The Big One

Russ' 1st archery bull!

I’ll never forget the details of my first elk with a bow. A solo, bivy camp put me right above a couple bugling bulls for the night.  The next morning I worked my way in to two sparing elk. Once I had them in sight I let out a few soft cow calls. The response was instant and they both started heading my way. My heart was pounding, especially when I could see that one of them was a nice six point. The other bull, which was closing the distance faster than “the big one” was a rag five point. The five point was coming hard, I figured he would pass by me under fifteen yards. I had my bow up ready to draw. The six point was twenty yards beyond the five point and coming directly toward my position. Before I knew it the five was within 30 yards and I drew my bow. I held my pins on his vitals as he continued to close the distance, the whole time peripherally seeing the bigger rack coming through the brush straight at me. At fifteen yards the smaller bull turned and was also heading right at me.  The bigger bull was now within thirty yards. What was I going to do??? You know it! At six yards I put a thunderhead 125 through the vitals of the five point. Did I have any regrets not trying for “the big one”? Heck no!

There are so many factors involved when it comes to being able to pack out an archery elk and many more when it comes to consistently bringing one home. Don’t get me wrong, some people have been lucky and brought one home their first try but chances are they soon realize how lucky they were.

One of Russ' "Big Ones"

Along with shooting practice, conditioning, scouting, knowledge of the game, calling practice, equipment prep, confidence, etc, I think there is another very important factor to consider, especially for the new bowhunter and even the seasoned hunter that hasn’t put a notch on his quiver for a while. Learning how to come to full draw and sending an arrow through the vitals of an animal is one thing that can only be done by doing it. Don’t get caught up in this industry and feel like you need to shoot “the big one”. I’ve known several people that were too worried about what someone else might think and when they finally had “the big one” in front of them, they blew it. Take advantage of the opportunities given to you. You’ll know when it’s time to hold out for a bigger one. Legally and ethically harvesting any animal with a bow is a great accomplishment. In doing so, someday you will bring home “the big one”. Be proud of all your success. Good luck this year and God bless. The rut is just around the corner!