's what he wants. Like some people, like I, some people like boats. [00:23:00] Some people like ski passes, Kyle Austrian likes hunting, archery, oak on the boulder.
Yeah. Some people like the chance at a 400 inch bowl. Yeah. for sure. . I'm not the guy that would give up like different hunts just to pursue one big animal. But if it was between fishing, I would give up fishing. Every year for the rest of my life to every other year get a chance at an animal like that.
Yeah there's something about those big bowls, and I think Dan and I spoke briefly before the podcast starts, but we're really interested in jumping back to the beginning, like what got you into big bowls, tracking them and trying to put together the scheme as you said it, like the pieces, figuring out the puzzle on all these bowls on how to consistently, get opportunities, whether they work out or not.
But you're pretty consistently getting on these bowls year after year. I don't know [00:24:00] what started me. I like probably just some kind of sickness, maybe my grandpa, but. , he told me in my twenties, he said, Hey you can be good at one thing. You could be good at fishing or you could be good at elk hunting.
You can't do both. And he was like, but when you're my age, you should be fishing
I jumped into elk cunning pretty heavy. I drew a tag in oh three killed a really nice, like three 70 something bull. And for oh three Utah still hadn't cracked 400. So that was I figured my best chance at keeping on chasing these giant elk would be to start guiding. So I spent a couple years with a small outfit, went into Christensen arms started figuring out these elk on the Boulder unit.
And I think once I started figuring patterns out, once I started like getting on top of these elk, there's a pattern to [00:25:00] this one and a pattern to this one. I really think it turned into a sickness for me because it was my goal to figure them out. And I'm a big whitetail hunter and so I took a lot of the tactics that I had from learning how to hunt whitetails and just shoved them into the elk woods.
And it's different, but it's the same. Wallows are big scrapes. Like there, there's certain behaviors that kind of carry over. They elk have a lockdown, just like whitetails do. They have a pre-up pattern. Everything follows the same suit if you know how to look at it from the right perspective.
So once I started figuring out the pattern I think God, I think the hooks just got, and then that's when you started being able to really apply it to, to get back on these bowls year after year or you see a bowl and where he is heading and that we should expect him back in our area when he is done with his loop.
Yep. So is [00:26:00] that something that you think your average DIY guy can implement to some degree? Assuming, maybe he's going back to the same unit year after year. He might not be able to spend 20 days like you and Kyle put towards a bowl, but he's going back to the same unit at least.
So the land is staying the same. Is that something that he can start to piece together year after year, season after season, or is it something that you really need to be there for the whole season? Be a local to really put the whole puzzle together. It all depends on kind of what tag you have.
And by that like you can't pattern re bowls. You just, you can't, there is a pattern. They have a routine and that pattern can be done, I don't know, July and August. That pattern can be done January to February 20th. They have certain routines during certain times of year, but once the snow starts climbing, just like in shed season, the elk you've been watching since January they [00:27:00] go from 6,000 feet to eight five really fast.
Same thing happens once they start peeling their velvet and typically Elks start shedding their velvet August 20th, 18th. But and they'll stay in there and they rub, they go nocturnal a lot of 'em, and they sit and scrape all their velvet off and they'll stick around till about Labor Day.
But once Labor Day hits, they're gone. So to say I want to chase like pattern of bull and kill 'em. That only works if your season dates fit in that window. Does that make sense? Oh, for sure. So to go back to your question, it depends on the tag you have because if I had a rifle tag early season here in Utah, I don't care how many cameras you run, it doesn't give you a whole lot of intel other than figuring out what age class is, which is the goal of the camera in the first place, right?
Yeah. But [00:28:00] if I had a rifle tag and I knew I was going into this unit, I would pay more attention to where Elk rut. the years prior. That's why guides have the upper hand on a lot of these guy DIY guys that have waited 15 years for a tag is because the guides are there every year. They know right where these bulls go to rut it, it's a huge upper hand.
The rut is a totally different game, but preseason, early season archery tags, you can pattern stuff. Yeah, that's a really good thing to keep in mind, just for people listening and they're like, oh, this is, Ryan just runs his whole same whitetail playbook on these elk and it's gonna work for me on September 18th in Montana.
Probably not, , probably not, but I would be like, I'd probably be your least favorite client because I've heard you talk about what you do. You really love that August timeframe, being able to put the pieces together, put a plan in motion, and basically ambush, right? You know the pattern.
You get the tree [00:29:00] stand. We're gonna be in there early before he comes through. , and then you've, I've heard you say over and over again once Labor Day hits, everything goes out the window and our only tactic is to rip bugles, right? We're gonna start bugling bowls in and we have no idea what's gonna come in.
It might be the bowl you're looking for, or it might be 30 bowls before we get to the one you're looking for. But when you say stuff like that, I get super excited man, to have 30 bowls on, like a good day to interact with. That's the kind of elk hunt I would want. And I would just sit there and soak it all in, and then basically just shoot the last bowl that comes in with the time we have left.
shoot. I'm with you. I, that's not a bad way to go because that's why we're elk hunters, right? Like the rut is the romance, the rut is the drug. That, there's nothing wrong with that. I just like when you wait 20 years for a tag, I, I tell guys like, we want to do everything possible to optimize age class.
And it's not even score. I try [00:30:00] to tell 'em like, Hey, we're going for the older bulls. Even if my biggest bull that year is 365, that's what we're gonna go for. We have to optimize and do what we can with the best we got. And I like age. Yeah. I think age before beauty is becoming the new norm across pretty much every hunting aspect.
Even the whitetail crowd is starting to look more towards age than just antler size. Because you get fooled a couple times. You get a two-year-old or a three-year-old that just looks like a giant thinking he's five or six and you shoot him and you realize, ah, that didn't really work. We can't just go off the antlers.
It, if you really wanna manage the health of the herd, you really have to figure out how to age an elk. I gotta imagine that's difficult unless you're doing it every day. What's the difference between a five year old bull, an eight year old bull and an 11 year old bull? I don't think a guy like me could tell the difference.
Except if you took the antlers outta the equation. You block those off and say, how old is this bull? I would be shooting in the dark. You want my perspective on that? Yeah. How do you [00:31:00] how do you go about telling this bull is this age? I. You can't really see it after a certain age.
Five and eight, there's a pre, a really big difference. Five years old, their legs look really long. They're not, they're the same length. It's just their torsos seem to get bigger. That little ring, if you can see on that bowl behind my head, this little part of their neck. Kinda behind their ears.
