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Well my season didn't last long this year. I guess that's a good problem to have. My wife always thought I was trying to drag things out every year and that's why I didn't tag out until so late. I swear I wasn't :) but it sure is a nice being able to hunt until the end.....as long as you get one at some point. I spend all year getting ready for Sept/Oct so when it's here, I'm checked out and in the woods as much as possible. Congrats to those who've punched tags already and good luck to those who haven't. Things are just starting to get good. Took a buddy out today and will be helping others with their tags the rest of the season. If anyone needs help....I have a strong back and love packing elk meat! Give me a shout! Here's my 2017 Elk tale......
Smoke/Fire/Heat was tale for the opener. Man was it hot. Made for some beautiful sunrises and sunsets. We took off Friday night after work and had tell Wednesday for the first weekend.
Up early and headed to a familiar ridge. For some reason this spot always seems to produce an opportunity on the opener. When we got where we wanted to be the elk where talking a bit on their own and moving up the mountain parallel to us. Perfect. We know where they are headed. Can't get ahead cause of the wind but can follow at same elevation until it changes. feels good to be out and hear elk again.
We get to the ridge at 7:20. My buddy is in front of me, I'm 10 yards behind him. He drops his pack and turns to check on me, when he does his eyes about pop out of his head. " DUDE, Knock an arrow!!!" He says in an intense whisper. I look the direction he's looking and theres elk coming. Not the group we were on but a different group. HOLY CRAP. They are coming right NOW. I slip one on and get turned around. Spike.....cow, cow, cow, spike.....where's the bull? More cows come filtering by at 30 yards. Then I see him. (Now, it should be known....I have a tendency to lose my chit on elk. They are my favorite and also have been the cause of much heartache. I have not killed a good mature bull yet with my bow. Cows and spikes. I've wounded two bulls and missed a couple others but it just hasn't come together for me.) First thought is , HOLY SH*, that's a big bull! don't look at the horns. He's coming in strong and solid. I draw when his head is behind a tree, have a cow to my left at 8 yards and she bumps at the movement. The bull picks up his speed and runs a spike right through the shooting lane and stops being a tree. The spike turns downhill and runs right at me veering off at the last second. I'm standing there at full draw waiting for the bull the come out again from behind the snag. The bumped cow knows something is up, she turns to leave the others are going with her. He stares as they leave and then looks through me.......in a split second he's on to us. He springs out and bails to his left, I'm ready to roll. Thwack!
Shot felt good. Bull runs off and it's quiet. Based on my past history and not wanting to lose this guy. We bail for 2 hours before taking up blood trail. If anything, I think I hit him a little back. Not sure though.
Blood trail is garbage. I'm on hands and knees within 50 yards. Great. Here we go again. I can't believe this is happening. I hear a twig snap above me, its been almost 3 hours now. There he is, walking off out of my life forever. He hasn't gone 100 yards in 3 hours, he's still here and he hasn't bed down. We figure he's gonna die but needs more time. Head down to camp to get our gear and go spend the night on the mountain. Find him in the morning......
Sleepless night and lots of praying for recovery. Up early and start the grid search. I lay out a 1/2 mile grid in all directions from where he was last seen. We lost blood at 100 yards so nothing to do there. It's time for a miracle. Spend all day looking. Up and down, over and back. Nothing. It's 90 degrees. Not good.
Next day, more of the same. No Bull. He's gone. I know he died but I won't find him. Keep replaying the shot and feeling like it wasn't that bad but who knows. Doubt has taken over. I'm down to hoping for birds. The meat is surely rotten but I want closure and this is by far the biggest bull I've ever loosed a string on. I gotta keep looking. I read this verse that night in the tent "Psalm 128; blessed are those who fear the Lord and walk in his ways. They will eat the fruit of their labor" I push on the next day with that in mind.
