Contributors to this thread:
Ensuring lethal shot on elk
I’m not one for forums, but I wouldn’t mind someone listening and hearing some feedback – Here goes. First let me say I have been very lucky to draw a considerable amount of elk tags in the previous years. Lets start from the first bull tag 2013 – Shooting a 2012 PSE EVO 7 (best PSE bow from 2012, not a fan of PSE bows) 60 lbs, 400 grain arrow, fixed 4 blade broadhead. Right at the end of last shooting light on water, shot a nice 6x6 bull (45 yards). Heard a loud WHACK, did not see the impact. Next morning, never found blood, never found any arrows. Hiked 5+ miles gridding off where I lost visual, never recovered him. Confident I hit the front shoulder, and it was not lethal. 2014 – Same setup, aimed a bit too far back 20 yards (terrified of hitting shoulder again), hit back of lungs near liver on a raghorn. He died less than 100 yards away, in less than 10 minutes. 2017 – Shooting a 2016 Elite bow – 62 lb draw, 400 grain arrow, fixed 4 blade broadhead. 45 Yards, 340 bull very slight quartering away, put the arrow right behind his shoulder (just above heart), the arrow buried into his opposite shoulder (6 inches of arrow sticking out entry side). Blood for less than 100 yards. 430 PM. 2 hours later that night, Followed the blood until it ended. Came back next morning. Over 4 days covered every inch of over one mile radius from the location of the shot, never recovered the bull. 2019 – shooting HOYT RX1 – 70 LB draw, 560 grain arrow, SEVR 2.1 Titanium broadhead. 50 yards shot broad side front shoulder forward, around last light, confident in the shot right behind the shoulder. No lumenok, could not see the impact. Arrow broke off 20 yards away from impact location with (according to blood on arrow) less than 9” penetration. One small pool of blood 150 yards away. Several days later, recovered bull nearly one mile away. I’ve been to Africa, and harvested many animals there. Over there, you abide by the rule of the Golden Triangle. You aim for the shoulder blade, and it works every time. I’m still a firm believer in the Golden Triangle, except when it comes to elk. https://elkbros.com/archery-shot-placement-for-elk/ What’s most disappointing…. I run into guys all the time in the field who say they’ve missed several times, and I’ve even seen buddies kill elk with a damn Texas heart shot. I haven’t missed in animal with my bow in about 10 years, knock on wood, and while I don’t aim for the shoulder on elk, I always end up there with no penetration. Even after buying a new bow, jumping up to a much stiffer heavier arrow, I can’t seem to find a clean pass through without burying into one of the elks shoulders. Undoubtedly they have some of the biggest shoulders in north america. I know that shot placement is everything, and if I had been one or two inches more accurate, I probably wouldn’t have this problem. But pre-season I can keep my arrows on a paper plate at 80 yards, and I don’t plan to shoot an elk past 70. I’d even be hesitant to shoot past 60. I just feel that I need to make up for my shortcoming in other ways. If I can’t be a robin hood shot at 60 yards, then I feel like I need to increase my poundage to 75 or 80 and keep my 560+ grain arrow to ensure that I will have lethal penetration even if I (god forbid) end up in the shoulder again. Thanks for reading.
Pretty simple for me, close shots dead elk. I’ve killed quite a few and all but one were under 20 yds. Almost all the wounded elk I’ve been in on come from those easy 40 yarders.
An elk shot in the "shoulder" at 32 yards, but into/through the upper blade and it did not hit the front leg bone. Bull died in 50 yards.
An elk shot in the "shoulder" at 32 yards, but into/through the upper blade and it did not hit the front leg bone. Bull died in 50 yards.
10x what Cazador just stated. Of the 12 elk I have killed, all were under 35 yards and this year's bull at 18 yards. Generally speaking, While one can make a bad shot placement at close range, the odds of making a bad shot placement at longer ranges, surely increases. Live elk at 40,50-60 yards vs paper, no comparison. You have buddies that have killed elk with a Texas heart shot. Oh really. Sorry about that, as that statement just got the head shaking.
If one elk hunts a lot, one will lose an elk. I suggest taking a deep breath, let it out before shooting, and then pick a spot and keep your shooting range closer. I think the "wack" you heard was the BH hitting the upper leg bone but allowing the arrow to stay in.