You'll see the head necks down and then the neck bulges out. Yeah. Older age class bulls get these huge necks just like a whitetail deer, and you'll see it just as they're feeding, as they're moving. Like they have these big old fat noggins on 'em. They're, their nose actually looks like it shortens up.
It doesn't. It's just thick. Bottlenecking out. Yeah, you can see it, but not a lot of guys can see it. And then depending on where you're at it, it's hard to tell as well. Like some elk just don't have the same genetics. , like [00:32:00] I hunting that giant bull in Arizona a couple years ago. What? What?
Let's see. 20. 20, we killed that. 4 68. I kept watching that bull and the bull next to him looked two years older and he was only three 90. And then there's this bull, that one we killed, that was four 60 something. I could see 200 pounds on the other bull. I could see the fat nose, I could see the bulls on the neck, the big belly.
He had everything else to say I'm that much bigger. But he still moved out of the way for this younger bull, just cuz his headgear was so big. And I probably would too. Yeah, that's, I like how you say he was only three 90, if we're talking about any other elk in the world, they'd be like, dude, that bull's huge.
He is three 90. Yeah. Yeah. What did anyone, I suppose you spent so much time looking at both bulls as a part of that experience. Do you know if anyone got that other bowl a as of last fall, he was still [00:33:00] walking. Yeah. Okay. It'd be really cool to eventually like to close the story out on that bowl too, and then age him so you could look back and see how close you were.
Was that bull really two years older or not? How big, how old was the, they call it the freak bowl, right? The 4 68? Yeah. Did they get, he was eight. He was only eight years old. . That's wild. Because that, my bowl in North Dakota was eight and a half and I will be completely honest, when he stepped out, I was not looking at how old he was.
I was like, yep, that's a bowl. I would be happy to tag. And sure enough, I brought him home. That's awesome. Yeah. Yeah, that's, I sent you a video of a big bull and that was the first time I reached out and I was, I reached out thinking this guy's super busy. It's getting close to hunting season.
There's no way he's gonna be able to like, see this on Instagram and respond to me. And I get a voice memo from you instantly. And I was like, holy crap. He actually responded . And I remember that bull looked fat. I remember looking at that bull looking like he came out of a feed lot [00:34:00] compared to the rag horns we usually chase in general units across the west
Dude, that's what we do. We kill the nice when we get. Closely, right? Like I, I always tell guys to focus on the wow factor. Once we get into the rut do we really need to scrutinize 15 inches? Let's start looking at does he make your eyes pop? Does he, is he what he wanted out of this whole thing?
If he's not, let's keep going. There's more elk. There's always more elk, but sometimes it just feels right, yeah. If we were out and we had a bull that's just charging into us, he's big, he's matured. There's no question about if he's old enough, but he just comes in charging stomps right up in seeing red.
He comes into 10 yards from the shooter. That's the kind of experience where that, that alone is worth a bunch of inches, right? To have, like fist to fist contact with a big bull that's worth more than, like you said, that 15 extra inches. I agree a hundred percent.
How often do you, does that kind of happen and play out [00:35:00] when you're in the units you guys are hunting? Is it pretty common you can pull those bowls right into someone's lap? That, that's the difference between over the counter tags and limited entry tags. Like I, I deal with maybe 40 tag holders on a unit that takes five hours to drive around and yeah, all those 40 guys have 20 guys helping 'em.
That's what we do, right? You get a tag and you want your dad and your brother and everyone there. So yeah, there might be two, 300 guys running around, but it's still a unit , it takes five hours to drive around. So yeah, there's days like in, in all reality, after day three, typically I don't see another guy through the end of the hunt.
Except for like maybe on the roads when you're driving back to camp. It just seems like it. Your limited entry, there's just a lot of bowls and you've just gotta sit and weed through elk. So it sounds ridiculous. I call them 23 bowls today. [00:36:00] It's really like it. It's awesome , but that's how it works.
And I always bitch, I'm like, man, I hate the rat, but I don't, I love it. I just hate trophy hunting threat. I have to specify that. Yeah. And I would imagine that with that many people out there hunting, but like you said, limited entry, most of these guys are hunting it smart.
They're not going in and blowing out areas. And so even with, like you said, two, 300 people running around, the actual felt pressure by the animals is probably nothing in comparison to an over-the-counter unit. Oh, but yeah, easy. It's and it's, everyone's perception's a little bit different cuz there's places that you can hunt elk that you can glass every elk you hear, right?
Or give it a couple hours, he'll eventually move out to where you can see 'em. Where I'm spending most of my time where this guy [00:37:00] lived, I don't even carry binoculars ever. If I see a big bull, I typically know who he is. Like I don't need to like sit and count inches and see what I have going on.
So it, there's a lot of different in each, per perspective of each unit. But yeah, I mean it , I know it sounds so stupid, but 20 calling in 20 bulls in a day, like on a limited entry unit, that's an easy thing. You don't have to be some, professional caller. You don't have to be Rocky Jacobson Little PVC pipe.
You do it. It's pretty fun, man. That sounds like I need to just move to Utah to speed up a couple years off of the process of getting that tag and trying to experience that. Or like you said, I think on other podcasts it's just buy a spike tag and come out here and bugle in a bunch of big bulls for a week, and then hopefully find a spike at the end and bring some meat home.
That's something to experience. I'm telling you like the opportunity's there it's not like what I'm doing [00:38:00] is something that is only reserved to some guy that makes a ton of money in the oil industry. Yeah, it's nice having a tag in hand, but in all reality, to experience what I experience is any guy can do it.
If I can do it, any guy can do it. That's crazy. Yeah. And it's not uncommon. Outdoorsman hunters to have that once in a lifetime hunt that they do. Like most people don't go shoot a big Yukon moose every year of their life, right? , like that's the one thing they save up, they chip away at it and eventually they go.
That, and that could be the very similar thing to like the Boulderer unit in Utah, to have that experience, to be able to chase a 400 inch elk and to have, regardless, have an amazing week, here in Bugles and chasing down bowls and having all kinds of cool encounters like that could be your a guy's once in a lifetime thing, like he's gonna elk hunt the rest of his life, but he's gonna do it one time where you hunt in like a magical unit.
