Stop the Bull!

by Sam

I've been hesitant to tell my story, because it hurts every day. I think about it every day! This is not a success story.

The first year I elk hunted, third day out I called in a nice 5x5. Ranged him at 23 yards, broadside, & standing still I release my arrow. Thinking how great it was to have just killed a nice bull elk in my first year of bow hunting elk. After all how can you miss at 23 yards.

I sat down and waited a hour, then walked over to start tracking, only to find my arrow stuck in a oak tree! Fast forward to this year. Third day out early afternoon, my guide and me locate a bull on top of the mountain, we set up so I have a shooting lane to my left and right.

We work on this bull for two hours, calling. It all happened so fast, the bull is above me way to my right, he's screaming his head off. Next thing I know he's 50 yards to my left, screaming, I see two cows to my left following the edge of the clearing, I now know he's coming, I readied my self, I range the same tree I've ranged 40 times in the last two hours. the tree is still at 24 yards, it has not moved.

I look up and all I can see coming through a stand of small pine trees is horns! At twelve yards he's coming right at me! He starts to come through a opening between two pine trees, he stops, looks right at me, all I can think of is wow!

He backs up and goes behind the pine tree. I get my composure back and go to full draw, I make sure my form is good, looking through my peep, using my twenty yard pin, cow call is in my mouth, as I'm aiming, I can't get a clear shot because of all the sapling trees are covering his vitals, I see a opening, I take the shot, hit a branch, deflected the arrow.

Five minutes later he's bugling his head off at the top of the mountain. I did not stop him! 24 yards broadside, and I forgot to stop him. He was a pope and young herd bull my guide just called down the mountain. I forgot to stop him.

I'll never make that mistake again, but I wonder what other mistake I'll make next! It hurts, but I would not trade the memory of staring down a herd bull at twelve yards for nothing. Remember, Stop the bull. Bulls 2 Sam 0.

I'll be back. Can't wait till next year! Any other sob stories out there?

Comments for Stop the Bull!

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Mar 24, 2011
Been there. Done that!
by: Dave- MT ElkHuntingTips

We've all made the same kind of mistakes, or we haven't been hunting elk for very long! Good luck next year!


Jan 01, 2011
Don't feel alone, Sam
by: Pat Cassidy

Sam, it is called Elk Hunting.
A couple of decades ago I was hunting on public lands in Eastern Oregon. I was in good Elk country with lots of fresh sign so I was moving very slowly, listening and smelling. It was a dry year and all the brush and grass made noise when I moved.
This is stamped forever in my memory. I hear moving animals coming down a small slope ahead of me, but screened by thick white fir saplings. Crouching over slightly to see under branches, I see the legs of Elk moving toward me and I raise my rifle halfway to my shoulder and wait. They are coming pretty fast so I don't move because I have no cover. Very fast the group pops out of the saplings and disburses into feeding activity, all of them between 25 and 50 yards from me. I have no cover.
The group is all cows and calves, but I can see some movement back in the saplings so I continue to freeze in my somewhat uncomfortable position. After all, there may be a bull in there. Right about now a pine squirrel starts chirping like crazy 30 feet to my right and I think "That's gonna do it" but the Elk pay no attention. I do not wear camo, preferring blaze orange. I have no cover, a squirrel is cussing me out and a cow is feeding directly toward me. Freeze. Lower my head to where my hat brim is covering my face more and I can just see under it. Wait.
When the cow feeds to within about 30 feet she senses something wrong. The moving air is in my favor but the "bush" in front of her looks strange. She starts doing all the little things Elk do to check out danger: raises her head and sniffs, puts her head down to feed and jerks it back up and stares at me, spins around and trots about 15 feet and spins to face me again. I continue to freeze and crouch. No cheating...she will know. Finally, after an eternity, she shakes her body and starts feeding to my left as if nothing happened. I convinced her I was no danger.
Now the hard part. The Elk in the saplings have not moved for a while and I am not even sure they are still there. I continue to freeze and crouch, no cheating. The squirrel cusses and the Elk feed. Time passes and holding position gets more and more difficult. Eyes are everywhere. Movement in the saplings! I hold my position and keep my eyes on the movement that turns into a Bull Elk coming out to feed. Now I gotta get the gun to my shoulder without alerting the others that are still from 15 to 70 yards from me. I move slowly, slowly and put the crosshairs behind the shoulder of the Bull and pull the trigger.

Later, doing the hindsight thing, I figure that I had been in a crouched position with a partially raised rifle for about one hour. An eternity for stressed arms, back and mind. I blame the squirrel too. I missed. I missed a Bull Elk standing broadside at 60 yards with a scope-sighted rifle. I must not have squeezed the trigger but jerked it. Hard.

A lesson in Elk hunting Sam, so don't feel alone.

Jan 01, 2011
by: Dave MI

Great story. Would like to have one of my own. BTW, how'd that oak tree taste?

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