You have changed lots of things. But if you go back and read your words the only bull you found was shot at 20 yards. I would agree with these guys and suggest... highly suggest, limiting your shots to 35 yards. Better placement and much more energy on impact.
Good point Mule. I was going to mention the same thing. I have killed quite a few bulls and have guided many others. The vast majority of successful clean kills I've witnessed have been under 35 yards. I have seen guys take longer shots, but percentage of success goes down dramatically.
It don't get any better than up close and personal. Getting under 20 yards is fricken awesome. The excitement level and containing it at the "moment if truth" is a hard feeling to beat. The release, the impact and your arrow entering is ecstatic
It’s amazing how quick arrows kill animals. With a well placed shot big bull elk go down quick. Of the last few bulls I’ve taken they have died within seconds.
Agree with what's said above regarding getting closer. Would also add this......the mental aspect. I have wounded/lost/missed more bulls than I care to discuss. Elk just do me in sometimes. Learning to control that, be calm and kill is a big deal and I think that's all in your head. That being said, if I ever lose that exciting feeling I get I'll probably quit elk hunting so I hope it never goes away. Catch 22 I guess. Theres just something about elk!
Good thread, I enjoyed that link you posted. Shoot straight!
“I’d even be hesitant to shoot past 60. I just feel that I need to make up for my shortcoming in other ways. “
Not to put too fine a point on it, but… If what you’re looking for is a way to compensate for an inability to get inside of your accurate bow range, it’s called a RIFLE.
Funny thing about rifles, though… When people have trouble getting clean kills with a firearm, they tend to reach for something Bigger. And the funny thing about recoil is that the more of it there is, the more accuracy tends to suffer. Same holds for draw weight. Unfortunately, in both cases people have an uncanny knack for convincing themselves that all that additional “power“ Will get the job done at longer ranges than they’ve ever shot before.
Meanwhile, plenty of Elk have been killed very neatly by #45 recurves and longbows used by people who have the self-discipline to stay within their own limits and place their shots correctly.
Speaking of which… You mentioned something about this being a “game of inches“. And that’s true… But it becomes a whole lot more so when you hit several inches off the mark to begin with.
JMO, If you’re not shooting very well at your current draw weight, you need to dial back. You probably also need to log an awful lot of practice time at longer distances, and then commit yourself to hunting shots at half of that or less.
At this point, it sounds like you have a very large, angry monkey on your back, and there is no way in hell he’s going to let you get a well-aimed shot off calmly.
So study the anatomy; practice, practice, practice reading body angles; learn to pick a very small spot on a large, blank target; And then head into the field with the mindset that you are looking for shots at half of your comfortable hunting distance or less and then head into the field with the mindset that you are looking for shots at half of your comfortable hunting distance or less.
Longer shots aiming for the shoulder is problematic. Lung area is large but narrows into the front of the shoulders. Way too many elk are lost when hit high in in the shoulder. Hope you hit/recovery ratio goes up. Good luck.
IMO.....many hunters are mistaken exactly where there arrows enter the animal. I can`t tell you how many hunters have claimed the "perfect shot" to only find it wasn`t even close to where they thought it was.
The OP posted taking a shot and not knowing where the arrow went, just a loud thwack. That shot should of never been taken.
I agree 100% with all others about shot distance.....my longest shot on ANY animal in 40 years of bowhunting was at 35 yards on a Caribou. Every other shot was 22 yards and under. My average on whitetail is a mere 17 yards....on mule deer it`s even less. You have to decide if you are a "hunter" or a "shooter".
It has always been and always will be...."the Injun, not the arrow".
Inch up, dead. Inch back, dead. 10 yard shot. Thank goodness he stopped at 70 and I put another one in him. Perfect rifle shot. Wrong spot with a bow.
I’m not perfect, I’m human. I take shots that I know they are dead before I release. A vast majority of the time the animal dies very quickly, but this is not an exact world and things happen that are out of our control. You have to be willing to live with things that are out of your control. If not look at other recreational activities.
