Long story short, William Oliver bought an airgun for shooting pigs from Airguns of Arizona. That led him to taking one of the company’s staff, Kip Perow, on an East Texas pig hunt. Perow returned the favor with an Arizona dove and quail hunt, and Oliver fell in love with the desert mountains. It relit a long-burning desire in the Brownsboro hunter.
“I always wanted to elk hunt since I knew what it was. I decided if I ever went elk hunting I wanted to go with Kip. We had become good friends,” Oliver said. Immediately the two began making plans.
Arizona is not often considered an elk hunting designation. Its population is estimated at 35,000 and hunters take about 6,800 a year, more than half of which are cows. Success rate is about 40 percent, but it dips to about 30 percent for bow hunters like Oliver and Perow.
It is also not an easy draw for out-of-state hunters. It took Oliver seven years to get drawn, and luckily Perow also received a tag. Perow had taken 17 bulls on 17 previous hunts so Oliver knew he was in good hands.
The hunt started on the beginning of the rut and the first day was slow, except for one close encounter with a monster bull.
“It was getting toward sundown and he said if anything is going to happen, it is going to be quick,” Oliver said.
Perow called and a bull cranked up about 200 yards away. They moved to cut the distance before Perow cow called again. The bull was headed their way, but was hung up in the timber.
Looking around, Perow suddenly told Oliver they had to go and he quickly understood why after spotting a 380-inch plus bull on a nearby ridge.
Oliver tried to talk Perow into becoming the shooter.
“I said, ‘I don’t have to kill that one, I would be happy with a spike,’” he said, but Perow wouldn’t accept the offer. They made a move toward the bull, but could not get close enough before running out of daylight.
Before the long ride back to camp they had several bulls bugling around them so a plan was made to return the next morning. When they did they were surround by bugling.
“As soon as we turned off the Ranger we had three, four, five bugling all around us. A dozen times we had a bull within 100 yards, but never saw it. That is how thick it was,” Oliver recalled.
After the bugling quit they started scouting again, eventually finding an isolated water hole. Perow had never had luck around water and was reluctant to scout it, but Oliver insisted. It was surrounded by tracks.
“You can’t hunt 10 lifetimes and find a place with half this much sign,” Perow told Oliver.
Located inside a trap surrounded by a barbed wire fence with a gap gate opening, the area surrounding the pond was wide open except for a single weed in a wash leading to it. Oliver insisted Perow hunt it for the possible first shot. Oliver would hide behind a tree on another side. As they were getting in place they could hear bugling. One bull, tending several cows, was coming straight to the water.
“I looked down and saw a dust cloud. He was coming on a run. He was stretched out like a greyhound. He jumped the fence and came running and slid right in front of Kip and started drinking,” Oliver said.
Perow took an accurate quartering shot at 50 yards. The startled bull nearly trampled Oliver leaving the trap and ran a couple hundred yards until they lost sight of it. Immediately more bulls, including a 5X6, came into the water splashing and drinking.
“I could hear water, but I could not see them. There were two fighting in the water. I heard them acting like fools. The noise was crazy,” Oliver said.
He eased up and ranged the largest bull at 60 yards, but his arrow went under the bull.
With daylight disappearing, they searched for Perow’s bull, but backed out when the country got rough and the blood trail disappeared. The next morning they found the 6x6 316-inch bull 12 yards from where they had stopped looking.
Perow called his son from town to help while Oliver headed back to the water hole only to find a truck parked illegally in an attempt to prevent the bulls from going to water.
Once Perow showed up they attempted to salvage the day hunting where the bulls had come from the evening before. They spotted another monster bull, but the terrain was wide open, and Oliver only got to just over 100 yards before running out of light.
Having moved their camp a second time to be closer to the water hole, the two were visited during the night by mountain lions and a screaming bull that scraped and destroyed a number of bushes around them. After a restless sleep they were late dragging out of bed, and made a quick check of the pond. A cow and the bull that had harassed them all night were already in it.
Oliver and Perow rushed to the pond and slid under the fence. The bull must have heard the two and stepped back a few yards. Perow ranged it, but quickly realize he was wrong. The bull jumped the fence and Perow cow called.
“He stopped at 91 yards, and as soon as I released the trigger I said I got him,” said Oliver, who practices out to 120 yards.
The big 6X6 bull turned and ran through the fence, taking out three T posts and doing a flip. It ran about 60 yards outside the trap and fell again. This time dead.
“It was a super wild ride, especially for a guy like me that thought I would never see something like that,” Oliver said.
Although it had longer main beams than Perow’s, Oliver’s bull scored 312. He said that, and the fact he had two missed opportunities at much larger bulls, was not a concern.
“I am happy to hunt an animal on my own terms or his own terms. I am archery hunter. I would have shot a spike elk on this trip, so it didn’t bother me,” he explained.