And yeah, that, that seems like the beauty of the whole thing [00:39:00] with hunting the West is that you can be building points in multiple states and in some of those states that you're building points, you could still be going and hunting over the counter every year. And then, like you were just saying, Brian, once or twice or a handful of times in your life get to go and experience a hunt where you are calling in 20 bolts
And if I can offer any any advice to guys that are building points in these states we always say once in a lifetime, but I can't help, I can't tell you how many wives bitch at me about once in a lifetime hunts because every guy has 10 of 'em. . It's just, it ends up working out that way.
And man, if I can give advice to people, I'm like, we got our big three I know there's 400 inch bulls in multiple states, but in all reality, your big three is Arizona, Utah and Nevada. They are your once in a lifetime elk units, and they're some of [00:40:00] the hardest ones to draw. If you ever get it, you're, that's probably your only chance.
Whereas New Mexico, you could probably drive every one, every five years, depending on how aggressive you're being on the good units. Wyoming, every 10, you, there's places you can go every couple years go kill some elk, man. Don't sit and wait your time for these big three states.
Go to Idaho every year go kill some elk. It's just, it's, that's how you learn. It's you're just gonna fail and fail and fail and then score. But you're not gonna come to Utah with your 20 years of waiting and kill something decent. Unless you've got a few bulls under your belt or a heck of a outfitter team
Or one heck of an outfitter team. Yeah. I can't imagine how much stress and anxiety I would have if I drew the boulder tag but hadn't gone elk cunning in 20 years. I don't know if my gear is good enough. I don't know if my body's good enough. I don't know if I'm gonna make [00:41:00] the good shot. But you take that and you flip it and you say, I've elk hunted every year for the last 20 years.
I've shot six poles with a rifle. I've shot five poles with my bow. I know what's gonna happen. I know how I'm gonna react when that bull comes in. I know my gears dialed in. And then you go do that tic. You're gonna have the bowl you shoot may not change, you might have an outfitter team that can get you the same animal, but your experience along the way is gonna be drastically different.
So goes anything. Yeah. You're going to the NBA playoffs. , you've wanted to play ball a few times before, so you're more Yeah, I feel, yeah, go ahead, Dan. I feel like there's that mindset now. I see it a lot more, at least with whitetail hunters, where they'll go out early season and shoot doughs and they're like, I just want to get that, like those jitters out.
I don't want buck fever when the buck comes in. I wanna know from my stand or deer spotting me. Are they winding me? What's like just getting the practice and the repetition of it and being able to perform under pressure on something [00:42:00] like a dough or something like an over-the-counter elk unit is only gonna elevate your game once you do get this tag or a tag in a much better area.
Oh, 100%. Yeah. And even dude, just letting the air outta something makes you just feel better, . So I love that thought. I can't stress out enough how important it is. I, and even trying to mentor young hunters, I'm like, man, take your kids to Texas. Go shoot some stuff. Let them have the experience of just letting the air out of a few things.
It's gonna make 'em feel more confident when they're here doing something that took 'em 10 years to get a tag, or 15 years to get a tag. They have some experience. They're not nervous with a knife. They know how to open something up. Those small things are a big deal. Yeah. Yeah. I have a buddy that we're gonna try to get on the podcast, and he did his sheep slam with a bow.
It took him seven hunts to get 'em all. He did every one of 'em [00:43:00] on the first hunt except the stone. Yeah. The stone took him four. He hunted 49 straight days before his first shot opportunity. Wow. Across four hunts. And he says he goes down to Arizona, New Mexico because he loves elk cunning, but also to get him ready for what it's gonna be like to send a $40,000 arrow on a sheep, get that blood pump.
And he says every time he goes to the range, he fires his first arrow at a hundred yards cold. Cuz there's no way you can, there's no way you can possibly replicate it. But that's better than shooting at 20 and then 40 and 60. He's, outta the bat, we're shooting a hundred. And but he says the exact same thing you did, which is let the arrow to some things, stock is many animals as you can.
. Then that guy, there's a lot of wisdom in that. I'm the same way with my bow. I always like 70 yards is my kind of punchline. I like 70 and I don't know why that is, but that's what I do when I get out of the truck cold. 70 shows you every flaw, like 20 yards doesn't tell you anything. [00:44:00] A as far as a, from a hunting perspective, right?
Yeah. Once you're dialed at 70, 20, 30, 40, it's no big deal. And unless something's wrong with your bow, which you gotta go paper check it, but for the most part, once you have that dialed, you can consistently hit those numbers. I've never shot a $40,000 arrow so that guy's perspectives got a, it holds a lot of weight, right?
Yeah. But there's a lot of wisdom in what he's saying. Most of your clients probably are having that same perspective though. If they're going to buy the tag, depending on which tag they buy. If they're buying the all season, was it, you have one. They do like an archery or rifle, and then one that's like an all season.
Yeah. Yeah. Yep. So those guys probably know exactly what that feeling is like aside from not wanting to miss the animal, but just everything it took to get to that point as well, like you said, the once in a lifetime hunt, you told your wife you were going on for the last four trips and all the pressure of being away from home and the buying the [00:45:00] tag and getting the outfitter and finally it's all here and they got one chance to not mess it up.
And then you start thinking about that. And that's probably what leads to more people messing up their shot than anything is just worrying about messing up their shot. Panic , like very valid panic. How often do you see like a client starting to panic when they got a giant bowl in front of him? Do you like I've Kyle, sounds like he's just a stone cold killer, so maybe not him, but someone that's new, like they drew the tag and then they reached out to you and said, Hey, I drew the tag.
Can we hunt together? Do you ever see people like start to panic? Like they just start losing it when there's a giant bowl coming in? Yeah, I, that's man. These 20 year tags that just comes with the turf. That is part of the whole thing. I see it a lot more in rifle guys who try to come do archery than anything else.
Rifle guys tend to lose their stuff after day five, they're not like what we do. And I was just like, dude, it's only day [00:46:00] five. Relax , tomorrow's a better day. But, it seems like the archery guys I get in are typically a lot better, a little more composed and they understand their success rates only 30%.
Seeing somebody panic, that just happens. And in the moment, the nice thing about like running bulls, . If you screw up one shot, it's a matter of getting the wind right, getting to the next draw, getting in front of 'em, go again. That's when you want to be in shape, because you can get that four times in a day sometimes, but before the rut ambush hunting from a tree, you panic.
