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Old 12-10-2019, 04:46 PM   #1
Patton
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Hunt In: Edwards, Hays, Caldwell
Default Texas Elk Down- End of an Era

I’m puzzled on where to even begin with this story because my hunt for a free range Texas Elk on this piece of property in the Hill Country has been years in the making. Starting with the ranch--This is my Uncle’s ranch in Edwards County, and in my biased opinion, there is not a better piece of land to hunt or enjoy in Texas. I have been fortunate enough to enjoy this piece of land for the last 13 years and can talk on and on about how neat and cool the geography, flora, and fauna are. There are steep and rugged hills, or mountains as I call them, rocky draws full of black walnut trees that run next to 250’ bluffs that are littered with cactus, native grass flats full of live-oaks, tight cedar-canyon thickets and long ridges that run for miles. As far as the animals go, the adage pertaining to most of the hill country holds exceptionally true here, you don’t know what you might see out there. On this property we have taken whitetail, turkey, hogs, Spanish goats, aoudad, axis, sika, mountain lions, and elk. We also have seen or gotten pictures of red stag, fallow deer, and javelina.


Being that one could easily become trigger happy with that type of variety, I have limited myself to predominately chasing one species at a time and without allowing for changing lanes. From 2012-2014 I was after Sika, not any one in particular but just a mature Sika Buck. During this time I saw Axis bigger than I had ever taken, and even put several friends on their first axis (typically bigger than any of mine). Dec 2014 that hunt ended and I was after aoudad. Again, I saw all sorts of animals that were bigger than anything I had put my hands on, but my mind was made up for a big ram. That hunt ended New Year’s Eve in 2016. Having hunted this way has forced me to really learn the ins and outs of this property, specific animal behavior etc.

In the earlier years we had seen groups of cow elk and heard a few distant bugles but never seen hide nor hair of a bull until a trail cam picture sometime in 2014. Unfortunately, I lost all those pictures on a computer crash but can vividly see in my head the first picture of a big 6x6 elk staring the camera down. Followed by 3-4 other pictures of him almost showing himself off, turning his head and showing off his size. He had a second bull with him, and they had apparently frequented the area for several weeks. I called the 6x6 bull Pinchers, because of his crab-claw 5ths. His running buddy, was deemed the Whale’s Tail because of his exceptionally widely forked 4th point and beam. I started really upping the amount of trail cameras I was running after that 2014 season. I continued to get more and more elk pictures as the years went on, although they didn’t get added to the ‘hit list’ until 2016. I was focused on aoudad then but should an elk appear, well who would pass that up in their right mind? At this time, Pinchers was ‘the one and only’. That would eventually change, although he is still what I consider the Patriarch of the elk out there.

In 2017, Elk were my main focus on the ranch in regards to hunting. Little did I know that I would start to obsess over them and they would eventually own every free second of thought that I had. I never came remotely close to getting on an elk in 2017. I was hoping they would come to me instead of thinking outside of the box and going to them. In 2018, I started to get lots of pictures of different bull elk. I also went on my first Western hunt, a DIY elk hunt in Colorado, and had my eyes opened that it’s a lot more fun (for me) to go to the animals instead of wait around at a feeder.

Pinchers pushing a cow in 2017.



October 28th of 2018, while sitting on top of a glassing knob in an area I call the High Rise, I was watching a Sika, the biggest Sika I’ve ever seen (and know very well from the cameras) and wanted to see what his reaction would be if I did a few cow elk calls. He came on a bee line to me from 210 yards out, but not before I heard a big, bad bull elk rip a bugle. The first real and semi-close bugle I had ever heard. I completely disregarded the sika and proceeded to call back to this elk. Enter the Whale’s Tail from approx. 600 yards away, and sporting only half his head gear. The second biggest bull that I know of, and he has one antler broken completely off just above the brow tine. With AN elk, ONE, being on the list for me, I wasn’t about to take one that only had half a rack. Later on in the year, I got pictures of him with his other antler broken completely off. A true fighter from what I could gather.
I have great phoneskope video of this day. Snapshots below.





