Don't Hesitate: Aggressively
Prepare for a Shot Opportunity
It’s one thing to be able to get a rifle up and aimed at the right time. Getting a bow pulled back and held until the right moment is much harder. Aggressive reaction with a rifle is needed, too. There have been times that I have missed an opportunity with a rifle, because I was not fast enough to find a rest.
I carry bi-pod shooting sticks now and keep them ready to go, often in my hand, fully extended. Practice getting these set up, so the moment doesn’t evaporate before you can shoot. I also use a
rather than putting my rifle over my shoulder. My arms never tire of carrying a rifle at-the-ready.
With a bow, most of us have been “caught with our bows down” more than once. In 2012 I was calling near a no-go fence which separated me from a nice herd bull. I had given up the idea of getting that big bull to cross that fence. There were several nice satellite bulls on my side that I was talking to.
My shooting lanes were set up without too much exposure of my position. I was listening to bulls talking back to me and trying to make sure they would have to come within bow range of my calling position, before they could determine there was no cow there. Then the bull across the fence stepped out in the wide open.
I hadn’t prepared for that. He was about 60 yards away and walking straight to me. He had my calling position pegged. There was no cover between us. He was looking for a cow around me. I was kneeling and well camouflaged in
I made the wrong decision to not draw in hopes that he would go to one side or the other after he got into the trees with me, giving me an opportunity for an unseen draw and a lung shot. Nope! He walked straight up to me, stopped and stared at me from 10 feet away.
He didn’t know what I was, but my bow was not drawn and he now knew there was no cow there. He did a relaxed 180 and walked right back where he came from. You can’t shoot, if your bow is not drawn with your eye looking through the peep and sight ring!
Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda
If I had drawn as soon as I saw him, he might have caught my movement and turned back. So? At least he wouldn’t have walked right up to me and breathed on me, while I sat there wishing my bow and arrow were deployed.
There was a good chance that I would have gotten away with slowly drawing my bow while he was still out at 60 yards looking my way. I've gotten away with that before. If he had walked straight up to me, like he did, I could have waited for him to turn around. I could have easily placed an arrow in his lung area before he finished his turn. He was only a few feet away.
That kind of thing has happened too many times to me. This year I determined to be more aggressive in being prepared for the shot. There is always that fear that you will get caught holding your bow too long, spoiling accuracy with fatigue. There is a video of that happening toward the
bottom of this page.
If You Get Stuck at Full Draw
I was recently discussing this with a friend of mine. He showed me how he dealt with situations where his bow was drawn, but the elk took to long to step into the open, or present broadside. He firmly tucks the bottom cam of his fully drawn bow on the outside of his thigh. (Left thigh for right-hand draw, right thigh for left-hand draw.) At the same time, he puts his finger behind the release trigger for safety and tucks his release hand tightly into his neck. That way the neck and thigh are holding much of the weight of the draw. It just takes a little movement down (8-12”), then back up for the shot.
If you aren’t drawn, you can’t shoot! If you wait until an elk is letting you look into his nostrils, the memories are priceless, but the regret is painful!
On the 16th of September of this year, I arrowed a bull at five yards. I didn’t get much time to set up. I remember thinking, “I will not be sitting here with my bow down, when this bull is standing in front of me!” That video is on the same page mentioned above
(scroll down on that page).
Learn What They are Saying and What to Say to Them!
I can’t tell you how instructive
Elk Nut’s Playbook and Sounds of the Elk CD
are! That’s why I sell them on this site. If you spend some time with them, you will literally know what the bulls (or cows) are saying and why. You will learn what to say back and what not to say. You will also have many effective “plays” in your head (and in your pants pocket) for how to proceed based on the scenarios you find yourself in.
I knew from what that bull was saying in the dark before I called to him that he was alone. I responded appropriately. I knew by what I heard after I called that he was going to come and that I could sit silently and wait. If he had indicated he was with cows when he told me “come here!”, I would have moved close to him. When he said, “show me!”, I made him come see. He did, and my bow was drawn!
The next time you have a “close encounter of the herd kind”, will your shooting sticks be folded in your back pocket? Will your bow string be relaxed with all your arrows in the quiver?
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