The shot of a lifetime

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At 12 years old, Park County native Chase Ault has the hunting story that will likely top all his friend’s for life: Chase took down a full-grown cow bison Wednesday near Jardine, a feat not many others can match.

“We were pretty excited,” said Chase’s father, Dave. “(Bison tags are) a once-ina-lifetime tag, pretty much.”

In his first year being able to apply for permits, Chase applied for a bison hunting tag, a tag so hard to get that people have spent years on the list applying for it. He didn’t think he’d get one, but he got it on his first try.

“We know people who have been putting in for 17 years, or however long they’ve been doing this, and he puts in the first year and draws the tag,” Dave said.

After Chase found out he was picked, he pestered his dad for days to take him down to the office to pick it up and pay for it.

“I was waiting for my dad to take me to get it, and it was $150,” Chase said. “I paid for it.”

A typical female bison can reach 1,000 pounds and stands at 4 to 5 feet tall. Chase and his group made their way to a herd of about 15 bison and were able to get within 100 yards before he took the shot with his dad’s gun, a .338 Lapua Magnum rifle, resulting in about 350 pounds of meat he got to take home. It was enough for the Aults to have to buy two new freezers, and they’re looking forward to regularly dining on bison meat for the foreseeable future.

As of Friday, there have been 70 bison taken in Montana, with 59 killed in the West Yellowstone area and 11 around Gardiner. The Confederated Salish Kootenai Tribes have killed 39, while state hunters have taken 24.

The Montana hunting season ends Feb. 15.

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