2019- In addition to cameras on feeders, I put them on travel routes, trails, and water sources. I was blown at how much bigger so many of the elk were than the year before. In 2018 I had already identified 10+ bulls and now considered 2 of them (Pinchers and Whales Tail) to be shooters. Now I easily would thought at least 4 of them to be definite mature, trophy elk. Not only that, but I was starting to pattern them. When I had my trail cams on feeders, they might come by for a 2-3 minutes one day and then be gone for a week. (Note* 1 minute picture intervals on 8 trail cams results in a THOUSANDS of pics, but many times I only would get 1 picture of whatever big bull came through, so it was worth it). Now I was getting pictures of them for days on end, and when they would move off one camera they would show up on another. In May of 2019 I decided this was the year that I was going to get an elk and I wouldn’t take no for answer.

Pinchers and Split


Pinchers and Whales Tail


September found me back in Colorado playing the caller for our 9 day elk hunt/bow hike. When we got back to Texas, I think I stayed in town for 3-4 days and then went straight to the ranch. In 2018, pics showed the elk were rutting hard exactly at this time. Well when I got to the ranch it was obvious I missed the Elk rut. Saplings and overhanging branches torn up all over the place, elk crap every where, I even found a few areas where some fights must have gone down because of how torn up it was with elk hoof prints. However it was 90 degrees and I couldn’t buy a bugle to save my life. This repeated on and off for numerous trips to the ranch. I seemed to get time to go when we would receive a hot streak of weather. And as they had historically done, the elk would almost trail me- showing themselves on camera MULTIPLE times just hours after I would go to swap out camera cards or adjust feeder times. Almost like they were checking on what I was doing and patterning my every move.

In October of this year, one of my best buds and I went out to the ranch and were so very close to killing the Whale’s Tail. Looking back on this hunt, I see so many things I would have done differently. I was excited to be in a bugling match with a real elk and was letting him stomp all over me and bugle on top of me. Although he was in a major thicket, I should have ran up in there. We ended up calling in a smaller bull that day, but couldn’t get on Whale. Why wasn’t he coming to us? Well duh, he has a hot cow and no reason to leave her. That hunt is very well documented in the below video.

It’s now December, and I beginning to doubt my chances for this year and am already beginning to plan for next year. I’m going to hunt Texas in September until I get an elk, and only then will I go out of state. That first cold front right around Dove Opener should be perfect. Those are my thoughts anyway.

One of my other best buds, TBHr The Cajun, and I had a trip planned for December 6th that I was looking forward to but had been watching the weather and saw we were only going to have a few decent cold days before it warmed up again. Not ideal for the wapiti. We hunted Thursday afternoon through Saturday and had nothing to show for it. I decided that for Sunday morning, I would head to an area we call the Big Bowl as it is by far the most sanctuary type area we have on the ranch. I had been talking with TBHr TildenHunter the day before, bitching and expressing my frustrations and saying how they are always one step ahead of me. He told me I needed to change things up and do something different, out of my ordinary routine. This is something that was echoing with me, and I decided I was going to park the truck in an area I never park, hike in over and around the mountain instead of going through the valley. OnX shows that my track was .54 miles over 33 minutes. I was trying to be as quiet as possible and thankfully, for once, had a little bit of wind to cover my steps. It’s **** hard being quite while walking up steep hills with loose rocks on top of loose rocks.


It took me much longer than anticipated to get to my spot, I’d guess I got there a few minutes after legal light although I had left the ranch house a good hour prior. As I reach the top of the plateau, I could feel my wind changing. It was supposed to be out of the South but I feel a strong West wind, blowing just to the side of the area I’m going to be looking over. Upon cresting the hill, I could immediately hear aoudad fighting with the smacking of their horns echoing through the valley. I wasn’t hear for aoudad though and looked left to see the worst sight I could picture. A bull elk running away from me at about 300 yards. My heart sank, but quickly came back up when I see him running back, slightly towards me again. I thought he was chasing a cow at first but saw that he was solo. It’s almost like he was doing zoomies like a dog does or bucking around like young whitetail fawns do. I look over towards the protein feeder just under 200 yards away and holy **** there is a bull elk walking up to it. I can’t believe it, there are elk in front of me. Its still to gray to see which bull he is, I can recognize the regulars with just the flash of an antler. I look left to the first bull, still doing zoomies, maybe on his 4th sprint now with each of them 250-300 yards long. I look back to the feeding bull, and there are now 2 bulls! I couldn’t believe it. Except for my rifle, I had all my stuff packed in my pack because I was anticipating having time to set up in my glassing area before daylight. I pulled out my camera, and hit record although its not on a tripod (tripod is in the pack) and I faced it at practically nothing. I had decided many, many moons ago that I would not screw up my elk opportunity by trying to get it on camera. I quickly put my pack in front of me, rested my rifle on the tripod still in my pack, popped the scope cap and tried to get a good look at who I was watching over. The bull doing zoomies is now walking up and feeding as well. I can’t make out antlers or tines yet, but there is one bull who is significantly bigger than the other two. He is dominating them around and it was quickly made clear who was at the top of the pecking order. I decided this is the one I am going to take, I don’t know who he is but he is big bodied. At this point, maybe 4 minutes have gone by from me cresting the hill and seeing an elk to flipping off the safety. The big bull turns broadside and I settled my crosshairs on his shoulder. At 185ish yards and on a target this size, there is a lot to aim at.

