Jay's November Archery Elk Re-Cap: Success comes in many forms
Well its been a while since my hunt ended but I thought I would do a quick recap of how it went:
I had put in for this hunt for simply one reason, I was building a house and had my fingers crossed that I would be done in time to actually hunt. Well we ended up finishing the house the weekend of Halloween and before the paint could dry I headed out for a couple weeks of scouting before the hunt.
My original plan for this hunt was to glass and spot and stalk during the mornings and day time and sit water at night. Only problem was that a few weeks before we had gotten a descent amount of precipitation and most tanks were full. I had set trail cams up in the weeks leading up to the hunt and had some descent bulls coming in but the only problem was that it was in the middle of the night. Nothing was coming in during daylight hours.
My scouting had helped me come up with an area I was planning to hunt first. The area held a good amount of elk and I was seeing upwards of 30 bulls a sitting. This area had 2 bulls that I considered shooters on this hunt. One of them I could find almost every evening after work, so I decided that he was the bull I was going to go after.
He wasn't the biggest bull I had seen in my scouting trips but the fact that I could find him everyday, and the fact that I had limited time to hunt do to work, I would have been perfectly fine taking him, especially on this challenging of a hunt.
Opening weekend came and just past first light we spotted him. I knew exactly the area that he bedded everyday and quickly got my things put together and bailed off the hill to go cut him off.
As I enter a small burn area on my way to get ahead of this bull it sounded like helicopters taking off to my right. I look over to see approximately 15 turkeys taking off. I must have spooked them as I left the timber. They headed directly toward the bull I was stalking....
I reached the small meadow where this bull usually enters from and waited. I slipped through the thick PJ country but never did see that bull. I called Ron to see if he still had the bull in sight. Unfortunately those turkeys landed right next to that bull spooking him a few hundred yards towards his bedding area causing him to bed a little earlier.... I was within 80 yards of him but didn't know it. For those of you that have hunted the Pinion and juniper flats you know that you can be right on top of an animal and not know it.
We glassed throughout the day and were into elk all day, unfortunately never saw anything I was wanting to go after.
The next morning the bull was in the same spot and again went in for the stalk. Ended up timing it wrong and just missed him again but was even closer....
Hunting during the week after work was tough. I sat some tanks but never had any bulls come in.
The next weekend Ron and Rob both came back up. The plan was basically the same as the weekend before except this time I would start out at the bottom and head to the back of the meadow they always crossed through with Rob and Ron as my eyes in the sky. I had my fingers crossed that no one had spooked that bull to bad and had changed his pattern.
I was about half way to the spot when I got word from Ron that the bull was spotted and heading towards his bedding area. I got into position and as soon as I did I spotted him, feeding right toward me. It was him and another descent 5X5. I got my range finder accessible and an arrow knocked preparing for the two bulls to walk within 15 yards of me. they got to about 80 yards and made an abrupt turn to the right. The wind was right so they didn't wind me. They just started heading toward the thick brushy confines of their bedding area. I slowly cut the distance as they walked behind junipers and finally got to a point that I could not cover anymore ground. I steadied, ready to take a long shot, but I was comfortable with it. I drew my bow, made a cow call with my lips to stop the bull. He looked over in my direction, I settled the pin in its place and touched the trigger on my release.....
That's when I felt the string grab my coat sleeve as it came down sending my arrow low and to the left missing the bull completely. I watched as he disappeared into the thick brush on his way to the next unit.... I was sick. Ive missed stuff before, everyone has missed stuff before and every time it freaking sucks. Everything went just about perfect until the final moment, but guess what?....that's bow hunting.
The rest of the day consisted of glassing in gale force winds. We were into elk though, which just goes to show, don't go back to camp midday! Especially in a full moon situation. Had a few close calls sneaking in on bedded bulls but never did get another shot.
The next day the weather rolled in dropping a few inches of the white stuff. The wind was blowing so hard its amazing the stuff actually stuck to the ground. We made a valid attempt this day but the weather was brutal and it put those elk in hiding.
So, as the hunt wound down and finally ended it turned my stomach every time I would picture that arrow skipping past that bull, but it also made me look at the big picture.
I figured that bull out. I found him everyday, I knew what he was gonna do and when he was going to do it. As with many hunts it really takes you a few days to fine tune an assault that puts you in a position of being successful, and I did it. Unfortunately, I biffed the shot but other than that 2 percent of the equation I figured it out. That compiled with a fun time with some great friends, in my opinion, it was a very successful hunt..