Birthday Bull - My first archery bull (Pics and Video)

GearJunky

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Aug 7, 2014
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165
I am not the greatest writer, so I will do my best to try and do this story justice!

I have been hunting in Montana all of my life, always dreaming of one day getting a big bull. I committed to the idea of learning the art of archery hunting about 12 years ago and have been seriously hunting for elk the past 10 years with no luck. This past week I had the great privilege of hunting 7 days with my two long-time hunting buddies and my Dad as "camp cook". The trip was amazing, we had lots of close encounters with elk and we all had multiple times where things should have worked out, but they just didn't. We hunt public land, and you all know the struggles. Over the past two years, we have become huge fans of the ElkNut and learning his art of calling. So despite the open country we hunt, we have been trying to bring elk to us, rather than trying the ninja sneaking method.

After 6 days of hunting, we were burnt out and pretty deflated. The following day was 9/24, our last day to hunt, and my birthday! As we sat around camp that night we discussed potential plans. I knew I had to leave camp around noon in order to get home to my son's football game, so I proposed we try a "short" hunt and try a water hole that sits right along a private boundary. We know the elk pile onto this private ranch, so the idea was to leave early and begin calling in the dark... Hoping a distant bull would hear our calls and eventually work his way into our drainage for a morning drink. As we arrived, the sounds of elk calling were unreal, we knew that a large herd had to be nearby. (The drainages run north/south, so we would need to convince an elk to walk to the furthest east drainage before they headed north to bed. All the drainages originate on private land). We set up, me on the west side of the water and my buddy on the east side. We called, and we called, eventually we reached shooting light. About this point, I could no longer take it and I left my position to climb up onto a high point above me to see if we were making any progress. From the new vantage point, I still could not see any elk, but I could tell the large herd was moving north to their bedding ground parallel to our drainage and staying on private. I began calling from this location hoping our noise would carry further onto the ranch. After just a minute or so of calling, I looked down below me and I have a spike walking below me at 30 yards. My bow is sitting in the dirt about 10 feet from me. By the time I sneak to my bow and get to full draw, the spike is now 22 yards and closing. As I settle my pins on his shoulder, I realize with the steep angle of the hillside I no longer have a clear ethical shot. The spike spots me as I try to readjust and bolts back to where he came from.

Full of excitement and feeling somewhat let down, I resumed calling. With all the bulls still screaming to our west, I gave up calling for a bit and started glassing. About a mile out into private I spotted a good bull slowly working his way east. He was walking in the right direction and was coming in solo. I began directing my calls right down the drainage towards him, just praying he would hear me and continue up our drainage. As I saw the bull loop around and into the bottom of our drainage, I quickly ran down the hill and set up in my original spot. I tried to give my buddy hand signals across the way, but there was no way to describe the situation with only hand gestures. After a few moments, I could see the bull slowly walking up our drainage and my heart began to pound out of my chest! The bull eventually stepped up onto the dike that separated my buddy and me, he was 36 yards from me and I was already standing at full draw (probably would have been a 70+ yard shot for my buddy). The shot was a perfect double lung shot and the bull turned and ran 60 yards where he flopped over backward and sunk his horns down into a mud pit. My buddy was able to watch the bull go down and give me some hand gestures to indicate what had happened. We eventually both walked out to the middle of the dike and greeted each other with huge hugs and big smiles.

We could see the bull wasn't going anywhere and with bugles still ringing out, we decided to set up and keep calling. After about 30 more minutes of calling we could hear that the distant heard had turned straight East and was going to come in up over the high point, I had been sitting. I can't really describe what happened next. Elk began to appear everywhere as they began to file in up over a ridge and down to our water hole. 3 different large bulls would make there way into us and sadly my buddy could just not ever get a clear shot (one bull was 12 yards). Eventually, cows on the hillside spotted our location and whirled and took the heard out of the area. It had been almost 2 hours of pure elk madness before we eventually walked over to see what type of bull I had shot. As we approached my bull, my buddy said: "I have to just peek over the ridge one more time, to see if there are any elk". He only made it up the hill about 30 yards behind me and another big 6x6 magically appeared in the bottom of the drainage coming right at my elk. With no place for me to hide, I ended up laying across my dead bull as this elk walked in. The bull presented a clear 70 yard shot to my buddy, but due to our proximity to a private boundry, he opted to not shoot. After this, the real work began. My 3rd hunting partner eventually joined us later in the morning to hear the stories and help with the pack out. We never laid eyes on even half the elk we called in that day, but during the pack out another hunter walked down the drainage. He was friends with the ranch owner and said that there was roughly 300 head of elk feeding in the area the night before!!

After the dust settled... my buddy told me he filmed the whole thing - I also captured some of the madness and his full draw encounter at 12 yards. Here are the highlights!!

I am extremely grateful to my buddies for an amazing trip and all the help - couldn't have done it without you guys. A big thanks to my Dad for holding down camp, you are the one that started this addiction all those years ago! And to my older Brother who passed away two years ago, thank you for the birthday present, I don't believe this was luck!!!


Edit update: Sadly, due to people using my pictures and videos to discover where this elk was killed, I have decided to remove all pictures and videos! Enjoy the story and happy hunting to all.... PS think long and hard before posting pictures online!
 
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SAJ-99

Well-known member
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Jan 5, 2019
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Location
E Washington
Congrats on the birthday bull. Awesome story.
The write-up was good. My only suggestion is to try to break it up into smaller pieces. To a reader, a 1000+ word paragraph is daunting.
 

BraidenR

Member
Joined
Aug 17, 2018
Messages
81
Location
Utah
My birthday is coming up. Perhaps I can great gift like that.. Wait, NO I have to work.

Congratulations on a Great bull
 

Bambistew

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Joined
Dec 10, 2002
Messages
6,549
Location
Chugiak, AK
Congrats! Thats a great bull, and awesome video. I was yelling at the guy filming to SHOOT, then saw the arrow hit from the other side. hahaha.
 
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2rocky

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Joined
Jul 23, 2010
Messages
3,368
After 10 years you earned that beauty of a bull. There are guys that have killed 10 elk who never got one that big!

Ain't it great when stuff goes right?
 
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