...and what you can do on the summertime range has nothing to do with arrowing a fall bull. Adrenalin can be your biggest enemy. Shots seldom hit where we think, especially past 20 yards. Someone told me, on whitetails, “....every yard past 25, cuts your chances of success at least 10 percent.”
Do the math.
Keep after them!
You're getting good advice here. Of the 68 elk my partner and I have killed with bows, most have been with stickbows from 53-57 lbs. Penetration isnt your problem. My longest shots on game animals have been 38 yards, (two elk, one whitetail), including the few I've killed with a compound. Many have been killed at 3-15 yards (including my bull at 7 yards with a Bowtech this year).
Even with a "perfectly placed" shot at 15 yards, sometimes where we "think" we hit isn't exactly where we hit after recovering the elk. Just a small shift toward quartering-to turns a "perfect shot" into a one-lunger, or worse, a flat-out gut shot. Much of the 3-D target 8 rings show bad placement, high lung, gut. Dead elk, someday...
Reduce your distance, reduce your margin for error, study anatomy and shot angles, and I guarantee your recovery rate will increase.
I’ve never had to shoot a bull past 35 in my life and I would never, ever, purposely put an arrow into the scapula of an elk.
This is a very good thread and read. I would take those tips about getting closer any day.
Odds go way up on a closer shot with any animal.
Unfortunately, watching elk hunts on TV and YT
I’ve only killed five elk with a bow.three from tree stands, all about 20 yards. None went more than 60 yards after the shot. One big 6x6 from ground, about 30 yard shot, went 40 yards. This year, nice 5x5, from ground, 44 yard shot, my longest bow shot in 42years of hunting. He went about 30 yards, I watched him fall. All of these were shot with razor sharp coc heads, the last one with an Iron Will 125 grain. All were complete pass through both lungs. I agree that lots of times where you think you hit them, and where you actually hit them is not the same. A razor sharp head through both lungs and they’ll go down fast.
Finishing my post from above....
Watching those hunts on TV and YT most of the time don’t tell the real story and they shouldn’t be an inspiration.
Not saying the OP does this but it sure has caused a lot more wounded and lost game I’d bet.
All I know is Paul has ruined his chance at a political career now that he post a picture of himself on the internet in black face. ;)
Thank you all for your input – to respond to a few of you. I’m always very cool calm and collected. In my personal and work life, and also when shooting archery. But the adrenaline while taking the shot should be affecting everyone. I’ve never released an arrow that I did not feel good about. I’ve let down more times than I’ve made a shot, because I knew I had buck fever too bad to make the best shot. Second time drawing back, I’m always much calmer. I don’t think I’m a good enough hunter/caller to get under 35 yards consistently. Several times I did have big bulls 45 yards or less, but almost every time I was damn near surround by his cows at 30 yards or less and just couldn’t draw without getting busted. To clarify I’ve recovered more than half of the elk I’ve shot. 3/5. Two were not recovered, and this year’s bull was recovered after meat had spoiled. I’m not interested in rifle hunting, I live to bowhunt, and especially bowhunt elk. I practice often in the pre-season, and like I believe I mentioned in original post, I can keep my arrows on a paper plate at 80. Even closer at 60. I’ve shot archery for 20+ years including competitively for several and am very confident in my abilities as an archer. I am very comfortable with my current setup, and I appreciate the thought that increasing poundage even more could result in becoming uncomfortable and less accurate. Shot placement is always key, and yes it is a game of inches. Personally I believe my accuracy of a 6 inch spread maximum between arrows at 60 yards is sufficient accuracy considering the size of an elk’s lungs. I wouldn’t say there’s an angry monkey on back, but these thoughts have been weighing on my mind, and I think I really just needed to put my thoughts to paper and hear some feedback. None of us are perfect, and like one guy said yeah its probably more likely that a hunter makes a marginal/bad shot no matter how good it felt. Yes some things are out of our control and we have to live with them, but as a hunter it’s our job to capitalize on all of the things that are in our control. And that’s why I’m here writing this today. …. Some very good advice here. I plan to keep shooting and improve my accuracy, keep working on my calling and try to close the distances for the future. Thanks everyone for the input.
You are getting great advice with regard to elk hunting. My only advice would be to add some paragraphs when posting.
