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Author Topic: Idaho Archery Bull Down!  (Read 1176 times)

Online luvmystang67

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Idaho Archery Bull Down!
« on: September 30, 2020, 01:33:43 PM »
Well, if you have paid attention to anything I have written, this was basically a perfect archery elk season.  I worked my butt off, hit rock bottom, was wet, blistered, reached the pits of despair.  I wrote here on the forum about what people who are successful every year do (I do not count myself among them).  I even helped a buddy haul a monster 5x5 (10+ years old) out in the second weekend of the season.

I say all of this, because its important.  I have no idea what I'm doing.  Elk hunting is so hard, especially archery.  If you look at my track record, in the past 5 years I've elk hunted 4 of them (missed one due to being on an assignment mostly out of the country).  In those 4 years I've tagged 3 bulls and a cow.  So, I guess I'm working my way into the "nearly successful every year" group, but I've never felt like I actually had a plan.  Maybe that is even how the "successful" elk hunters feel... like its always kind of a fortunate accident.

In any case, this year marks my 2nd every archery elk (both bulls).  I've actually been mostly a weekend warrior this year, hunting the Idaho panhandle.  I've taken now a total of 2 day off of work.  One of those weekend days was spent hauling out a 5x5 of my buddy's in the smoke.  While I was very frustrated, it was objectively a great season.  Here's a quick recap.

First hour of opening day I failed to capitalize on a raghorn from my stand over a water hole when it was hot.  On my way up to help my buddy haul his out, we had a spike at 35 yards, but didn't quite get a clear shot on it and didn't really want to pack out two animals at a 450PPM smoke day.  I chased around a bugling bull and called a calf into 10 yards (twice) with a lost calf call, even if that wasn't my intended outcome.  I also chased a herd with a bugling bull in the early season, but I couldn't stop them from running away from me.  Maybe it is just because I was solo, and a lot of people would've loved all this activity, but somehow I felt like I still was confused and didn't know what I was doing.

Fast forward to last weekend, I went to an entirely different unit that we've explored a few times, again alone.  The weather was horrible.  I did a walk around where we'd seen elk in the Spring before the rain tortured me the 2nd half of Saturday.  I drove around and looked for sign, and really came up short.  Sunday was supposed to be good though (weather wise).  I stayed in my junky Coleman cabin tent that had a whole can of waterproof spray on it, and thankfully kept me dry in the pelting rain Sat night.  Sunday, I woke up a little cold and unenthusiastic, but thought... can't shoot an elk if you don't try.

Now the good stuff...

I got to a road I had explored the day before.  It had great glassing and even though no elk were responding to my bugles, I could see pretty well.  It was the beginning of a good nice weather stretch... prime for some good late rut bugling I thought.  I looked across, down into a deep and dark place, to see 4 cows and a calf walking up out of a drainage, in a place too horrible for man to traverse.  They were about 1500 yards off, by my best estimation, across a canyon/creek.  It was 6am, and I couldn't see any antlers.  By 6:10 am, the fog rolled in heavy and I could not longer see anything.  I ripped a few bugles, and got a response from where I'd seen the elk!  I thought... you didn't see much sign yesterday, you have nowhere else to go, you might as well hunt the elk you see!  So, I ran back to my truck, drove around to the trailhead above where I'd seen the elk, hoofed it in about 2.25 miles and positioned myself about 1000' above where I'd seen them walking.  It was probably 8:30 at this point, so I wasn't exactly quick.

Before I dumped into the timber to go down towards where man should not go, I decided to let out a few cow calls just to ensure they hadn't made their way up higher by me.  To my joy, I received a bugle response, probably 100 yards away through the timber.  Wind check, yep, in my face!  A few cow call sequences confirmed that it was not a fluke.  I had an urge to switch to my bugle, but I had chased a bull all over a hillside who was running from my bugle the weekend before.  I figured "Why ruin a good thing. If he's responding to cow calls, keep with it."  Maybe I was more confident than I thought, because I dumped my pack and bugle tube at the road and dropped down into the timber.  A few more cow calls, and I could swear his bugle responses were getting closer.  I figured, every time I try to bugle to me, they poke their nose into my clearing, look, and move away.  I need to call past where I'll be.  So I made a cow calling party, broke a bunch of sticks and then when ghost mode and advanced approximately 50 yards as silently as possible and just waited. 

