It was October of 2010, and after a week of freezing rain, and no sign of elk, Staff Sergeant Dan Bowler, an Operations Chief in the United States Marine Corps, went to his hunting buddy’s family’s house for a hot dinner. While there, the two Montana residents looked through a family album filled with 40 years of pictures of bulls taken from the exact area they had spent all week hunting. The pictures, which were intended to be motivating, had the opposite effect on SSgt Bowler, as he noticed that the one common denominator in every successful hunting picture he saw happened to be snow. Feeling defeated, after a long week, he looked out the window at the steady stream of rain falling from the sky and hoped it would turn to snow before the end of his hunting trip.
Later that evening, SSgt Bowler and his buddy returned to their camp. The rain had let up enough for them to hike to an area they had hiked through several times that week, including earlier that morning.
As they crept to a clearing, not really expecting much of anything, two spikes raced up the hill right by them. Being thrilled to actually see elk for the first time since they began their hunt 5 days before, SSgt Bowler watched the spikes disappear. Then, his friend nudged him and pointed toward the three 5-point bulls standing no more than 75 yards away from them. SSgt. Bowler pulled up his rifle and took a shot that instantly dropped the lead bull. Minutes later, he was posing for a picture with his very first bull elk–during the very first snow of the year.
SSgt Dan Bowler is currently serving in Afghanistan and is set to return home opening day of rifle season. First, a HUGE thank you goes to him for his service, and second, a good luck to having a successful 2012 hunting season!