Your group is decent at 60 yards and you mention “considering the size of an elks lungs” but what about how far an elk can move between the time he hears you shoot and the time your arrow travels 180 feet? That’s too far man. You can get closer. I hope you’re taking two weeks to let it happen. I find that guys who leave home on a Saturday and have to be back at work the Monday after next feel pressure to take any shot they were comfortable shooting targets at back home. They feel it’s now or never. You will be surprised at how much different tour decision making is when you feel like you have the time to do it right and get that elk inside the higher percentage range of 30-35 yards. Once they are that close 25 yards is just a few steps away and chances are he’s coming the right direction. Nothing like having all of your pins in the lung area!
Not much goes wrong at 10 yards. I will add, I've seen only 2 Elk move at the shot in my years of hunting. Both were just waiting for the guy to shoot and both bulls were gone before the arrow got there; one at 19 steps the other at 45 ish.
Mulepower, that's a hypothetical and an old argument. "How far can an elk move after he hears the shot?" C'mon man. They aren't whitetail deer. I've heard that same argument on mule deer threads. I've made some great shots on mule deer at good distances that have dispelled the notion that they will "jump the string" upon release. However I will say that the goal is always to get close, whether deer or elk ;)
"All I know is Paul has ruined his chance at a political career now that he post a picture of himself on the internet in black face. ;)"
“ I don’t think I’m a good enough hunter/caller to get under 35 yards consistently...., I’m not interested in rifle hunting, I live to bowhunt, and especially bowhunt elk.”
So you know what you need to work on. And if you aren’t interested in hunting with a rifle, then stop taking shots at rifle range.
You need to decide what’s most important to you; is it the Hunt or the Kill?
I decided 30 years ago that I would rather fail in the peace & quiet of ML/Archery seasons than tag out amid the chaos of a CO Rifle season. Just figure out what you’re really after and get after it. But, PLEASE DON’T keep repeating the same mistake.
Just learn to get a whole lot closer and enjoy the ride. JMO, memories of not-quite-closing-the-deal are a lot more pleasant with a clean conscience.
Trophy I guess I should have said if they have you pegged. But also that doesn’t mean just jumping string. It’s also includes just moving naturally. Like I always say to each his own. But I’ve done lots of hunting and outfitting and I don’t shoot elk past 35 yards. To make sure I don’t even get tempted that is my furthest pin.
OP, after reading your posts it strikes me that your accuracy is not the issue. And, even though you say you're "cool, calm, and collected", it sounds to me like you're not patient. If you can't figure out calling, fine (LOTS of guys are terrible at it), get better at stalking. Just because there is a herd of elk 60yds in front of you and within your target shooting range doesn't mean they're automatically within hunting range too. Figure out what they're doing, where they're going, and get in a spot that will put you in killing range the next day. You've only recovered 2 of the 5 elk you've shot, that's bad, you're rushing. Slow down...
If you don't hit something important, they won't die (quickly) and can go for miles after the shot. Distance has nothing to do with it other than it may increase the ability of the arrow flying true through the vitals and placing it where it should because your point of aim is easier to determine through perception of the target size, i.e., it is easier to hit a basketball than a softball. Same can be applied to shooting light as well - the better you can see, the better the chance of placing the arrow where it should. The stupid stuff we do when we shoot sometimes is also irrelevant for the purposes of this discussion.
You'd be surprised how many elk come into the shop with arrows (tipped with both mechanicals and "best broadhead on the market COC") lodged into spines, leg bones, brisket, etc - everywhere something important isn't. Even single lung hit animals can go and go, and quite possibly survive. A solid double lung hit tight behind the shoulder and mid body, can't go wrong. Ever.
Man those last two post were really good. We need a like button!
most of these responses have renewed my faith in the modern day bowhunter,,
I’m no good at calling either and quite honestly I think I’m better off keeping quiet - I am pretty sneaky though! I shadow them until they get distracted and slip in on them - ton of fun and effective! Closest bull I slipped in on was 10 yards. Killed a few good ones this way.
Vitals are all over the body. Each hit in the abdomen may be different depending on what is transected. The descending aorta and kidneys are quickly fatal, while simply a gut may not be. Same with liver hits. If one hits the liver arteries and portal veins, much different result than if the arrow only hits liver parenchyma.
