Part 4 of 7
A Bull Of A Lifetime
From last week in Part 3: “In short order, I found myself within a couple hundred yards of my quarry. The bull was bugling regularly, and as good daylight made its way upon the scene, I slowed to a snail’s pace. Nocking an arrow as I slipped carefully through the thick vegetation, I scanned ahead for a sign of my target. In a second, the beige color of an elk’s hide caught my attention through the dark-green juniper jungle that surrounding me — I was already within 60 yards of my quarry! Things were starting to happen fast now — time to git ‘er done!”
Sliding my Brunton binoculars to my eyes, I caught a flash of antler — big antler! As the bull made his way through the juniper flat, I sneaked quickly forward, desperately trying to maintain sight of my trophy. Shortly, I found myself coming to the edge of a small opening, which, as it appeared, my quarry was going to cross in a few seconds. For the first time, I was able to get a good look at the bull — he was an absolute giant! I couldn’t believe what I was looking at — a long, thick-beamed 7X7 that probably would break the 400-inch mark! Stunned by my fortune, I instantly determined to kill this animal at all cost — this was certainly the bull of a lifetime … even if it was opening morning!
Slipping my Bushnell rangefinder to my eye, a small tree in the center of the opening read 41 yards. Drawing my Mathews bow, I watched the bull stride into the opening, and just as quickly, begin trotting, as only a rutting elk can do. In a split-second, my shot opportunity was gone — now, I was sweating bullets. Quickly sticking the Muzzy-tipped Beman arrow back into my bow quiver, I hurried after my quarry. I knew that it was vital for me to not lose eye contact with him in the vast jungle of junipers that surrounded us.
Huge Elk Is On The Move
Slipping along behind the monarch as he walked casually away, I was awed watching the bull as he tilted and twisted his huge rack through the low-hanging maze of juniper branches. I couldn’t believe that I’d just missed killing this one-in-a-lifetime trophy by mere happenstance!
Desperately wanting another chance, I scanned for any semblance of a way to make something happen, but it was no go. Dogging the bull, I followed as quickly, yet quietly, as possible. Seeing a possible shot opportunity looming, I once again quickly slapped an arrow on my bowstring and yanked back. Focused on the only possible shooting lane, I prayed my target toward the small opening. As head and neck came into the lane, the bull quickly made a hard right turn, offering a straight-away shot at 25 yards.
Never so tempted in my life, I almost punched the release — somehow, discretion won out, keeping me from possibly making a terrible mistake. I’d just missed another golden opportunity — my nerves were becoming frazzled and I was at my wits end. Unloading my bow rather hurriedly, I again fell in behind my departing quarry — this was an unbelievable experience!
Shortly — in a moment forever frozen in time — I caught myself stepping on a dry branch, which snapped loudly. Whirling around, the huge bull glared in my direction just as I slammed to a stop. Catching the end of my movement, the trophy instantly spooked, departing the area pronto.
From a hero, to a zero, in a split second. I wilted to the ground. I’d just blown the chance of a lifetime! I was damaged goods. Gathering myself, I moved forward in hopes of relocating the trophy. After a short while, however, it became clear that I’d spooked the bull beyond hope of ever finding him. Heading dejectedly back toward my truck, I was done for this morning. I knew that I could not ask for a better chance than I’d just had, but it was time to re-group.
Back at camp, as I recounted my tale-of-woe to my wife Peggie, I found little solace in her condolences. I knew that I’d just missed a golden opportunity — one that I’d not likely duplicate. I’d been in these situations before, and I knew that there was nothing else to do other than to get my wits about me, move forward, and make up for past mistakes. Inside, I quietly wondered how long it might be before I ran into another huge bull? Little did I know what was in store for me.
Please read more in Part 5.
Discover a fine selection of archery gear at Sportsman’s Guide today.
Eddie Claypool provides tips on bowhunting, with an emphasis on whitetails. Claypool has harvested 63 Pope & Young-class recordbook animals including 35 whitetails (Coues included), 16 elk and eight mule deer. All the animals were taken on do-it-yourself hunts.