During the hike in to our hunting camp on Labor Day weekend 2008, I found myself thinking of the last bull I’d killed. I couldn’t believe it was in 2000. Had I really drawn blanks for seven seasons in a row? Wow, it was without a doubt 2008. I’ll never forget releasing the arrow on that bull back then. I was shaken back to reality by the hind end of the horse walking in front of me. Apparently the trail had dissappeared, I didn’t know our exact destination, and it was almost dark. Maybe scouting a little would increase my success ratio? Naahhhh…had to be “bad luck”.
This was a first for me, compliments of my new best friend Corey Miner (he’s the dude with horses). We lead four of them towards a spot of water on a map. It felt a little like the Clampetts as we scampered around in the dark trying to decide if this mud hole would support us and the animals for a week. It was just enough and we returned to this spot two weeks later to find the tent still standing.
Monday morning was the 15th and I had decided to take the biggest hike I could manage. I wanted to find elk early in the week. I strapped the usual 30lbs of junk I hadn’t used in seven years on my back, grabbed my bow and headed out early. That’s about 4.5 minutes before “shooting light” where we hunt. I started on a massive pace up the initial little climb before it drops drastically into the first drainage on my super-hike list. I went screaming through a little lettuce patch which was making all kinds of noise. Usually I’m calling frequently, and when this is the case, I never try to be quiet. This is an excellent strategy which currently had me at a 12% success ratio.
I stopped to let the lungs process that first morning blast and let out a cow call. I immediately heard the bull running toward me. I had violated Jason was in the wide open now. He slowed a little to bugle and kept on truckin. The bull had me pegged about 60 yards lower than I really was. With the direction he was swinging, I could see my opportunity would be long yardage. The bull never stopped and entered another group of trees. When he did, I employed the cat-like reflexes again and sprinted back downhill. This put me about 3.5 yards from my initial position. My motto is – why do something easy when you can make it difficult.
The bull stopped in the cover of trees and bugled. I immediately responded with a quick cow call. Once again, he was on his way and in a hurry. I could see only one opportunity to draw, and I took it. The bull popped into the open broadside and stopped. At that moment I had a micro-flashback about the last time I drew on a bull without first knowing yardage. The whole scenario actually went through my mind in about two seconds and the outcome was not good. Matter of fact, I think I assigned that as Jason rule #2? At full draw, I moved the bow aside a little to take a look. It was moderately downhill and I shot for 35 yards. The arrow took forever to get there and it was good.
The bull lunged out but stopped to a series of cow calls. I watched him standing there looking for those cow sounds until he crashed. Walking back uphill about 20 yards, I could see our tent through a group of trees. My super-hike was about 500 yards long. The bull was a nice 5×5 and at that moment it seriously didn’t matter how big he was. It was an awesome experience.
Later that Thursday my buddy Bryan Palmer took a nice 4-pt bull. It was a great trip and we’ll hopefully be back at that same mudhole filtering water this season. If we can find it.