He came 40 yards below me, wind still good.  He was behind massive blow-downs with no path to me or where my calling sequence had been.  I saw no antlers, but couldn't miss the body moving at 40 yards.  He went from left to right, and over the finger to my right.  He was now 50-60 yards away and over a finger, he had missed the target.  I hate calling them right to me, but I had to do something.  I let out a couple of faint calls, broke a few sticks, and ranged the trees on the finger between us.  Here he came, 30 yards, up and over and looked down into my clearing for the Miss Cow.  It was the first time I'd seen antlers, he was behind some sticks and tangled brush.  No shot.  I was at full draw, waiting for him to come, it would have to be quite a bit further to give me a window.  When he saw nothing, back over the ridge he went and I had to let my draw down.  I could see antler tips over the finger and he stood there, confused.  Again, I thought... you have to act or you'll lose him.

I let out the faintest, shyest cow call I've ever made and broke two sticks with my foot, and prepared for the hopeful best.  The wind was getting MORE perfect somehow.  What luck.  Here he came, right at me on the most open path, except for one droopy baby hemlock.  UGH.  He stopped at 20 yards, right behind this hanging hemlock.  What do you do?  Send an arrow through it?  He was a yard behind it at 20.  You want to, I promise.  All of these thoughts go through your head in a flash.  I thought... no, you can't, especially if you are taking a frontal.  Sidenote, I had thought that I may be presented with a frontal shot at some point and had just watched about 2 hours of video on how to do it successfully, I thought it might come in handy.  We don't need to debate the ethics of that here, but I know its contentious.

Then, alleviating all concerns... he came further.  Now 15 yards, in front of the baby hemlock.  I'm at full draw and have been for a min (or an hour) depending on what clock you were looking at.  I aimed about 6" up into his mane, released, never saw the arrow.  He took about 5 steps and was 40 yards away, standing right where I'd seen him the first time.  I'm nocked another arrow, ready to send even a bad shot his way as you might do, but couldn't even find a window for that.  He stopped, stumbled, teetered.  I'm thinking "FALL, FALL, FALL... DO IT... FALL".  Again, 2 min or 2 hours pass, depending on perspective and he took two steps, just out of view and boom crash! 

Me shaking like a leaf, walked up to my pack, grabbed my bagel/turkey/cream cheese sandwich and shoved it into my face.  I was determined to wait 30 min, even though I swore I heard last breaths.  I did NOT want him to go where man should not.  At 9:30 am, after recording videos to remind myself of the way I was feeling, I pursued.  All of the pics are as I found him.  The arrow placement was perfect, I know from the hole, not from the arrow, which remains buried in his guts somewhere deep.  It sunk past the fletching and did its job in less than 2 min.  He had maybe gone 50 yards total, but that was only the equivalent of about 6 steps, as steep as the hill was.  WHAT JOY, EXCITEMENT, SUCCESS!!!

Now, just had to get him up to the logging road and out 2.25 miles, solo.  First time doing this alone.  Wow, do not recommend.  Luckily I remembered I had my bike (not sure why I didn't think of it in the morning), but I walked the head out back to my truck at about 3pm after I got him quartered.  Grabbed my good eberlestock blue widow "packing pack" and rode the bike back (only a 12 min bike ride!, slightly downhill all the way to him, bad news for the walk back though).  I was able to get all the meat to the logging road.  I loaded 2 hind quarters on the bike (weighed them at home, 69.5lbs apiece) and one front quarter (44 lbs at home) onto the bike.  Put one front quarter on my back, and pushed that bike back to the truck and arrived around 8pm.  There are worse ways to carry out 4 quarters at once, but there are certainly better ways as well!  I decided to come back for the backstraps and misc meat bag the next morning.

I can't believe it all happened.  What an experience.  So much doubt the entire time, but when it all comes together it seems to easy.  Elk hunting is just so hard and unpredictable.  Also, solo pack outs are terrible.  Guess I should buy a quad!

Offline Sutherland

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Re: Idaho Archery Bull Down!
« Reply #1 on: September 30, 2020, 01:37:25 PM »
Wow great write up thanks for sharing! Congratulations!

