SG2
A 2020 Wyoming elk experience......
Elk
Contributors to this thread:
Medicinemann 14-Feb-21
Medicinemann 14-Feb-21
Medicinemann 14-Feb-21
Medicinemann 14-Feb-21
Medicinemann 15-Feb-21
Medicinemann 15-Feb-21
Medicinemann 15-Feb-21
Native Okie 15-Feb-21
Jaquomo 15-Feb-21
Drnaln 15-Feb-21
Jaquomo 15-Feb-21
BULELK1 15-Feb-21
Rob in VT 15-Feb-21
orionsbrother 15-Feb-21
WoodMoose 15-Feb-21
Brotsky 15-Feb-21
Bowboy 15-Feb-21
TJS 15-Feb-21
Scoot 15-Feb-21
elkmtngear 15-Feb-21
Mule Power 15-Feb-21
ElkNut1 15-Feb-21
paul@thefort 15-Feb-21
hdaman 15-Feb-21
HUNT MAN 15-Feb-21
SBH 15-Feb-21
Medicinemann 15-Feb-21
t-roy 15-Feb-21
Medicinemann 15-Feb-21
goyt 15-Feb-21
Medicinemann 15-Feb-21
HUNT MAN 15-Feb-21
Medicinemann 15-Feb-21
Highlife 15-Feb-21
BTM 15-Feb-21
Ken 15-Feb-21
Ron Niziolek 15-Feb-21
Grey Ghost 15-Feb-21
Whocares 15-Feb-21
SteveB 15-Feb-21
Old School 15-Feb-21
jax2009r 15-Feb-21
Lost Arra 15-Feb-21
BC 15-Feb-21
muliemad 15-Feb-21
spikehorn 15-Feb-21
Southern draw 15-Feb-21
CPAhunter 15-Feb-21
Jasper 15-Feb-21
Royboy 16-Feb-21
bowhunter24 16-Feb-21
otcWill 16-Feb-21
BOWNBIRDHNTR 16-Feb-21
pav 16-Feb-21
Pyrannah 16-Feb-21
huntinelk 16-Feb-21
Rut Nut 16-Feb-21
KHunter 16-Feb-21
Medicinemann 16-Feb-21
Rut Nut 16-Feb-21
njbuck 17-Feb-21
bohuntr 17-Feb-21
badbull 17-Feb-21
MA-PAdeerslayer 17-Feb-21
APauls 17-Feb-21
INbowdude 19-Feb-21
Rupe 20-Feb-21
From: Medicinemann
14-Feb-21

Medicinemann's embedded Photo
Cellphone photo of an elk herd in central Wyoming, feeding on alfalfa plot. You can probably make out a bull in the center of the herd.
Medicinemann's embedded Photo
Cellphone photo of an elk herd in central Wyoming, feeding on alfalfa plot. You can probably make out a bull in the center of the herd.
In the Fall of 2020, I went to Wyoming on an elk bowhunt. I had an unusual experience and thought that I would try to write my first article for a bowhunting magazine. Unfortunately, the only camera that I had with me was on my cell phone, and I was informed that the photographs were not of good enough quality to be used for a published article. As a result, I am going to rewrite it and share it with Bowsite.

The article would have been titled " Preparation and Focus"....here we go.....

As I knelt next to the sage brush, hoping that the bull elk would slowly work his way closer to me, I looked down at the ground. There, next to the back-up arrow that I had placed by my right knee, was a coiled rattlesnake. I had an arrow on the rest, but the snake was so close to me, that shooting it wasn't an option. Needless to say, at times like this it is important to keep your composure.

I have had the good fortune to have experienced many adrenaline-rushing bowhunting adventures. Whether I was riding in dogsleds across the arctic while bowhunting for Polar Bear, or chasing Desert Bighorn Sheep in the Sonora Desert, there has always been the potential for events to go awry. It is during such times, that it is important to stay focused and keep your composure. Long before the days of YouTube, I had a very extensive library of bowhunting videos. When I was preparing to bowhunt for a given species, I would watch the appropriate videos time after time. I would try to glean as much information as possible during my preparations. I would take note of the overall cover (to identify which camo would best blend in). I would try to understand when to call, when NOT to call, and what each call probably meant to the animal. Watching those adventures reduced the elements of the unknown. The elimination of distractions substantially simplified my pre-shot process.

