Please! Don't Keep Shooting when you don't see an elk go down right away!

by anonymous

This of course applies to all big game hunting but especially to "cow elk". Anyone that has hunted these animals knows or should know how incredible tough and strong they are. Don't make the mistake of putting these animals in the size and strength category of a "white tail" or even a nice "muley". Don't expect that cow to just drop when you pull the trigger,don't be surprised she didn't even act like she was hit. These are big animals with a lot of meat and toughness on them. Even when hit in one or more of the vital regions these animals can sometimes travel exceptional distances and in many cases run until they literally run out of blood and drop,so don't assume you didn't hit that animal because it didn't drop.

I've seen too many times when guys start shooting at one animal it doesn't go down so they start shooting at another and so on and pretty soon you have a wounded elk bleeding to death,becoming coyote and raven food,it's a shame.
Some things to keep in the back of our minds should be to focus on one animal,this can be difficult especially if there are a lot of cows in herd. Bulls are a little easier to pick out and identify because of their antlers. But cow's tend to all look the same especially if there are a lot of them.
Focus on one animal and stay with that animal,if you feel like you got off a pretty good shot,you probably did and your prize is probably awaiting you just over that knob. If you're not sure if you hit her and you have a clear shot by all means shoot again but remember just because you think you didn't hit her doesn't mean that you didn't. Don't keep the lead flying especially at multiple animals. Yea it sound's like basic common sense right but you would be surprised how many animals are shot and not recovered.
After the shooting stops, the dust settles and the excitement dies begin to look around, mark the tree or rock where you shot from,visualize where the animal was standing when you shot,mark that area in your mind. Give it a few minutes to process everything that just happened and this will also give an animal some time to bleed out and die. Walk up to the area the animal was standing when you shoot mark this area with some bright tape, mark the area where you last saw the animal, mark any blood spots on the ground,it's good to have plenty of marking when tracking an elk, this will also be very useful getting the animal packed out of there also when you must make multiple trips back to the truck (just remember to pick that tape up later).
Always put great effort into finding a wounded animal,we owe at least that much to these great animals. Too often you see some one that has shot at an animal do a quick once over where they thought the animal should be and when it's not there they go back to hunting or head back to the truck. You people know who I am talking about, not the way to be. Put in your time looking for those animals,sometimes that animal might be just on the next rise but you were too lazy to go that extra 200-300 yards. So that animal died for nothing and your freezer went empty-it happens.

Comments for Please! Don't Keep Shooting when you don't see an elk go down right away!

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Oct 16, 2010
Head shots on elk
by: Dave, MT (ElkHuntingTips.Net)

Personally, I think head shots are a little risky. I don't know. I just know of people who have blown jaws off and the elk keep going somewhere to starve to death.

I think the original statement meant to say make sure you're shooting at the same elk.

Oct 16, 2010
Shot placement
by: Bruce

At the short 75 yard distance I hear quoted, especially if the elk is not moving a head shot would drop it right where it stood. I've shot many deer in the head with an offhand shot (no rest, and with open sights). The head on a deer is much smaller, so the elk head shot at 75 yards should be duck soup especially with a scope (no blood tracking down into a steep valley)!!!

Oct 14, 2009
no bull
by: Anonymous

my bull last year took 2 .30 cal 180 grainers through the shoulder at 75 yards and still ran further than I thought possible I would recomend to keep shooting at the same animal until it goes down mine was running toward a steep rocky area that would have made recovery difficult

Oct 08, 2009
shooting elk
by: Dave

Very good advice and admonition. I have seen cows run off as if nothing connected after the shot, while other cows were standing there shootable, but then found the elk dead. It's easy to think, "I missed. I'll shoot another one." It's especially tempting to keep shooting during one of those firing line hunts off of a hay field at daylight. I choose not to participate in those. I've watched them from a distance. It's not pretty.

If, however, you are sure you are still looking at the elk you shot and there is a clear shot available, take it. Don't take the chance that one of those tough animals will for sure go down soon enough to be found, when you can add some insurance.

Here's an article about responsible follow up: Blood Tracking/Shot Follow-up

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