Mathews Inc.
When to draw back?
Elk
Contributors to this thread:
mulecreek 11-Dec-18
WapitiBob 11-Dec-18
Franzen 11-Dec-18
Russell 11-Dec-18
Treeline 11-Dec-18
ElkNut1 11-Dec-18
Ziek 11-Dec-18
Jaquomo 11-Dec-18
cnelk 11-Dec-18
Billyvanness 11-Dec-18
elkmtngear 11-Dec-18
Bowboy 11-Dec-18
otcWill 11-Dec-18
joehunter8301 11-Dec-18
Willieboat 11-Dec-18
Chuckster 11-Dec-18
Cazador 11-Dec-18
Stekewood 11-Dec-18
IdyllwildArcher 11-Dec-18
wyobullshooter 11-Dec-18
HUNT MAN 11-Dec-18
mulecreek 11-Dec-18
Huntosolo 11-Dec-18
ElkNut1 11-Dec-18
IdyllwildArcher 11-Dec-18
cnelk 11-Dec-18
ElkNut1 11-Dec-18
Ucsdryder 11-Dec-18
oldgoat 11-Dec-18
From: mulecreek
11-Dec-18

mulecreek's embedded Photo
mulecreek's embedded Photo
I thought about putting this in the land of the free thread but didn't want to derail that one so I'll start a new one. What are experienced elk hunters thoughts on when to draw back? My bowhunting experience is limited. Last year was the first year I archery hunted elk and was able to take this bull on the second morning of my hunt. From all the videos I have seen of archery elk it seemed to me that more often than not the hunter draws when the bull is screened by some brush, under the belief that the bull will not see them drawing back. But what stuck in my head was the bulls almost always saw them anyway and would stop but the hunter did not have a clear shot due to the brush or the angle was all jacked up. So when this bull was coming in I purposely waited until I had a fully clear, broadside shot before drawing. I was hunting by myself that morning. The bull saw me but simply stopped rather than bolt off. Heck he even stood there while I let down and redrew. My arrow had fallen off the rest due to me shaking like a dog pooping peach seeds. I notice many instances of this happening to the BRO folks this year and last. They draw when the bull is screened and at a odd angle, the bull stops and they have no shot or at best a poor angle. I see the other way as well, where the hunter draws when the bull is clear and immediately bolts but I see the former far more often than the later. My plan was and still will be to draw when the bull is in range, proper shot angle and completely clear with the belief that the bull will most likely stop when he sees me draw. What are the more experienced bow hunters thoughts on when to draw?

From: WapitiBob
11-Dec-18
I think you'll see the back end of a lot of bulls as they run off.

I draw as they're coming in, going thru or behind some cover but before they get too close. Phelps on the bro video is a good example of waiting too long. Your setup will be a big factor too. If you're standing up 2 feet from a tree, in a direct line from Elk to caller, he's gonna peg the hunter most of the time or see any movement as he comes in. The Elk you're hunting can play into it also. Heavy otc areas I've hunted, those bulls typically run. My hunt in your state this year, they tended to walk off like they were bored if things weren't right when they came in.

From: Franzen
11-Dec-18
I'd say the ideal scenario for any animal is to draw when the vitals are clear, the animal is stationary and within range, and their head is down, looking away, behind something, or their attention is otherwise diverted. Doesn't always happen obviously. Second to this would be drawing on an approaching animal that you are fairly confident is not going to see you draw, but will soon be in a shooting lane. I am not a fan of it, but sometimes you have to stop them. Lastly, if you are going to be seen drawing, I would say your scenario of actually drawing when you will have an immediate shot is much better than the alternative. Great advice, huh? ;^)

From: Russell
11-Dec-18
What i have been told and learned the hard way, draw when you see the tips of the antlers.

From: Treeline
11-Dec-18
Totally different timing with my longbow. The draw, anchor, release happens much faster. I wait till the animal is in range and the shot opens up. Have done much better with shot placement on a moving elk than one stopped and looking at me.

