Like the time I dropped the string on a cow elk at like 12 yards in the timber....I was on one side of a skid trail and she was just on the other coming the same direction I came in from downwind.......really? It was near shooting hours. I didn't see a branch on a dead fall and the arrow deflected almost vertically right before it hit her chest at perfect broadside standing still. Man........that sucked. Gotta make sure you can see well enough to not only see your target but any obstacles in the way. I was sure it was a slam dunk. Not so much.
Then last year when I called in the 6x sitting down eating a snack with my gear spread to kingdom come around me. Jumped up knowing I was 120 yards from the pond I expected him to pop out at as he is crashing down the timbered hillside. Left my rangefinder. Guessed him at 60 yards since I figured I had closed half the distance. He was at 45 yards. Clipped him across the top of his back above the shoulders. 2nd shot he was a bit further away and I mis judged again and clipped him across the bottom of his chest. That one still stings....bad. He was a dandy bull. Don't guess.....have your yardages figured out ahead of time or have your rangefinder handy....and don't call unless you are ready to execute.
Tearing up gear.....oh yeah......my good buddy told me I could tear up an anvil in a sandbox. Damn. I set up my new hammock which has an outer wind barrier that hangs around the bottom of the hammock...in which you slide a super lite pad for insulation. Works great for what it is intended to do. Sat down and missed the hammock and sat in the outer wind barrier which is NOT weight bearing.......tore it on one end. DOOOH. Still functional but man I can't have anything nice!
Not turning back when your exploring takes you where you should not be...... Many times I've pushed on into worse and worser terrain believing I can find a way out that is faster than going back and seeing the same stuff again. Only to get cliffed out and into sketchy routes not worth the risk. Bailed off into a nasty canyon solo one year outside of Pagosa Springs.....Sand Creek I believe. There was a good trail. I'd researched it remotely. I was sure it was worth it and the elk were down in there because no one would want to chase them there and pack one out. Half way down the trail flat petters out to nothing. I spend an hour thrashing around in thick steep nasty until I realize I'd worn myself silly and it was folly to continue. Plus I did not want to endanger my buddies who were going to follow me in the next day. Had another guy we knew take his son down in there another year and they nearly died for hypothermia after getting turned around. I should learn my limits and stay within them........getting better at that.
I'm sure there are plenty on here who are much better at this sport than I and never make a mistake. Good on you! I want to hear those who are brave enough to share their non-hero stories so I can learn from your mistakes as I have from my own. It is all part of the hunt.
That day, I decided to finally get some blood on one of my recurves that I’d never killed anything with. Made a great stalk and sat on an old stump surrounded by little pines like a natural ground blind at less than 20 yards. When he got up, I didn’t like the angle and he was relaxed so I just waited. The first shot was about 15 yards and a miss. He didn’t know what was up and just moved around and started feeding again. I ended up shooting five arrows at that buck under 35 yards before he finally walked down int a gully.
Almost tossed a $1,000 bow off a mountain after missing a solid Booner 5 times.
Figured out that I had held that recurve like my longbow and that caused my arrows to fly way off. Switched back to the longbow and went out and killed a 5x6 bull with a 40 yard shot that evening.
I took a young boy hunting not long ago. It was a doe day. We set up in some oaks that the deer and turkeys were killing. It was late season. Food was key. And, not long after daylight, here came the deer. We were surrounded by them. We could see them in every direction due to the snow and steep terrain.
It was his day but, he decided he wanted to watch me shoot one before deciding if he wanted to do the same. I agreed and told him we'd wait for the 3 or 4 below us to get clear. Next thing I know they had worked to within 30 yards of us. Really close. I instructed him to which deer I would shoot, took aim at her as she was now standing and looking very intently right as us, and squeezed off the trigger on an empty chamber. My whispering and pointing out which deer had gotten their attention. Of course when I fired on an empty chamber, it got all their attention. Needless to say, I couldn't get a round in without scaring them off. Missed a good chance to introduce that boy to what we do as hunters.