“i.e., it is easier to hit a basketball than a softball.”
Not sure I agree with that. Aim small, miss small. A larger target is only more forgiving if you don’t “aim” at the whole damn thing...
We took this broadhead and arrow out of my buddy's elk 2 weeks ago, lodged above the vertebrae between the spinous processes and totally encased in scar tissue but still sharp. We'd previously talked to another hunter whose friend shot a bull in that area in 2018 and made what he thought was a 'good shot' but never recovered the bull, I strongly suspect it was the same animal and it was definitely not a good shot...
The good news is that if you get the line right (fore and aft), shots high and low are survivable like that....
That’s not a reason to take stupid chances, but if you have something go South on you, it’s nice to know the animal’s not pit there dying of a gut-shot.
"Not sure I agree with that."
GF - that's because you're overthinking it and not reading what I wrote. I said target perception at distance. The same one inch aim small spot at 40 yds will seem "smaller" in appearance than at 20 yds where it will seem "bigger" in appearance.
Essentially, it's easier to aim at the same aim small spot when it's closer. Never said to take a flock shoot or shotgun approach and just point and shoot...
If I can see it, I can aim at it.
And personally, if you put a nickel-sized orange dot on a softball vs an unmarked basketball... I’m better off shooting at the softball.
The hardest thing about shooting without sights is finding a way to pick a spot once the animal is out far enough that you can’t help but see the whole thing..
Also, your equipment is good enough. Unfortunately you can’t buy your way to a bull. Just take the time to make sure everything is tuned right. You want to make sure that when the arrow hits 100% of its energy is transferred to the tip driving the arrow through.
The equipment isn’t the problem. It’s all about you, and you can do it bro.
More GF brilliance in this thread. Good news for everyone who is lucky enough to read his posts.
GF, better never shoot at an animal, unless of course you find one with a nickel sized orange dot over its vitals.
“Ensuring lethal shot on elk“
Behind tree number one, ‘That would be the full on frontal’. Final answer. <••••••<<<< € (^.^)
Just because you don’t understand how it works doesn’t mean it doesn’t work for others.
I know how to hit with sights, and I know how to hit without. Just comes down to picking a spot.
Ya got me, GF. After being an archer and bowhunter for almost half of the last century I'm pretty new to this archery thing...
I've shot em with sights and without too. Of course I, just like everyone else here, am not smart enough to understand your brilliance. With all your next level thinking it makes me wonder if you're related to TBM. If only I could some day be as smart as you...
Please impart more brilliance on us!
GF, you're still missing the point and I'll just leave it at that...
Lowandslow, you are the perfect example of why hunters should keep shots close. You apparently are a very good shot and don't get overly excited. But it still spelled lost elk when you loosed an arrow. I don't care how good of a shot a guy is, past 40 yards things happen. Too much is left to chance. Even 40 yards is a long shot. You can get new bows, heavier bows, heavier arrows, etc., etc., but in the end, they'll all work and they'll all fail if we shoot too far. Animals move, wind causes arrows to drift, etc., etc. I agree with the rest. Nothing is better than getting close.
"With all your next level thinking it makes me wonder if you're related to TBM. If only I could some day be as smart as you"...
C'mon guys...you can't be "Legendary", if you have even an ounce of humility...everyone knows that ;^)
Not much more can be said, other than echo what others have already stated. You say you don’t aim for the shoulder, yet you always end up there. That is pure and simple an accuracy issue. Closer shots equal better accuracy...period. Going to a heavier arrow and increasing your draw weight is nothing more than trying to put a bandaid over the actual problem. As previously stated, the increased draw weight will more than likely hurt your accuracy, not help it.
There are many things that can contribute to a less than desirable shot... some we can’t control, some we can. Shot selection is one of those variables we do control
Heck Jeff, how can anyone possibly be humble if they’re a legend in their own mind?
Nate - happens sometimes; people get on different pages. No worries. That’s why I said that I’m not sure we agree/disagree..
But FWIW, it’s no harder at all for me to aim at a 1” spot at 40 than 20; just as long as I can see it.
Definitely harder to HIT it, of course, but seriously - I would have a harder time hitting a basketball-sized target without a spot on it than one with one.