Tuesday morning- I start out in an area about a mile away with water. worth a peek and haven't been in yet, plus there are crows in the air. 2 crows I should say. My buddy said, I gotta be done, this bull is lost. Only have 1 day left to hunt. I need to hunt. I understand and tell him I'm gonna go check this drainage, look into those birds and will meet up later. If I don't find him today, I'll ease off on the search. We split ways about 7:00. It takes me an hour and half to get close to where the birds where but they have gone silent. I figured, he was right this is a waste of time. I've been all over this damn mountain. He aint here. Somehow he lived.
10 mins later a crow gets up off the ground to my left. Then another. No way. Theres something up there I think. I take a couple steps up the incline in that direction and can hear flies. Now I smell it........Something is dead.
MIRACLE! I am over 2 miles from where the shot occurred. You can see from the pic the hit was back. I can't believe it I have closure. I have my best bull yet. My tag is punched 4 days after the arrow was released. I learned a lot from this and feel very fortunate to have recovered him.
Was alone so not the best pics.
They always look better in the back of the truck. I need a beer.
The meat was a total loss. It was so hot, never had a chance. I'm not gonna let that get me down. I'm proud of the recovery, grateful to be on the receiving end of a miracle and get to take home a rack of a lifetime for a public land elk hunter. Thanks guys. I sure enjoy reading all your stories so post em up.
Way to stick with it Matt. Go job with the closure. Congrats again can't wait to hear the whole story over a beer or 3. Hunt
WTG and stick with it. I did much of the same this year. Burned alot of hours looking for a bull I drew blood on but am confident he lived. Gotta put in the time either way.
Awesome! Congrats on sticking it out.
Congrats and great perseverance!
Definite bummer about the meat, but how many guys would have just walked away and given up all together? Great job on sticking with it till the end. That's a very nice public land bull. Love those thirds!
Liver? Guts? The fact that he didn't move more than a 100 yards for an hour makes me think he was sick and would have bed down if not pushed? Sounds like he needed more time. I'm not arm chair quarterbacking, more asking if people agree. We have all been here at some point...
First of all, congrats SBH, way to hang in there!
Ucsdryer, unfortunately, I've seen it happen over the years. Learned pretty early on, if the hit is too far back (or suspected to be so)...I back out very quietly, and wait a minimum of 4 hours.
Evening hunt means come back at first light. Bump a gut or liver hit bull, and it will walk dead on its feet for miles. When it's a great hit, you get that awesome feeling right away. When there is doubt...it's a whole different feeling.
Best of Luck, Jeff
Congrats and kudos for the persistence. Just had similar deal, relief when all seemed lost!!
Congrats on sticking with it and carrying out the hunt until you were absolutely sure. Very nice bull! You earned it. It was meant to be. Kudos
UC- Ya, I think it was liver. I also agree with you. I'm told he could have lived 24 hrs give or take with that hit. I don't know that for a fact but that's what i'm told. I think he lived at least that long. We made a mistake. We should not have come back in there for 6-8 hours. Period. We bumped that bull. He was obviously sick and going to die but once we bumped him....he put some distance between us. A lesson I thought I had learned in the past. The plan was to go back and only check the arrow and blood after a couple hours. You know how that goes and it led to us working the blood trail until it petered out. We were standing there trying to figure what the hell happened when we heard him above us. We should not have been back in there at that time.
Hey man, you got him!!!!!!!!!!! Congrats. Way to stick it out and get it done. You may have been the receiver of a miracle but, it took YOU willing to put in the effort to receive it. I'm really happy for you.
Glad you were able to recover the animal...there would of been some sleepless nights. Not jabbing you in any way....but maybe explain to the folks if this occurs are you required to notify Fish and Game in your state or the state the hunt took place. Many are traveling to non-resident areas out west and some may not know what to do in a instance like this. Once again congrats.
In my and my friends deer hunting experience, liver hit animals don't like to bed. We think maybe it is an uncomfortable thing, but we have seen it a lot.
I know the feeling...I'll go look for the arrow...famous last words. Haha
Way to stick with it till the end. Very tough call to make for sure.
