Donnie’s First Strike…Opening Weekend Elk

Donnie’s First Strike…Opening Weekend Elk

With Corey’s opening morning success out of the way, we found ourselves in a different location two days later looking for a bull for me to harvest. We hiked 3 miles into a basin where we had located two nice bulls previously, but found nothing that morning. We hiked back to the logging road we had parked the truck on and bugled down the edge of a wide canyon. Corey’s bugle was answered from the opposite rim of the canyon, nearly ¾ of a mile away.

The bull was aggressively answering the calls so we worked our way down the draw and set up in the hopes of enticing him to our side of the canyon. He was pacing back and forth on the hillside across from us and we caught glimpses of him as he finally made up his mind and began making his way down the hillside towards us. With the mid-day air currents pulling up the hill, Corey set up halfway between the ridge and the ravine and I dropped down the hill 60 yards or so below him to set up. The bull reached the bottom of the canyon quickly, but took his time coming across the bottom and up our side of the draw. From the sound of frustration in his bugles, the bull let us know that he didn’t want another bull in HIS basin. He was responding to all of Corey’s bugles and he was getting closer.

Donnie's Set-up - Missed Bull

After nearly 45 minutes I finally saw the bull come out of the thick re-growth pines 70 yards in front of me and boy was he worth the wait! A nice, dark-antlered six point with ivory white tips on all of his points. It was quickly apparent why he had taken so long in the bottom of the draw – the bottom half of his body was black with mud from a wallow he had found on his way over to us. Corey could also see him from his vantage point above me and started in on what he does best, turning the bull towards me. With a few muffled cow calls pointed over Corey’s right shoulder, the bull turned and began making his way right towards me. He stopped at 30 yards, hesitant to expose himself out in the open, looking intently for the bull and cows that were making all the noise. Corey bugled one last time and the bull continued right to me until Corey cow called and stopped him quartering away from me at 15 yards.

Donnie's Bull - miss

The midday wind was swirling around and the bull sensed that something wasn’t right and started sniffing at the air. I was already at full draw in front of a clump of smaller pine trees when the bull decided that things weren’t right and slowly turned broadside to leave. I lined up the pins and let the arrow fly… What? He was only 15 yards out? What the heck? I go grab my arrow and look back up to Corey shrugging my head letting him know that I missed. After walking back up to my shooting position and examining the setup I found the cause of my misguided arrow – a small branch hanging from a 3 foot tall pine tree just two feet in front of me. My arrow had deflected off the branch leaving a slice halfway through it, and leaving my arrow stuck in the dirt to the left of where the bull had been standing.

After kicking my self and apologizing to Corey for blowing the opportunity, he laughed and let me know that things like that happen. He also added that if I ever was able to forget about it, he had it all on video to ensure that I would never live it down!

Donnie's Bull - Miss

Opening weekend came to a close that evening and the drive home gave us time to get our plans set in place for the next weekend. It also gave me time to replay the missed shot over and over the entire drive home and throughout the following week…

Next weekend couldn’t get here fast enough!


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