It all started in 2009 with an invite from my best friend Jay to go hunting with him. At the time I was more into going wheeling, camping and fishing. And well you could say hunting was not even a thought in my mind.
I did not own a bow nor did I put too much thought into owning one. So I decided to go and push elk for him. It was a good team effort with the day ending in 5 direct hits on a big branch bull elk. 1 pass through and 4 good hits. We tracked that elk for 6 miles and somehow lost him. Not the best day for a hunter to say the least, but when my buddy drew back and shot that elk is when I got the itch to become a better bow hunter then him.
With the support of my wife I decided to give bow hunting a go. In 2010 I got my tags and I borrowed my buddy’s spare 90’s Bengal and the practice began. I got good enough to go into the field and try my luck. A guy learns really quickly how hard one has to work to get a good kill.
The first week is nothing less than awesome. My buddy pops a doe opening day, she was fat and healthy full of meat. Now I can’t remember if it was the same weekend or the one after but we wake up well before the sun starts to creep up. Optimistic as I am we ate our breakfast, sent up and check our gear. Ready to rock 30 min before day break we headed out on a day that will stick with me for years to come.
About 200 maybe 300 yards into our walk we hear sticks breaking in the distance, the faint glimmer of sun light to the side revealed the ass end of about 12 elk crossing the road and they were on a mission. No shot to be had because we are on a road we split up to try to box them in. That’s when I learned how fast, smooth and smart them animals truly are.
I knew I was in over my head and not at all prepared for what was in store for me that day. Needless to say we lost that heard. Not to be discouraged we pushed on. About 20 min later there was another crashing 75 yards up a clear cut in some slash piles. Big black bear pushing on some logs making his presence known, so not having a gun and not wanting to get torn up we move on.
About 6 miles into our walk we decide to take a break and come up with a game plan. We were talking about splitting up and taking a mile loop to meet up in hopes of moving some elk to one person or the other. With the plan set and starting to part ways it happened, about 60 yards split up in opposite direction the big blond 3point elk stands up from his bed and starts to run. Im in a state of shock, not knowing what I need to do I toss out a cow call and as quick as I squeezed that hoochy mama Mr. Bull hit the skids with dust running past him.
I stood there like a statue waiting for my buddy to take a shot, only he is about 75 yards from me and the bull. I’m thinking to myself that it’s my time to shine. My buddy is watching all of this unfold right in front of me, so in an attempt to get the bull a bit closer he lets out a bugle. Well in the mist of rut that bull wanted a fight and I was no match. That bull starts showing how big and bad he is.as all this is going on I’m throwing cow calls to try and keep him close. This bull does not know what to do. He is running up and down this tree line trying to fight my buddy and um well have his way with the cow he thinks is nearby.
This bull is stomping his front legs into the ground stirring up clouds of dust, running his rack through the brush tossing up grasses and anything else it catches. He is bugling so loud it almost hurts my ears. I’m still in shock, and standing there for what seemed ages. This display went on for about 5 min and at my amazement I still had no shot I was good with taking.
At last he moves into a spot that is just prime. There was a cut out in some bushes he walked behind; it looked like a prefect target. So I drew back this borrowed bow, took a breath and doubted myself. That ended it right there. I released my arrow at 40 yards and over his back it went. That elk trotted off to about 80+ yards from me and it was done. A perfect miss, I could still hear that elk yelling as he moved his way deeper and deeper into the thick woods, crashing through the brush as if he were saying. Nice try but you are going home empty handed.
My buddy walks up to me kicking the ground all sorts of mad telling me I should have flung my whole quiver at him. But when I made the choice to pick up a bow and hunt with it, I also made a promise to myself that I will never take a radical, unknowing, crazy shot. I wanted to hunt with pride and be sure, and if I could not do this then I will go for the next one and know I still did the best I could.
That day was one of seen but could not shoot, could shoot but did not want to get eaten and did shoot but did not go crazy in a last ditch effort to say I shot six arrows at a big elk but don’t know what happened. It’s our actions that define us as a good hunter and our choices that make us great hunters. That day we did not bring meet home, and that’s ok because I brought back a day to remember for the rest of my life.