Blowing a grunt call at a mature buck at 25 yards. When he was standing still for about 2 minutes looking for the "buck" he had heard a few minutes ago. That deer turned inside out. He was in the brush and likely would have gave me a shot if I had stayed quiet. But I'm dumb. And, he grew older because of it.
Truth is, I'm not that smart. I'm persistent.
If we learn from our mistakes, I should be a genius! I could probably fill volumes with my screw ups on big bucks. Problem is, I think the deer learned from me faster! After many years, I finally managed to get lucky on a few that were obviously the dumb ones.
Although my passion has always been mule deer that are very difficult to kill spot and stalk with a bow and don’t consider myself much of an elk hunter, I occasionally do OK getting into the big deer.
Sometimes too close!
One time I was calling for a friend and had a very close call with a bull. The elk had moved up a steep hillside in the timber and there were a couple of bulls bugling.
We went up as fast as we could and got within about 100 yards. I called and got a response so set my buddy up with shooting lanes an got down in some deadfall to try and pull a bull in for a shot. I cow called and immediately saw the legs of an elk coming our way. He was a young 4 point - legal and I knew my buddy was not picky as it would be his first bull with a bow. When he stepped into the opening at 20 yards from my buddy, I expected to see an arrow stick in his ribs.
The bull kept coming down a trail right to my hideout, completely in the open for a shot the whole time. No shot.
Then, he jumped into the pile of trees I was in. I had to roll out of the way as his feet landed right where I’d just been laying! When he saw the movement, he freaked out! He started kicking and spinning around in the logs and almost got me! I was able to roll under some trunks to avoid getting the crap kicked out of me. After what seemed like an eternity, the bull finally got turned and jumped out to run back up the hill to the rest of the elk.
I was pretty shook up. I went down to my buddy and asked what happened. He said that he was turned the wrong direction to move some pine needles and his bow was out of reach. He never expected an elk to be there so fast. He said he had just frozen in place thru the whole episode and didn’t know what to do.
I told him “Shoot the damn elk before he breeds me or kills me!”
I looked up and saw 3 elk standing about 20yds away looking at me. Never forget that one
Another time I snuck up on the big bull was bugling his head off. He was above me on this slope so I got close, drew and stepped out from the thick stuff.
There he was about 30 yds away looking at me. I settled and dropped the string. At the same time he whirled and as he did, his rack swept down across his body and wouldnt ya know it... my arrow in bedded into his main beam. He walked off with my arrow in his rack
We cruised around looking for somewhere without a lot of other hunters. We finally found a decent looking place with no one else on the road. He wanted to get out to smoke a cigarette so I went to take a piss. He jokingly told me "watch I'll be smoking and see some huge bucks".
A few seconds went by then he came running up behind me freaking out about some huge bucks he saw. I assumed he was messing with me because he's just that kind of dude. He frantically swore he saw bucks. So I zipped up grabbed my bow and started still hunting towards where he said he saw them.
I heard something loud in the brush in front of me, so I got my bow ready to draw. Then a little bird came out from where it was dust bathing making the sound. I lowered my bow, and thought "damn birds" then took a step forward... Huge buck walked out from same place the bird was broadside staring at me. I froze. He bailed.
I haven't heard the end of this one lol.
A nice 6×6 showed up and almost stepped on me while I was laying next to a log. I could have reached out and touched him. Bow was just out of reach with an arrow knocked. Never did know I was there.
Dropped over a steep bank and out of my life.
A few days later we were back in the good stuff and after great morning we decided to have a sandwich and so sat down on a log to relax. Suddenly a bull lets out a bugle around a hundred yards off. The area is full of small steep undulations, creeks and small bedding areas mixed in so the terrain is in our favor and so is the wind. We gathered our items and started our way over to the thicker cover as the bull bugled a few more times in pretty short order. You can imagine the excitement at this point. Almost immediately we bump into a cow and she scoots taking the smallish group with them. Dang!!!! Foiled again. We were very green at calling and setups so we were pretty used to the monkey football exercise. Anyway we start to talk about getting back to the sandwich's and we hear a faint bugle from down hill. Then another and it's closer then again and closer. Then we realized why the first bull had been bugling and decided on sitting tight and cow calling when the second bull got close as the first bull had done some bugling on his way out collecting his shook up cows.
