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Roosevelt Royalty

Bob Johansen - 11/5/2012

Oregon's coastal Tillamook County has long been known as "The Land of Cheese, Trees and Ocean Breeze." It is also the "land of lots of rain" that helps to create lush forestlands for an ideal, year around habitat for the magnificent Roosevelt Elk. Many large bull elk are harvested annually in this coastal region by both rifle and bow hunters. And, in September 1985, it would become well known in the bow-hunting world as the "Land of the Pope and Young World Record Roosevelt Elk."

Among the avid bow hunters in Tillamook County was Dale Baumgartner, a native of Hebo, a small junction town about 20 miles south of Tillamook. Dale had purchased his first bow only a year earlier, in the spring of 1984. He had set up a homemade archery range in his back yard and had practiced with targets on hay bales. During his first elk season that fall he didn’t bag his elk but his enthusiasm for bow hunting remained strong.

During the spring of 1985, Dale purchased a new Martin-Lynx Magnum bow and it was set it to pull 63 pounds. He also spent much of his free time scouting the nearby slopes of Mount Hebo and had located the Hebo herd. The elk usually spent most of their time on the higher slopes during the summer and moved a little lower during the fall and winter.
He also became familiar with an old, abandoned homestead that had been cleared out of the Siuslaw National Forest during the early 1930s. The old homestead had a clearing about the size of a football field but small trees, berry bushes and ferns had reclaimed much of the area. There was, however, still an abundance of grass that attracted the elk. Well-used trails and cropped brush and grass showed the signs of frequent elk use. Among the elk sign were some huge tracks and acorn shaped droppings that indicated the presence of a very large herd bull.

Before the bow season, Dale kept his camouflaged clothing in sealed plastic bags with fresh fir bough tips to avoid any unusual scent. He had decided to spend some hunting time at the old homestead and located a large Sitka Spruce tree near the well-used entry trail. The big tree would accommodate an ideal location for a 15-foot high tree stand that would provide him with an arrow shot of about 20 to 25 yards.

As the 1985 bow season neared the end, Dale discovered that the Mount Hebo elk herd was once again using the old homestead. It was on a Saturday afternoon, that Dale, with his fir scented camouflage clothing on, climbed the ladder to his tree stand. He had made his approach to the stand quietly without touching brush or ferns. His boots were painted with bull elk urine and he left little human scent. He also wore a head net as he seated himself on the tree stand. An arrow was placed in a handy position.

Dale waited on his carpeted tree stand with his eyes and ears on high alert. All was quiet.

He had been on the stand for nearly an hour when he suddenly sensed something. He heard a small noise of twigs snapping and a short while later a large cow elk slowly moved into the clearing of the old homestead area. The big cow was very cautious as she looked from side to side and sniffed the air for any strange scents. Apparently satisfied, the old cow moved into the clearing and began to browse on the grass and salmonberry brush.

Dale froze on his stand. Moments later, two more cows emerged from the trail and started snipping salmonberry leaves and grazing on the grass. The three elk were very near the tree stand. Dale remained motionless. Then suddenly, three young bulls entered the clearing -- two spikes and a fork horn. The immature bulls appeared skittish and kept glancing back at the entrance trail to the homestead as if expecting a challenge. Both the cows and the immature bulls were legal game but Dale held his fire. He wanted a larger bull.

Suddenly, the quiet forest air was shattered by resounding elk bugle. The bugle was followed by boisterous, guttural grunts. Two more cows trotted into the clearing and were soon joined by additional elk -- the herd was arriving. Dale shook with excitement and his heart pounded. His patience and self-control was being tested to the limits.
Then, with much noise and crashing a huge Roosevelt bull elk pushed even more cows into the clearing of the old homestead. The magnificent old bull instantly spotted the three young bulls, lowered his head and charged. The immature bulls didn't hesitate as they ran for the safety of the heavy timber and out of the area.

The big bull returned to the area and took his anger out on a 12-foot fir tree, shredding limbs and nearly debarking the tree. That tree probably never survived the attack. The mad old bull had romance on his mind -- the rut was on.

The enormous bull, now intent on the cows, edged closer and closer to tree stand. Dale knew the big bull was nearing good bow range. Then, as if by instinct, the bull stopped and looked directly up at Dale. Neither moved. After what seemed to be an eternity to Dale, the giant bull lowered his magnificent head and moved over to the cows grazing near the spruce tree.

As the trophy bull moved within 25 yards, Dale stood up, pulled back and released -- all in the same motion. The lethal arrow hit the huge animal broadside, deep into the chest area, leaving only a little colored fletching showing.

As the arrow struck, the huge bull wavered slightly. He knew instantly that something had happened. He completely ignored the cows now and slowly walked towards the edge of the clearing. At the forest edge, the old bull stopped and stood for several minutes, looking back toward the tree stand as if waiting pursuit from the bow hunter.

Dale knew the giant Roosevelt was his and stood watching as the bull moved into the forest. As he climbed down the ladder of the big Sitka Spruce, pandemonium broke loose. Cow elk just exploded in every direction as they disappeared into the forest. Suddenly everything was quiet.

Quickly, the bow hunter crossed the clearing to where the bull had vanished into the trees. There was lots of blood splattered on the bushes and the leaves on the ground. Dale followed the blood trail. At first it was easy but before long, it was getting dark in the woods. Without a flashlight, Dale returned to the clearing and decided to continue tracking the huge elk the next morning.

Early the next morning Dale, his brother Richard and buddy Ken Sisco went back up to the old homestead. They located the blood trail and soon found the huge elk with his magnificent rack of heavy antlers -- a seven by eight. Packing out the huge animal and the trophy rack was a challenging job for the three young men but by Monday afternoon, the record rack was on display at Kimmel's Sporting Goods Store in Tillamook, Oregon.

Ultimately, the huge head was mounted and displayed at the Sportsman's Show in Portland, Oregon. At the show, the huge rack was given a preliminary measurement by the founder of the Pope and Young Club, Glenn St. Charles. He predicted that the antlers would score high in the club's classification of Roosevelt elk. The Pope and Young Club and the Boone and Crockett Club have both recognized the Roosevelt elk as a separate classification from the Rocky Mountain elk.

Official club measurements of the antlers were made in mid-February, just before the Pope and Young Club Bow Hunters Convention at Tulsa, Oklahoma slated for March 1987. At the awards ceremony, Dale received the Pope and Young plaque naming him as the holder of the World Record Roosevelt Elk classification. Club measurements of the beautiful rack were "R-antler at 43 5/8; L-antler at 45 6/8; with antler spread at 40 0/8" for a score of 352 1/8.

Later, Dale was informed that the Pope and Young Club had adopted new Roosevelt elk measurements procedures of the Boone & Crockett Club. Under new procedures, the Mount Hebo rack would gain 13 7/8 more points for a total score of 366 0/8.

Today, Dale's World Record antlers are on display in a small grocery store-sport shop in Beaver, Oregon over the magazine racks -- and this magnificent head with the beautiful antlers, taken in 1985, is still the King of the Pope and Young Roosevelt Elk. Roosevelt Royalty Indeed!

Bob Johansen