Thanks for sharing so others can learn.wounded elk happens a lot and people tend to not tell so again glad you shared and good job finding him
Woah. Helluva rollercoaster...really glad that your perseverance paid off: you've been able to pass on an invaluable reference for the rest of us, as well as notching your tag Are you able to put in for a rifle cow tag or spike/cow archery tag?
Congratulations, nice bull!
Thanks for the comments guys and I hope others can learn from this experience. Few thoughts-
-You are not required to pack out spoiled meat in MT to my knowledge. IF you were there and smelled what I smelled and saw what I saw you would not be eating that meat. NO WAY. However, I wanted to know I made every effort possible and make sure I was above and beyond reproach so I did take the front quarter off and pack it out. It took me forever cause the hide was so hard from sitting so long. It was obvious it was bad but I figured I was there and I'd make the effort. I should have left it. The stench is unbearable on my pack and clothes now. They've been soaking ever since. Hope it comes out. I will contact FWP and ask what the rules are on getting another tag, I'm told I can get another tag. I probably won't because I feel like killing one elk is enough. I personally don't think our herds are over quota. I took pics of the meat and was fully prepared to to take a warden back to the site of the shot and also the recovery if needed to prove what happened and show I made every effort possible to recover him. He best wear his walking boots cause we'll have some ground to cover. I LOVE elk meat, so I'm not that guy. In MT if you kill an elk and it hops a fence, dies on private land 5 mins later they don't have to let you in to recover. It's legal to sit there and let that animal waste even if it's 5 feet away on the other side of the fence. Crazy. I know I made every effort possible to find him and recover the meat.
-As far as the wait time. 1 hr is my minimum if I KNOW its a great shot. From here on out if I don't know where the shot was or I am questioning it, they will get 6. If it's hit back and I know it, they will get 12 from me. Even in that heat we would have been able to recover most if not all of the meat had we found him the next morning I believe. The big lesson is to give it time. Especially since we had it in our favor. It was opening day for crying out loud. I was worried about the heat but hindsight is showing me otherwise.
They will have you surrender the antlers if you want them to give you another tag
Gladly I'm sure...... man you make me want to go back and expand my search for the bull I wounded Sunday 2 weeks ago. I've been all over that area, looked for crows, smell, you name it. I know that bull was not fatally hit but I never found my 2nd arrow so there is that doubt......I hate it. I don't care about the antlers. I don't really care about the meat at this point as it is way past recovery. I care about the poor animal I didn't have the skill to kill cleanly and I lack closure on what happened even though I feel confident he lived. It sux.
SBH, you did nothing wrong. We don't hunt in slaughter houses. Thins happen. And, with temps as high as they were, your options were limited. Had you waited the 8-9 hours normal for a gut hit animal, had you even known that, if it did die early on, the meat would have likely been bad as well.
You did the best you could with what you had to work with. No one can say any different in the moment. Enjoy your trophy. You earned it man. God Bless
Matt way to stick to it ! I am proud for you and I don't even know ya. Bob
Way to stick with it, most hunters wouldn't have.
Way to go bud! I've been there, it's no fun! Way to go the extra mile, that's a well deserved hard earned bull there! Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good! (grin)
Congrats Matt on a great bull! Way to keep after it.
Hindsight is always 20/20, if you've bowhunted a long time we all end up in that situation eventually. All we can do is learn. Way to stick with it and recover your animal, mucho respect from me! Congrats on a fine bull and getting some closure! Nice work!
Congrats! Nice bull. Great perseverance!!!
I'm glad you found your elk. However, I hope you aren't serious about asking Fish and Game for another tag. You bought a tag to kill ONE elk, and you did that, you even took it's antlers home, now you are thinking of asking for another tag? If you're lucky FWP will laugh at you, if you're not lucky they will be questioning why you took the antlers off an animal and not the rest of it. Honestly, if I had killed an elk and not recovered anything but the antlers, I doubt I'd be posting a photo of the elk on Bowsite.