You missed that shot. That might have been a $40,000 arrow for sure. That's wild. That's another level of pressure that I have yet to experience. But like I said I'm building those Utah points. Utah is my Hail Mary state. I haven't started Nevada yet. That's probably something I should look at.
Arizona, I'm actually treating more like a 10 [00:47:00] year state because I think the hunting is so good down there. I don't know if I wanna wait to draw the best tag or just draw a good tag and hunt it maybe three times in my life instead of one time. I like where your head's at. Yeah. Yep. I got a whole roster.
And I've been telling Dan about this and I've been showing him like these charts I make and these spreadsheets that I track my points and track seasons and, I got the ev, Colorado, and Idaho are the every year option. Colorado's the fallback option. Idaho's the plan the people that plan out their life a little better.
Cuz you gotta buy that one in December. Montana and Wyoming General are good. Like three year options. They're getting worse, right? It's starting to be a four year option and then you throw in the rest, right? You can throw in New Mexico as a wild card state. You never really know when you're gonna draw, but like you said, depending on how aggressive you want to be, you could draw that every three years.
Pretty easy. It might not be the best, but then you get the special ones. Colorado, the northwest corner of [00:48:00] Colorado, Utah, Nevada. Those are the Hail Mary states in my book, and that, that's how I lay it out. I'm gonna try to hunt elk every year in either Wyoming, Montana, or Colorado.
And I'm gonna build points across the rest every five, 10 years. I'm gonna cash in on Arizona. Whenever the great state of Utah pulls my number, I'm gonna cash in Utah. And we'll just see what happens. Yeah, I like where your head's at after seeing Brian's spreadsheet. I am officially hiring him as my hunting broker.
They, there's people that have made full-time businesses out of that exact thing. It's getting a little bit less common now that it is getting easier to apply to Western states. Not that it's easy by any means, but you used to have. Mail in your applications and look through the book to see what unit you wanted to apply to.
Now you can usually Google everything you need to do and do it in about 15 minutes. And everyone's perception is different. Like everyone has a different end goal. I if you listen to like [00:49:00] Corey Jacobson, like they, they did a podcast talking about the states to apply for, and the states to ignore in Utah was the worst state out of all of 'em to even try for the demand's too high.
The number of permits is too low. Never apply for Utah to keep your money to put it over here, but to their perspective. I don't know that 400 inch bulls are on the roster. They just want to kill elk and there's nothing wrong with that. So to, to validate both of you really like making Utah your wild car state is pretty smart because let's build points.
Let's go for it. I think tides are going to change here. Utah this winter, they lowered the age class across the state. I think you might see a trend that varies a little bit like Arizona and Colorado. I think the Boulder, the beaver San Juan, you're gonna see turn into unit two and 10 in Colorado [00:50:00] to where even the guys with the max points going in with 34 points and still have less than 1% jobs, I think it's gonna be there because they're gonna push all these guys that are 20 plus.
In for premium units because they want the best bull possible versus just cashing in and shooting a nice bull. And so some of these units are gonna get harder. And then, but like all of Arizona, where we have a lot of options for like late archery, you're gonna see a lot of guys able to hunt elk multiple times in their life.
They might draw the late archery boulder tag six times in their life because it's only gonna take five points. And a lot of people are mad about the whole point system changing or the age class dropping. I haven't been too concerned about it because in my opinion, I see j just like right now, I have seven bulls that are over 11 years old.
I have [00:51:00] two that are 14. I don't know that anybody's even shot at these elk. Like they are hard to hunt and hard to kill. And I think I'm going to have two or three of those. Forever on that unit. I think it's possible. Whereas a lot of these units, we're going to, there's gonna be places in Utah that you're just hunting to find the best bull you can, or possibly a six point.
There's gonna be a few of those units. Okay. That brings up a really interesting question to me. So the whitetail world, almost everyone pretty much understands. Where your two year old buck's hitting about 50%, 60% of his max three is like 84. Is 95 is 95, and then they go to six years old is 99%.
So they're basically saying diminishing returns at five years old. And that's why the whole whitetail world puts like the bar at five, right? Some people are extreme and they push it to six or seven, but pretty much four or five years old. [00:52:00] What's that age for an elk where you're really, you're so close to the true potential that animal has that it's maybe not worth letting him go another year.
Like you might get a little bit of inches, Yael risk having a bad winner. He could get hurt, he could get shot by someone else. Where would you draw that bar? As someone that really understands these big bowls and has seen it back across their lifetime so that we're not, this bowl gets 14 and he just goes off and dies.
You know what I mean? It's really hard to say cuz. Genetics play a huge role in that. Utah has this latitude, this, they run these units in a row that run east to west, right? Beaver, Dutton, Boulder, San Juan, they're all on the same parallel and they just have these free genetics.
A six-year-old bull might make book, whereas up on the north half of the state it might be nine, 10 years old before that bull even sees its potential.[00:53:00] But even on the good gene areas, I typically don't see bulls really branch out till they're eight or nine years old. So it'd be nice if we kept a couple units that the age class was kept high, six years old, plus I don't know if they're taking that into consideration.
I, I have no idea what they're looking at. I don't know, mj, we talked about an MJ earlier that Kyle killed. Bel was 14 and at 14 years old, that was his best year. I watched him go from three 30 to 360, to three 90 to three 70, and year after year after year. And for whatever reason in 2017 at 14 years old, intact, that bull went 4 23.
I don't know why. Just a light winter went in with lots of fat, didn't rut too hard. I don't know what the. , like key was to all of that. But it's hard to say it. We all want [00:54:00] to kill that six year old whitetail. I would think your key on elk is at least eight. Yeah, that's a good perspective to put it, basically double it for the whitetail.
Eight to 10. And then I suppose after that, it's like you said, it all depends on the situation, the environment. How bad was the winter, how hard did he rut, how bad of a fight did he get in with another bull, did he get an arrow in his shoulder? Anything can happen for like the next 6, 4, 6 years and it can, he can go up or down.
I have heard reports of people that follow big animals, especially mule deer is an interesting one, where these bucks will, they'll rut and they'll be, a part of the rut and that people watch 'em. And then for some reason the next year they didn't rut at all. And people don't understand why. , but they've, I've heard stories.
They're like, yeah, we watched those bucks. They went up high, they never came down for the rut. And the year after that they put on 30 inches. Do you see some of that going on where these bowls get older, maybe they get their butt kicked and they quit rutting as hard and then they just eat and grow antlers and that can affect the [00:55:00] size of the following year.
