After harassing this bull all afternoon, we finally got to see him crossing a sage meadow with about 25 cows. We watched as they fed away from us heading down a canyon. If their course stayed true we could cut them off ½ mile from camp. The sun was setting and it was worth a try.
We were hopping down a 45-degree side hill when the bull let out a loud bugle, maybe 100 yards away. We quickly found a couple spots in the shadows of the scattered Douglas fir trees. Instantly, a cow elk crested the hill with her head down feeding our way. The evening thermals hit me in the face. We had a chance. One question remained, would we be able to penetrate the cow fortress before our scent gave us away?
Cows began moving lower on the slope with the bull in tow, now 25 yards from my buddy. The bull did not cooperate for a shot, staying in thick cover. Another group of cows began feeding above me, some merely 20 yards away. The stillness of the evening held us riveted, hoping to remain undetected. The elk were now in a horseshoe formation around us.
I watched as the bull slowly followed a cow to an opening. I came to full draw. A cow threw her head up and stared me down. Luckily she began grazing again in about 30 seconds. The bull needed to take a couple of steps before I could release the arrow.
Briefly enter my head for this 200 second ride at full draw: 30 seconds, “I’ve got this, you’re done buddy”; 60 seconds, “This is easy, squeeze the shoulder blades, I’ve got all day”; 90 seconds, “Do it for Hannah (my daughter), kill this bull so you can go home”; 120 seconds, “Bonehead, what did you draw so early for, quit shaking, this is getting tough”; 180 seconds, “Good Lord help me keep this bow at full draw! I think I’ve only got 30 seconds before I will involuntarily let this arrow go”; 200 seconds, the bull cleared the tree, “Don’t rush it, settle that top green pin, slight quarter to, keep it tight to the shoulder, squeeze”. Thwack!
I remember seeing the Victory arrow buried deep to the fletching tight to the shoulder 6 inches above the brisket. Given the angle, it looked good to me! We found the bull, although it was not as easy as planned. All in all, another great ride on the elk hunting roller coaster. Don’t jump off in the middle and you’ll be fine. Perseverance … still the greatest element of success. Thanks for reading!