I frequently construct or purchase lifesize archery targets of the next animal that I hope to pursue. Since they are life-sized. it provides a big advantage when you are actually within bowrange of that animal. Shooting at a 1/3 lifesize elk target is great practice....if you are hunting for deer or pygmy elk. If you are hunting for a real animal, I submit that it may result in an inaccurate estimate of range. Animals don't have dots or indented score rings on them.....practicing at a life-sized animal target shortly before a bowhunt affords the opportunity to focus on a crease, a spot of mud, or a specific patch of hair. It also gets you accustomed to seeing the animal without "falling apart".

With enough practice, seeing and adjusting to a given animals dimensions becomes second nature. Creating that sense of familiarity reduces or eliminates the "shock and awe" when it happens for real. Those few extra seconds gained may represent the difference between the shakes, and actually getting a shot at the animal that you are after.

I have also noticed that the more time that I spend researching, preparing, and training for a hunt, the better that my hunting results have usually been. As a result, one aspect of hunting preparation that has become very enjoyable for me, is the process of coming up with creative ideas and solutions for upcoming adventures. Sometimes, it occurs by networking with my fellow toxophilites. Other times, I dream up ideas on my own. After all, how many people do YOU know that took an enema shortly before leaving for their Polar Bear bowhunt, just so they wouldn't have to freeze their ass for the first few days of their hunt? Lateral thinking has its advantages....and even if the idea doesn't pan out, it helps pass the time, builds the anticipation, AND it sure can be entertaining when sharing the details with fellow bowhunters in camp at a later time.

By watching hundreds of hunting videos over the years, before this Fall's elk bowhunt, I had made many important observations. Included in the myriad of things learned was the fact that due to their cold-blooded nature, rattlesnakes are very lethargic on cold Fall mornings. Bull elk can turn a lot faster than some people realize, and while they "jump" the string, they don't seem to do it anywhere near as severely as a wound up whitetail. I also noted that a bull elk will frequently give you a few seconds before they bust you and that they will tolerate something out of the ordinary for a longer period of time than a cow elk will.....at least during the rut.

Another point that is worthy of mentioning, is controlled breathing. A bowhunter can get so worked up in some situations, that it is possible to hyperventilate. If I feel myself starting to shake, I always do the following.....I will slowly inhale for a count to seven, hold that breath for four or five seconds, slowly exhale for seven seconds, and then wait for four or five seconds before slowly inhaling again. Over the years, this process has helped me to keep control and prevent (even eliminate) any shaking. Usually, it only takes a few breaths for it to work, and it seems to last for quite a while....at least, for me.

From: Medicinemann
14-Feb-21

Medicinemann's embedded Photo
This the arrow that I set down......I did not drop it there, I set it there. My hand had to have been about 4 inches above the snake's head. You can see where I was kneeling (lower right).
Medicinemann's embedded Photo
This the arrow that I set down......I did not drop it there, I set it there. My hand had to have been about 4 inches above the snake's head. You can see where I was kneeling (lower right).
Now, back to that snake that I mentioned at the very beginning of the thread. So here I am, less than 100 yards from a bull elk, whose antlers are just starting to crest the horizon. Phil is about three feet above me on the side of the sage hill that we were kneeling on. I have my ballcap pulled down, so the bull doesn't make eye contact with me. Since I have nothing else to look at, I am staring at the nock of the arrow that I had placed on the ground, just moments before I knelt. It is then that I notice the mottled brown pattern of a coiled rattlesnake.

From: Medicinemann
14-Feb-21

Medicinemann's embedded Photo
Dispatching the snake. You can see the buttons. My hearing is so poor, that even when I was one foot away, I could NOT hear the buzzing. If I ever draw a Sept. Az elk tag, I'm gonna need Walker Game Ears! Adrenaline made the photo fuzzy....
Medicinemann's embedded Photo
Dispatching the snake. You can see the buttons. My hearing is so poor, that even when I was one foot away, I could NOT hear the buzzing. If I ever draw a Sept. Az elk tag, I'm gonna need Walker Game Ears! Adrenaline made the photo fuzzy....
The snake is literally less than one inch uphill of the arrow nock and blazers, but since there is sage and brush in the immediate area, the arrow shaft is suspended about 4-5 inches off of the ground. If the brush hadn't held the arrow up, I believe that I would have set the arrow ON the snake, because I was so absorbed with the approaching bull.

