Archery Elk – The Heartbreak Bull – Part III

Conclusion of: The Heartbreak Bull – Part I | Part II

…I sat there in my blind for about an hour. Dejected. Depressed. Beaten. I could hear the two bulls above me. Taunting me. I decided I was going after them. I had nothing to lose, it was my last chance.

I can’t remember how, but Cary ended up with me again later that day. We ate lunch and made our last march up to the bedding area. It was late afternoon and the wind was actually blowing down towards us while we slowly picked our way through the timber and we could hear the big bull bugling up above us. The herd was slowly work up and over the ridge. We had to hurry!

We pushed hard to within 100 yards of the bull and we could see him and a few cows milling around up ahead of us. I’m not normally a greedy hunting partner, but I had spent a lot of blood, sweat and tears on this bull, so I told Cary to stay there and call for me and I started working closer. Before I knew it I had closed the distance to about fifteen yards, but he was just over a steep little hill above me and I could just see his head. Cary was calling his heart out, and the bull was bugling just as much or more, but I was stuck. Couldn’t go any further, but after a while of trying to come up with an idea, I noticed that each time he bugled, he closed his eyes. Hmmm…

Since I had figured out this little tidbit of information, now I could gauge when he was going to bugle and scramble a step or two up the hill every time. Eventually I slipped, scooted and lurched my way to within seven yards and I could finally see his vitals! I waited for him to bugle again and drew my bow and I guess I got my timing wrong or he didn’t close his eyes that time because he spotted me, jumped away a few feet and the stare-down began and I couldn’t see his vitals anymore. Now, perched on the side of of a steep gravel hill at an awkward angle with my toes digging in for traction, I was starting to get tired and to make matters worse, a charlie horse started in my abdomen. I was giving myself a mental butt-chewing for blowing it when he took a step and I had a clear shot. By now I was shaking from fatigue and my pins are making big circles. I just couldn’t bear down, but I thought, “I can do this”.

I timed my shot for when my wandering pins crossed his vitals and squeezed off only to watch my arrow fly harmlessly over his back and the bull of a lifetime disappear over the ridge and out of my life. This is one of the lowest points I’ve ever had in my life and I’m a “glass-is-half-full” type of guy. I think I was truly depressed. I had missed a huge bull twice in one season, and I can shoot pretty well. Cary did his best to try to cheer me up, but I knew that I may not ever get a chance at another bull of that caliber. I thought about it for about a year, wondering what I could have done different but couldn’t come up with anything. Just wasn’t in the cards I guess.

Now I wish I had a happier story and a bunch of pictures of a happy hunter (me) with a huge bull elk but I don’t. However, this is my most cherished hunting memory and now that I’ve had a few years to digest it, I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s gonna make that monster bull mean that much more when I do finally get him.

After archery elkseason there is a lottery rifle season. A guy who had never gotten an elk before had drawn a tag and ended up shooting “my” bull on opening day.

Normally, I would be happy for him, but as the story goes, his buddy (who had spotted the bull during archery season and had watched my little drama) was all excited and started caping him after they took pictures. Then shooter told him, “I’m not going to mount this one, I’m sure I’ll get a bigger one someday”. He later tried to sell the rack on Ebay for a preposterous amount and I guess now the antlers are laying on his garage floor with junk piled all over them. Makes me sad.

By the way, the bull ended up scoring about 385″ B&C



    1. gary says

      Now thats a story to remember. Once you’ve been that close to that big a bull I can see how that mental picture keeps you from sending an arrow at a small bull. Too bad the ol boy didn’t end better though, he’d of make a great mount in your office.

    2. Keith says

      Great read! I too had the hunt of a lifetime in the fall of 2005 on my first archery elk hunt in Colorado. I wrote about it on my blog too. Nothing better than watching the sun rise on golden aspens while the bulls are screaming. Leaves me with only one thought…God is Good!

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