Mathews Inc.
A Bulls Survival Insticts!
Contributors to this thread:
ElkNut1 05-Dec-18
sneakem 05-Dec-18
Franklin 05-Dec-18
HUNT MAN 05-Dec-18
LUNG$HOT 05-Dec-18
Huntcell 05-Dec-18
tobinsghost 05-Dec-18
Ucsdryder 05-Dec-18
kentuckbowhnter 05-Dec-18
IdyllwildArcher 05-Dec-18
Surfbow 05-Dec-18
Treeline 06-Dec-18
altitude sick 06-Dec-18
hawkeye in PA 06-Dec-18
Scoot 06-Dec-18
320 bull 06-Dec-18
ElkNut1 06-Dec-18
elkmtngear 06-Dec-18
cnelk 06-Dec-18
Aspen Ghost 06-Dec-18
sdkhunter 06-Dec-18
ElkNut1 06-Dec-18
Charlie Rehor 06-Dec-18
ElkNut1 06-Dec-18
midwest 07-Dec-18
ElkNut1 07-Dec-18
smarba 07-Dec-18
From: ElkNut1
You've finally got a bull to commit through your strategic calling, he's closing the 150 yards, you can tell from his bugling & chuckling he's on his way in but cannot see him through the timber! Your heart is pounding; your arrow is nocked & you have firm tension on the string, there he is coming through the timber, 60 yards, 50-- 40 -- 30 he stops on full alert & know's somethings not right with every muscle tense & ready to explode out of your life. What alerted him or stops you from taking the shot?

That's the question, what are some of things that happen in crunch time that can blow a seemingly perfect encounter? Name one or two things!

Bull catches a movement from the hunter!

He sees no elk where he thinks he should!

What else can possibly happen, real life experiences are best but speculation is welcome!


From: sneakem
Wind switches... classic!

From: Franklin
Too late....he already has an arrow in him when he hit 30.

A or is it B. I think it’s B

Not expecting to have service and cell phone rings.

From: Huntcell
Didn’t take the shot wasn’t 350 or better, let’em go let’em grow.

From: tobinsghost
The hunter called like in the Primos vids or his Sitka camo failed...LOL!

From: Ucsdryder
Sees no elk. Over and over again.

it has a pine needle abortion?

I think they learn that no sound + no visible elk = hunter. Guys do move and that's a loser there - you have to stay dead still till you draw, but this is why I try and set up in places where the odds of a shot are high when they get close and I think lips and ridges are the best for that. You can see through trees. You can't see through dirt.

But if they stop and dont see an elk, going completely quiet is a problem too and I think it makes them uneasy because elk move and make noise. Predators stalk. The problem is if you're pinned, it makes calling difficult. Thus the ol' call and move up. It's nice to have a caller to bring them in closer.

From: Surfbow
"He sees no elk where he thinks he should!" This happened to me twice this year...Doh!

From: Treeline
Screwed. He’s out of range! He still needs to come another 20 yards;-)

1. He smelled you or where you have been.

2. He didn’t see any elk where he expected to see them.

3. He picked out something that wasn’t right - you were not in a good position, not blended into the background, you got antsy (WHY!) and moved way too soon and he saw you.

1. He can’t see an elk where it should be standing. 2. Wind swirled very slightly.

Clothing has a sheen or made noise. Other times I think they know what belongs and what doesn't. Also agree he didn't see/ smell what he was looking for.

Catches wind and smells hunter and doesn't smell elk where he should. One moment of hesitation deciding what the correct distance is or if you have the 'perfect' shot can blow this opportunity in a second

From: Scoot
#1 wind, #2 sees nothing when he thinks he should see something, #3 catches movement (usually when drawing). Those are the three most common things I've seen, with #1 screwing me about 80% of the time I've been hosed in the elk woods.

From: 320 bull
I usually end up doing the calling in our group and I can't tell you how many times we have been busted because the shooter didn't draw early enough and got caught. Because we always seem to be in the thick If the shooter positioned himself correctly at the hang up point and the elk decide to come its usually in there face fast and they get caught trying to draw when the elk is inside of 30-40 yards and looking for an animal. I always tell them if you wait to draw until you see them its usually to late. Letting down is pretty easy but watching a bull crash out of there like he saw a ghost isn't. Second would be the wind but as I get more aggressive with my movements in close its becoming less of an issue. I think moving the last few hundred quickly helps with the wind.

From: ElkNut1
Good stuff guys! Of course there's no shot even though the bull is at 30 yards, that's the point! This happens all the time in real life elk encounters, elk are right there but something alerts him or spooks him when he was ever so close! Many mention some of those issues that can happen!

