Last day of the season for me: 6x6 FAIL

Gerbdog

Senior Member
Joined
Jun 8, 2020
Messages
406
Location
CO Springs
Well today was my last day of the season, had lots of ups and had lots of downs this year and not as much time in the woods as i wanted. I wrapped up the wedding i had to attend yesterday, got out to the hunting spot and got up the mountain ASAP, got some bulls to bugle, none came in but i was happy they were vocal.

Wake up this morning and there is a bugle while im making breakfast across the valley where i had never hunted before. So i said why not, i took a guess at where i thought he would bed down and got myself up and level with him on the mountain.

I started silently making my way through the woods, only a few quiet cow calls along the way, towards where i guessed he would be bedding down for the day. I was in no hurry, i knew there was a bull in here, all i had to do was not blow it out. Sure enough not to long into the stalking i hear that raspy bugle about 200 yards in front of me of a mature bull, heck yea!

He fires off and since i had been making low cow calls this whole time i use the excited cow call i saw on elknut/pauls seminar (thanks Paul!), sure enough it worked like a charm, the bull anchored in place and kept bugling for me to hurry my ass up and get over there. So i closed the distance with the excited cow calls and him bugling.

Get to about 50 yards and he bugles one last time, i cow call a couple times, creep forward 10 yards and wait, doesnt take but 1 minute and i see antlers coming through the brush : oh heck yea! its a 6x6! Nothing monstrous but im stoked at this point, its my last day of the season!

He keeps coming down, puts his head behind some trees , i come to full draw, he eyeballs me a little cause he thinks he sees something and then decides nothing worth mentioning there. Starts to graze a bit and turns broadside right in a window at 30 yards.....

I send the arrow on its way of course and then.... was that the sound of a twig? There wasnt a twig there a second ago.... hmmm. Sure enough there was a twig i hadnt seen before i let that arrow fly... and i nicked it.
Cow call the bull a bit to slow him down, he slows, heads back the opposite way he had taken off... but im feeling nervous....

I give it 15 minutes of anxiety and start looking for my arrow... its nowhere to be found, ok... the bull took it with him... thats not so bad, no big deal. Give it another half hour and then I start a small grid and get on some goodish looking blood and start tracking him....

Blood trail is well defined, im not seeing anything bad, smells fine but... not seeing anything frothy.....

After tracking for a mile (yup, im really starting to worry at this point) i find my arrow .... and only about 2 inches are broken off..... Well .... crap.... that twig i couldnt see deflected my shot right into his shoulder.

I spent the next 7 hours tracking the blood trail (it really was pretty good) until it was down to just dribbles, searching on my hands and knees, and then tracking his hoof prints until they mingled with a ton of other elk tracks on a game trail..... and then of course it started to rain ..... I search in a grid for while in the rain but... its looking hopeless and that bull had never bed down.

So ended my archery elk season in CO this year.... I'd always scoffed at people missing a 30 yard shot and now i get to enjoy humble pie for an entire year while that shot replays in my head over and over and over and over and over....

I think the bull will make it, but im considering my tag tapped (doesnt matter anyway, i gotta work the rest of the week) incase he gets an infection or something horrible.

Lessons learned: wait for a REALLY good window and not just a good window... it looked clear but i knew it was a tight window with the surrounding deadfall , growth, etc. and i thought i would make it.... and then there was a twig and a bull long gone. Now ill always be left wondering what if i had just let that bull meander in the area awhile longer? Wind was in my favor... was no real rush.....

Will kick myself in the butt awhile longer and then start training for next year, as always its just a blessing to be in the mountains with bugling bulls:
IMG_7488.jpg
 

GringoBling

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 23, 2021
Messages
209
I’d go back out there and search again if I were you. Even if the meat is no good, you’ve probably got a trophy downed. I shot a pretty big 6x6 in 2016 that I spent hours searching for. Few days after the 2nd season ended, an outfitter who I told my story to found my bull very close to where I shot him in some aspens. Meat and hide were devoured by coyotes, but the antlers and skull were perfectly in tact.
 
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2ski

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Jul 17, 2012
Messages
1,358
Location
Bozeman
Bummer man. That sucks.

I have to add that I find it admirable you're considering your tag notched. Upstanding and solid move man. I commend you.
 
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Gerbdog

Gerbdog

Senior Member
Joined
Jun 8, 2020
Messages
406
Location
CO Springs
I’d go back out there and search again if I were you. Even if the meat is no good, you’ve probably got a trophy downed. I shot a pretty big 6x6 in 2016 that I spent hours searching for. Few days after the 2nd season ended, an outfitter who I told my story to found my bull very close to where I shit him in some aspens. Meat and hide were devoured by coyotes, but the antlers and skull were perfectly in tact.
Yea i didnt sleep last night thinking about it, there is a slim chance he went down somewhere, i went back and looked at the pins i dropped and at the photos of the blood i took. It's bright red, looks like muscle blood mostly, but he def is bleeding pretty good when he stopped and stood still (this was early in the tracking, by the time he got a couple miles away that stopped happening and it was just drips of blood and hard to follow). Looks like his wound was closing up as he moved (expected though).

I'm gonna re-arrange my schedule and go back in this weekend, see if the crows in the area are gathering in a place, watch the birds, see if i can smell death. I'll be pretty sad to find him with spoiled meat but im pretty sad already so .... cant possibly be worse.

edit to add: ive sent the photos to my elk hunting mentors and buddies and they all agree it looks like muscle blood and think i hit the shoulder square
 

AaronMColeman

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 20, 2018
Messages
711
Location
Wyoming
Great picture! Things like that get me excited for ramming through the woods.

I'll be he's fine. It really really sucks, but I've put an arrow in an elk shoulder and found the arrow just like you described with about 4" of muscle and blood. The poor guy was out limping for a while I'll bet, but I'll also bet both our elks lived and were fine. It sucks but that's hunting and it could suck a lot worse.
 

FerZam

Newbie
Joined
Sep 24, 2021
Messages
4
I am sorry to hear that brother. Thanks for sharing, it will help remind hunters to think of all the little details when taking a shot.
 
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