Middle-school student Ryker Copp will probably never top the massive bull elk he shot Sunday during a special-draw hunt with his dad in northwest Minnesota, and that’s just fine.
Ryker and his dad, Jerred, were hunting in Kittson County near the Canadian border, an area that’s known for producing trophy bulls, reports the Grand Forks Herald. Elk tags are available through a competitive once-in-a-lifetime lottery in Minnesota, and Ryker was one of only two hunters drawn for the either-sex hunt in the area (Zone 30, Season H) during the Sept. 23-to-Oct. 1 season.
Although they had spotted a massive 8×10 bull before the season opened, the Copps were disappointed on opening day when they couldn’t find the bull.
“I kind of kept an eye on him during the week when I could sneak up there, and he was around,” Jerred told the Herald. “Saturday morning there was no elk there. I was really trying to figure out where they went, and I guess they moved north a couple of miles.”
An unfavorable wind made their Sunday hunt difficult, so the Copps kept their distance in a ground blind until about 6 p.m. They were watching several cows and smaller bulls when the big bull finally showed.
“All of a sudden, we heard some bugling,” Jerred said. “And I said, ‘There he is, Ryker.’”
The bull was more than 400 yards away. Ryker was prepared to make a longer shot with his .300 Weatherby Magnum, and watched as the bull closed the gap by just 50 yards over the next 20 minutes.
“My biggest job was to get him calmed down to make the shot,” Jerred said. “I had to keep cool so Ryker would be cool. I just kept telling him, ‘You can do this, you can do this. Take some deep breaths, calm down, it will be fine.’”
When the bull was about as close at Jerred guessed he would come—359 yards—Ryker clicked off his safety and squeezed the trigger.
“We were high-fiving, jumping up and down in the ground blind,” Jerred told KVLY. “I think it bounced 10 feet in the air.”
The bull rough-scored 390 inches and weighed an estimated 950 pounds dressed; it will get scored officially after the mandatory 60-day drying period. Jerred, who has hunted elk out West, says his son’s bull tops them all.
“I told [Ryker] he could probably hunt the rest of his life in the Western states, and he’s going to have to get really lucky to beat [that bull].”