Hadley man arrows new world record elk
Elk mount to be at Outdoor Weekend, Sept. 7-9
|Robertís huge non-typical bull scores 464 3/8 (SCI) and is the new SCI world record. The bullís third point splits with one long point growing off it, creating what appears to be another main beam.|
August 22, 2007Robert Hartwig is a quiet, unassuming man. A lifelong farmer near Hadley, Michigan, he's been hunting and trapping since he was a boy.
Over the years Robert has brought a lot of wild game home, learning the sport pretty much on his own. He learned traditional archery by sheer determination and trapping by trial and error.
I was introduced to Robert by a phone call he made to me recently.
"I'm not out to brag or anything, but I have an elk I think people should see. He's a tremendous animal, a giant bull," Robert told me during that phone conversation.
"I wondered if you'd like to have it at your Outdoor Weekend?" he asked me.
"Tell me a little about it Robert," I reply. After all, we hear a lot of hunting stories here at the office.
"Well, I took him in Arizona, on public land with my recurve and it's a Safari Club International (SCI) World Record, scoring 464 3/8 non-typical," he tells me.
"World Record?" I question, my interest peaked now.
"And it scored what?" I'm no expert when it comes to elk, but I do know anything scoring in the 400s is one big, really big, Wapiti! And this guy bagged an elk scoring 464 3/8 using a recurve!
"My wife, Tamra, said I should call and see if you guys had some room to display it at the Woods-N-Water Outdoor Weekend. I think people would like to see it," Robert states again.
Michigan hunters are well known in hunting circles as excellent archers. Archery as you know is more than a pastime for us, it's a passion.
So let's see, a Michigan man travels to Arizona, uses a Michigan made bow, (Ron Pittsley's, 72-pound Predator Hunting Recurve) to score on a new World Record elk?
Not a very hard decision, is it?
"Of course, we'd love to have the mount at our Outdoor Weekend!" I tell Robert.
But there is much more to this humble man's story and the new SCI World Record elk.
It took Robert eight years to get a draw in Arizona. Which isn't uncommon, drawing a tag in Arizona is like winning the lottery.
His longtime hunting partner, Rex Curtiss of Lapeer County was also attempting to get a draw. Each year the two would look forward to and hope for news that their names would be drawn. For Rex it never happened, he passed away in 2003. For any of us, losing a hunting buddy can be devastating.
In 2004 Robert drew a tag and dedicated the hunt to his good friend Rex.
Robert has only had his elk mount back in Michigan for a few months now, it has been on a western tour of outdoor shows with the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. It seems this big elk is legendary.
"Some hunters saw him in 2003, one actually got a shot but missed him," Robert tells me.
"Those guys nicknamed him Godzilla. He certainly is big enough to carry the moniker, "Godzilla." He was surely the boss bull of that valley," he explains.
"And there was this other fella who lives out in Arizona, he had seen him several times. He even has his sheds, I was told they were the largest sheds ever found," Robert said.
"Anyway this guy finally drew a tag for the area, it's just as hard for residents to draw as it is non-residents. And that poor guy hunted him hard, but never once saw him, not a hair," Robert comments, as if apologizing.
On the third day of Robert's hunt, his guide, Scott South was in the timbers early. Hunting to that point had been rather uneventful. The bulls had been pretty quiet. Maybe, just maybe, today would be different.
Here are bits and pieces of Robert's account of his record breaking hunt, in his own words:
Scott bugles; no response. A few minutes later he tries again and we hear a response about a half mile away. A few moments later we get a second response from a different bull, so now we have two bulls bugling.
After bugling some more, we hear yet a third bull bugle below us, or we think it is a bugle even though it sounds terrible. As it is getting closer to daylight, we get our gear ready to approach the bugling bulls. We can hear the bull with the odd sounding bugle below us thrashing his horns in a tree. Scott bugles and the bull answers back but continues to thrash the tree.
As daylight nears we decide to work our way closer towards this heated up bull. As we circle to get the wind in our favor, another bull begins to bugle behind us; he came out of nowhere screaming at the bull we are moving towards. We would like to get in between these two bulls and cow call, but we just do not have enough time as the second bull advances quickly.
Approaching our bull, he continues to shred the same tree, so Scott and I set up and cow call. The bull screams back to our calls but seems intent on battling with the helpless pine tree.
Rounding a bush, Scott stops and says to me, "There he is. He is about 60 yards away still tearing up the tree."
Scott grabs his optics to get a good look at the bull. He slowly lowers his optics and with a ghostlike look on his face says, "Don't look at the horns, make your move, stay behind these trees and stalk in on him."
The wind is a perfect crosswind and the two bulls are preoccupied with each other.
In front of me there is very little cover and I need to move in 40 yards. Near the bull are some bigger pines. Since the bull is broadside to me, I line up a large pine to keep between myself and the bull's eye and then I start to move in.
In a short time I'm 30 yards from the bull with my heart pounding and yet still concentrating on his every move. All of a sudden he stops thrashing the tree and moves 20 yards to my left, as the other bull has now come close enough for them to see one another. As they size each other up, bull number two takes one good look at my bull and immediately stops screaming. He vacates the area with haste.
My bull then decides to go back to his favorite tree, which puts me right back on track for my stalk. Ten more yards and I will be in position for a 20 yard broadside shot.
Moving towards my last bit of cover I make the last ten yards undetected. The only obstacles between the bull and me are two ten inch thick pine trees directly in front of me.
They have concealed me well as I draw my 72 pound recurve bow and take an instinctive shot. Upon impact the giant bull whirls directly towards me and passes at six yards as I simultaneously take out an arrow from my quiver and begin to nock it for a second shot. The bull, seeing my movement, turns left and runs away from me for about 80 yards where he heads into the pines at a slow walk; I assess that it is a fatal hit.
After the bull moves out of sight I sit down, take several deep breaths, and pray for a quick recovery.
"What a bull!" shouts my guide.
We decide to give him some time, although I was itching to track him. Scott asked me if I knew that this bull was a huge non-typical?
"No, you told me not to look at the horns!" I replied.
Before I left on this hunt, my friend Rex's widow told me to go shoot a big one for Rex. The bull grossed 464 3/8 SCI, the new world record. Aged at 10 to 12 years old, he has passed on genes so that many more hunters can enjoy elk hunting in the beautiful state of Arizona. I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to be part of such an extraordinary experience.
What a story, what a great elk and a great hunt!
If you would like to talk with Robert about his hunt, stop by to see him at the Woods-N-Water News Outdoor Weekend at the Eastern Michigan Fairgrounds in Imlay City.
And Robert, a quiet man from Hadley, thanks for the phone call and letting us share your story with our readers. The story of a Michigan man, and a Michigan bow, who together brought down "Godzilla."
The Woods-N-Water News Outdoor Weekend will be at the Eastern Michigan Fair, September 7,8, and 9. Robert and his world record elk mount will be available for your viewing. For more information on the Outdoor Weekend, visit:
Randy is the President of Page One Inc., which publishes the Tri-City Times, Woods-N-Water News and Page One Printing Company. He has been with the company since 1980. Randy has been writing a local column for 27 years on community events, individuals, sports, hunting and fishing adventures.