Yeah. I think that's pretty standard. There's a biologist that used to talk about shirks and they crossed the board on Gillet behavior where they would just skip the rut in the next year, put on 60 inches, whatever it was. I, I don't, I think that's old man shit. The rut kicks in.
So say, the elk strip, they're velvet August 20th, by September 5th, they're starting to call a little bit at nighttime. , that's when I start seeing your 3 23 to three 40 bulls starting to push cows around. It's like your freshman year in college, right? They're five, they might be six years old.
This is their chance. They start pushing cows by the time the rut really kicks in and the cows are in heat, those bulls are exhausted. Half the time they're just skirting outside because they're beat and a 3, 360 bull's taken over. And typically when we start dealing with herb bulls, [00:56:00] they are that three 50 to three 70 type bull.
Once I start, like looking at my older age class, like this guy, after he hit eight years, I never saw him with cows again. Eight. He had lots of cows. He pushed them. But it was like he learned, I can just follow the herd around when I smell the hot cow, I have a big enough presence to go in, take her, pull her, do the thing, let her go back to eating, put on my fat again.
I'm lazy. I'm old. I, it's it's old man shit. It's man I like sex, but I don't like it that much. I don't wanna fight you over it. I, and I think that's what happens. I don't know that genetically there's something in them that says that this year I'm taking this year off. I don't think that's a thing.
I, I really think it's just a matter of age. Like I, I know better. I wonder if it's like you need a unit like that band in Utah to grow these bowls. So that they start to figure out what being an old bull [00:57:00] means, and like they start teaching like in a weird way, start teaching the younger bulls about it.
And when you do these over-the-counter units in Colorado, none of the bulls get that old to figure it out. Like the gen maybe like the genetics you're talking about is like intelligence. Like these bulls get old enough, they get to be smarter and they can just figure out like, Hey, it works so much better.
If I just sit by myself, I don't get bothered. I'll know, I'll hear the whole valley go off and I'll know that cows in heat and then I'm big enough, I just walk right in and just walk right out, like you said. And it just takes a unit to have enough old bowls that they start to figure it out. And that's why you maybe don't see that in like over the counter Colorado General unit Montana.
That with other things too. Like even with guys , you get yourself around some guys who are well off or are successful in business and your odds go way up of being successful in business. Same thing with training dogs. If you can get a dog around other dogs that are well trained, whether it's for shed hunting or waterfowl or hound [00:58:00] hunting, it just makes sense that dog is gonna pick those things up a lot quicker.
And yeah, I agree. I think it'd be awesome if we could just set a baseline of like setting up certain units to where they've got mature bowls and then the other bulls can figure it out and maybe not wear themselves up out so much chasing after cows. Or maybe those hormones are just gonna take over anyway and they're gonna make really stupid choices.
I think you're both overthinking it. . I don't think elk are that smart. In fact when they get to that point, I notice bulls after seven. Say cuz I only run cameras in the summer now just due to the new lock changes. I have to get 'em all pulled by August. But one thing that I really keyed in on the last, three years old bulls don't run with any other bulls.
It's not like I see a three 90 bull and a three 70 bull and a three 30 bull and a group together. Never, they might still be close. Like this bull had a guy named front [00:59:00] loader. They used to run around together as they got older, they followed each other, but they wouldn't hang out. I would get one through and then I'd get one through and the next day always by themselves.
I think they'd just figure that stuff out. I think they get to where they're just tired and they learn, I'll just follow this herd. I'll still get some, I don't have to do the work. I don't think they need a mentor. That's, I guess that's my point. They're not smart enough to mentor each other into working.
What I do notice though, is cows, the matriarchs will the group will learn. And I see rut behavior change when matriarchs get killed. So their migration routes will all come down to one cow. They're being pushed down into a certain area or they know where to go to rut. It's typically the cow that's guiding 'em, not the bull that's hurting them.
I think the herd word gets overused cuz the matriarch's the one that [01:00:00] kind of makes those decisions. I will see behavior change with matriarch cows. That's funny. Yeah. I remember in North Dakota when I shot my bowl, it was the lead cow that was directing it. And she also had some really, I would call it like bitchy cow calls that eventually got that bowl to stop raking and start following and that pulled him right through the window. I needed it too. So I saw that and I was like, That cow definitely looked like she was like yelling back come on, Roger, God damn it. We're leaving. Quit raking that tree. And so I can definitely see what you're saying there, and I think it's funny how it's, it's almost like we need a fourth caliber of bowl.
Like we got rag horn, satellite herd bowl, and then we got this like super satellite or senior satellite where they, once they get past the herd bowl, then they turn into almost a satellite again. And they just, but they do it a little, they're a lot more successful as a satellite. Yeah. Yeah. I think you're just spot on.
I'm curious what is the behavior look like [01:01:00] day-to-day on what's, what Brian's calling like a senior satellite bull are they coming in and breeding one cow and then backing out and taking a backseat again, coming back in a few days later? Or what does that behavior look like? Are you just seeing them way less than everything else?
No, I, it, again, it comes down to dates and actual like heat and the moon and all the other rut, predetermined factors, if that makes sense. I still think they might go in and hook two or three cows out in a day and they might even grab those three cows and go lock 'em down and come back.
To answer your question, simply would be eating, like I, I think more than a herd bull will do. A herd bull won't even sit and eat because the second he does and one cow gets up, he's back on his feet pushing her back into the group. Big bulls still eat, like you'll notice [01:02:00] they are fat as can be come September, October 1st.
They're still fat. Whereas your three 30 bulls, your three 50 bulls, you'll see their hips starting to pop out because they haven't eaten in three weeks. . Does that make sense? Yeah, it definitely does. With that then, late season or the late portion of the rut, are you seeing an increase activity from those senior satellite bulls because the other bulls are so worn down?
No. May, maybe, it's hard to say. It's not like I live with them, but I so typically late season, the oak have migrated quite a ways. I have bulls that'll pull almost 40 miles between August 20th and September 20th or October 5th. They move a long ways. And so to monitor what their behavior might be I can't really say.
I don't think they get more active ever. I think it [01:03:00] all depends on the wind and if the cows are in heat and if they're not, if it comes August 4th or October 4th and they've all cycled and they're waiting for a second cycle, those bulls might wander off. They may not see another cow till next spring, but sometimes I think they'll stick around and wait for a second cycle.