My partner goes down hill a little bit and when the bull closes I let out a few calls. He immediately answers only he is on the other side of a nasty tag alder thicket. He is pretty fired up and about 100 yards from me. I shut up with the calls thinking he is set on coming and I didn't want him to walk up to me but rather the shooter. A few minutes go by and nothing. My partner comes back up and and kinda ribs me about shutting up.
About then I see over his shoulder the bull coming right at us about 70 yards out. "Get ready here he comes!" and we both drop to a knee and he draws. The bull runs in and stops on the other side of a big dead-fall 20 yards away with no shot. He is a giant 6 with long white tips and dark heavy beams. After the bull stands there looking around for an eternity I make the brilliant decision to give the softest cow call to try and get him to come around the dead fall. Nope he looks directly at us and 2 seconds after that he plows down the forest leaving. Absolutely the worst decision I have made hunting Elk and a lesson I will not forget. Since that year we have been able to take 4 really good bulls within 100 yards or so of that spot.
Good thing for me is when we are going to go there the saying is lets go kick some bone piles. Not lets go to the spot where you blew a 300 incher out!!!
I hope to have a few more screwups to report back in about a month, as I'm not sure I'm ready to post on a hero thread:)
First year I learned about OTC elk tags, first year hunting. My son and I went up to a spot that I had heard held elk and a place my buddy had shot a mule deer a couple years prior. This was literally the very first hunt my son (10 at the time) and I had ever been on. I had my old Hoyt Rebel XT and my son along for the hike. First morning of the OTC season we are up at dark, and head out from our camp. We made a big circle north of camp and made our way back around 10:00 and had to shed layers. Everything we owned at the time was very inexpensive, Walmart, or handed down to us. Regardless, we had on too much clothing. Also, our backpacks were pretty heavy. After shedding some layers and dropping unnecessary gear at camp we headed back out. We followed an ATV trail for a ways and saw some deer, an owl flying and then we heard something very loud. We were up on a ridge with a valley 50 yards across to the next ridge and tons of under brush. There was a tree on the other side that looked like something out of Jurassic Park! Just the top of the tree was moving, shaking, but the ground sounded like thunder! I had an arrow knocked and my hand on my pistol since I had no idea what was going on. My heart was beating so loudly in my ears I could barely hear my son practically yelling, "DAD! What is that?!". We took a few steps toward the noise and the commotion and an elk ran off. He was raking a tree and stomping the ground and I was absolutely numb due to lack of experience! We still laugh at that experience. Little did I know that was a life changing experience for me and my son!
That next off season I joined a bunch of elk forums and haven't stopped reading about elk hunting since!
The next year cnelk had offered us a spot to check out. We scouted the area a few weeks prior to season and found some old sign, some rubs and had a really good time in the woods. We made our way up the night before opening day and set camp. The site we stayed in while scouting was available but had been shat all over from the cattle in the area. We spent a lot of time that evening cleaning up the area, shoveling cow poop and raking away the remains with pine boughs. Saturday morning we left camp in the dark and made a very slow hike through the woods. Hunting began almost from our camping spot so we treaded very lightly. We made it out a couple miles and took our time. We ran into a hunter that asked us if we'd seen the bull he shot! He explained he camped down the road from where we were camped and left late that morning but basically followed our path. We helped him look for sign for a bit before he gave up. My son and I headed back to our camp for lunch and immediately noticed our camp had been disturbed while we were out. As we got into camp we started seeing weird things, the fire pit rocks were knocked into the fire pit. Our EZ-up canopy had a very bent leg, my truck mirror was folder backwards...and there were hundreds of ELK PRINTS all over our camp!!! Because we had swept the area clean of cattle poop we basically left a perfectly clean canvas which made it very easy to see all the elk prints in camp! They rooted through the fire ring, they rubbed their noses in the soot from the fire pit and rubbed on my truck windows, knocking my mirror backwards in the process! One must have squeezed their way between a tree and the EZ-up canopy and bent the leg!!! We laughed HYSTERICALLY at how it must have looked. We leave camp in the dark and the elk raided camp 20 minutes later! If we had stayed in our tent with the doors unzipped we could have shot an elk 5' from the tent entrance!