I alert my friend to the presence of the snake, and he does what any friend would do.....he laughs!! After all, the snake isn't 8-10 inches away from HIS knee and HIS "boys". He peaks over the rise and tells me that the bull is about 60 yards away and closing. I had already processed that the snake isn't buzzing, and it was 39 degrees when we left the truck. I also reminded myself that my hand was already within 3-4 inches of the snake and he hadn't struck me. I was regulating my breathing as previously described, and was able to stay calm and focused.

I decided to hold still as the bull approached. After what seemed like an eternity (probably 1-2 minutes), the bull had come into plain view and was just about broadside. I lifted the bow and drew......and for the first time in years, the arrow fell off of the string, and landed on top of the other arrow, on top of the snake. I don't remember looking down for the arrow. I remember watching the bull, while slowly reaching down for an arrow. As soon as I felt one, I picked it up.....still focusing on the elk and making damn sure that this arrow was clipped on the string. Serpiente de cascabelles was apparently still feeling sluggish.

I redrew the bow as I heard a whisper of "40 yards". I settled the pin and released. The shot was right where it needed to be, and when the bull collapsed, we ranged him at 66 yards.....so he had only run 26 yards from impact. I slowly inched my way back a couple of feet, stood up, carefully retrieved the other arrow that was still on the ground, and dispatched the snake.

From: Medicinemann
14-Feb-21

Medicinemann's embedded Photo
Second view of the snake just after I put the broadhead through his skull......he was still buzzing, but I couldn't hear it.
Medicinemann's embedded Photo
Second view of the snake just after I put the broadhead through his skull......he was still buzzing, but I couldn't hear it.

From: Medicinemann
15-Feb-21

Medicinemann's embedded Photo
Snake on a stick....
Medicinemann's embedded Photo
Snake on a stick....
I have eaten rattlesnake before, and I really enjoyed it. I am sure that this one will be no different, as long as I remember the butter and garlic salt. He had nine buttons, and measured three feet in length.

When I texted some photos back home, my "much" older sister (two years my senior), replied "Cool....snake on a stick!" As far as this adventure is concerned, I think her description was spot on.

From: Medicinemann
15-Feb-21

Medicinemann's embedded Photo
My 2020 Wyoming bull elk. You can still see the arrow in the snake's head.
Medicinemann's embedded Photo
My 2020 Wyoming bull elk. You can still see the arrow in the snake's head.

From: Medicinemann
15-Feb-21

Medicinemann's embedded Photo
This is probably a 360"-370" bull that we had as close as 73 yards.....head on.
Medicinemann's embedded Photo
This is probably a 360"-370" bull that we had as close as 73 yards.....head on.

From: Native Okie
15-Feb-21
Geezus Jake! I would have had a heart attack!

From: Jaquomo
15-Feb-21
Great stuff, Jake! Except maybe the enema part... ;-)

From: Drnaln
15-Feb-21
Cool story....What's a good snake broad head?

From: Jaquomo
15-Feb-21
Drnalin, Magnus Bullhead. Or a stout stick...

From: BULELK1
15-Feb-21
Good Reading Jake

Congrats

Good luck, Robb

From: Rob in VT
15-Feb-21
Nerves of steel! Congrats on the bull and the snake.

15-Feb-21
Good stuff!!! Congratulations!

From: WoodMoose
15-Feb-21
thanks for the story - great read - congrats on the elk AND the snake!

From: Brotsky
15-Feb-21
Great story Jake!

From: Bowboy
15-Feb-21
Congrats Jake!

From: TJS
15-Feb-21
Thanks for sharing. Great story!

From: Scoot
15-Feb-21
Wow- now that's a close call! Congrats on the positive outcome in at least a couple regards!

From: elkmtngear
15-Feb-21
Great job holding it together...that's a situation I hope I never have to be in !

From: Mule Power
15-Feb-21
An enema? TMI!

Congratulations on another bull down Jake. Was that day 1 of your hunt?

From: ElkNut1
15-Feb-21
Wow!!! Great story & adventure there sir! Looks like you handled both situations perfectly!

I hear you on the Hearing, mine most likely isn't much better!! Great job!!