I squeezed the shot and heard the impact, and quickly racked another round and shot again as soon as elk entered my scope. Second Impact. He still is on his feet but is clearly hurting, and I’m not about to let my 1st ever elk walk away. I settled on his shoulder again and send a third round. He took two more steps and was down for the count.


I immediately melted into a little baby and started crying my eyes out. I was overcome with so many different emotions that it’s hard to describe, yet anybody who has chased a specific goal or dream can recognize with. I was excited and thrilled to have my first elk down, incredibly relieved to have this weight off my shoulders as my elk obsession has almost taken away from enjoying other hunts. Yet in a way I was bummed out that the hunt was over. Also did I shoot the right elk? Which one is down? I did it at a feeder which wasn’t my goal, oh well.

I sent one of my best friends Paul a message from my InReach saying I got an elk down and to tell the guys. I made my way down the mountain side and walked up to one of the prettiest sights I’d ever seen- a dead elk, killed by me. When I walked out of the draw and saw the big giant 4th points and wide fork I recognized this bull immediately as Split. Split is a giant 5x5 elk that looks like he is brothers with the Whale’s Tail except both his brows curve up. After admiring him for a good while, I realized I needed to go interrupt Tyler’s hunt because we have some work ahead of us. Thankfully, the bull died where I can drive the truck right up to him- no pack out required. Tyler and I made fairly quick work of breaking him down. We took absolutely as much meat as we could cut off. Four quarters, backstraps, tenders, rib roll, heart and neck. I am beyond excited to say that my hunt for a Texas Elk is over!!!! Well, for now anyway.

There are several guys here on TBH that I keep up with who I’ve bugged and bothered about this elk for too long and I truly feel like y’all have been part of the hunt- you know who you are, thank y’all. A few more pictures..











Last edited by Patton; 12-10-2019 at 04:56 PM.
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Old 12-10-2019, 04:51 PM   #2
DUKFVR
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Congrats! Great bull!
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Old 12-10-2019, 04:55 PM   #3
lovemylegacy
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Dang! a 5ft backstrap and a heart the size of a volleyball.
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Old 12-10-2019, 04:55 PM   #4
El General
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Great write up and pics! Congratulations!
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Old 12-10-2019, 04:55 PM   #5
7sdad
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Congrats and what a great place !
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Old 12-10-2019, 04:57 PM   #6
doublearrow
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Thats awesome
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Old 12-10-2019, 04:58 PM   #7
ccbrown50
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Awesome write up and congratulations!
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Old 12-10-2019, 05:01 PM   #8
Txhuntr2
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Well done!
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Old 12-10-2019, 05:01 PM   #9
Fightinaggies
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Congratulations! There's a lot of awesome in that write up
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Old 12-10-2019, 05:06 PM   #10
LHPanther
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Low fence Texas elk is something I’ve been wanting to do for awhile. Great write up and congrats on a trophy bull elk.
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Old 12-10-2019, 05:08 PM   #11
chicken fried
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That’s awesome.
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Old 12-10-2019, 05:11 PM   #12
mzurovec
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I really enjoyed reading this and that sounds like a one of a kind ranch your Uncle has.

Congrats on the bull!!
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Old 12-10-2019, 05:20 PM   #13
twosixteens
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Awesome Texas trophy
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Old 12-10-2019, 05:25 PM   #14
Puncher51
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Man that’s awesome!! Congratulations bud, heck of a bull and write up!
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Old 12-10-2019, 05:26 PM   #15
twdjr
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Congrats!

