Contributors to this thread:
Opening morning here in Colorado I made what I thought was a lethal shot on a 5x5. I initially thought I got lungs, but after glassing it while walking away, I think I may have only got liver. I gave him several hours before picking up the trail, but we lost blood very quickly, and never recovered the bull. Without rehashing everything with the shot, what are my options if I find this bull?Obviously, the meat will not be salvageable, if the bears haven't cleaned it up already. Can I take a picture of the carcass and tag it? I plan on calling CPW tomorrow, but wanted to see if anyone else has had to deal with this issue. Would have been my first elk too.
That's a heart break. Here in Idaho, possession happens when the animal is tagged. You are not forced legally into tagging a bull that spoiled/lost. But, ethically it is up to you to make the right decision. Also, if you do not tag it, I believe you can not take the horns.
If I find it, I definitely plan on tagging it. I just don't want any issues with not having meet to go with it.
Personally, I wouldn't contact any authorities over the matter. No reason to toss a wrench into things for no reason & possibly cause problems. If you locate the animal & it appears non-retrievable just take photos from all angles showing it's days old or whatever. You can tag it & retrieve the rack! My .02
You may have to wait a few days roughly for birds to show & help locate it, sometimes they will show the next day. It takes 5-10 hours for a bull to expire with a liver shot, he generally does not bed like a gutshot if not pushed but dies on his feet.
This is what my bull looked like last year when I found him--one week after I shot him. The birds showed me the way. I punched my tag, cut off the antlers and headed home. No regrets.
This is what my bull looked like last year when I found him--one week after I shot him. The birds showed me the way. I punched my tag, cut off the antlers and headed home. No regrets.
As others have said, the ravens and magpies are your friends. Watch and listen for them first thing in the morning at sunrise—they’ll often show you the way.
"Obviously, the meat will not be salvageable"
Not so... this will depend on when the bull dies in relation to when you find him.
If it is a marginal liver hit or guts, the bull might not die for 8-10-24-48 hours.... you just don't know till you know.
I would go back in the morning prepared to finish off a live bull and pack meat.
That's a gut-wrenching sleep depriving situation to be in. Was it a long shot?
It was a 40 yd shot as he was feeding. I was in a stand on a waterhole and had to lean out a tad to clear a tree. Up and down was perfect but about 6" back. Broadside.
Liveshot bulls will bed down, been there done that. Perhaps he will be salvageable. I would definitely contact the game warden. Much easier to explain before than after the fact when you have antlers and no meat. Look back in the direction he came from, that was his safe place and he may go back that way. Birds will help with location.
If its legal, find a dog. Beagle or most hounds will follow his trail and take you right to him. I have been amazed watching our beagles follow a blood trail. Many years ago they followed one for 1.5 miles and I was just about to decide they were out on their own adventure when I saw the whitetail under a cedar tree. Any way, no idea what the law is on them where you are at but if possible, find a dog and you will find that elk quickly.
Good lesson here. If I think any hit is not optimum, or "back" as you stated, I'll give them at least 4 hours before carefully trying to track.
I've seen bulls lost over the years by tracking too soon, and I've seen several easily recovered, because we took that extra time.
That being said, sorry it happened, and I hope you find him, for closure.
Best Wishes, Jeff
I've been in the same position. I found the bull 2-3 days after the shot. I just kept looking and my nose led me right to him. I smelled it from at least 100 yards.
It's a heartbreaker, no doubt.
If you hit him good like that and know he's history, IMHO your tag should be punched and your hunt is over whether you find him or not! Ethics is concerned here and some IMHO aren't thinking of that in their answers.
No reason to contact CPW... It will only complicate things..
Another vote for elk nut...
Think if the GW were contacted for every wounded animal. I just look down at my plastic bracelet and read... WWPD.... what would Paul do?
The nutty one...................
"If you hit him good like that and know he's history, IMHO your tag should be punched and your hunt is over whether you find him or not! Ethics is concerned here and some IMHO aren't thinking of that in their answers." There is no way of knowing if he is history unless you find him. Plenty of bulls killed every year with old broad heads still in them. If you don't find him and you decide to continue the hunt, more power to you!
Smokey , wise man!! I skinned a bull with two years worth of broadhead in him! Last year a guy made what looked like a 10 ring shot on a giant bull at 12 yards. Pink bubbly blood within 30 yards of the hit tracked him for three days to find him bugling breeding cows.