From: ElkNut1
11-Dec-18

Drawing on elk can be considered an "Art" when all is considered-- It requires skill, nerve & timing! All 3 can come into play on nearly every drawing situation whether you're solo or tag teaming! Your best odds stem from having the elks head hidden through your draw cycle, this can mean his head is in the grass or he could be raking a tree/brush, his head is behind tree/rock, maybe he's walking in & he's went by you in range & you're waiting for his eyes to go by you giving you a quartering away shot, you can now draw or give a soft grunt & draw simultaneously, this works great with both trad bows or compounds!

The sound & draw movement will generally freeze him in his tracks allowing you the precious few seconds it will take to slip an arrow in him! In other instances the elk comes in & stops at the 5yd to 30yd range facing you & locked on to the area he heard the calling & sees nothing, this means you had a great setup! Don't blow it now, stay calm cool & collected & wait for him to turn to leave, as soon as he turns his head & body, draw instantly & give him a voice grunt or do it with a mouth reed that's already in your mouth. This single note is deadly, it freezes them in their tracks as they turn back to see this elk they must not have seen at first! This is our # 1 sound & situation that arises so frequently.

It's nice to also be able to draw on incoming elk, as you hear or see them do not draw to early, you could be holding way longer than expected & thus having to let down. It can ruin the whole encounter if this happens, let elk get closer as long as they still have to travel through cover on their way in or if you can tell they're rushing in fast then that too must be taken into consideration! The closer the elk the tougher to draw on them especially when solo, you look for that little crease by evaluating his movement & direction where your best odds are to draw!

We have been in these situations many times over the years! This has been done in heavy cover, in front of cover, next to cover & with myself caught right out in the open, as open as a Walmart parking lot! We've taken several bulls in that situation, we do not move a muscle until the Timing is right to draw, aim, and fire!!! When caught in the open be patient, elk will look at you & try to figure out what you are but generally will tolerate you there as long as you do not move!!!! As soon as they let their guard down for that one instant it's time to ACT!!! I've drawn on bulls where I've had them alone as well as have their cows 10yd-15yd from me for several minutes with the wind in my favor just waiting for the bull to turn or anything where I could draw without him seeing the motion. The cows would look up quickly as you do draw but don't run off as quickly as you may think, by then the arrow is gone!! I've done this with both longbow & compound!

In most cases if I tried to draw while the bull was staring in our direction our odds are low he would have stayed for the draw aim & shoot! I too have found that if a bulls head is hidden as you draw & all of a sudden he looks up or moves his head that was once behind the tree to continue the smooth draw motion, you have little chance of drawing with him staring you down & you're already half cocked. If you stop, 30 seconds to a minute go by, you will be shaking like a leaf from adrenaline & muscle exhaustion! Food for thought!

ElkNut/Paul

From: Ziek
11-Dec-18
"...draw when you see the tips of the antlers."

When you should is not the same as when you can.

From: Jaquomo
11-Dec-18
I'm there with Treeline, since most of my elk have been killed with longbows and recurves. Seems like if the bull is moving he is less likely to notice my draw movement. But I always try to draw as his head passes behind a tree, then do a hard voice grunt (sucking air-in) to stop him in the lane.

But if I'm wearing the cow elk hat and he expects to see an elk, I've had them just stand there, watch me draw, and take the arrow. Compound guys can do this with a bow-mounted Heads Up or an Ultimate Predator as well.

From: cnelk
11-Dec-18
Its about the ability to read what the elk is going to do.

Typically, I see the legs coming thru timber first. If its an elk I decide Im going to shoot, I try to position myself perpendicular to the way they are coming in - to the left or right - but once again, I only move when they move.

Ive found that in most of my scenarios, I cant shoot beyond 30yds because of thick timber, so when they come into that range, thats when I draw. But I only draw when they are moving.

I look ahead for a couple shooting lanes that I can stop them in, and stop them there. If they happening to be traveling to fast and dont stop, I have another one already picked out.

If they happen to stop out at 30yds, I will see if I have a shot at that distance.

In 2015, a bull came into the 30 yds and stood there while I was at full draw facing me. I held for a couple minutes and then slowly put my bow elbow down on my knee and waited him out at full draw.

He finally moved to the right and all I had to was lift my bow, settle the pin and shoot.