So these bulls are more like middle-aged man. They're just kinda yeah, you know what? I had my fun. I'm just gonna hang back, drink a beer. If the ladies want what I got, I'm here for 'em. If not, oh, , that's old man shit. They're taking your grandpa's advice and they're gone fishing . Right?
How, on a given year, on an average year, obviously things go up, things go down, but what's, how many bowls do you have on your radar? These are bowls we're chasing this year. Here's a band that's gonna be good in a couple years. Here's a few that I'm really interested in seeing what happens three, four years from now, but how many bowls are like on your radar?
They're big enough or old enough or unique enough that, maybe they've earned a name?[01:04:00] Typically I walk in each year with about 10, like this year's 11, I have 11 bulls. I had 14 last year. Three of 'em got killed, 11 bulls that I've gotta check in, see where they're at. But there's probably, just talking with it with one of my guides last night I think I have four that I'm like these four, they're gonna hit book this year.
We haven't named 'em, we don't, we're not like we'll figure it out when we see 'em this year if they're worth our time. But about 10 my worst years, like we had some drought years, like in 1819 that were pretty tough that I came through with maybe six bulls, but there's always just a small roster of bulls.
Like I gotta keep tabs on these bulls enough to know whether they're dead, because these guys purchasing the tags, nobody wants to drop 50 grand on a tag that might have a three 50 bull. I like to show 'em, geez, we got six bulls that'll break. Book books are goal. That's the whole goal is 3 75.
That's what [01:05:00] we want it, it is just like whitetails. Except it's one 70. , your goal is to try to find an outfitter that'll run book, and then you're like, okay, this guy's worth the six grand, or whatever it is. Same thing with elk, but we're talking 3 75 less opportunity. Instead of six grand, we're talking 60 grand.
Yeah, that's a big, that's a big jump up. And so I've heard you talk about it, and maybe it was a few years ago where you said man, all these bowls I've had in my roster, they're all gone. Every one of 'em, they either got shot, they got killed, they got, they disappeared. Is it hard to close the chapter on a bowl in a story and look forward to next year when, like your favorites are gone.
They're not gonna be on show camera next summer. I think it was the year he died. I think he died in 19, rolling into 20. If you heard me say that, it was probably in 2020. . UNO didn't show up. He kinda, he he was one of my favorite bulls [01:06:00] for nine years running. I don't even know how old he was.
Like even our first year chasing him, we called him 38 special. He was a three 80 type bull. And that was like had, he just came outta left field. I don't know where he was. He could have been eight then, and he might've just died of old age. My last picture of him would've been 20, 20, August 28th, still full velvet and just skinny as could be.
His hips were popped out and he was at 11,000 feet, which wasn't his normal turf. He didn't typically walk up that high. And so I don't know if he just decided he was gonna work his way up that spring and find a good place and die, but he's gone. Nobody killed him that I know. Of the 2020, I was frustrated because chunky was dead.
Uno was dead. Like some of my top three. Of all time bulls gone. But at the same time, I still had bulls that on the come up, we killed a bull called Hansel that year that the year prior was three [01:07:00] 90. I think we killed him in the three 70 s, but huge back end, giant bull made the cover of three magazines.
He was cool. There's always something. Yeah. And do you, when you follow these bowls the bulls that make it on the roster, whether they're ready or not, I mean I'm sure there's some bowls you're looking at and you're like, I really like what I'm seeing as a six year old. I really want to find him and keep 'em in the roster until he's 8, 9, 10, 11.
Do you really try to find these specific bull sheds each spring? Cuz I know you're a big shed hunter or are you just looking for antlers like I just wanna get out and find some antlers. I just do for antlers, like shed season for me is just, in fact I don't even go down in that country. I used to You've heard of Time's Up when Time's Up got rolling, they took over some mild spots and I completely backed off some of that country.
Most of the shed hunting I do is little here, closer to home. I can keep tabs on those bulls better. It's a four hour drive down to the boulder. [01:08:00] And so I, I have a lot of local bulls I try to watch here and I'm okay dude, as far as sheds go I find something brown. I'm happy. I don't need to find a three 90 set.
I, it's just exercise. Yeah. Dan and I are working on a trip to South e Southwestern Colorado, Northern Arizona, Northern New Mexico with a guy that shed hunts a lot down there this April. So we're really excited. Just before the show we were talking like, man, if we just find a brown elk shed, cause we're flatlanders, right?
We live in Fat Flatlander Central usa. So if we find a brown elk shed and a brown mule to your shed, we're both gonna be just tickled pink. It sheds are sheds it. It's funny. People do like podcasts and talk about shed hunting. I remember Brian call called me and wanted to do a show, and then he is Hey, I just want to talk shed hunting.
That's all I want to talk give people secrets. I'm like, dude, there, there's no secrets. Like I, I don't wanna be known as the shed hunting guy, because you don't have to get the wind right. There's no secrets, there's no . You scout just like you do [01:09:00] hunting. If I can give anyone advice on shed hunting, it's, you gotta scout.
Get out, watch 'em. See where they're at in February. See what's alive. Look for your age class. Like they're still secrets, but it's not yeah dude, you're just walking. It's just exercise. , I, if you take for more than that, you're gonna come home miserable every time because the odds of success are really.
I think, Ryan, I'm curious. You were talking a little bit ago, and I just want to jump back to it for a second, knowing now that there's no secrets to shed hunting and I can go out there and find a bunch of big sheds , I'm curious between, six and 14 big bulls that you're after each year, how many square miles is that, that you've got access to or that you're tracking these, are these all relatively close in the state or is this spread out over hundreds and hundreds of miles that you're picking up these bowls?
Hundreds. I. , there's a lot of miles. I have a really good team.[01:10:00] I wish I could, there was a time when it was just me and one other guy, like my guy Aaron. We did things, just me and him for 10 years. Anymore I have six guys that help me and most of 'em are better hunters than I am. That like I have a phenomenal team.
I can't say enough good things about him. If if I could sit and brag, I think the last five day early season we knocked out, I think we averaged 3 89. Oh my God. Those guys, the smallest bull they killed eight. It was only cuz he was busted. These guys were knocking out some of the biggest bulls in the state and we followed the rules.
Last year, Utah had a rule change. Like one, you had to pull all your cameras. Two, it was a one guide, one spotter rule. , a lot of the outfitters still ran 20 guides and they just said, oh, we're not paying them. And that's their loophole. I made my guys, I said, one, you're not putting any cameras [01:11:00] out. We're pulling every single one, which we did.
