Kayla Schoppmann finds victory in a big bull!
BY KAYLA SCHOPPMANN
The day I received the news for elk hunting in Indian Peaks was such a great experience. I remember it clearly; I had received an envelope and email telling me that I was successful for the hunt. I couldn’t believe that I was going to have the chance to FINALLY go elk hunting, and out of all the places, Indian Peaks. That night I went to dinner with my parents and surprised my dad with the big news. He was so surprised to hear the news and couldn’t believe what I was telling him. He honestly thought I was joking around, until I showed him the proof. We were all so excited by this news that we started planning our hunt right away. September couldn’t come soon enough.
We had done some scouting beforehand to make sure we knew what we were in for, and also to be prepared to find that HUGE elk we wanted to get. My dad had talked to some local guys who knew the area well, and had asked for their opinions and help on how to go about this hunt. This information helped us out greatly. I had also done a lot of practice shooting beforehand to make sure I would be able to take this massive animal down. My dad had showed me where I needed to aim on the elk and to be able to be prepared for what was to come. I had practiced shooting a lot, from 100-300 yard distances. This was getting me even more excited for my hunt. As September approached, we all were so excited for this journey and opportunity—to hunt in one of the best areas for elk.
I started packing the day before we had to leave and it started to really sink in. I was getting a bit anxious and very excited for what was to come. I was still in shock that I was going elk hunting and able to have this amazing opportunity in my lap. My younger sister, Bailee, had told me she was coming along with us, and that made me more excited. I was so happy that she was coming and sharing this journey along with me. It’s always great to have your family there supporting you. I think both my dad and I didn’t get much sleep the night before!
We had our trailer and bags packed; we left early the next day—ready to get this hunt started. Luckily the drive wasn’t too long and were able to get everything set up before dark. My sister and my dad’s friend met us out there shortly after. We had a pow-wow that night planning the hunt for the next day, and how to go about it. We knew we had to be up bright and early, so we headed to bed early that night.
Morning (5:30 am) came too soon and too early. As we all got ready and geared up, we hit the road about 6:00 am. We drove around the Hamblin Valley area for a half hour and decided to park the truck. We geared up and headed out into the hills to see what we could find. As we were walking through one of the valleys in the area, it was such a peaceful and beautiful morning. As we were taking in the beauty, we heard some elk bugling in the distance. After that moment, I was feeling all kinds of emotion and trying to take it all in. As we hiked up a hill, and got to the top, we saw a bull elk and many cow elk in the distance. We stopped right in our tracks and pulled out the binoculars to see how big this bull elk was. We couldn’t believe our eyes with what we were seeing and I pulled out my 7mm, getting ready to shoot. I saw a log on the ground and I knew that was going to be my anchor for shooting. I was at 365 yards and knew it was a long shot, and kept thinking to myself, “I can do this.” It’s crazy to feel the adrenaline going through your body at that moment. I began shooting at him, the first shot hit him where I needed, and the other shot broke his back leg. The elk went over to the trees to hide, so we knew we had to get closer so I could finish him off. As we approached, we were about 20 yards away when we spotted him, lying on the ground looking up at us. I knew at that point I had to finish him off, which was hard, but I knew I had to. I shot him one more time and with that he was out of misery. I remember looking down at that beautiful bull elk in shock and couldn’t believe I had hunted him. And the crazy thing is, when I looked at my watch I had gotten him at 7:45 am. I was extremely lucky to find this amazing elk, opening morning of the hunt. I remember watching my dad and he was like a kid at Christmas. I knew I had made him proud. Another funny part about all of this is, one of the bullets must have ricocheted off him and hit his horn, so the bullet is still in his horn to this day. I feel like it gives him personality haha! He scored 380. Amazing!!!
Looking back on this hunting journey with my dad, I couldn’t have done it without him. He was such a big support and did an amazing job helping me with this elk hunt. I couldn’t have done it without the amazing help of everyone involved, thank you all! I feel extremely blessed and grateful for this incredible opportunity and look forward to future hunts.