Jeremy... I've been there! I hit a rag horn 4x4 my second day several years back. He moved forward as I released and hit him almost exactly as you described above. A portion of the herd of elk went one way and my bull went the opposite. At the time, we didn't realize my bull went the opposite direction due to the thick vegetation. My buddy and myself combed the area for nearly two days, mostly following tracks, which looking back, we spent too much time searching the wrong direction. I came back two days later to the same area and the ravens led me right to him. Although the meat was lost, I put my tag on his antlers (that day) and my hunt was done. That HURT to lose that meat.
Come to find out, we had grid searched within 50 yards of him the two days we searched. The dark timber and the fact he was on a downslope made it impossible to see him from our vantage point.
Sorry you are having to endure this, I know well the feeling.
Best of luck going forward.
“Ethics is concerned here and some IMHO aren't thinking of that in their answers.”
I obey alllaws and look for animals for days but if I don’t find the animal then I continue to hunt. Beat me up if you want but this is how I draw the line.
Your animal may be dead then he may not be but an animal hit today and dies tomorrow can go bad really quick onceheqives up the ghost. I shot a bull one evening and he was seen alive at 8:00 a.m. and found at 1:30ish and skinned pronto and and hung for the night and meat was bad morning. there are a lot of dynamics going when dealing with wounded large animals in moderate to warm temps. If he falls where he is directly in the sun it is amazing how quickly a large animal can go bad.
If I ever find the animal then tag is punched and I am done.
Whatever guys, but that's the way I was brought up and if that bull was hit from the liver or forward of it like the OP stated the chances of him living to breed this year are few and far between!
do Your best and move on. Can’t do more than that.
Same here Rocky. I will absolutely tag him if I find him , meat good or bad my hunt will end as soon as he's located. After a couple days if still not found I will continue to hunt. Topguns, that's exactly what I thought when that bull was shot , and looked like it was a double lung pass through. Really hoping to find him again Friday!
Yep the Colorado Reg’s clearly state once you draw blood you must notch your tag or lose your man card and hunting rights.... Ohh wait you mean they know people will wound elk and figure that into the equation. I would notch my tag if I found him but if I look for several days to no avail, I’m assuming he made it. Crucify me because I am not as honorable and noble as most of you fellas but I’m not notching a tag without placing it on something. I’ve seen too many critters survive “fatal” shots.
If you find it great, tag it and grab the rack if the meat is spoiled. If you don’t move on and try again. Everyone is human and errors on occcasion. It’s all built in the harvest equations anyway.
good luck and just obey the laws. anything less would just put you in the poacher class.
Agreed. If you find him notch your tag and take the horns. If not then hunt on. All this is based on the fact that you have searched long and hard.
Been there in 2015. I like Embry, walked by my bull a couple of times to end up finding him a week later with the help of cnelk. Sucks but I notched my tag like others.
Please let us know how it turns out. Hope you find him although losing the meat will still hurt as that's the real goal.
If it was me.... I would keep hunting if I didn't find anything.
It is your personal decision, and dont let anyone tell you different.
If I did find him, I'd tag and keep antlers.
This has happened to every elk bowhunter (and many rifle hunters too). Learn from it and move on. The archery hunting take from recovered and wounded animals is just a blip in the big picture of the overall elk management equation. An "unrecovered" elk feeds a whole lot of other critters, each of which is grateful for the feast.
Nowhere does it say that humans are more worthy of elk steaks than bears, coyotes, ravens. There is no law that says you must punch your tag, just as there is no law restricting shot distance. If you choose to end your hunt, thats your decision and nobody else's.
And maybe the bull isn't dead. My hunting partner lost a bull from a "great" shot. We looked hard and we've tracked more than 100 bow shot elk. Then the following year he killed that bull 150 yards from where he shot it the year before, and we recovered the broadhead...
Jaq, where did you recover the Broadhead after the “perfect shot”?
It was a steep downhill quartering away shot on the bedded bull and never penetrated the body cavity. I didnt see the shot but he said he got penetration up to the fletching. He did, but it apparently traveled along the top of the spine because the broadhead was encapsulated in gristle, facing forward, and stopped up between the shoulder blades in the backstrap.
I personally wouldn’t cut a tag if there was no meat. Sure having the antlers would be nice, but the meat IMO is the real trophy.
Ucs, I forgot to mention that we were able to follow an "X" of scar tissue from the entrance wound forward. If it had penetrated the body cavity it should have taken out the plumbing from the shot angle. To him, and he has killed a LOT of elk, it appeared that the arrow went right down inside the bull, as fast as everything happened when it hit.
Jaq makes a great point I have always said NOTHING goes to waste in the woods...everyone who has done it long enough loses something..I have only lost one but it would have been my biggest bull ...looked for it for a month...coming back several times... But the forest loves the food and anything left at the kills site it gobbled up..I truly wish when I croak somebody could just drop me in the forest and have the critters take me away...