Finding shooting lanes on an elk that is searching for you takes some practice. Its not something you study for, its more like a 'pop quiz' :)

11-Dec-18
So many different possible situations dictate when to draw. My biggest thing is slow and smooth even if his eyes are hidden. If your movements are slow or in time with his, like drawing at the same speed the bull is walking, with as small of a profile as possible you’ll get the bow back without being seen. Also for compound users being able to hold at full draw for as long as a couple minutes is a huge bonus.

From: elkmtngear
11-Dec-18
Most of my success has been with a "quick draw" when the bull's head goes behind a tree (keeping the first open shooting lane in mind).

I've been busted through brush/ scrub oaks/ etc. many times, but if his head is behind a tree, I can usually pull it off.

From: Bowboy
11-Dec-18
I hunt solo and usually draw when I see the legs. If they come in silent I just wait until there eyes are behind a tree or cover of some type. I really prefer to sneak in and kill them while there bugling on thier own.

From: otcWill
11-Dec-18
Kill a pile of critters. You'll know without thinking. I don't know how to describe it better. I just know

11-Dec-18
I’m with Otcwill. It’s more of an instinct. No two scenarios are identical. Read body language and on any animal I don’t ever think ok I’m gonna draw at this moment. It’s usually when my mind instinctively says NOW. There has been a few instances where I wish I would have drawn earlier on a few animals but that doesn’t mean the next situation is going to be the same. I love bowhunting :-)

From: Willieboat
11-Dec-18
Something you have to learn from experience.......been doing it since 81 and still manage to screw it up more than i get it right.

Best advice....dont get caught up in this 80 pound bow shit......65 pounds is more than plenty.........and all you guys that want to tell me you need 80 pounds to kill an elk when you hit them bad save it......get em close shoot them right and most will be dead inside 100 yards

Sorry if i derailed your thread a little....but don't believe everything you see on Youtube.

From: Chuckster
11-Dec-18
ElkNut has made some great points. My general rule is draw where you want them to stop however if I see a situation developing where I can draw when their vision is blocked for a moment then that's when I draw. Unfortunately experience really helps by being in these situations numerous times. When I see a shooter coming into range I look ahead and try and determine shooting lane, distance, where to draw, yardage where they will present the shot. Sometimes you gotta make split second decisions and things change in an instant.

From: Cazador
11-Dec-18
I've only shot one elk further than 30yds. All the rest have been with longbows or top pin so yardage for me doesn't come into play.

You can time things as the situation unfold. The biggest thing I've seen that busts elk out is an uncontrolled draw. My partner busted two elk last year both on crappy draws cycles. As long as your bow is up, a smooth draw back while tracking doesn't seem to get picked up. Much like swinging with an elk that is coming into your spot.

I've also noticed, if an elk is coming 90 degrees to you, and you wait and hit the draw wrong, this is when they seem to really pick you up.

This years bull was killed steps from me. In that case, there were three giant trees between him and I. I drew when he was behind the trees and when he stepped out, I frontal shot him at less than 8 steps away.

You really have to be careful when drawing when you think they're behind something when they're not in a "shootable" position i.e brush. If they pick you up, they will peg you and then it normally becomes a stand off. I see alot of elk pick people off when they think they're eye is behind the tree. It may have been, but the timing was off and he got you before you were settled in.

From: Stekewood
11-Dec-18
otcWill nailed it.

11-Dec-18
"I’m with Otcwill. It’s more of an instinct. No two scenarios are identical."

Exactly.

11-Dec-18
Yep, what otcwill said. The only thing I'll add is this...I'd bet more elk are spared "death by arrow" by a bow that's drawn too late, rather than one that's drawn too early.