^^^^^^^Unbelievable^^^^^^^^. No mater where you go, what you have done, how hard you tried, etc... there is always somebody ready to tell you how you screwed up and, someone ready to tell you how you are wrong. It daily blows my mind the amount of Miss Mary's in this world.
So WV Mountaineer, you think he should be allowed to get another tag? Really, you think F&G is going to keep handing out tags if you fail to recover anything but the antlers? You don't see where there might be a problem with that? It's unfortunate what happened, but once you know for a fact that you killed an elk, and you take it's antlers, you have used your tag for that year.
Everybody screws up at some point. I've had a similar experience here in Montana. My hunting buddy shot a bull, and despite searching and searching, found nothing. A week later, I found his bull in the next drainage. It was just a little bull (no big rack to take home), but he tags the elk, and his season is over. That is how it works, you kill an elk, you tag an elk, and you are done hunting elk for the year. At least that is how it works here in Montana, maybe in West Virginia things are different.
I think everyone could see a problem with what you propose. I thought that went without saying. I also know he's a big boy and, he doesn't need you, I, or anyone else telling him what he needs to do. Just be glad for him and, if you can't muster the words to say so, just move along man. No one here needs or asked for a third party, internet lecture of what they think is the correct way of handling this. I don't mean that as bad as it sounds but, there is no other way of saying it. For the life of me I don't know why you and, the other Negative Nancy's feel compelled to rob him of the little bit of happiness that came from this.
I'm not calling you names either, I just didn't know how to say it other than this. I don't want to argue either or, take way from this thread anymore than already has been. If you got something else you want to say to me, do so in a private message please. God Bless men
So WV Mountaineer, let me get this straight, you want to respond to me in this thread, but you want me to respond in private? I'm happy for him, I'm glad he did everything he could to find the elk. I'm glad he got the antlers. I'm glad he put his tag on it. However, as far as the suggestion of asking FWP about the rules on getting another tag goes - there is no way FWP is going to give you another tag. I think they will if a grizzly, or pack of wolves takes your elk, but not if your elk spoils before you find it.
Irishman- If you read my post, I stated I was going to contact them to see what the rules where but that I would NOT get another tag either way. I had killed my elk and my tag was punched. That's what I wrote if you actually read it. Don't care what the rules are or if I could get another tag. For me, I was done. I was told I could get another tag, I don't agree with that so I wanted to check. There are still b tags I can get if I want. I won't be doing that. Instead I have been helping friends with their tags and working on an antelope. For some reason our FWP still thinks we are over quota in a lot of areas and you can shoot multiple elk in those areas. I happen to disagree so I am not taking part in shoulder hunts or extra b tags. That's my choice but I don't fault others for hunting them. Ive shot and lost bulls in the past, never knew if they died or if they lived....I kept hunting the rest of the season. I may have killed two elk in those years. I'll never know. Some folks quit once they shoot one and don't recover it. That's their choice and I can respect that. I have learned more from those failures and mistakes then anything else and just being out and continuing to hunt is an education. You are better the next time. I'm lucky to live in Bozeman and can hunt before or after work with a little extra effort in the day. I have still been going just cause I love going. It's all about being out in Gods country and enjoying the hunt. Thanks for following along and hope everyone is able to learn something from my experience. Good luck and shoot straight! Lots of season left and things are getting good.
Congrats on an awesome elk and serious effort in recovering him! Hindsight is 20/20. I would've done the same thing as you and went after him 6-8 hours later as I would be worried about meat. You didn't know he was still alive. Nice work, and congrats again.
Good story! Glad you found him.
any 2 mile recovery on a dead Elk in Montana is incredible. Congrats on a fine Bull !
We've all been there...way to stick it out.
For the record, Irishman sent me a solid pm. No hard feelings on my end, I get where he's coming from. Gotta go kill a speedgoat now!