Help.... What did I do wrong?
This has been my worst nightmare of hunting ever... I have been a hunter for 32 years, I have ALWAYS put pride in making the "ethical shot". I practice, practice, practice all year long so that I can make that shot when presented. This Elk season. I took a 238 yard shot on a 5x4 raghorn bull, with a .300 Win Mag/ with 180grain Winchester Ballistic Silvertip ammunition. I have had a great deal of luck on big mule deer with these bullets, but have yet to put one into an Elk until this season.
I took a good rest, waited for the perfect broadside shot, put my crosshairs just behind the shoulder, touched it off, and THWACK, hit that bull, which turned downhill and crashed out of sight.
I then gather my thoughts, made to trek up the hill to where I shot at the bull, I find blood, bright red blood. LOTS OF BLOOD. I then start to trail the animal. I walk about 60 yards and find a large (4" chunk of bone)in the blood trail. In the dense forest covered in snow I can literally see the blood trail 30 yards ahead of me. I find areas where the bull had fallen over and keep following the trail. I have now gone almost 3/4 of a mile, and no bull. Darkness falls upon me and with no elk I back out and return early the next morning fully expecting to find a dead elk within a 100 yards or so from where I left off.
Instead I find where the bull had bedded up and bled like crazy (still bright red). I continue following still on blood. I have now gone up hill, downhill, side hill, and covered about 2 miles. I spend 9 hours that day searching covering about 4 1/2 miles of mountainside. I caught the bull once and could not get a shot off, so once he bolted on 3 legs, I waited about 45 minutes and started on the trail again hoping he would become exhausted from the blood loss.
Eventually the blood stopped and I could not find the bull. I am completely heart broke knowing that I drew blood and could not or did not recover the animal.
What could I have done better (other than the obvious) of making a better shot) to have recovered the animal. I went slow, I gave it time, can anyone give me some constructive advice?