That night it rained, a lot. We headed out from camp a little later that morning and after a couple hours of soaking rain we found a log to sit on and have a snack. We hung our bows in a tree and got comfy. As we were sitting there talking my son asked what the noise was coming through the woods. You have to understand that where were sat was very thick cover with a big pine tree providing some protection from the rain. All of a sudden my 12 year old son was practically in my lap freaking out and as we turned around two cow elk came through the bushes less than 10' RIGHT BEHIND US! They about turned themselves inside out trying to spin 180 degrees to get away from us! One reared up on her hind legs like a horse and the other looked like a dog skidding out on a wet tile floor trying to get her legs back underneath her. My son still talks about being so close to these elk he could see the pupils in their eyes. Never saw those girls again.
Not elk but same season. I dropped my son off at home a couple days later, showered, re-supplied and headed up to the area I had a deer tag. I had a forky and three does come to where I had made it early that morning. I tried ranging the forky but my range finder was full of water from the elk hunting trip a few days earlier and I couldn't see through it. I guessed 30 yards and shaved hair off the back. Never saw those deer again.
The next year I met up with a guy from one of the forums. My son couldn't make that trip with me due to school. Actually I arrived the night before and went to exactly where he said to go. Sure enough elk bugling their heads off! I spent most of the evening videoing the elk bugling and hardly any time actually hunting! Still had a great time but never got an opportunity at the elk.
Couple years ago my son and I were in that same area and made the nasty, steep, early morning hike to get up the ridge. Once there the mission is to follow that ridge up even higher...ugh! As were were coming up on a big clearing I reminded my son to be very quiet and stay in the trees. He reminded me that he woke with a horrible cold and was blowing snot out his nostrils that looked like a damn shoelace and sounded like a trumpet! Right then he looked up over my shoulder and as I turned my head we watched a bull elk running away from us. We were within 40 yards of him at the edge of the clearing and never knew he was there.
That's one thing I have learned in the short few years we have been hunting is that it's all about the experiences, not the kill. I recently got away from 20 years in mechanical engineering and have switched careers to sales. One thing they tell you in sales is it's hard for people to accept the fact you can receive 9 "no's" to every 1 "yes". I can absolutely accept that as a fact...I am an elk hunter!
Great thread, reminds me to appreciate the little things in the woods!
I've shot 70-74# since I started shooting a bow. Unfortunately, Father Time had begun to take his toll, however Mother Ego was too freakin' stubborn to pay attention! Two years ago, I noticed that every once in a while my shoulder and elbows wouldn't allow me to draw back on the first shot of the day. Heck, there were a few times I had to prime the pump a few times. Didn't happen often, but often enough the red flags should have been going off. I figured when a shot presented itself, the adrenalin would see me through. Sometimes, we can really be our own worst enemy!
I'd patterned a bull and knew where he'd be coming through at first light. I just had to beat him there. I used my GPS and flashlight to navigate my way to behind the tree I call "Ambush". It wasn't long after daylight that I heard his tell-tale bugle on the backside of the ridge. I knew he was coming, I just had to be patient. Unfortunately, he took his time. Even more unfortunate, it had snowed and it was COLD! By the time he showed up with his cows, they were on the far side of the saddle. I gave a couple mews and here they came. The cows passed by broadside, some less than 10yds. I could see him coming up on my left, so I waited till his head went behind a tree and drew my bow. Well, at least I TRIED to draw my bow. Didn't happen. I drew it back on the second try, but by then he'd cleared the tree and saw the movement. Let's just say big bulls don't get big by letting such foolishness go unpunished. Had I been able to draw on my first attempt, I'd have sent an arrow through him broadside at 18yds. As it was, I wanted to send an arrow through ME! Needless to say, I cranked the poundage down when I got back to camp, and readjusted everything as best I could. Luckily, two days later I shot another elk, although not nearly as big as the one that got away.
