Thursday, September 23, 2010

All Alone

So Bill cashed in all of his luck for the year last night when he shot his elk.  He and Jared are engaged in the daunting task of packing 200+ pounds of meat down the mountain.  The two of them are doing the butchering and hauling and have left me alone to hunt.  This morning I hiked across the mountain before sunrise to hunt the  north facing aspect.  Shortly after sunrise, I was into some really fresh sign and before I realized it, I had managed to sneak into the middle of a small herd of elk moving down the mountain.  Still committed to shooting the first legal elk I could, I found myself ranging a cow at 31 yards from behind a tree.  While I was getting situated for a shot, the cow suddenly went on alert and looked downhill.  Peeking around the tree, I could see another animal charging uphill.  It didn't take long to realize this was a large bull elk, at first all I could see was a massive 6x6 rack advancing through the timber.  The bull bugled once directly below me then began to hook a tree.  At this point I did not have a clear shot at the bull, but before I could even stop shaking he bolted uphill and stopped exactly where I had just ranged the cow I originally intended to shoot.  There he hooked another tree and turned quartering towards me, presenting a decent shot.  I was shaking so bad I could not even get my release attached to the bowstring.  As I drew, the bull spotted me and froze quartering towards me at exactly 31 yards and I shot.  Hearing the noise from the shot the entire herd of animals (9-10) took-off down the mountain.  The bull bucked and surged forward 10-15 yards and stopped.  At this point, all I could see was his head and rack, he began licking his front quarter then disappeared below me.  This would be the last time I laid eyes on him.  After collecting myself and calming my nerves, I walked down to where the bull was standing when I shot.  I found my arrow about five yards beyond the spot.  My heart sank when I saw the arrow.  I had hit the bull and had decent blood and hair on the arrow, but only 7-8" of penetration.

A quiver of well used arrows!  Left arrow was shoulder shot on elk (note 7-8" of blood) .  The rest helped to reduce the grouse population.
After about 30-40 minutes, I started down the mountain and immediately picked up a blood trail.  Hoping for the best, but expecting the worse, I began to track the bull.  For the first half mile, things looked promising, the blood trail was steady with the occasional small pool.  Down the mountain, across the creek, through a swamp and along side a mountain park (sounds like Bears in the dad!) I found decent blood.  After several hours and nearly a mile of tracking it just stopped!  The last spot was a half-dollar sized splash of  blood on a deadfall.  I made several casts in all directions praying to find more blood or the animal.  No luck!!!  As evening set in, it was at that moment, I realized my poor shot was going to haunt me for a long time.  I am guessing if the shot had been 4-5" to the right, this story would have a happy ending and horns on the wall.        

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