Moffat County woman bags a bull elk that scored over 350
November 25, 2016
Craig — After 15 years of trying for a special hunting license to hunt elk in one of Northwest Colorado's trophy elk units, Moffat County woman Jamie Butler scored the tag and a six point trophy bull elk.
Jamie Butler is an experienced hunter, but this hunt was the most intense hunt of her life. The most exciting moment for her was as the elk was in front of her.
"Knowing that was the elk that I was going to shoot and the intensity of getting a good shot," she said. "I've archery hunted, muzzle loaded and rifle hunted for years and have had nothing more intense than over 28 bulls, 300 plus class, fighting and rutting in front of me."
Founded in 1887 by President Theodore Roosevelt, the Boon and Crocket Club is the official score keeper for trophy big game.
According to boone-crockett.org measurements taken include the number and length of each point, width between antler beams and thickness of the beams.
The world record typical bull elk was recorded in 1968 for a bull taken in Arizona that scored over 445 points.
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"I always wanted a bull over 350," Butler said. "I'd say that about 90 percent of the bulls in the trophy areas are 310 to 320. My mission was to get a 350 class bull, and I succeeded."
Butler has had unofficial scores of her bull range upward of 360 Boon and Crocket points.
The base of each antler is over 10 inches around, the brow tines over 18 inches long and the main antler beams measure over 54 inches long.
It's the trophy class bull she had wanted. It's a trophy that she will display in her home to recall the memories of the hunt of a lifetime.
Hunt preparation started weeks in advance
Butler drew her tag in June. Then she spent a summer anticipating and planning for her hunt.
She pored over maps to get a sense of the boundaries between the public land she would hunt and nearby private land.
She called on her family and friends for information and drew upon a lifetime of experience living and hunting in Northwest Colorado.
"I scouted for three weeks before opening day when no one else was scouting until the day before the hunt," she said. "I looked for sign of elk and watched them day in and day out."
She also called upon her father and boyfriend to help.
"A lot of planning, it was fun, a good time," said her father Brad Butler.
In the final week before the hunt, Mother Nature put in an appearance brining flooding rain.
"We had to come back to town for three or four days," Jamie Butler said. "The rain didn't affect the elk, they were too deep in the rut."
Planning helps create opportunities, but luck still plays a role in bagging a big Colorado bull elk.
On opening day disaster struck. Someone disturbed the elk, pushing them off the public lands.
"We were dealing with guides and outfitters in a public area, pushing elk into private areas for their hunters," Jamie Butler said. "I don't think guide and outfitters should be allowed on public lands in trophy units or special draw areas. They shouldn't make the money they are making on public lands when it takes others so many years to draw a tag."
The group rallied and spent the rest of the first day hiking over eight miles in pursuit of the elusive elk.
On the second day, the group walked into their chosen hunting location at 3:30 in the morning.
"It was pitch black, I could hear ten surrounding bulls bugling," Jamie Butler said. "We set-up with bulls within 100 to 150 yards, but it was still dark. I couldn't see, but I heard bulls fighting for about 30 minutes."
Her bull was up on the mountain, she could tell from his calls that he was big and, as she waited for legal hunting light, she could hear him getting closer and closer.
"Those big bulls are so much more intense than the little bulls. They would not quit bugling in my head for days. You hear so many and they kept at it throughout the night," Jamie Butler said. "It was cool, intense, an adrenaline rush."
At legal hunting light, the massive bull moved toward the group. Brad Butler, the designated spotter, checked to ensure it was the bull Jamie Butler wanted — a 350-class bull with balanced antlers and at least six points.
"I was the spotter to try to make sure it was a good bull and it had even points," Brad Butler said.
He gave Jamie the confirmation and all clear.
She sighted down her Browning .300 WSM and fired.
It was a clean kill — one shot through both lungs brought the massive bull down.
"We got kind of lucky on it. On the first day someone was chasing them off. They came down opening morning and run all the elk off," Brad Butler said. "It was pretty cool that we were out there together. I've been taking her out there since she was born when she and her sister were tiny."
With one trophy bull elk on the wall, Jamie Butler figures she'll continue to try her luck with the special draw units.
"I've been hunting with my dad since I was a little kid. I've been hunting my whole life. It was really exciting to have my boyfriend and my dad with me and to have that intense of an experience," Jamie Butler said.