The days ran together, but I had a number of opportunities throughout the hunt by calling, spotting/stalking, etc., but in the middle of the hunt, it all came together (in a way) by sitting a water hole for the evening. My buddies had just left, and I was on my own for a few days. I opted to sit a quiet water hole for the afternoon, with some distant bugles coming through the bowl I was in. After a few hours (yes, nap), I saw a few cows feeding through the basin I was in, with a bull hopefully in tow. Only have a tree to hide behind, I got low, and waited to hear the cows and hopefully bull approach…..outside of the howling wind gusts, nothing for 20+ minutes….Impatience got the best of me and just before I peaked up to see where they were, SPLASH!!! The bull I was hoping was in tow had just belly flopped into the water hole! Thrashing around in the mud and water, he left his cows behind, to go nuts in this little hole. As he splashed around, I readied my bow, drew, and plowed him at 45 yards as he came to the bank. I was 100% confident in the hit, and confirmed a full pass through, as he wheeled and bolted off. Due to the landscape, I last saw him running east and up out of the bowl I was in, and could not see/hear anything after that. Finding the pieces of my arrow with good lung blood, I felt it best to give him the night and come back to track in the morning. At first light, I was in the basin looking to trail the blood to my first bull….except there was NONE. Outside of my pieces of arrow, there was a small patch of blood at 125 yards from the water hole, and then NOTHING!!! I didn’t know what to think, and couldn’t believe the shot wasn’t a good one. And so, in my thinking, I figured he tried to find somewhere thick and likely downhill to huddle down in…As was my last sight of him, I headed east and out of the bowl I was in to grid the adjacent canyons to hopefully find him…I searched for the remainder of the day….then it poured rain…then cased the bowl I was in the next day, regardless of now REALLY no blood to follow…and nothing. I couldn’t believe it. I had no idea what happened and continued to look off and on for the next few days.
Good friend Jim, muddy motorcycle and all, came up to help for the last part of the hunt (now almost a week later I think). I told him the story and he didn’t believe that bull wasn’t piled up somewhere. We went back to the water hole, replayed the scenario, and started hiking the area. All of a sudden, we came to a rise, and bam, we got hit with that unforgettable smell of rotting meat. I didn’t know whether to jump for joy or cuss like a sailor…so I kinda did both…We followed our noses, and there was my bull. He was only a few hundred yards from the shot…upside down…and amongst a couple downed trees. Even at 20 yards (ignoring the smell), I could barely see him.
In our minds, we figured the scenario, which hopefully will help somebody in the future. I had always been taught and experienced that a wounded/dying animal will typically go downhill and into thick stuff to bed/die. Well, not during the rut I guess…From the shot, I last saw the bull heading uphill and east, and out of the bowl we were in. Likely what really happened was he went on this path for a while, and then remembered his cows. He did a 180 and ran to the southwest to back where his cows had run off to….which was also uphill. At that point, he keeled over, and that was that. I was so concerned with finding blood, going downhill, thick stuff, etc. that I forgot about the one thing that throws every sensibility off…..his attraction to his cows.
Anyway, had a great time with a premium hunt in a beautiful part of AZ. I admittedly, probably took it a bit too serious, but cashing in 14 points, I felt it was warranted. I learned a ton and hope to be chasing bulls again somewhere next year.
John, full pass through right where you are supposed to hit them. Maybe a touch below the center line and right behind the shoulder. Could've maybe hit lower to clip the heart, but lungs for sure. He was pretty broadside, so exit was behind the off shoulder as well.
Above is why it surprises me about the lack of blood. Maybe I could've found some if it hadn't rained the next day, but still, all my lung shots on deer have looked like a murder scene. I know elk are muuuuuch tougher, but still....I'm still thinking it was that his hide was all matted and muddy from the wallow. But he still should've been blowing it out his nose...I don't know...
However, like yours, mine did a southern sprint for 150 yards, eastern for who knows how long, and then went back to the southwest for his cows.
What kind of broadhead were you using?
WV Mountaineer, good points. I figured since I was alone and I didn't see him go down I thought I would let him rest overnight. I do think you are correct though, though morning dew does brighten up blood trails, even in this hot AZ sun.
I am 100% on it was a full pass through. I shot him broadside as he was facing left, he wheeled away (butt to me) and I saw 90% of my arrow hanging out the off side (unbroken). He then cut back left/broadside and ran off.
My thought is he stomped it when it fell out or I've heard they reach around and grab it out too. I found the fletching end and broadhead end within 100 yards of the shot. The broadhead was intact, but bent slightly, and both ends were full of lung blood. I never found (didn't look very hard admittedly) for the middle piece of the arrow, as I figured the ends are most important to the result.
The broadhead has 2 main blades (1 1/16"), and 2 smaller "bleeder" blades as well. Again, was fully intact, just the tip of the main blade above the ferrule was bent about 45 degrees.
And like 2Points, the more info the better as we can all learn from it. Odd things happen and 2 identicle shots can have such different results... part of the mystery of bowhunting I guess.
Good luck the remainder of the season!