And two, one guide, one spotter. That's all you're doing. Stay on it. And they all succeeded. They killed some of the biggest bulls in the state following every single rule. I'm proud of 'em about it. Like I'm telling you, I got a good team. So I got two ques. We're coming up on an hour and I wanna respect your time, but man, we're talking giant elk.
Cause I gotta, it's hard for me to close it. So I got a couple questions. What's it look like when, say I draw the tag I make it through the 0.4% chance net and I get my tag and I reach out to you and I say, Hey Ryan, let's do it. I don't care what it takes on my end, I'll figure it out. Do you then say, awesome here's my roster.
Do any of these bowls excite you? Which one's your favorite? And I say, Hey man, I really like this bowl. It's if I'm doing archery, then do you say, okay, that this bowl's living here, you're gonna go with this guy and this spotter. You're heading here. [01:12:00] Dan gets drawn, he likes a different bowl. So he's going clear across the unit to a different spot with a different guide?
Or is it mostly I just want to come hunt elk and they're all great. I would take any of 'em. I don't care. Let wherever you think is the best place. How, what's the breakdown of what people ask for when they come hunt with you? Everything's perspective and expectation and that's, I start, every guy that calls me, I have a conversation with what's your expectation?
And I listen to their expectation and kind of get, try to get a feel of what their perspective is. A lot of times I'll refer 'em to another outfitter. . I wanna hunt with guys that make guides look good. And by that I mean I want guys who are gonna work. I want guys who've killed a few bulls. I really struggle with these guys that have waited 20 years to come hunt elk that don't kill elk.
They're hard. Those are the guys that ball up and [01:13:00] cry on day five. I have a hard time with the guys that like to name drop that tell me who they've hunted with and who sponsors 'em. And I have a hard time with those guys. Not all of 'em, but some of 'em. And so I like to listen to perspective and expectation before I ever even talk numbers.
Price is one thing and price can be adjusted. Man, you're gonna take some weight off my shoulders. Price can be evaluated because I want guys who just want to hunt. I want my clients to make my guides look awesome. . And I know that sounds like so stupid and it's not the way that most guys do it, but in all reality, those are the guys that, that, that's why we're so successful is I like to pick and choose.
These guys are gonna do a great job. They're gonna work hard. They're family oriented. Yeah. They're trying to bring forward their brothers, but that's okay. We'll put them over here because hunting is family. And even when it's not family, it is family. But a [01:14:00] lot of times I still have lunch with clients that I guided 15 years ago.
Yeah. I like the way you put that. He's, my brother's been in the same boat. He bought a, an elk. He was gonna buy an elk hunt for my dad for Christmas, guided elk hunt. And so he was talking, I'm pretty sure it was Jake Clark in Wyoming, probably a generation or two above older than you. Back in the early two thousands.
And he was, going by then and my brother like halfway through the phone call, he is , it sounds like you're interviewing me and Jake goes, of course I am. Like I, I'm at the point where I'm picking and choosing who I bring. We're going 20 miles in on meals and you're gonna live with my guys for nine days.
I'm definitely interviewing you. . . Yeah. A hundred percent. Yeah. That's just that's what we do. Like we learn, we, we have some, a few rough guys and we're like, okay I'm not going through that again. Because there's a lot of hunters that just, they're hard. They do not know what they're getting into.
They have no idea what it's gonna take, and they're always the guys with the highest [01:15:00] expectations. They're always the guys going, this is 24 years, I'm not shooting anything under. Look, there's not a four 10 walking in the state of Utah as of this moment right now. Not one. So your expectations are too high.
Here's the phone numbers to three other guys. See what you can find. Yeah. You might wanna trade your tag for a landowner tag in, in Texas. Cuz that's where the four 10 s live right now. So I heard you say briefly, I'm pretty sure it was on with Brian Call, that there was a bull a few years back in Colorado that you were looking really hard at trying to find a way to hunt.
And I'm just curious what bowl that was. That, that was a bull we called Rudy and we never killed him. I gotta chase him for two years. Okay. But he lived on a national park. He swung in and out into a couple pieces of private property. The pieces I could get on were the closest ones and.
He just knew the fence line's good enough that he [01:16:00] outplayed me over and over and over again. I like hats off to that bowl because he had Ryan Carter's number is there was a giant bowl in R M N P with, he was known for massive thirds. He was on the cover of everything. Every out western photographer in the world took pictures of this bull.
Is that the same bull and. Named them something else or do you know which bull I'm talking about? Yeah. Okay. Completely different park. Yeah, because when I heard you say that, closer to my turf here in Utah, not over on the park. Okay. Because when I heard you say that was the same time that this bull was on the cover of every Instagram page in the world, it was the year he had those giant thirds.
He was like a clean seven. And then you're also talking mysteriously about this bull that's really famous. He lives on a park. I think we might be able to get 'em though. And I was just curious if that was the same bull cuz that was, I'm sure both bulls were a monster, but that one was a [01:17:00] monster as well.
No he never had that kind of fame that the bull I was hunting had fame in certain circles. That like a lot of people knew about that bull, but it wasn't like, he was not the bull that you're talking about , that guy was mega famous. In fact if we had to look back on, on famous bulls the last like 10, 15 years, It would be that bowl and maybe the spider bowl, like the, like that, that bowl went big.
Yeah. The Arizona Bowl got pretty famous, but I think the difference was that bowl I, what is his name? Brutus or something? Bruno? All the guys that named him were photographers and I heard two or four different names. So yeah, he just passed away. Of old age or eventually old age.
Something probably killed him, but he was old. I think the dif he, he got bored. Yeah. The difference was he stood in front of every family that came through R M N P for five years. That's how he got so famous. . Yeah. Yeah. So how that, I guess that's a good, maybe final question. How often do you get, as an outfitter and a guide, how often do you get [01:18:00] to go out and put yourself behind the bow or the rifle, whether it's in Utah or other states across the country?
How often do you get a chance to hunt elk, hunt yourself without being a guide? Just Ryan Carter. I'm out in the woods trying to punch my own tag. . I, to be perfectly honest I have no interest in killing an elk, another elk cause , I just, it's not there. I like elk cunning and I like seeing other people succeed.