From: HUNT MAN
11-Dec-18
It’s one of bowhuntings great mysteries !! And like others said Will nailed it!! Hunt

From: mulecreek
11-Dec-18
Thanks to all that replied. Good stuff all around. I think I’ll try the advice of kill a pile of critters. My first bull was in a wyo gen area. This year I hunted the same place with a friend from college. I only brought my bow with me a couple days as we tried to focus on him getting his bull. On the first day I had a bull very similar to last years at 68 yds up near the top of a peak in the wide open. I drew on him even though I had no intention of shooting that far and he just stood there. Even after I let down he just stayed put looking at me. I can see how it is most likely situational and each elk is different. So far I am enjoying the learning curve. Last year all the stars aligned early. This year took far more effort. We were on bulls everyday and able to call in several bulls from 25 yds - 81 yds. I am thoroughly enjoying hunting rutting bulls with a bow.

From: Huntosolo
11-Dec-18
My observation has been if no cover or busted, go-ahead and draw. I’ve drawn in full view with bull coming in hot without consequence.

From: ElkNut1
11-Dec-18
There's a big difference in killing a pile of critters & having the opportunity to kill a pile if you have no idea where to setup & when to draw.

For best odds draw when an oncoming elk can not see you draw your bow. Be at full draw before he shows himself!

ElkNut/Paul

11-Dec-18
While it's certainly ideal to draw when a bull can't see you, I think a lot of guys fall victim to drawing when there's some brush between the animal and them (in an attempt to draw early) and the animals freeze up because they catch even a little movement through brush and are quite content to sit there for 5 minutes looking through the brush for more movement. In that case, you drew too late and you're better off waiting till you have a clear shot than you are drawing when they can see even 1 inch of you move through the branches.

When that happens, they usually end up turning around and going back the way they came if you just try to stay still. It's too late for that. The time to be still is between when they can catch movement (which can be farther out than you'd think) and when you can release the arrow.

And this is another reason to not be overbowed. I see so many guys that have like a 3 second draw cycle as they lift their bow skyward and strain to get to anchor. You need to be able to draw quickly and smoothly if you're hunting off the ground.

From: cnelk
11-Dec-18
One of the best lessons I learned about when to draw piggy backs on what Wyobullshooter said about drawing too late.

In 2003 or 04, I called this bull right down a wide open draw to me. He ran right to me without stopping. As he was coming I remember thinking “he’ll stop”.

He never did and I never got to draw. He finally was 10ft away and stopped facing me.

I decided to draw and almost did it before he exploded out.

The whole ordeal took less than 15 seconds.

Experience is the best teacher.

From: ElkNut1
11-Dec-18
Yes, there are a variety of situations we may be faced with & you go with your gut when things happen in seconds, right or wrong! My Son was in that situation for a bull that came in to 5 yards this year, that's tough to prepare for when he comes in at mach 10 with no idea my son was there. He drew while the bull was in the timber & just before he exited he was ready the best he could be, it happened in a split second. You just never know, those are VERY rare cases & was a first for him even though that was his 29th elk.

This is a good discussion with lots of good suggestions by most & should be considered as they cover most of the elk encounters new ones will be faced with.

What if you were taking a newer elk hunter out in the morning & the evening prior he asked you when to draw as a bull is approaching or what to look for before he draws or where to setup. Are you going to offer him as much instruction as possible to prep him for the 'just in case' or are you going to tell him just wait till you have more encounters & you'll figure it out on your own?

This is what this thread is about. I was in this very situation this year with a hunter that had never heard or seen an elk in his life at 49 years old. What do you think I offered him, instruction or did I skirt his sincere question? Most here would have done as I did!

The very next morning he killed his bull & thanked me a 100 fold for sharing info on when to draw & said he would have never killed him with our talk! Food for thought!

ElkNut/Paul

From: Ucsdryder
11-Dec-18
I drew on a 1.5 year old cow 4 years ago. She was walking down the trail I was kneeling on. When she passed behind a bushy fir tree, about 6 feet tall and 4 feet wide I drew. I could BARELY see the damn thing. Somehow, that stinking elk saw my movement and froze staring through the tree for a minute, then turned and left. Unless it’s a trunk, they’ll see the movement. Drawing in the wide open doesn’t seem like the best option to me, but what the hell do I know? Lol!

From: oldgoat
11-Dec-18
Not that I'm one to listen too, but if I'm calling, I have decoys out and I wait til they are in range and looking at the decoys!!! I shoot a stick bow and I can't hold back more than about ten seconds and still be accurate!

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