Archery Elk Hunting…. Misery, Elation, Pure Joy
I was excited about Idaho archery elk season this year.
I elk hunted the first few days of Idaho archery season pretty hard and passed up a few cows and small bulls, but it was pretty slow compared to last year. On the third day, we got up early and worked a few bulls. I even got a shot at a REALLY, REALLY nice bull that morning. I judged him for 40 yards but he was 47… oops. I should have used my rangefinder. I had all of the time in the world. I sat in camp for a few hours that afternoon nursing my wounds. I was pretty disappointed in myself. There was no excuse for missing that bull. I know I’ll re-live that moment for years.
I took a short nap, got up at 3:00 in the afternoon and headed up The Canyon to sit on a wallow for the evening. I got to the wallow at around 5:00, and set up 30 yards from it at the edge of a small clearing. I had only been there for about five minutes when I decided to cow call. Immediately, a bull answered a few hundred yards away. I didn’t really think much of it, but it was nice to know something was in the area. A few minutes later, I cow called again and the bull bugled again at half the distance, he was now only about 150 yards away and the ole’ heart was starting to beat a little more quickly. I quickly grabbed my rangefinder and ranged some landmarks: the far side of the meadow was 52 yards; there was a lone burned-out tree at 40 yards; and the wallow was 30 yards exactly.
I had just put down my rangefinder and picked up my bow when I saw movement in the burned timber about 75 yards away. The bull bugled again as he trotted through the trees, crossed the creek, and stopped at the other side of the meadow… 52 yards. A million thoughts raced through my mind: I set myself up in a STUPID spot… there is no way that I can draw my bow unseen unless the elk walks behind the burned out tree, and the odds of that aren’t very high; He’s a nice bull… there is something wrong with the right side, but he’s big, I’m shooting; I feel the wind hit the back of my neck… Switch! Please switch… Pleeeeeease I silently plead… it switches… WHEW!.
Elation! Excitement! Pure joy! I’m glad that no one was there with a video camera, because they’d be able to blackmail me with the silent little dance that I did.
It seemed like he stood there and bugled forever, but I think it was only a few seconds. Finally he started walking towards me again and for reasons I’ll never know, he walked behind that burned-out tree. As soon as his eye disappeared, I drew my bow… 40 yards. He walked from behind the tree and came straight towards me, bugling the whole way. I thought, “as long as the wind stays, he’s mine”. He keeps walking and bugling, and I’m just waiting for him to turn broadside into the wallow so I can shoot. I’m thinking “man, he’s got to be getting close“. Looking through my peep, I couldn’t tell how close, so I look out of the corner of my eye at the wallow, 30 yards away. He’s halfway between the wallow and me! 15 yards! Close! What happened next felt like slow motion. He stops and turns his head uphill to the left (his left) and bugles. I put my 20 yard pin low on his chest… steady as a rock, and shoot. My arrow buries clear to the fletches in his chest. He grunts and whirls around to the right, running back the way he came. I calmly put down my bow and pick up my binoculars, but he only made it 75 yards and piled up. Dead. Awesome! I’m not so calm now. Elation! Excitement! Pure joy! I’m glad that no one was there with a video camera, because they’d be able to blackmail me with the silent little dance that I did.
After my little celebration, I walk up to the bull. He’s big, really big. I knew he was a good Idaho archery bull, but I didn’t think he was that big. He doesn’t score that well, but if the broken side matched the good side, he’d be 340 or so. A great bull. What a day!
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