Friday the 13th isn't always unlucky

Alexis Barker

Submitted photo

Newcastle's 15-year-old Hayden Overman has been an avid hunter since age 4, thanks to his grandpa, Craig Overman. On September's Friday the 13th, Overman was able to snag his first archery elk that is slated to put him in the Pope and Young record books with an unofficial score of 272. Overman poses with his trophy elk. 

Alexis Barker

NLJ News Editor


Despite the commonly held belief that the day is considered unlucky, Friday the 13th was full of good luck for 15-year-old Hayden Overman, who bagged his first archery elk. Likely to put an asterisk on the day is the chance that his first elk will probably put the young hunter in the record books.  

With an unofficial score of 272, the young hunter will likely make his way into The Pope and Young record book with an elk that took him on quite the adventure. 

A hunter since he was 4 years old, Overman has had his fair share of hunting experiences and even bagged a few deer in his years. But the Friday the 13th hunt was full of ups and downs and will most definitely be one to remember. 

A story that ended in triumph and excitement didn’t necessarily begin that way for Overman, who began his journey to bagging a trophy elk in August when he and his grandfather, Craig Overman, started placing trail cams on Elk Mountain to prepare for the upcoming hunt. 

Luck didn’t seem to be on Overman’s side. 

“We set up our trail cameras on Elk Mountain and went back up to check them a week later, and they were nowhere to be found,” Overman said. “Someone had stolen it. So we set some more up there, putting an old camera as a bait camera and another up to the hill to watch it.” 

Having an extra camera didn’t produce any better luck for the grandfather-grandson hunting duo. The next camera check failed to reveal any possibilities. 

Once hunting season officially began, Overman and his granddad went back to the mountain to see if they had any luck in person, but once again luck wasn’t on their side. 

“We didn’t hear anything, and we only saw one bull, so the next week we went up north to Glen Riggs’ private property to set up trail cameras,” Overman said. “We went out to check them the next weekend, and there was nothing.” 

So, the pair of hunters, along with Overman’s mom, Kayla, decided to sit for a time and see if anything came their way.  Overman said that there are nice bulls on the property, but they didn’t have a chance to get them in their sight. 

“I am 50 yards away from my mom and grandpa, and we were probably there only 10 minutes when I hear someone screaming. So I run towards where my mom and grandpa were,” Overman said. “They told me they saw a mountain lion only 4 yards away from where they were. Needless to say, we didn’t go there again.” 

Kayla said that they were lucky that “Grandpa” had to stretch his back or Overman would have come back to kitty food instead of his grandpa and mom. 

Overman’s bad luck continued during a trip to area 117. His luck finally changed when a friend of the family, Preston Bennett, shared a blind with the Overman clan. Kayla said that the Bennett group only had cow tags, so they were willing to share the bull they caught on camera with the young hunter. 

“The first time we went out there, we were calling for him and we heard the bull. He was close, but he wouldn’t come in and we never saw him,” Overman said. 

Another week without luck went by, and the Overmans chose another location in the area. Walking along a logging road, they found a good spot to sit and begin the wait. 

“Not too long after we sat down, we heard a big elk on the other side of the fence on private property. It was sitting a few hundred yards onto public land, so my grandpa went above me and started cow calling,” Overman said. “We were there like 10 minutes, and I see this elk coming in. This bull stops behind a tree, and I drew back on him, waiting for him to come into the opening.” 

His arrow made contact with the front shoulder. Overman said he aimed for the shoulder because all of the “YouTube” videos he watched told to aim there. Releasing the arrow was a calming, surreal moment for the young hunter. He said that the adrenaline didn’t hit him until after the release. 

“I hit him a little high, and he just stood there looking at me. I got a new arrow out of my quiver and he just stared; he didn’t know what was happening. I was grabbing my arrow like I always do, making as much noise as possible,” Overman said. “At this point, his body was behind a group of trees and I couldn’t shoot him again, so we just stood there staring before he trotted off, his butt swaying side to side. I knew he was going to go down.” 

Overman lost sight of the elk as the animal disappeared into the distance. The young hunter returned to his grandfather, learning that the more experienced hunter thought it was a miss.

“He said it sounded like I hit a tree and the elk didn’t move. He thought I missed,” Overman said. “But then we caught the elk in our binoculars. When he turned, we could see the bright red of the arrow. Grandpa said it was a liver shot.” 

So the two waited for at least an hour before wandering to the clearing in the trees where they last saw the bull elk. After walking to the edge of the opening, Overman said, they didn’t see anything at first until the horns appeared above the foliage. 

“We walked up to him and he was dead. We got ahold of mom somehow and told her I had snagged a big one,” Overman said. “It was such a sigh of relief, to get my bull my first year.” 

Getting the large bull elk out of the clearing was a whole different Friday the 13th adventure for the hunters. Thankfully, Overman said, Scott Johnson came out and helped to eventually get the animal loaded up, after several unsuccessful tries. 

“It is almost dark now, and I am deathly afraid of the dark,” Overman said. “Scott had a game cart, but we couldn’t get the bull loaded up. He was just too big. So, we get the bright idea to bring the truck up the logging road.”

The trio spent at least three hours trying over and over to get the large animal into the bed of the truck before they succeeded. 

“It was so dark, and we didn’t know where we were. We got lost coming out, and we had another adventure finally getting out and finding somewhere we recognized,” Overman said. 

Now holding a memory that will never fade, Overman said, he is thankful for his Grandpa Craig and Johnson, because without the two men, he wouldn’t have gotten his elk out and without his grandpa, he wouldn’t be a hunter at all. 


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