Nine-year-old Olivia Warriner was a bit too young to join her dad, Odin, on his recent trip to the Upper Missouri River Breaks to hunt elk. While she wasn’t thrilled about having to stay home, she made sure dad was armed with everything he needed.
“Before I left, she took a small rock and painted a little scene on it with an arrow headed for an elk,” Odin, of Kalispell, said. “I was definitely carrying that with me,” he said with a small grin.
Olivia’s good-luck rock did the job as dad arrowed a 7x7 bull on Labor Day.
Tuesday evening, Odin and Olivia brought the antlers and skull to Sportsman and Ski Haus in Kalispell for its 20th antler measuring event.
Jim Williams, the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Region 1 Supervisor, and Chuck Hunt, who is a member of Flathead Wildlife, were at Sportsman to measure antlers of elk, deer and bighorn sheep from area hunters.
The big bull’s antlers green scored 372, which will eventually place it in the Pope & Young record book in the typical category.
“This is very impressive,” Williams said as he measured the main beams, tips, width and the circumference of the antlers.
Those measurements, when added together, set the score. Odin still has a few more weeks before he can officially enter the antlers for the record book, but it will undoubtedly rank high.
For American elk, the minimum Pope & Young score is 260. The world record bull scored 430 0/8. It was taken by Stephan F. Felix two years ago in the Powder River region in southeast Montana.
Two other Montana bulls, both taken by Chuck Adams in Rosebud County in 2000 and 2003, also rank in the top 10.
Odin was hunting with a friend during the Labor Day weekend in the Breaks, a region in northeast Montana that has long been revered for its large bulls and unique terrain.
“We had seen a lot of good bulls where we had scouted and hunting, but not him,” Odin said.
Odin said after hunting a few miles from where they had parked and not seeing anything, they were heading a little closer to where they began to hunt.
“We saw him and there was plenty of time, so I began a stalk. The first one didn’t pan out, but on the second try, things started to come together,” he said.
Odin got within 22 yards when he released his arrow and it found its mark.
“It was right before it got dark, so we just waited, not wanting to push him,” he said. “About midnight, we followed the blood trail and he had only went 50 yards from where he was standing when I shot.”
After completing the arduous tasks of dressing and quartering the bull and removing the hide and skull, a half dozen trips followed as they packed everything back to his truck.
“After we got the first load back to the truck, we decided to craw into the truck to catch a little sleep,” Odin said. “But it started to rain and we woke up. We felt pretty refreshed, but when I checked the time, we hadn’t even been asleep for an hour.”
Such is the result of the adrenaline rush that accompanies bagging an elk.
Williams, who has been an official scorer for the Boone and Crocket Club for a quarter century, examined the elk’s teeth. He estimated the bull to be 6 or 7 years old.
“It’s a really nice, mature bull, very impressive for a public lands hunt,” Williams said.
Odin said the meat has been pretty good.
“They were starting to rut, but we got him before they were really into it, so the meat was still pretty tender and it has tasted good,” he said.
Olivia, who like most kids who aren’t quite old enough to hunt, said she is more than ready to join the chase.
“She turns 10 Dec. 4, so next year she’ll definitely be going along,” Odin said.
For now, she can revel in the fact that her good luck charm played an important role in her dad’s success.
Reporter Scott Shindledecker may be reached at 406-758-4441 or email@example.com.