At this pt I am warm so I take pack off and start shedding the jacket. I did do this behind a sm spruce out of dumb luck. As I’m stuffing jacket in pack I look up and he appeared out of nowhere standing 10yds in front of me. Big 6x. I slowly grab my bow which has an arrow knocked. I clip wrist release on and start to slowly draw. Turns out I didn’t clip the release on bow string fully and it pops off. Punched myself right in the lip. Lip instantly swells up and at this pt I can’t help but start giggling at my dumbass. Jig is up, he looks right at the sm spruce and let’s out a bugle. Thought my eardrums were going to blow. Was prob the coolest encounter with an elk I have had.
My buddy and I had been trying to get a particular big gobbler, and had failed several times to get him to come in off the roost.
One particular morning, we got up extra early, and snuck right in under the roost trees in the dark. Threw out a single hen decoy, and set up with our backs against the same huge digger pine tree.
Crack of dawn, the gobblers all started to sound off. Suddenly we heard the "swoosh" of turkey wings, and it sounded like a big glider was circling it's way down...BOOF!!! The big gobbler lands about 4 feet away from our boots!
I got one shot off, and my buddy emptied his gun, as the bird took off running and pitched up into the air.
My buddy and I look at eachother in disbelief, and he says "That's the kind of $h** that turns a guy into an alcoholic".
Funny thing...about 10 years later, he basically became one!
That turkey was laying there dead one second, and the next it was gone. Up and ran behind a bush and never was seen again!!! We chased and looked and looked. He was gone.
That was almost 30 years ago. We have got better at turkey hunting since then. One of the things we have learned is EVERY turkey gets tackled! Haven’t lost any since.
I was stacking logs anout 11 am last year to block a closed road being trespassed upon. Made a racket. A bull bugled off his bed above me. I grabbed my bow and set up but he stayed put and I left him be.
Got to know one of the bowsiters from my home state through the site here. Over time, the PMs led up to him telling me he was going to be in my area during our spring turkey season. Invited him to stay at my place and I told him to bring his bow and turkey gear with him and I would take him to my ''honey hole" farm and get him his first turkey with the bow. He rolled in on a Thursday afternoon and he got all set up at my place while i was finishing up at work. The plan was to have a dinner of backstrap on sides on the campfire and spend some time sharing stories and getting to know eachother. I had talked to my brother on the phone and he told me he had been watching/hunting a bird on the local gamelands and that i should take my new buddy on an impromptu hunt that evening. We did just that and had a turkey come around behind us, but no idea what it was or where it went after putting. We had a great hunt though, sharing stories and probably talking/laughing a little louder than we should have been to try to kill a turkey, but thats what it is all about. It rained for a bit, so when we got back to my place, i set the blind up in my garage to let it dry out. We had a late dinner and then to bed. The alarm went off early the next morning and off to the honey hole we went and I was filled with immense excitement. Upon arrival at the farm and getting gear out of the truck, that excitement disappeared quickly as I come to find that i forgot the blind in the garage and we were now tasked with trying to kill a wary PA eastern gobbler with the bow and no blind. We ended up hearing several birds and had a jake sneak in on us from behind and bust us just enough that a good shot opp was not gonna happen. If i dont forget the blind, he kills his first bird with the bow. I NEVER forget gear like that, i can't believe i blew it.....