The mistakes mentioned & others are what we need to avoid to have higher odds of success when a bull is right there for the taking!

I've had the shooter cow call when the bull was right there, he could see the bull & the bull now could see the spot & source of the cow call & no elk! There was no shot because bull was still inside too much cover even though he was in range! Not a good time to call! In most cases that bull will not come any closer & a golden opportunity is lost.

Now if the bull would have been in cover where neither could see each other then a cow call or soft nervous grunt could bring him out in just enough of an opening for a shot! I would only do this if I felt the bull was getting out of dodge because he was suspicious & I felt he was not coming any further! So yes, times to call & times not to call!

Feel free to elaborate on further reasons an encounter could go south when in this situation!


From: elkmtngear
Shooter out front, and Caller behind with a decoy (either calling or just raking), can sometimes work magic! Shows the bull what he expects to see.

Helluva lot tougher to pull it off solo. Planting the decoy, calling, and immediately moving is a good tactic, but it only works when you are close.

From: cnelk
Its his '6th Sense' or Survival Mode.

Hard to outwit that

From: Aspen Ghost
I have had this same situation where the bull came to cow calls but didn't see the elk he was looking for, stopped at about 40 yards, got uncomfortable, and turned and walked off. When he had gone back 15 yards or so I let out a very soft subtle mew. He immediately stopped and looked back, thought about it for a few seconds and started heading back to me. Came in to 20 yards for an easy shot.

If I had called when he first stopped he would have spotted me as not an elk and left for good. Waiting for him to be on the move made it difficult for him to locate me precisely and left him thinking he had just not gone far enough to see this cow. I also think a louder more aggressive mew would not have worked because he would have expected a more aggressive cow to be looking for him and more visible. The soft mew let him think there was a relaxed feeding cow just a little further on.

I'm sure this will not always work but if you have this situation and the bull is walking away anyway, it can't hurt to give it a try. It's certainly not going to alarm him.

From: sdkhunter
As a hunter, I've really been working on trying to do a better job anticipating, which is just a gut feeling that you base on past experiences/encounters I suppose. My first thought to having a bull at 30 yards and no shot with him being ready to blow is "you can't let that happen" - of course it happens all the time right, it just part of hunting, but I do think we can minimize those types of encounters... As several others have mentioned - he's expecting to see elk, experience certain sounds and behaviors from those elk he is thinking are there - now that he doesn't - he's nervous... Un-seen cows or other animals have blown plenty of good opportunities along with swirling mountain winds. In this type of situation after the dust has settled when I really think about it - often times I didn't 'read' the bull correctly - learning exactly how aggressive to be in various situations is an art form! Back to your scenario - hit him with a nervous grunt and hope for the best - and you better be drawn :-)

From: ElkNut1
Excellent, excellent stuff guys, some great experiences & How To & How Not To! Some should be taking notes, it takes years of trial & error before much of this is experienced, really great stuff, thank you for sharing!

"Its his '6th Sense' or Survival Mode. Hard to outwit that"

This is true when push comes to shove & we do not know what we did wrong or how to quickly turn the tables on them in a moments notice as some have here!! -- What's being discussed is how to avoid it & if it does happen realize all is not lost, there are things we can try & not be so ready to throw in the proverbial white towel!


Whitetails are even more scary!

From: ElkNut1
Charlie, I bet you're right! I've not hunted them much at all so I'll take your word! Thanks!

320 bull, good catch! I bet that could be the # 1 issue; drawing in less than desirable times!


From: midwest
You were hunting with Jason Phelps and he screamed a bugle as soon as the bull stopped at 30 yards.


From: ElkNut1


From: smarba
The issue about not drawing early enough or getting caught drawing can be greatly reduced or eliminated by practicing drawing your bow with zero up & down movement of the bow. Your bow hides almost all of your draw arm movement. Also be holding your bow vertically and point your body/bow at the elk direction.

If you point yourself and bow at the elk and follow him as he moves, from his perspective there is no movement.

When you draw pull straight back, zero bow movement and very likely bull won't see you draw. Bow draw weight too heavy can really make this tough. Be comfortable with your draw weight or back down your limbs a turn or 2.

Also need to have EVERYTHING silent. Bow riser, rest, etc. must have silencer so arrow doesnt' make an accidental sound during draw. Release, rangefinder binoculars, everything that could possibly make an odd noise during draw needs to be positioned so it will be silent and/or wrapped with tape/silencer.

Also facemask/paint, camo gloves because those are things that move and can be reflective and catch his eye.

All other movement must be very slow: moving hand up/down for rangefinder, binos, turning head side to side to scan, whatever.

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