Harvesting a bull elk was not what Bob expected when he set out on a three day hunt for Mule Deer. The Metolious Unit is home to Mule Deer and a few Rocky Mountain Elk, so while harvesting a Mule Deer was his goal, he considered the slight possibility that he could encounter some elk.
Bob had marked several locations on a map where he believed a Mule Deer buck could be located. He was driving to his second location when he spotted fresh elk tracks in the dirt road. He parked, grabbed his bugle and followed the tracks up a path. Two minutes later, he heard the familiar sound of a bugle in the timber below.
He quietly worked his way toward the sound when he spotted a cow elk crossing an opening in front of him. He could hear other sounds of elk moving in the timber and decided to bugle. He got an immediate response from a bull in a brushy thicket just twenty yards away but couldn’t see the animal.
The bull moved away and crossed an opening which would have left Bob exposed if he tried to follow it. The wind started shifting and he decided to back out and come back when the air currents stabilized. One o’clock rolled around and Bob planned a new approach based on the new stable air current.
It didn’t take long to relocate the herd of elk. Again, Bob spotted a cow which tipped him off that the herd was nearby. He let out a mild bugle and started shaking a young sapling. It was then that a bull appeared and disappeared in the timber as it approached. Bob drew an arrow just as the bull strolled into the open, broadside, at 35 yards.
The rapidity of the approaching bull did not give Bob time to get settled for a perfect shot. The arrow struck the animal further back than was ideal. It was late afternoon so he decided to back out of the area and give the bull plenty of time to expire. Early the next morning he went back to the location of the shot and found a trail of blood.
He found the bull only 40 yards from where he took the shot. It had been a cold night and the warm body indicated it died in the early morning hours. Rigor mortis was setting in. One thing that needs to be mentioned is that Bob immediately began cow calling to the bull after he shot it. This stopped the bull, calmed him down, and kept Bob from an extensive tracking endeavor.
Giving the animal extra time to expire before tracking, with less than an ideal hit, is very important for recovery. And while one may have plans to pursue a particular species, bring alternative gear for any other big game tags in your possession, because you just never know.