Well, it finally came together for me a couple of weeks ago. I really can’t believe how it all unfolded. After growing up hunting deer, this is my first elk and first animal with a bow. I was blessed to harvest a nice 6×6 taken from 10 yards (treestand) with a Hoyt Alpha Max 35, Easton FMJ arrows and Grim Reaper 100 grain. It couldn’t have happened any better, truly. As a good friend of mine said,
“Crazy how you work your butt for that moment and it’s over in a split second. Then as you stand there and take it all you think. Damn. Now the real work begins.“
Truer words have not been spoken.
I’ve worked very hard this year and last at bowhunting, to the point of darn near driving my wife and business partner nuts. But they are two of the coolest people I know – understanding and committed to the core for my passion of chasing elk with my bow.
Here’s how it all went down:
I had been out in the Uinta Mountains all morning and pulled a rookie move, missing a great chance at a nice bull when I bumped him and his cows from their beds in the timber, not 10 minutes from the car. So when my buddy Bill called and wanted me to head out for the evening hunt in the extended Wasatch area just east of Salt Lake City I wanted to go so bad but the amount of work on my plate, my looming trip to Canada the next day and the fact my kids and wife haven’t seen much of me had me ready to decline…until my wife basically pushed me out the door, camo in hand and said I should really go since Bill doesn’t get out to hunt much at all. I love that woman!!
There’s an old treestand in this area that I sat in last year for about an hour but lost my patience. Then a few days before taking my bull I sat in it and called in a spike, only to have him hold up long enough for it to get too dark to shoot as it walked out broadside at 25 yards. I knew if I had tried to shoot and didn’t hit good, I would have never found it and that wasn’t something worth the risk. So I held off.
As we climbed up the mountain that evening I told Bill and Justin that I was going to the top to sit in the treestand. They said something to the effect of “ah man, bad call. You’re not going to see anything up there”. I had a good feeling about it.
I got settled in and only had an hour of daylight left when I heard an elk thrashing trees about 200 yards out. I cow called and he started coming in, thrashing along the way…but after a few minutes that promptly stopped. Looking at my watch showed that it was 7:15. I thought, “A lot can happen in 45 min, just relax”. I stopped calling as I thought I was spooking him off or something.
7:30 rolled around and nothing. I was starting to doubt. 7:45 and the light was dimming, something had to happen quick. Getting desperate, or finally humble, I offered up a little prayer of “please let me have one shot, just one shot” and I kid you not, within 1 minute it happened. I heard a sound behind me (down hill, the treestand faces uphill) and low and behold he came out of the trees on my right 40 yards below me. I thought he would just pass through the opening and into the thick trees to the left but just then he turned, head down and started to head uphill! I think he was following the same trail I had walked in on and remembered I had masked my scent with some cow urine placed on a gun cleaning patch and tucked under my shoe lace. He was headed uphill and fast.
I grabbed my bow, stood up slowly as he closed in, and while he rounded the tree I drew back. He magically stopped exactly uphill from the tree, 10 yards away, perfectly broadside. I couldn’t believe it. As I lined it up I thought I saw a branch from a bush in front of the bread basket so I slowly tipped my head away from the peep to be sure. Yep, a little branch from a scrub oak brush. Just then he took another half step forward as I tipped my head back to the peep, putting my 20 yard pin mid ship and let it fly, striking him squarely in the lungs. He erupted, spun and charged downhill with the arrow was sticking out about 8″. I cow called, hunkered down, and as I was peering through the limbs of the tree to watch him he slowed down at about 45 yards and stopped. He stood there momentarily, staggered like a drunken sailer and tipped over, kicking as he rolled the first two time and the third coming to a rest. (I later saw that the arrow went in and through both lungs stopping against a rib bone on the far side) My first bow kill down and a fine bull at that!!
(click the images to see them larger)
I just kept saying “thank you, thank you, thank you” and did a number of fist pumps trying not to pitch off the treestand. I waited for a few minutes, untied and climbed down, whistling for my buddy to come over from where he was sitting. I knew he was dead so we walked right up to him as the last glimpses of light faded from the sky. Since we were lucky to be close to the truck Mark and Paul said they would hike in to meet us and Justin and Bill headed down to get bigger packs, some water and extra headlamps.
There I was alone with my elk. He was majestic and I felt so fortunate, so blessed to have all my hard work and hours of hunting pay off in such an incredible way. I said a prayer of thanks and began the work at hand. (Gotta say thanks to the guys that put together the Gutless Elk video on Elk101.com) A long night and some heavy trips to the truck ensued but what an amazing hunt and a beautiful animal and an awesome group of friends to share the load with.
For those wondering, he ended up scoring 303. He busted his 2nd on the right when he rolled but we found the tip and I had it glued back on.