Offline CoryTDF

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Re: Idaho Archery Bull Down!
« Reply #2 on: September 30, 2020, 02:12:08 PM »
Very cool! Congrats on the cool hunt and the success. Did you use your Tipi?
CoryTDF

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Offline D-Rock425

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Re: Idaho Archery Bull Down!
« Reply #3 on: September 30, 2020, 02:22:31 PM »
You're so awesome.

Online luvmystang67

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Re: Idaho Archery Bull Down!
« Reply #4 on: September 30, 2020, 02:24:44 PM »
Very cool! Congrats on the cool hunt and the success. Did you use your Tipi?

I actually used a cheap Coleman cabin tent.  Its great for car camping, where weight isn't an issue and weather is fair.  It sets up super fast.  The Tipi is great when you know its going to be wet, or weight is an issue (spike camp setup).  It'll get some use as I help a buddy fill his tag for rifle, I assume!


Online luvmystang67

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Re: Idaho Archery Bull Down!
« Reply #5 on: September 30, 2020, 02:25:07 PM »
You're so awesome.

I'm just glad you started killing bears without me!

Online h20hunter

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Re: Idaho Archery Bull Down!
« Reply #6 on: September 30, 2020, 02:28:20 PM »
Awesome.  Bad a$$. Well earned and fully deserved.

Offline D-Rock425

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Re: Idaho Archery Bull Down!
« Reply #7 on: September 30, 2020, 02:31:11 PM »
You're so awesome.

I'm just glad you started killing bears without me!
it's all in the new gun.

Online pianoman9701

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Re: Idaho Archery Bull Down!
« Reply #8 on: September 30, 2020, 02:38:19 PM »
Beautiful elk, Stang! Congrats.  :tup:
"Restricting the rights of law-abiding citizens based on the actions of criminals and madmen will have no positive effect on the future acts of criminals and madmen. It will only serve to reduce individual rights and the very security of our republic." - Pianoman

Online luvmystang67

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Re: Idaho Archery Bull Down!
« Reply #9 on: September 30, 2020, 03:00:01 PM »
Also, cool stats from cutting it up.  This is consistent with the 10 year old bull my buddy killed, within a pound.

Front quarters: 44 lbs (call it 45)
Hind quarters: 69.5 lbs ( call it 70)

Bones in each once I got them mostly boned... 9 lbs (this is no hoof, cut off at the fist major joint for both).

After two good representative Rocky Mountain bulls this year, I'm going to say that is my standard expectation now.  70 hindquarters, 45 front quarters, and you get 9 lbs back if you bone out in the field.  We can talk all day long about your 80 lb hind quarters, but unless you leave the hoof on or don't cut it at the joints, I just don't see how.  My front quarters were 44, we backed into his being 45.  Shockingly consistent.  I hear some people talking 60 lb front quarters and 80 lb hind quarters.  Show me that on a scale... not based on feel.   :twocents:

Online pianoman9701

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Re: Idaho Archery Bull Down!
« Reply #10 on: September 30, 2020, 03:14:35 PM »
You're so awesome.

I'm just glad you started killing bears without me!

Let's all of us leave these two alone for a little bit. It sounds like they need private time.
"Restricting the rights of law-abiding citizens based on the actions of criminals and madmen will have no positive effect on the future acts of criminals and madmen. It will only serve to reduce individual rights and the very security of our republic." - Pianoman

Offline b0bbyg

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Re: Idaho Archery Bull Down!
« Reply #11 on: September 30, 2020, 03:21:30 PM »
Awesome write up and great bull!

I love the pic of the bike all loaded up, often have thought about ways to pack out loads on a bike without a trailer..

Offline theleo

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Re: Idaho Archery Bull Down!
« Reply #12 on: September 30, 2020, 03:57:28 PM »
You're so awesome.

I'm just glad you started killing bears without me!

Let's all of us leave these two alone for a little bit. It sounds like they need private time.
It's starting to sound like we all know what mountain they'll be camping on...

Offline HikerHunter

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Re: Idaho Archery Bull Down!
« Reply #13 on: September 30, 2020, 04:06:33 PM »
Nice bull! Thanks for sharing your story!

Offline mikelonsford

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Re: Idaho Archery Bull Down!
« Reply #14 on: September 30, 2020, 04:50:51 PM »
Cool story, Congrats!

 


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