What Lou said. Do your best but if you don’t find that bull consider it a donation to the other critters trying to make a living out there.
I'm not convinced that a liver shot is always fatal, if the broadhead doesn't cut any guts or the hepatic artery it's a clean wound, these animals are crazy tough
Thanks jaq. Arrows can do weird things when they get inside an elk. I think sometimes it’s from hitting bone and other times it’s from the animal moving. It happens so fast I don’t think our eyes can catch it. Last year I shot a bull on a frontal. Bull was dead, no doubt about it, based on entrance. I looked all day and part of the night. Next morning I went back and found the arrow. It was broken off and only a couple inches of blood. Obviously didn’t hit where I “knew” it did. He lived to fight another day. I was so relieved to find that arrow.
Thanks Jaquomo for that post. Ucsdryder is dead on. It is amazing that an arrow can do such unpredictable things from what we saw or what we THOUGHT we saw happen on a shot. It seems to occur more with shots taken at an angle (treestand or steep slope) and is especially true with highly wired whitetails but obviously also with elk. We've all made the shot that hit "a little back" or "a perfect 10 ring" and the recovery results can vary tremendously.
Yep, Elknut1 said it. It's one of those unfortunate things that happens no matter what weapon we use, if we hunt long enough. Go find another bull and post pics. It won't heal the mental wound, but it will take the sting out.
Thanks for the feedback guys. 3 of us looked again yesterday we made a big loop around the area. No birds, smell, or anything.
The shot was at 8:30. He ran and I cow called to stop him. After about 30 yards while looping to my right he started walking. Unfortunately I couldn't get an arrow nicked in time. He then stopped behind me where I couldn't see him. 30-45 minutes later I saw him walking away slowly. I stopped him to try to get another one in him but he passed the opening before stopping. Then he walked off and I lost sight. I waited until 1030 before sneaking out the opposite direction. We didn't come back to track until 1.
I had a similar situation last year. Arrow penetrated well thru the scapula just before dark. Came back in the morning. Great blood at first. I knew that elk was dead. Found where he bedded. Leaving his bed, the blood trail was a few drops here and there. Searched for 8 hours and 400 yards on my hands and knees. Don't know if he lived or died.
Sucks. Sorry man. Lot of us have been there. They are amazing and tough animals. Sorry you didn't recover. Keep your head up, get back after them. You got this.
Killing 600 pound animals with sharp sticks isn't an exact science. Losing an animal stinks but the challenge of making a good shot and the potential issues with recovering critters killed with archery gear is a big part of why its so satisfying when you are standing over one notching a tag.
Bummer for it to happen on what would have been your first elk but if you keep hunting it will likely happen again. Finding elk, getting in range, making a good shot, recovering and packing out an elk is an activity with a million things waiting to go wrong. Although our job is trying make it go right, I'm also thankful its so hard.
Sounds like you have given a good effort to recover what may or may not be a fatally hit bull. I would hunt on if I felt that my equipment and I were up to making the next opportunity go right. Some guys would punch their tag and of course that is fine. If you find him at some point you can decide then whether to end your season.
In 2004 300 elk died in a spot in Wyoming due to eating a lichen they weren't accustomed to, a couple years ago 100+ elk died in a spot in New Mexico due to toxic pond scum. Just the drive from Golden to Lyons results in 15-20 elk a year hit by cars. Wolves kill 10,000 elk a year in Wyoming. Colorado bowhunters kill around 5000 a year here. I might call it quits if it was a species where that 1 animal has a measurable impact but elk are doing fine and as Jaq stated, bowhunting harvest isn't the cause or solution to any population issues that happen to our 280,000 elk.
Good luck with however you handle it. I'm pretty sure I would keep hunting and doubt I would bother contacting the CPW.
It's hard to underestimate the impact of threads like this to a new or even reasonably seasoned archery hunter. That's what makes Bowsite such a great resource, the elk forum especially. Knowledge tempered with compassion and understanding; real world experts sharing their knowledge. Thank you all.
It happens I have made good shots and bad ones and lost a few deer never lost an elk but it certainly can happen. Didn't look like that much blood to me hopefully he makes it . Totally agree on not calling Conservation - I'm sure they have plenty of issues to deal with versus lost animals.
And THATS why they pay Glunt the big bucks.....incredibly well said.
Ethics are like anything else these days. Just because you might roll one way any I another doesn't mean either of us is wrong.