I have a buddy that owns a ranch in Edwards. He had a small 5x5 that started showing up on his place.
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Old 12-10-2019, 05:27 PM   #16
tiacoponelli
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Awesome Story
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Old 12-10-2019, 05:27 PM   #17
Paycheck
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Fantastic!!! Loved the story. Congrats
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Old 12-10-2019, 05:29 PM   #18
taylormade820
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awesome man... congrats
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Old 12-10-2019, 05:30 PM   #19
Hunterdan
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Congratulations!!! Thanks for sharing your story.
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Old 12-10-2019, 05:33 PM   #20
rjtkdplus
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Great write up, thanks for posting! Congrats on a great bull!
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Old 12-10-2019, 05:35 PM   #21
150class
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Fantastic write up and bull Patton!

Glad you finally closed the deal!
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Old 12-10-2019, 05:39 PM   #22
brunner
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Excellent Write Up and Congrats on the Trophy of a life time


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Old 12-10-2019, 05:43 PM   #23
Shane
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That is flat out EPIC, Patton. I am SO happy for you, brother! Congratulations!!

Free range Texas elk is a dream come true for sure! Great job! And your recap and pics are awesome too. Best thread of the year!
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Old 12-10-2019, 05:47 PM   #24
steve morton
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Nice
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Old 12-10-2019, 05:54 PM   #25
Preacher Man
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That's awesome. Thanks for taking the to time to write that up as well as you did. Felt like I was on the hunt with you.
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Old 12-10-2019, 05:55 PM   #26
Slick8
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Amazing journey and story to go with it.

Congrats to seeing hard work and dedication pay off.
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Old 12-10-2019, 05:58 PM   #27
jshouse
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Tagging
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Old 12-10-2019, 05:58 PM   #28
Leonhogboy
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Well done Patton, congrats and thank you for sharing your journey.
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Old 12-10-2019, 06:03 PM   #29
sierracharlie338
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Tag for later


Sierracharlie outů
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Old 12-10-2019, 06:06 PM   #30
Slew
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Man that's awesome!! Congrats! Thanks for the write up!!


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Old 12-10-2019, 06:08 PM   #31
Chew
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Wow. Great elk and great write up! Congrats
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Old 12-10-2019, 06:13 PM   #32
Texas Grown
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Wow Patton! I had no idea! That's a great bull, much less a Texas bull! Congratulations feller!


And great write up too!
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Old 12-10-2019, 06:19 PM   #33
Aojeda355
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Great write up! Congrats!!
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Old 12-10-2019, 06:22 PM   #34
Richard M.
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Congrats on the elk, that's a beautiful piece of property!
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Old 12-10-2019, 06:27 PM   #35
droptine8850
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Great story and bull....CONGRATS!!
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Old 12-10-2019, 06:31 PM   #36
deerwatcher51
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Congratulations.....great bull and great story.
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Old 12-10-2019, 06:36 PM   #37
coach2
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Congratulations... And that is a beautiful rifle!
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Old 12-10-2019, 06:39 PM   #38
Tomkat70
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Great story and bull
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Old 12-10-2019, 06:45 PM   #39
bullets13
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Congrats!
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Old 12-10-2019, 06:54 PM   #40
Montec man
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Enjoyed the detailed recap. Congrats on your bull!
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Old 12-10-2019, 06:56 PM   #41
capt341
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Congrats on a great bull.
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Old 12-10-2019, 06:56 PM   #42
Gclyde12
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Congrats and great write up
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Old 12-10-2019, 07:01 PM   #43
BO-N-ARO
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You are a blessed man!!
Great bull, great hunt and great write up.
Thanks for sharing the adventure.
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Old 12-10-2019, 07:10 PM   #44
offthemap
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Congrats on a successful journey! And what a great write-up, I was on the edge of my seat.
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Old 12-10-2019, 07:13 PM   #45
ATX Tyler
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That is too cool! Thanks for sharing the hunt and Congrats!
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Old 12-10-2019, 07:17 PM   #46
ATXArcher
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Amazing! Congrats!


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Old 12-10-2019, 07:18 PM   #47
Allpublic
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Awesome all the way around. Congratulations
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Old 12-10-2019, 07:20 PM   #48
Quackerbox
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That's dang cool

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Old 12-10-2019, 07:20 PM   #49
1longshot
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Congratulations, nice elk and great write up.
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Old 12-10-2019, 07:27 PM   #50
Olympic Recurve
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That is awesome!!! Congrats and thanks for sharing
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