I was screaming, “I FOUND HIM!!!! I FOUND HIM!!!” Then I reached for my radio, squeezed the button and said in a calmer voice, “I got him dad. I got him.”
Lack of Focus almost caused me to fail, it was a valuable lesson.
I have one of those Dad’s (mom too) who really does what he can to help his son succeed, with what he has got. What he gives me when he comes on my elk hunts is something many can’t give, his unquestionable effort. Whether it be hiking a rattle snake invested mountain he is not prepared to hike,or driving to town to get supplies. He is the guy who does the dirty work on an NBA team and he never asks or wants any glory.
Honestly, I am super intense when it comes to my own personal hunts and I don’t blame anyone for not wanting to hunt with me when my name is on the tag. I often will have nightmares throughout my hunt that I didn’t push myself hard enough to succeed. I just don’t sleep much during hunting season and it begins to wear on you mentally, but when you are scared to fail, you have only a couple of options.
So, Dad, I owe you and I appreciate both you and mom coming up to help on this hunt.
As some of you know, I hunted a bull I dubbed “Mr. Heavy.” We found him on the first afternoon of my second trip to Utah for my elk hunt. Mr. Heavy was a big 8×6 and I am confident that he would have scored in the 385-395″ range.
Unfortunatly, he took me to school and I wasn’t able to get a Trophy Taker in him. I had him at 60 yards twice, but both times he was not at the right angle. I either didn’t do everything I could to get him on the ground, or I wasn’t suppose to wrap my tag around him.
On the second day, my dad found a bull he could not stop talking about. At one point in time, I told him it was awesome, but to zip it, because I was going to hunt Mr. Heavy, until something changed.
Well, with only a couple of days left to hunt, Mr. Heavy went MIA. I hadn’t seen him in a day and a big storm system was heading our way.
With the storm moving in, my parents both stayed back at camp during the middle of the day and I headed out to glass. I found several elk right away, but no signs of Mr. Heavy. I continued to move north and I knew I was getting into country where my dad had seen the Big 6. I was still hoping to find Mr. Heavy, but now I also wanted to see this Big 6.
At about 1:30 I found a big bull! At first I thought it was Mr. Heavy, but it wasn’t…
I called my dad on the phone and told him I found a good bull, but I wanted him to look at him. I wanted to know if it was the Big 6, because if it wasn’t, I wanted to continue to look for the Big 6 & Mr. Heavy.
It took my parents about 30 minutes to get to my location, but when they did, my dad confirmed, it was the BIG 6.
The rain was falling at a steady pace and I really thought the Big 6 was in the 360-380″ range, but I wasn’t quite sure on his beam length. It was now raining hard enough I couldn’t see well through my scope and I just couldn’t pin his score down inside of 10 inches.
I decided to get a closer look, just after he bedded on the edge of this meadow.
I made it to the patch of trees on the opposite side of the meadow, just in time to see the BIG 6 up and feeding. I got one glimpse and I knew I was going to shoot him. I was just in too good of a spot and he was just too good of a bull to pass at this point.
I watched as he laid back down and then I began crawling. It was a soaking rain and showing no signs of letting up, but I didn’t care how much it rained, I was going to kill this bull.
I made it to 87 yards and then he stood up again. I crept 2-3 yards at a time, while he had his head down feeding. I finally made it to 70 and thought, “I can shoot him now.” My better judgement told me to wait for a closer shot.
He slowly fed back toward his bed and now he was at 60 yards, but it felt closer. I decided I was ready to shoot. I drew slowly and settled my pin. I squeezed (possibly punched) and I saw the arrow hit him, but way back! The bull ran to his left and I knocked another arrow. I ranged him at 75 yards and then dialed my Black Gold sight up. He stood facing me and all I could see was his head and rack, because of the angle and sunflowers. After a 5 minute stand off, he blew out and up the hill.
I was pissed.
I knew I made a piss pour shot and it was suppose to rain even more. I walked up to where he was standing and grabbed another arrow out of my quiver shoving it in the dirt to mark his tracks. I called my dad on the radio and told him I was walking back down to the truck.
I hit the bull way back! Somewhere about the last rib, but it was buried to the fletching and was at the right height. I was thinking liver at best…
My lack of focus really caused me to make a crappy shot and was just unacceptable.
When I got to the truck I told my parents the whole gig. They didn’t see any of the action because of the heavy rain, which sucked, cause I was hoping they would have possibly watched where he went.
It was now around 5:45, so I decided to go back to camp and wait until the morning.
It rained all night… I mean all damn night.
The next morning we arrived at my arrow just after day break. We found 2 fresh bull tracks and we followed them for about 15 yards, before deciding those happened just after the rain and could not have been my bull.
We found some places where elk had ran in the direction I last saw the bull, but we weren’t sure, because you couldn’t actually see the tracks. We began trailing the inditations in the mud and could tell it was a couple elk, which would have been right, if he did in fact hooked up with his cows.
We pushed what was left of the tracks to the bottom of the draw and then out into another meadow. By now, it was 10:30 and it wasn’t looking good. We couldn’t follow the tracks or what was left of them, so we kept making loops, but finally we lost all hope.
It was getting hot and we were now3/4 mile from where my arrow was. We jumped some cows and a different bull in the bottom, but he wasn’t with them. It was 11:30 and my worries were coming to a head. I made a horrible shot and we probably weren’t going to find my bull. If I would have just focused…
I finally, just started talking to the man up stairs. We needed a break. We needed something!!! I was praying to find this bull. Praying my lack of focus didn’t cause this bull too much suffering and cost me the gift of wrapping my tag around his antler.
I found my dad trying to relocate the tracks at the mouth of the canyon. We had split up and we were trying to get lucky. I told him to look around the general area, but I wanted to go back to the beginning. I just thought we were missing something and thats what I was led to do.
I reached my arrow and began trailing the 2 fresh bull tracks again. I trailed them for another 50 yards and as I ducked under a tree limb, there he was!!!
My prayers were answered, as my bull only went about 70-80 yards from where I hit him. My bull died almost immediately after I shot him and I was a very thankful hunter.
FYI- the 2 bulls had trailed my bull up after the rain stopped and this was the break I had been praying for.
Thanks for taking the time to read my story, but if you are like me, you might like to watch some of the footage: 2013 Utah Archery Elk Hunt