Not recovering any animal is a rough experience. When it no longer upsets me if I or one of my party loses any animal then I will question my own ethics
That's a tough one but we learn from every experience good or bad. I have lost a couple animals I've drawn blood on but I for one have never notched a tag for an animal where I never brought anything back. In my home province I have the opportunity to notch what 2 maybe 3 tags each year? I'm going to stop hunting because I might have killed an animal that I can't take home?
Our local hunters safety course even has a chapter on hunting ethics. Nowhere have I ever read that sticking an arrow in an animal that you don't recover should ethically equate to notching a tag. Nowhere but bowsite. The only place that comes from is from outfitters who have wounding policies and that's a total different ball of wax and as they should. Their livelihood depends on it. If you want to cut your tag for your own personal convictions that's fine, but I wouldn't be telling anyone else to do that much less a new bowhunter that needs to live and learn. And what better way to learn than getting back on the horse?!
Here is the deal, having had a buddy experience this earlier this year in CO.
The Agent's only real criticism (besides me having a cow elk decoy on my bow while deer hunting......LMAO) is that my buddy didn't immediately report the lost elk to CPW. That raises questions. Particularly if another person reports finding a lost elk in the area (not my buddies....another one that was bigger), which the CPW WILL INVESTIGATE.
My suggestion........consider reporting. Maybe CPW will help you locate it. In any case, there are certain situations where it is better to ask permission than later ask forgiveness. You better have a solid consistent story and corroboration because the approach is "we know you did something wrong and we are going to figure it out......." Which sux but I guess that is the job.
Funny thing.....when my buddy packed out there were two guys on the road with no weapons but a bugle wandering around blowing on their toot horn like they were "hunting". They even spoke to my friends and asked if they had any success.....which of course they got vague responses because no one is going to tell another stranger where the elk are.......then the two took off up the trail into the area bugling away. As soon as my buddies got in the truck and pulled away here the two come barreling ass off the trail waiving badges and demanding they stop. They had been up the trail a bit listening to see if they could overhear any incriminating information. Of course, there was none to be heard or said. They had copies of my posts here on BS about the hunt, which corroborated the story my buddies told....because it was the truth. But they were looking for something/someone else.............Sneaky................ ;)
Having said all that, be aware, be honest, be prepared. And the agents were 100% professional and respectful despite their funny efforts at subterfuge.
Jordanathome ....now that makes me angry!
Don't be angry, be aware and prepared. They were doing their job, and well. They knew my name, address, vehicle, what tag(s) I held, they do read the forums and follow up on reports, complaints, and leads. I think the "act" they put on was silly but if it works and they catch some bad guys with those antics....more power to them!
In MO we had agents who would sneak through the marsh up on hunting groups and sit for hours watching hidden waiting for a violation to ticket. Kinda shitty way to do business, I'd rather they be up front and visible than sneaking around looking for trouble. But it ain't my job and I'm just happy they are doing it, most with a very professional attitude.
Seems to me that if you’re not breaking any laws, it doesn’t matter what (lawful) “tricks” the COs might use. Just says to me that they’re working hard at their jobs.
Not that I would thank them if their tootling were to blow up a carefully thought-out set-up or approach, but unless they did it as deliberate sabotage, well, them’s the breaks. Serves a guy right for hunting too close to the road, I guess....
Jaquomo said it best,....and I agree, nothing goes to waste. Good luck hunting.
I was there helping look for Jeremy’s Bull, I can assure you we looked long and hard. I was really wanting to find it, it would have been a fine first elk for him. It happens all you can do is get back out there and try again
No stones thrown here. I just helped a buddy recover his first bow kill. Center punched through the stomach. We were fortunate to find it, although not all the meat is salvageable. I told him there are 3 types of bow hunters: those who lie and say they've never wounded, those who haven't shot enough stuff to have it happen yet, and those who are honest that it happens, even to the best. I know it's tough as most of us have been there, but I couldn't agree with Glunt and APauls more. If a guys wants to notch his tag on a non-recovery, that's his decision, but no one should suggest someone else follow the same course of action.
Sounds like you put in a good, hard effort, and that's all anyone should expect. I hope you keep hunting man, and good luck.
"The Agent's only real criticism is that my buddy didn't immediately report the lost elk to CPW. "
I was surprised to see this quote. Shouldn't CPW put this in the Big Game brochure if this is what they want? I'm sure many of us have searched for or helped someone search for an unrecovered elk. I know I've spent many hours helping others look for elk. It certainly never occurred to me that we should call CPW to report it. I seriously doubt they have the manpower to assist in the recovery of, or investigate every lost elk.
Get a good blood tracking dog. Forrest