ElkNut

From: paul@thefort
15-Feb-21
Well Jake what a great Monday morning read and I am sure now, you will have some of us looking around for snakes while crawling in the sagebrush. I have only seen two rattlesnakes, one here in Colorado and one in Nebraska which is the one I ran over with the truck. Always wanted to skin and tan one. Thanks for the morning entertainment. It is -10 degrees this morning so I doubt I will encounter any snakes on my way to the gym. My best, Paul

From: hdaman
15-Feb-21
Great story! I'm not sure i could have executed the shot before executing the snake!

From: HUNT MAN
15-Feb-21
Great story . I hate snakes!!

From: SBH
15-Feb-21
I cannot handle snakes. You are a tougher man than I!

From: Medicinemann
15-Feb-21
Mule Power (Joe), That was day six......I sent you a PM. Jake

From: t-roy
15-Feb-21
Exciting read, Jake! What type of rattler was it? Prairie? Also, did you end up eating it?

From: Medicinemann
15-Feb-21
Troy, I am no herpetologist. It was a snake. It was in Wyoming. It had rattles, and you can see it in the pictures. That's all that I can tell you.....other than the fact that they go well with butter, garlic salt, and whiskey.

From: goyt
15-Feb-21

goyt's embedded Photo
goyt's embedded Photo
Nice writeup. The caption on one of the pictures about hunting in AZ in September hit home. Glunker saved me from getting bit by a snake in AZ. We were walking down a dirt road in AZ this last September in the dark when he said snake. Fortunately I stopped mid stride. When I looked down there was a coiled snake where my foot was going to be in less than a second. Instead of going to the ER I was able to fill my bull tag in the next day or so. A much better outcome!

We did not kill the snake but we did run it down for a photo session.

From: Medicinemann
15-Feb-21
When I returned from the hunt, I sent the photos to Rut Nut....just to get his blood pumping......lol

From: HUNT MAN
15-Feb-21
Great story . I hate snakes!!

From: Medicinemann
15-Feb-21
LOL....per Drnaln's earlier comment about what broadhead do you use for snake....It didn't occur to me until JUST now....It was a Slick Trick "Viper" Trick!!

From: Highlife
15-Feb-21
Thanks for sharing Jake

From: BTM
15-Feb-21
Pretty cool, Jake. Not many folks fill two tags in two minutes! :)

From: Ken
15-Feb-21
Now that's keeping it together under pressure! Congratulations on the elk and the snake.

From: Ron Niziolek
15-Feb-21
Awesome Jake. Congrats and thanks for the write up.

From: Grey Ghost
15-Feb-21
Great story, Jake. You definitely showed more composure than I would have. The bull wouldn't have rattled me, but the damn snake would have had me shaking like a leaf.

Was that bull a bit stinky with all that piss-laden mud on it?

Matt

From: Whocares
15-Feb-21
Quite the story Medicineman and congrats on the bull! Don't know that I could've stayed put and pulled that off! And I suppose you told your buddy you forgot your knife so you wouldn't have to use yours on that mud caked bull. Was guiding a guy a few years ago and had two absolutely black bulls moving in on him and I text him that if he shot one of those black ones I wouldn't use my knife on it! Have only run into one snake and it was similar to goyt's experience. In AZ. Except I put my foot down right next to a coiled one one with its head at calf height. Saw it at that instant and jumped faster than I thought I could! Made my heart beat! Couldn't hear the rattles either.

From: SteveB
15-Feb-21
I’d like to think I could have stayed put, but doubt it. Great story and glad you shared it!!! Nice bull too!!!

From: Old School
15-Feb-21
I wouldn’t have been able to sit there and shoot the bull. I would’ve broke cover quickly and looked for another bull. Me and poisonous snakes don’t mix well.

Congrats for holding it all together and making 2 good shots.

From: jax2009r
15-Feb-21
How many points did you need to draw your tag ?

From: Lost Arra
15-Feb-21
Good story. I'm definitely in the minority but after the snake cut you some slack to kill your bull, I probably would have returned the favor.

From: BC
15-Feb-21
Great hunt. Thanks for taking us along.

From: muliemad
15-Feb-21
Give me Grizzly country over snake any day!

From: spikehorn
15-Feb-21
Great story, thanks for sharing!

15-Feb-21
Congrats thanks for sharing.

