B "Squared" Bruin & a Bull (Bull)
Three days after returning from a successful bear hunt I received a call from my less-than-excited wife asking me why there had been a large withdrawal from our account by the Utah Fish & Game. I knew immediately that I had drawn for my ling awaited once-in-a-lifetime buffalo tag. I had been putting in for 18 years which was the max amount of points you could obtain. I had decided just this year to change from the Henry Mountains to Antelope Island so that it could be a fun outing for my family, especially my younger girls.
In preparation for my hunt I went out to the Island for my first visit and I knew right away that the hardest part would be selecting which buffalo to take because there were so many good mature bulls to choose from. “Do I want one that is 5-8 years of age that has long sharp horns with a face that is a little narrower or do I want an older bull whose horns are rounded off at the ends but with much more mass?” These bulls had a tendency to have a much larger, wider face as well.
I had hunted buffalo a number of times with my family who had drawn tags on the Henry’s and i had drawn a tag 2 years prior outside of Gardner, MT where I took a cow. I knew this was going to be a special hunt and a huge opportunity to kill a bull-of-a-lifetime. I made two trips out to the Island before my hunt, one for recreation and one for orientation. I thought I would have a good idea of which characteristics I would like but came away feeling more confused but in complete awe at what an amazing animal they are.
The day had finally arrived- December 3rd, 2012. I sat at the park entrance at 7:30am thinking about the years of anticipation and the previous days of preparation realizing that it had finally culminated in what was about to happen in the next few hours. I had my buffalo soldiers with me that consisted of my wife, two girls Jocelyn and Brinley, my Dad, Mom, Uncle Kyle, my cousin Burk, my brother-in-law Bryce and my trusty friends John, Beaver and Mckay. We were ready to take part as the cowboys and Indians did of old.
As the gates opened and we crossed the lake entering the island it was apparent that we were immediately seeing what we were looking for. we could see buffalo to our left and to our right spread out across the sagebrush rolling hills. Every one seemed to be a good bull. We all would stop, get out and look over a couple closely and move on to see the next group. I wanted to be selective and patient, not rushing into shooting one too early. Our parties split up and I went to look over a couple bulls off in the distance. I could see another hunter approaching a very good bull and watched as he sat down and shot not once but five times before he dropped his bull. It made me question where I should place my bullet to make a great kill shot and was blown away at just how tough of an animal they are.
As my two parties came together my Dad was talking about a bull they had seen that was a super fluffy and huge but that one side of his horn was broken. They were talking about how cool of a bull he was. We decided to go a different direction and ended up watching another hunter shoot one several times with a bow before the animal would expire. At this point we had been looking over bulls for a solid 4 1/2 hours and out of the 6 hunters I was the only one not to have taken one yet. I said, “let’s go look at Fluffy,” since the individuals who had seen him earlier wouldn’t stop talking about him. As soon as I looked at him through the spotting scope I realized immediately why they were infatuated with him. He had the biggest mop on his head you had ever seen draping down over his face and covering the majority of his horns. It almost appeared as if he had dreadlocks like Bob Marley. His head was so huge and his horn on the right side had enormous mass and was broomed off towards the top. His horn on the left was rubbed all the way down and barely visible through his fluffy demeanor. This bull had some serious character and I knew this was the one for me.
With an audience of buffalo soldiers along with the biologist and DWR guys I made my way over to him and waited for him to turn just right, then I snuck a 180-grain bullet from my .300 Ultra Mag right behind his front shoulder through his lungs. Later on it was found lodged in his adjacent shoulder bone. Fluffy stood there for a minute and then fell over and expired. That was it, a dream fulfilled.
We gathered around this impressive bull and paid our respects and took numerous photos. The biologist Steve Bates came up and congratulated us as did another DWR guy. They said that before the hunt started they all got together to see which bull they would shoot if it was their tag and they all agreed on the same bull and that was “Fluffy”. Steve was able to get his information off his ear tag indicating that he was 16 years old making him the oldest bull on the Island. He was also transplanted in from South Dakota when he was younger.
I couldn’t have had a better experience and my only hope is to be able to do it again with someone else. It has been a fantastic year taking a great bear and a a once-in-a-lifetime buffalo. I am grateful to my Dad and Grandpa for teaching me the ways of the outdoors and hunting. There are so many good memories that have become part of my DNA. Thanks also goes to my wife for letting me continue to pursue my passion.