I have a saying for all the sportsmen I come in contact with when they ask how to be successful on their various big game hunts.
It goes like this; "If you do things right long enough, good things will usually happen!"
And that was exactly what happened during the archery elk hunt that I wrote about a few weeks ago.
I had been hunting in Units 15A-B and 18A with my good buddy Rocky Friend from Arkansas.
As you will recall, we had a darn tough hunt in these units, which don't seem to have a lot of elk.
Even though Rocky said he was willing to stay for the entire three-week hunt, we were getting tired.
The daily grind of up at 4 a.m. and glassing every place we found even a little elk sign was getting to both of us. We were in bed by 9 p.m., but that just wasn't enough time for a couple of old guys to recover.
I could sense that Rocky was ready to pull the plug when he told me that he had called his daughter and told her to make him reservations to come back home.
Now the pressure was on.
We were dealing with some different climatic conditions that weren't normal for that time of the year, and the bulls weren't doing a lot of calling.
Finally, we located an area that seemed to have a few bulls in it.
Rocky had a couple of "meetings" with young bulls, and he passed on them.
Rocky, Jay Chan and I had seen some larger bulls, and those were our targets.
It was now Tuesday morning, Day 12 of the hunt, and with time running out, it was time to really make something happen.
It was barely light when I sent out a bugle in the cool, crisp morning air while we stood on a juniper- and cactus-covered ridge.
To our surprise, a thunderous bugle came from a canyon just to the east of us.
"Rocky, that bull is right over there. Now get your butt over there and get ready," I said as I switched to a pair of cow calls I was carrying.
I started walking away while making cow calls. It was as if to say to the bull, "We are leaving, but come on over if you want to play!"
Then I bugled again, and he fired right back. This bull was hot and was ready to fight the unseen bull that seemed to have a harem of cows.
I could hear him coming as I walked away.
Then I heard a sound no elk hunter wants to hear.
The bull barked, which is an alarm sound they make when they see, hear or smell something they don't like.
I immediately started getting aggressive on the cows calls; then I heard the sound of what I thought was an arrow being released, followed by the thunder of raucous hooves striking rocks as the bull left.
Questions immediately came to mind. How big was the bull? How far was the shot, and did he hit him?
I walked back over the ridge and saw Rocky standing there, bow in hand.
I held up my hands as if to ask what had happened, but there was no response by the veteran archer.
I walked up and asked him, "What the heck happened?"
He had a strange look on his face. To me, he appeared to almost be in shock.
Finally, he said, "Well, Don, I got a shot. He was right over there. I hit that bull. I saw the lighted nock as the arrow went into him."
Rocky said he and the bull had come around some brush at the same time. The bull barked, turned and started to leave.
"When you did that aggressive cow call, he stopped and looked over his shoulder," he said. "It was a tough angle, but I put the arrow in the right spot."
We found that the shot had been exactly 50 yards.
There was sign within a few feet that indicated this was indeed a fatal shot.
About 10 feet away there was a lot more sign, and I felt this was going to be a short tracking job.
Then I asked Rocky, "How big is he?"
Rocky replied, "He is wide, that's all I know. I think he is a good bull!"
We decided to wait a full hour before we started tracking, and I've got to tell you, that is a long wait.
Finally, it was time and we started off on the trail.
I really felt the bull wouldn't go far, but as we approached the 100-yard mark and it was obvious that the bull was still running, I started to wonder if the hit had been where Rocky thought it was.
Then we reached the 200-yard mark and still had plenty of sign, but no bull.
I had a feeling that the bull was down. I just couldn't believe he had gone this far.
"Rocky, that bull is dead," I said to my buddy as we slowly followed the tracks and sign out of a drainage and onto a ridge.
We had gone about another 100 yards and I looked up and saw antlers sticking out of the grass and cactus on a steep hillside.
"There he is, Rocky," and with that, Rocky looked up and started running towards the fallen monarch.
We determined that the bull had probably expired within a minute or two, as the shot had indeed been perfect.
The deadly Silver Flame broadhead that is manufactured in Germany by German Kinetics had entered behind the left rib and had exited through the right front shoulder.
It took us most of the day to get the bull, which had an outside spread of 47.5 inches, to the truck. He had seven points on his left antler and six on the right. Though not the biggest bull in the country, it was, in our eyes, a real trophy.
The work was hard and we were both worn out by the time we got the bull loaded up and were headed to Kingman.
Rocky decided to have Signature Taxidermy in Flagstaff do the taxidermy work on the bull while a local processor cut up the meat. He had it all shipped back to his home.
I hope Rocky gets another Arizona elk tag in the near future. He is a great hunter, an awesome shot, a heck of a good guy and fun to be around.
Oh - did I mention that less than a month before this hunt, Rocky had been airlifted by helicopter to a hospital in Little Rock as a result of having a major stroke?
Yep, this man is also tough, and I'm very happy to call him "Friend."
Posted: Thursday, October 10, 2013
Article comment by:
This article is found under Nature Features.
I would like to request that stories like this one be put into a new category.
Nature stories are usually about animals in the wild and just the term, "Nature" suggests natural, humane events. Not killing and butchering.
How about a feature category called Shooting Animals for Fun
That category name suits the subject matter much more than depicting this slaughter as "Nature".
Just my opinion, Kitty
Posted: Thursday, October 10, 2013
Article comment by:
Why do you glorify trophy hunters? This is disgusting to me. This beautiful animal had a right to live. But being on someones wall is apparently more important. Dont tell me its to be eaten....This is a big older buck. Its not even going to taste good. So sick.