Journal Entry #5 - Wednesday, September 3
Today was bitter sweet. I shot a bull. I thought I had my first bull kill; however, after tracking him for eight hours and losing blood, we bid him farewell with the hopes he would recover from the wound I left behind. Here is what happened ...
We arrived at the meadow just as the early morning light broke the veil of darkness. With enough light to let us peer into the meadow before us, Troy noticed that elk were already grazing up through the open. The original plan was to cross the meadow and nestle in a corner pocket. It's amazing how plans quickly change. We dropped our gear, unloaded the cow decoy, unsealed the new packet of cow wafers and I nocked an arrow. It all happened so fast! Troy situated himself directly behind me, tucked inside a big pine tree that I was using for cover. As he began to cow call, the bull quickly responded with a sing-songy bugle. It sounded like he was either love sick, or couldn't remember how to get his bugle voice working. I started to laugh a little, as I thought to myself, "that was the most unique bugle I've ever heard!" The calling sequence went back and forth for several minutes. Finally, Troy let out an authoritative call cow, that could only mean one thing ... "Come HERE!" The bull started running right at us.
Troy promptly let me know, "Emily, get ready! He's running toward us. I can see him!"
I took two deep breaths and sat at the ready. If he came high, I was going to have to time when I drew my bow back as he crossed the pine above me, which would give me about a 30 yard shot, depending on where he stood. If he came low, I would have to be quick with drawing back and hope he didn't see me. I had my 60, 50, 30 and 20 yards clearly marked on the lower section. I knew the top pine was about 37 yards with the lowest tree at 20 yards, so it was going to be a 20-37 yard shot, depending on where he stood.
He came high. I waited for the right time to draw.
As soon as he slowly crossed the 20 yard pine tree above me, I drew. As he walked past, Troy stopped him with a cow call. I settled my pin and chose red. It was my 30 yard pin. I watched as my arrow sunk in perfectly as far as left and right goes, but knew instantly that my arrow found a mark that was a little high. Instantly, I wanted to throw up. With the upwards angle, I knew that a high shot was not a good thing.
My sweet husband stayed optimistic for me all morning and afternoon, as we searched for hours on end, finally concluding he was still alive. He never laid down to rest. He walked for over a mile. We found my arrow around mid-morning, covered in blood, laying on an open trail. The bull had reached back and pulled it out. Feeling a mixture of emotions at this moment because with the shot placement and blood trail we were working with, it was likely that the shot wasn't fatal. We reviewed the video footage over and over again. Initially I was hoping I caught that top lung, but even if I did, it was most likely only one lung. A shot that a big bull elk can certainly live through.
It was a tough day! After circling and griding the area where we last found blood, and coming up empty, I agreed to start heading back to the truck before the cover of darkness closed around us. I hate to see an animal suffer and that is what happened today. My heart was heavy, weighing me down. Steps filled with sadness carry more weight than that of a pack frame filled with meat. The good thing is that my bull will most likely live through the experience, but the encounter from this morning will leave us both with scars. I could hardly sleep last night because I was so excited to hunt today, now I'm wondering if tonight I will get any sleep at all ... I keep seeing that arrow hit high and replaying it over and over again.
As we were sitting around the campfire, the PA boys showed up. Curtis shot a bull and needed help finding him. After filling their bellies with elk lasagna, I wished them good luck and crawled into my sleeping bag. Troy grabbed a flashlight, knives and gps, then ventured off into the darkness in search of another blood trail. He came back to camp around 1:30, with a sore back and bloody hands. This time, the bull was recovered, quartered and hung, like it is supposed to happen.
I drifted off to sleep, with a wound on my heart and sadness for a bull out there somewhere on the mountain slope, wondering and hoping that he would bugle again.
As fate would have it, this wasn't the last encounter we would have with this bull.
The story continues ...
From the Draw
A website devoted to sharing bowhunting stories. From the draw in the mountains to the draw on paper, the moments live on.