Not long ago, it was rare for a hunter to have a photo of his trophy deer, elk or whatever on the hoof. It’s more common today with the proliferation of trail cameras, but even then, not that common.
So imagine Jeff Fiscus’s surprise when he looked at the cover of the October 2010 issue of NEBRASKAland Magazine and saw the bull he harvested in 2009 with his once-in-a-lifetime Nebraska elk tag.
“Right when it came and my wife laid it on the counter, I was about 99 percent sure it was him,” said Fiscus. “The rack was at the taxidermist, so I couldn’t look at it, so I ran right to my computer and looked at my photos.”
Typical elk can look pretty similar, but Fiscus’ bull has two unique features that set him apart. One is the short, sixth point on his right beam. The second, and most telling, is his second eye guard on that right beam, which bends down.
“When I saw the second eye guard on the right, I was pretty sure it was him,” Fiscus said.
Of course we didn’t make it easy for him, having flopped the photo of the bull for the spread inside the magazine because it fit the layout better. (Before you scream “That’s cheating,” it’s a fairly common practice and has been since long before the world went digital.)
An Oshkosh native, Fiscus now lives and works in Sidney. His thoughts of having elk on the North Platte River are the same as mine. “As a kid growing up in Garden County, I never would have dreamed of harvesting a bull elk here,” he said.
But that’s exactly what he did, just 24 days and 2 miles from where I photographed the bull. In the shadows of Lewellen, he watched as 7 cow elk and 2 calves fed on a center pivot of alfalfa, and listened as the bull bugled incessantly from the wooded riverbottom. Fiscus didn’t have to call the bull into range as I did when I photographed it. “I could hear him working through trees and waited for him to come to the clearing,” he said. I took my shot at about 50 yards. Fiscus’ was 158.
I learned of Fiscus’ story when he contacted me about the possibilities of getting copies of the photo. While some may view this as a sad end to this cover bull’s story, Fiscus and other hunters do not. Fiscus plans to hang my photo, his and a third with the landowner who graciously allowed him to hunt in a collage frame next to the mount, all out of respect. It’s an added touch to what he calls a memorable experience.
“I think that’s pretty cool,” he said. “It’ll be a pretty fun story.”