Mike Knifong was well known in Oregon's hunting community. While scouting with his brother for a bull of a lifetime on a tag that had taken 18 years to draw, Mike passed away in a tragic accident.
It took 18 years, but in June of 2016, it finally happened. Mike's brother Ken had pulled one of Oregon's best elk hunting tags! Ken immediately started searching for a bull of a lifetime, covering over 100 miles.
In addition to the elk tag, Ken also drew a deer tag for the same area. As a result, Mike joined Ken for five days of deer season, to help scout and set up elk camp.
It was looking to be everything they could have hoped it would be, until a tragic accident occurred.
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife's (ODFW) details the tragedy.
"'The night we decided to come out and go home, Mike was following me off the mountain down Tiger Canyon Road into Walla Walla, and he fell asleep at the wheel,' said Ken. 'I had to be the one to turn the truck and trailer around and find him.' Mike's car plunged down a 60-foot embankment, and he did not survive."
Understandably, Ken was so distraught over Mike's death that he considered not hunting.
In certain circumstances, ODFW allows hunters to turn in their tag and reinstate preference points. Given the tragedy, no one blamed Ken for considering it. Then, he realized his brother would have been furious if he didn't keep going.
So keep going he did. He buried his brother on Saturday and went hunting Sunday.
However, likely due to raw emotions, he decided he couldn't return to the same location. Despite seeing bulls in the area he and his brother scouted, he kept forging forward. He told ODFW, "I kept telling myself to keep at it and stay the course. A bull could come out of the north."
ODFW's Facebook post continues, "Ken heard some cows calling, rocks rolling and out came a 7 x 8 bull. 'I closed ground on him to see if I could shoot. I got within 330 yards of him and decided with cheater points he was good enough and I shot him.'"
Ken says that he felt that this bull of a lifetime was placed there by God as a sign for him to let go.
Mike Knifong is survived by his wife and two daughters. If you would like to show your support, there is a Go Fund Me page for Mike's family: https://www.gofundme.com/michaelknifong
Enjoy every moment out there; you never know what will be your last adventure.