Fast forward to the beginning of the new year, i invite the same fella down to our annual "Bunny Camp" at our shabin. Our bunny camps are always a blast, tons of awesome food, stories and most of the time, the beagles dont stop running rabbits each day until their legs darn near wont carry them any more. With fresh snow on the ground, the conditions are PERFECT for bow killing some bunnies. Definitely gonna show him a good time and make up for the blunder the previous spring. The beagles jumped the first rabbit, LITERALLY THE FIRST RABBIT 5-10 minutes into the hunt and for whatever reason, for the first time ever all 3 dogs took off in a straight line and off and gone. Long story short, we spent all the rest of that day hunting dogs while the guys we had down to hunt hung out in the cabin. We recovered all three dogs, one after hiking miles in the middel of the night after getting a tip via phone call and then the other two dogs were recovered the next day, over 3 miles as the crow flies from where they took off from and across a major creek.
Fast forward to this May, same buddy makes the trip down for another turkey hunt. Redemption trip, if you will. We head to the honey hole on Friday morning, with two blinds in the truck this time because i'm not making that mistake again. We hunt until mid morning, not seeing a turkey and i believe only hearing one or two gobbles if any. I ALWAYS at least hear a bunch of gobbles in a couple directions there. WHAT IS GOING ON? This guy has to think i'm some kinda clown or something. So Saturday, we decide to head up to our ground where my buddies have been into birds pretty good most days they hunt. Alarm is set for an hour and a half before daybreak....I wake up on my own about 20 minutes before daybreak...WTH????!!!!! I rush downstairs super pissed about not setting my alarm right or shutting it off, whatever it was that happened. I NEVER sleep through the alarm or miss a hunt, NEVER. We end up getting up there shortly after day break but could never get on anything.
As i said, i've had my fair share of gaffes, but to be honest, it isn't something that happens very often to me when it comes to hunting. It just doesn't. My buddy in each case was more than cool about it and was never bothered, he enjoyed each hunt and what we could make of it and said that each one would be one we could always talk about. I just could never figure out why something ALWAYS happens and the hunt goes south due to my mistake or other goofy things when this guy is involved. Then, yesterday when thinking about posting these things, it hit me. Maybe its not me. Maybe this other guy is just "snake-bit".....:^)
Like I said Brother, It’s always a pleasure getting to hunt with you! Doesn’t matter if we kill a critter or not! That’s NOT what it’s about. So Now maybe you won’t feel so guilty! ;-)
I figured that I had to at least try to reach for my haul line and get my bow, but with 4 eyes, 15 yards away, I didn't think it was possible to pull off, but I had to try. I didn't want any deer, even fawns, see me in that tree. My tree's trunk was quite large and my haul line was on the opposite side of the tree...quite a reach. I always try to have my haul line NOT on the side of the tree that I climb...just in case. I'd hate to fall on a bow full of broad heads.
So, as slowly as humanly possible, I started blindly reaching around the tree feeling for my haul line. This was getting exhausting. I found the line, now "all" I needed to do is pull it up, and nock an arrow (without spooking the fawns) and then I'd go from observer to an actual hunter. Man, I did it! I got the bow in hand with an arrow nocked without spooking 2 deer that were at times only 10 yards away. Okay, now I at least have a chance to shoot if a good buck comes by. Those stinkin' fawns stayed there for 6, yes, s-i-x hours. They FINALLY moved off and I figured I won the battle. I could get up into the stand and get a good 4 or 5 hour hunt. Did I mention this was exhausting? I climbed up, and sat down...feet aching, legs cramping, and totally exhausted from standing motionless on that branch for all those hours. But the moral victory I had was pretty rewarding in itself. 15 minutes after I sat down I heard some rumbling. A thunderstorm was fast approaching. Man, what a storm...raining buckets and lightning popping everywhere. Not a good time to be in a tree standing on metal. So I climbed down and walked back to the truck soaking wet. I laugh every time I think about that day. I named the stand "Out On a Limb"...gotta have names for your stands.
I mis-ranged a spot that I just knew a 330 bull was going to walk by....The bull stepped into the gap...and I shot what felt like a perfect arrow that I watched fly one foot over his back into the rocks.
My first instinctive shot with a recurve was at a really nice 140 class buck....about 25 yds with no clue I was there....I still can't figure out why I shot over that buck...no more pure instinctive shooting for me.