Part 5 Of 7
An Unforgettable Day
From last week in Part 4: “I couldn’t believe that I’d just missed killing this once-in-a-lifetime trophy by mere happenstance! Back at camp, as I recounted my tale-of-woe to my wife Peggie, I found little solace in her condolences. 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!”
After a nice lunch at base camp, I grabbed my gear and prepared to head afield once again. With my tail between my legs, I was having a hard time recovering from the events of the morning — I could not get the picture of a certain set of huge antlers out of my head! All I could think about were all the things that I “could have, should have” done differently to steer the outcome of the encounter in my favor. It was a bitter pill to swallow — having to accept that fact that I’d been in bow range of a 400-class bull, for a couple of minutes, and hadn’t even gotten off a shot! Ooohhh, the pain!
Jumping into my truck, I headed down a rough, two-track that led to a remote spot that I’d scouted earlier. Parking, I shuffled toward a remote canyon, and as I neared the gorge, a faint bugle drifted to my ears. Just like that, I was a new man — a new hunt was on and the events of the morning were quickly forgotten!
I guess that when you’re in Arizona, you can expect great things. Such being the case, within 15 minutes of hearing the distant bugle, I was within sight of another big bull! Peering over a small knoll, I found myself looking at a herd bull calmly surveying his harem of two dozen cows. Grabbing my bino’s, I studied the monarch carefully — quickly, I knew that I was looking at an exceptional set of antlers. Realizing that the stud sported a 7×6 rack, I quietly wondered if I wanted to hunt the big fellow, or head elsewhere in hopes of finding something bigger. I knew that the bull wasn’t packing as much rack as the bull I’d encountered on the morning hunt, but then again, I knew that his antlers were very large. Knowing that I’d be stupid to walk away from this animal, I quickly shifted to a predatory state of mind.
Crawls Within Range
Hitting my belly, I crawled forward, gaining a few feet here, a few yards there. As I neared what I considered to be the outer limits of my shooting range, I slipped a rangefinder from my pocket and took a reading — 65 yards. Not liking this reading, I slithered forward. In a few short minutes, I gained the cover of a downed tree.
The author’s Arizona 7×6 (389-gross score) bull.
Rising to a sitting position, I took another rangefinder reading — 50 yards. Much more satisfied with this number, I considered my options. I could take a chance on spooking my quarry while trying to get closer, or I could simply take the shot from where I was at. Knowing that I could make an accurate shot from this distance, I decided for the latter of the two options.
Pulling a Muzzy-tipped Beman from my quiver, I loaded my Mathews. Settling into a comfortable position, I came to full draw and settled the pin of my Black Gold bowsight on his ribcage. The arrow flashed over the distance in a moment forever frozen in my mind, disappearing in the side of the bull directly where I’d intended. Hardly bothered, the bull spun around, glaring in every direction as he tried to figure out what had just happened. Frozen in place, I watched google-eyed at the scene unfolding before me. As a few cows slowly started to move away, the monarch finally began to trot toward his herd. Covering less than 10 yards, the big bull simply expired on his feet, crumpling directly to the ground. I was speechless!
Backpacking the trophy out of the Arizona backcountry.
As the reality of the events of this day settled into my mind, I knew that I’d just experienced the most incredible day of my elk hunting life! Making my way over to my trophy, I knelt down to give thanks. I was a mess of emotions — energized, yet humbled, by the moment. As my mind spun in countless directions, a very strange fact stuck in my head — I was yet licensed to bowhunt another bull, in another state — on the other side of the country! Feeling spoiled, I smiled and turned my thoughts back to the reality of the moment — after all, I knew all too well that a bull in the hand was worth two in the bush!
Please read more in Part 6.
For a fine selection of Archery gear, click here.
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.