This is one of nine bulls in my house. I, I don't need to kill another elk. I've not really fond of ame. I'll eat a white teller, access deer over an elk any day. I'm picking up different habits. Like most of my points in the west right now are all on sheep and deer. So hopefully I start drawing some tags.
Is that a product, do you think that's a product of being an elk guide all these years that you've been there, you've done it, it now you're on personally, you're onto other things because your job has been elk cunning and getting these elk for clients and friends for so long. [01:19:00] Not at all. I think it's just a matter of I, I don't need I don't need any validation in the elk world.
I don't need I don't need to meet, I don't need the opportunity. I'd rather, I would rather show up on a buddy's hunt in New Mexico and shoot a three 30 bull with my best friend, then have my own tag in Unit nine, Arizona. Even though that would be fun, I, it's just not on my priority list. Okay. I think personally I've moved on some other stuff That's cool to hear though.
Like someone that's done it and it's done it to the level that you've done it to say no to me. El Cunning is all about helping my friends and the people I care about make memories and just watching these animals, like that's el cunning to me. It's not punching tags anymore. That's really cool to hear that, hear someone say that.
That's doing it at a level that you're doing it at. It's nice of you to say, but in, in all reality. I just think I've just learned I enjoy mentoring [01:20:00] as far as that goes better than I do actually hunting. And when I was talking earlier about scheming, it's why I bowhunt. I enjoy the hunt. I am not the type of person that just loves to kill.
I'm never high fiving. I hate watching elk die. I know. It sounds so good, . That's just how I am. I just, I love trying to figure these things out and put pieces together. It's why I'm not a big rut hunter. I'd rather do the bow guys. I enjoy scheming. Yeah. And and that's why I like whitetail hunting.
I still like mule deer hunting, but mule deer, , and I know a lot of guys don't know, but I've killed some giant deer with clients back in the day. . I'm just saying. You find 'em, you get the wind right. They're dead. There's no scheming. White tails are scheming and there's rut behavior and there's pulling them in.
Same with elk. And I enjoy that stuff. I get it out of access deer too. I like it. That's awesome. [01:21:00] That's awesome. Any plans to, go build or buy or work on a, like a whitetail farm out in the flatland? I know you travel a lot for whitetail hunting, but do you have, do you do any of your own, like habitat management and just watching your own herd?
Or you just want to go and spend a week doing it with different places? No, because I, I had a lease in Nebraska that we did for, I don't know, 10, 11 years. And it was cool, but we couldn't get the AIDS class up because there were still rifle guys. Yeah. We took control of the bow hunting portion of that, but, , they would come in and slaughter 'em on rifles.
So I never had an opportunity to really go at that. And even in then, I don't know that I ever want to do that. I love seeing new spots and meeting new people. . And even say when I go, when I draw Kansas every other year or every three years, I like to go hit a new spot because it's Kansas.
Like they, there's all kinds of terrain and all kinds of things you could do. Same with Indiana and Illinois and Iowa. And [01:22:00] man, I want to go everywhere, so I don't wanna limit myself to one spot until maybe when I'm old and have a bunch of money that I can pick up my own piece and start doing some ag maybe.
Yeah. Yeah. I think you got the same bug that Dan's got. He is a traveler man. He goes all over the country and him and his family are checking. He's got the, he says the same thing. He's on mute right now. I don't know if he's driving, but. Oh no I'm def I'm just soaking in everything I'm hearing.
I, I want to get to that point in life where I've shot nine monsters and just help other people get big bulls. But I talk about that on the Nomadic Outdoorsman podcast a lot as the progression of a hunter. It's like you get to the point where you love it, you still love it. You love the memories that you made doing it, but helping someone else experience that same thing is like the next level.
But yeah I like traveling man. I like going new places, new experiences. I like to try everything before I [01:23:00] form a strong opinion about it. And archery, archery elk is gonna be that next. Awesome. It's, we're going on an hour 16 about it, 15 minutes ago. I was trying to wrap this up, but just talking about elk and hunting and especially big bowls and I get sunk.
I go down the rabbit hole and I almost can't stop. But we do appreciate you being here, Ryan. Want to give you a chance to make some shout outs where people can follow you on social media. If anyone listening to this happens to draw the Utah tag and they want to go out hunting with you, give 'em a chance to give you a connect with you, whether that's the website or your page.
Yeah, I, you know what I respond to most people through social media. All the handles are the same. It's Ryan DC Outfitters, or Ryan, d c o. Yeah, and I, man I have a really good crew. I like, if I ever give shout outs, it'd be to those guys. I just love working with my guys. . In fact I don't, last year I guided one guy, and this year's probably gonna be [01:24:00] the same.
I ended up spending a lot of time helping my clients and my guides. So I'd show up as the spotter, Hey, where are we going today? Just energize camp and get people moving. And I see myself in the future that like, my role's gonna be mentoring. I love that portion of it. And so that's what I'm gonna be doing and that's where you can find me.
I haven't been great. I think last year I did a total of like 13 posts or something. . I've fallen off the radar, but the stuff I still do put out, I make sure it's something awesome and something to share with the world and make some jaws drop because we do have a lot of cool stuff going on.
If I only make one request, I would request that you bring back Super Bowl Sunday, cuz it was so much more entertaining watching your story than the actual football game of all these people sending in big bowls and you can just scroll through. Picture after picture. A Colorado Giant, a Utah giant, a North Dakota giant.
That was, I remember when you were doing Super Bowl [01:25:00] Sunday. It was, that was a great Instagram series. Oh, it makes me feel bad. I didn't jump on that. I, I used to do that and I'd do a shed contest kind of thing. Hey, show me your photos. Let's see who can do this. And I'd let people vote and I'd round up a bunch of prizes and it ended up always being a lot of work on my plate.
It is. Yeah. . It's not like I was getting much out it, but you're right. I probably knew jump back on those things and just to kinda amp the community up a little more because that stuff was always fun. Yeah. No matter how hard you try not to be the shed guy, I feel like you are the guy that made it cool to hold elk sheds upside down.
Yeah, . I'm only five 10, so it's like you flip 'em upside down. They look big . It's a lot easier to hold them too, that way. I agree. I'd like you to flip 'em up the other way and it's hard. Yeah. Awesome. Thanks for being here, Ryan. I appreciate it. Anytime you got anything cool going on and you wanna hop back on you're 24 7, you're [01:26:00] a welcome guest to the Western Rookie Podcast.
So thanks for being here. Yeah, thanks for listening folks.