Your mileage may vary, but finding what works FOR YOU is all part of the fun.
Haha thanks I’m new to the forums, I’ll get them into paragraphs though.
I agree the grouping at 60 yards are “decent” as sufficient isn’t the best wording. No doubt an animal can move in that time, but I haven’t seen elk jump the string like a whitetail or antelope. This year’s bull didn’t however. It was day 10/14, I had worked hard to get a shot on a mature bull and this was finally my opportunity with minutes of shooting light left. I felt like it was finally my opportunity and I had to capitalize. If I was unable to see his shoulder and vitals, I wouldn’t have taken the shot. He was a mature bull, I haven’t put a tape on him because I’m not a trophy hunter but hes all of 330.
Yeah I know what I need to work on. I’ll still argue that animals can be killed well beyond 60 yards, with a ton of archery practice at long distance. I wouldn’t say 60 yards is rifle range. I’ll keep practicing and improve my accuracy at 60, but my focus will be to get in closer on my next hunt. My primary objective during the hunt will be get a shot under 40 yards. We’ll see what happens.
I wouldn’t say I’m not patient. Like I’ve said before, I’ve only made shots I’ve felt comfortable making.
Thanks everyone for the input. A few of you have been very inspiring and motivating, thank you again.
Animals certainly CAN be killed at 60 yards and beyond with a bow. Howard Hill killed a bull at 165 yards, but he shot low with the first two arrows.
Here's a challenge for you. Use a single pin sight set at 30 yards. Practice with it all summer. That will get you to 40. Learn the discipline to shoot at 40 or under, if that's a primary goal. It isn't difficult to craft under-40 shots. In 48 years of bowhunting big game in the West, Canada, and Australia I've never taken a shot beyond that distance, and have killed a lot of big critters. Spend some time in the summer stalking and ambushing animals, learning woodcraft and hunting skills, learning how to crrate close shots, rather than trying to rely on little colored dots to punch your tag.
It will pay off in the long run. Good luck and stick with it!
Jaquomo....that there is very deadly advice !
Pretty much the same system i use.....60 yards is not bowhunting elk !!!
Flame away people.
..pick a spot, SETTLE THE PIN, follow trough... any time I have rushed, it's a miss, there is everything about settling that pin, even if it's a micro second.
And this frontal was done with a PSE EVO... it's the "indian"
“And this frontal was done with a PSE EVO... it's the ‘indian’"
Then why bother to mention what bow you used?
Just bustin’ on ya, because, well.... It really DOESN’T matter what bow you used.
But I’ll bet (and sure hope) that you didn’t take that shot at 60 yards, either. If you did, please deny it publicly ;)
“I’ll still argue that animals can be killed well beyond 60 yards, with a ton of archery practice at long distance. ”
Here’s my problem with that.
I’m going to be blunt here - not because I want to be an ass, but for the sake of brevity, so take a deep breath and hear me out.
It really doesn’t matter what you believe “can be done” with archery tackle. YOU are responsible for what YOU can do, and for what gambles YOU choose to take with your shot selection. And I think it’s fair to suggest that based on YOUR track record, your confidence in your own ability has not been backed up by results.
So whatever the equipment may be capable of, you’ve used it beyond your own ability, at least some of the time. So you came here looking for advice on how to do better... and the guys who’ve killed umpteen Elk apiece are all telling you that you need to get closer, but you seem unwilling to take full-up responsibility for the fact that your decision-making in the field has been the primary cause of your bad outcomes.
I’ll accept that you prefer Bowhunting to firearms... but do you love it enough to become a good enough hunter to get to half the distance that you’ve been shooting?
^^^ what's really funny is he shared this bull and short story on the NM forum and the shot distance is noted. So, no need to speculate or express an opinion.
Fits in perfect with this thread!!!
Silly me - I should have known to check the NM forum....
I would add either use lighted nocks or brighter fletching to help you determine better where you are hitting. It really helps with the follow up if you have a much better idea of where you hit.
. "Silly me -" "... I want to be an ass.." GF, you hit your mark!
“I’m going to be blunt here - not because I want to be an ass, but for the sake of brevity, so take a deep breath and hear me out.”
Guess not. Good thing I wasn’t addressing YOU.