October 26, 2022
By Mark Demko
Most hunters only dream of taking a 400-inch-plus bull, but if you happen to live and hunt in the right area, those dreams might actually come true more than once.
Although he’s only 16-years-old, Cody Vine of Greenhaven, Ariz., already has a monster bull to his credit, having tagged an 9x8 that scored 448 while hunting his state’s late rifle season a few years ago. The next step? Try and take a trophy-caliber elk with his bow.
In only his 5th year of applying, Vine drew a coveted Unit 9 archery elk tag, a permit that sometimes takes much longer to pull.
“That particular archery tag takes residents usually 16 to 20 years to draw,” he said. “I just got lucky.”
Prior to the hunt, which would take place in the Kaibab National Forest, Vine set a goal of trying to harvest a bull in the 375-inch range. Fortunately, his hunting partner would be his dad, James, one of the partners in and a guide for Shadow Valley Outfitters, an Arizona-based guiding service known for leading hunters to big bulls.
“He hunted up there for about 20 years,” Cody said. “We spent almost every single weekend all summer long up there looking at bulls.”
Once the hunt began in September, the Vines hit the ground running, getting into good bulls right from the start. After pursuing one particularly large specimen that they could never catch up with, they ended up covering a good portion of the 1,600-square-mile unit while looking for another trophy-caliber bull.
“I think I passed on probably 80 or 90 bulls in seven days of hunting,” Vine said.
On the morning of Sept. 17, the Vines heard elk bugling in the distance and decided to close the gap on one particular bull that was relatively close and sounded promising. Responding to James’ cow calls was a massive 7x6 that came into 12 yards, presenting Cody with a good, close shot. At approximately 7:10 a.m., Vine let loose an Easton Axis 4MM Long Range arrow from his Mathews V3X, with the Rage Hypodermic Trypan NC broadhead sealing the deal.
“He ran probably 35 or 40 yards and we could hear him crash and then we walked up to where he ran and we could see him instantly,” Cody said. “He didn’t go anywhere.”
Amazingly, as they approached the downed animal, it was the first time Cody had an opportunity to see how large it truly was.
“I didn’t even get to see it really good when it came in,” Vine recalled. “My dad just said, ‘Draw your bow.’ So, I did. He said, ‘Put your 20-[yard] pin right on the center of its chest and let it go.’
“So, I shot and I never got to see the points or anything. And, when I walked up to it, it was crazy — it was so big. It was way bigger than I could have imagined.”
Looking back, Vine said the hunt was an incredibly cool experience, especially since he was with his father.
“We do it every year, me and my dad,” he said. “I hunted with him on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. We (also) hunt on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon for deer a lot. I killed like a 212-(inch) buck up there with my bow.”
Vine said one of the keys to their success was going hard all day long. While he noticed some bowhunters were returning to camp by 9 or 10 a.m., he and his dad continued to cover ground from sun-up to the last rays of light.
“We were out all day, every day, and we were always on bulls, and they were always bugling,” he said. “You just had to get in pretty close to them and then start talking to them.”
According to Vine, his bull officially measured 428 (406 6/8 net) non-typical, with 55- and 56-inch beams and a 45-inch spread. Not bad for a first-ever archery elk!
“I was hoping for something like a 380 bull,” he said. “I passed four bulls on that hunt that were like 360 to 370. I just wanted one that was one step bigger, but this one is quite a few steps bigger.”