2012 was a special elk hunt for Jared Bloomgren, an employee owner at DSG in Rapid City, South Dakota. He drew an unfamiliar elk unit in Montana and was forced to rely on wildlife biologists, wardens and even Google Earth to narrow down an area to hunt. On his fourth day of bow hunting, Bloomgren caught sight of the bull of a lifetime. The bugling elk was massive, sporting a seven-by-seven rack that seemed to go on forever. Bloomgren quickly dubbed it the “Royal Flush.”
The hunter was lining up a shot when a nearby cow spooked, sending Royal Flush into the trees – but not before the beast looked back and caught site of Bloomgren. Thereafter, the huge elk quit bugling, adding an extra challenge to Bloomgren’s hunt of a lifetime. The next five days played out much the same, with Bloomgren stalking the trophy but always ending up in the wrong place at the wrong time. He drove home to South Dakota empty-handed.
Bloomgren’s purpose was clear when he resumed his hunt a few weeks later. Because Royal Flush seemed to possess a unique combination of stubborn intelligence and hunter clairvoyance, Bloomgren decided to shadow the bull and his cows in the hope of capitalizing on a mistake. In fact, the hunter followed and tracked his prey nearly round the clock for five more days. His surveillance had revealed that Royal Flush spent a few minutes at the water by himself at the start of each day. Bloomgren used a cow call to get close on his last morning in Montana, but the giant elk spied him. Their eyes locked, the hunter drew, but the arrow caught a branch. Royal Flush escaped once again.
The hunter went home dejected once more, then gathered himself for one last attempt. It was early October when he returned to Royal Flush’s home territory. Snowflakes began to fall, and soon he found two raghorn bulls sparring. The young bulls suddenly moved off, with a herd of cows arriving instead. Bloomgren knew that an older bull must be with them, a logical reason for the two youngsters’ retreat.
Minutes later, Royal Flush revealed himself from behind a downed tree just 45 yards away. He was distracted by the young bulls, charging them to protect his harem. It turned out to be a fatal mistake. As he turned back to his herd, Bloomgren lined up his rangefinder, then drew his bow as the beast put his head down to feed. His arrow was true, but Royal Flush dove into the brush nonetheless. Bloomgren found him and put a second arrow into the massive bull before it bolted once more into the timber.
With darkness almost upon him, Bloomgren waited until morning to track his prize. He found the elk 40 yards from his last point of contact, and though it had succumbed to the arrows, it was no less impressive. In fact, the bull measured out at more than 412″ gross – the biggest bull taken in Montana in 2012 under those conditions. For Jared Bloomgren, playing his cards correctly paid off with a winning hand – the incredible Royal Flush.