From: CPAhunter
15-Feb-21
Jake, ice runs thru your veins man! Maybe Pat will chime in and re-live his intimate moment with the mamba!

From: Jasper
15-Feb-21
Love it Jake the Snake! Thanks for sharing....

From: Royboy
16-Feb-21
Congratulations and thanks for sharing

From: bowhunter24
16-Feb-21
Way to keep your cool! Congrats and thanks for sharing!

From: otcWill
16-Feb-21
Good stuff Jake! Thanks for taking the time.

From: BOWNBIRDHNTR
16-Feb-21
Great story Jake. Preparation and Focus are two very important factors for any bowhunter's success.

From: pav
16-Feb-21
Way to keep your cool Jake. I probably would have been wishing I'd had an enema prior to that encounter!

From: Pyrannah
16-Feb-21
What’s with the enema stuff?

From: huntinelk
16-Feb-21
Great story, congrats

From: Rut Nut
16-Feb-21
I almost texted you last week Jake........................ I was wondering if you ever wrote up your story after talking to you about it in the Fall.

Well, I knew the story and it still did NOT disappoint!

I STILL can't figure out what would possess anyone to reach down blindly within inches of a live viper AFTER obviously getting away with it the first time!

All I can say is you have WAY more desire to kill an elk than I do! ;-) And a lot more ability to hold your composure and focus than I would!

The elk would have been immediately alerted when I yelled and probably jumped 20 feet at the first sight of that damn serpent! ;-)

I don't think I ever asked..............................................................what did you do with the snake? That would make one very unique mount! : )

I guess it is fitting that you are hunting buddies with Pat................................................our 2 Bowsite snake "charmers!" :-)

From: KHunter
16-Feb-21
great story. thanks for sharing. I had a rattler buzzing at me immediately after I arrowed an AZ bull elk. I was focused on watching the bull amble off a short ways after the shot. Jumped back, and dumped the snake with a big rock and returned my focus to the bull that was now bedded 70 yards away till it expired a minute later.

Those snakes sure wake a guy up!

From: Medicinemann
16-Feb-21
Rut Nut, The snake was way too cold to really be a threat. That's why I felt comfortable reaching for the arrow without really worrying about the snake....remember, he wasn't buzzing at that time (not that I would have heard him anyways...lol), and he wasn't "reared up" in an strike position when I finally saw him. Regarding the snake.....I ate him with a chianti and some fava beans.....actually it was with garlic salt and some Crown Royal. I gave the skin to someone who wanted it for the backing on their bow.

From: Rut Nut
16-Feb-21
Well Jake, if there is one thing I have learned in the outdoors all these years ................is that there are no “absolutes!” You never really know “100%” what will and will not happen. I don’t care what the temperature is if I see a rattler.........................I’m NOT taking any chances! ;-)

From: njbuck
17-Feb-21
Wow, heck of an experience Jake, congrats on another successful adventure.

From: bohuntr
17-Feb-21
Helluva story Jake.... although I don't think any hunting story I have ever heard can top your polar bear hunting story! Thanks for sharing this with us!

From: badbull
17-Feb-21
Medicinemann, great story and I'm thinking that you are one brave dude. Men sometimes do stupid things and I am no exception. I once tried to touch a Wyoming rattlesnake in the head with a broadhead tipped arrow at arm's length thinking that I could move back faster than it could strike me. The speed at which they can strike l still cannot believe. Luckily it could not quite reach my hand or arm as it struck. A Wyoming rancher told me those buggers are the meanest thing around which I believe. Thanks for sharing a story that I sure can relate to........ Badbull

17-Feb-21
GG I’m right there with ya. I’d have been fine with the bull coming in. Coulda came in at 12 feet ha. But that snake, within 25 feet. No no no. He woulda eaten a .38 rat shot load. Or an arrow. Or I woulda been riding the elk down the mountain back to where he came from. I’d rather wrestle a grizzly bear than deal with them slithering things

From: APauls
17-Feb-21
That's awesome Jake. One of a kind for sure!!! Thanks for sharing!!

From: INbowdude
19-Feb-21
Nice story Jake. I'm sure the snake did add a bit of a concern but you capitalized on the situation nicely. Well done and congrats.

From: Rupe
20-Feb-21
Congratulations on the nice Elk and B&C class rattler!!!

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