Contributors to this thread:
What still haunts you?
The earlier post on the one that got away stirred memories of the one you always kick yourself about. Thought it would be good to hear about some of those. Mine was a 340ish at 40 yards that I shot at through a 1' window in a pine tree. Had him at 10 yards with only a neck shot and passed. 10 seconds later, Hit him at 40 yards a little high, but thought he was dead. An elk has 7 gallons of blood and I bet we found 3! Never found him and we tracked him for about a half a mile and blood was dwindling and we ran out of time to track. Lot's of memories of what could have been. We found a clipped pine bow from the 1' hole. Damn twigs. What's your bad memory?
The two that stand out otherwise were first backstage in the 70' with Stevie Nicks and despite of all my efforts I could not close the deal and secondly in the 90s at a party in Cali I struggled with Dana Delaney and I'm sorry to say had an epic fail. LMAO
STILL have nightmares
Mine is not as dramatic. On the last hour of a seven day hunt in NM the guide called a 320-330 bull into 40 yards, broad side. My shot just clipped hair off the top of his back. Probably the biggest bull I’ll ever get in range.
The gorgeous gal I dated in college whose family owned/controlled 240,000 acres of fantastic elk, deer, pronghorn and fishing in southern WY. Unfortunately she wanted nothing to do with the ranch after graduation and wanted to live in the big city, where I envisioned...well, you know....
Too many to mention. They keep me coming back tho.
Been hunting elk since the 80's...I have too many to list. In the big picture, they are all part of what makes bowhunting great. In the moment, on the long hike back to camp and a few days or weeks after they happen, its hard to see that big picture.
Every single day from my 2014 hunt in the Gila. That was the most fun 8 days of my life but I can’t look back on it without wanting to cry. I blew more opportunities at big elk that week than I’ll have the rest of my life.
Unseen twig deflected arrow high headed for the boiler room on a 6by at 20 yd after a 25 min staredown. In Montana. That one hurt. Bull was mine. Lousy lone tiny twig and I hit it. Still hurts 35 yrs later. I have others too but this one was the worst.
Hit a big 10 pointer in the shoulder on a super easy shot. Told my brother if we were on the putting green I would have picked up my ball. It was a qimme...
My buddy and I went in ten miles with llamas and were trying to find water so we followed a dry creek downhill until we hit water and camped there. We slept on the ground without a tent because the weather was good. Just after daylight we heard animals coming our way and just sat up in our sleeping bags and I reached over for my bow. Several elk came to the water including a nice bulland my friend ranged it and I still missed. Would have been a great story but one rarely told. Fred
I shot a young bull moose in the hump at 38 yards. My buddy would be an archery super slammer if he’d been walking ahead of me.
As far as elk regrets - In '83 I voice bugled a 370-class bull in to 25 yards in a CO OTC unit, shot him, hit him a little too far back. I'd only killed a couple elk at that time and thought I made a good shot. He bolted a few steps and stopped there looking at me with blood dripping out of the wound. I could've shot him again easily but I didn't for some reason. I guess I expected him to tip over.
He walked away. I followed blood for a couple hundred yards until the trickle stopped. Looked for him for two days and never found him. It was a hard lesson learned.
I had a real nice 6 x 6 get up from his bed broadside at 20 yds and couldn't do anything because my bow was in a primos bow sling. What hurt really bad was that was my second day of ever hunting elk and I never had that easy of a shot since!
My first year of hunting with a recurve. It was on the last day of the early season and I had the biggest most perfect 4x4 whitetail buck at 7 yards. His chest looked like the size of a refrigerator. I blew that arrow at least 2' over his back. I can still see him running away in my nightmares. To add salt in the wound, I got out of my stand, grabbed the arrow and climbed back up. I picked out a stick laying on the ground where he was standing and hit within 1" of it. That stung bad.
That I didn't start buying points for everything back in the 90's.
Oct 5th 2011 I shot a 180"+ Whitetail between the shoulder blades at 17 yards as he walked away. Crucial angle misjudging by me! I have sheds from him from the two years prior and lots of trail cam pictures. Looked for 2 days, used a dog, etc. but never found him. Never saw him again after that evening.
Hunting a dead rut I decided to mess around with estrous scent, something I never use, because nothing else was happening anyway. I made a drag and looped around my stand and climbed up. 2 hours later a doe came walking along a trail with the biggest buck I’ve ever seen, between hunting and trail cameras, trailing her. I came to full draw and she crossed my shooting lane with him a few yards behind her. That’s when she hit the scent I laid down. It didn’t take a full second for her to blow out taking him with her. It was public land and I never saw him again. Dumb mistake made out of desperation but I learned a lot that afternoon.
Not being more aggressive on bugling bulls my first two years in SW Colorado back around 1999-2000. I was too hung up on believing they were just other hunters. Looking back, they most likely were bulls.
Leaving without being allowed to finish.
I've got too many to list. The one that stands out most was when I was sitting a waterhole in the early elk season. A big bull was working his way in. So I cow called. That was dumb! He was already coming the cow call primarily alerted him. But when I set up a few hours earlier I had set up a Montana decoy. That was even dumber ! The bull came toward the cow call, didn't see a cow but saw the decoy. Since the decoy didn't look right he got real spooky. These were all my mistakes and I just didn't know better. That bull will forever haunt me.
Back in the 50's I had a brand new Bear recurve. Had practiced with it day and night. Was in Delaware on the edge of a corn field. A nice 8 point buck was four corn rows away. I came to full draw and the bow limb snapped and hit me in the shoulder. I can still see that buck in my mind. Bear did send me a brand new bow complete with string and brush guards.
Snuck up on a 6x6 while it was raking some aspens and had a perfect 40 yard shot that was deflected by a half inch diameter twig that was sticking up from an overturned stump.
It was the only obstruction in the entire area and I probably couldn't hit it again if I were trying. The arrow went right under his belly and he gave me a bark of disapproval and ran out of my life. It was right off a trail and would have been a 1.5 mile packout, that one kills me.
Elk hunting in the Gila early 90s way off the beaten path, sitting on a water hole. I watched a “tiny” deer come in and never even thought about shooting. After it walked off I realized it was actually a big Coues deer...real big! Being from Georgia I had never seen one before and wasn’t thinking. Well, he actually came back! And I just flat out missed him. That was back before range finders and his body was so small to me I misjudged it. I’ve never seen a Coues since but as I see pics in magazines he was a giant
Nov 11th 2001, grunted a 160+ inch 10 pt from 400 yds away. This is on NY mind you where a 130 is rare and to get there usually is 4.5 to 5.5 years old. I missed him the first time at 27 yards and grunted him back in to 31 yards and missed again. He was off and out of my life, than 40 minutes later he comes back through and I miss him again at 30 yds. I figured something was wrong with my bow or sight. I climb down find two of my arrows and take a lolly pop out of my pocket and toss it down this ridge to about 30 yds. Thank her back and drill first shot. I thought I was calm and relaxed but obviously the fever had gotten me. Shawn
the ghosts of all the bad beers I've killed....
I wouldn’t say it “haunts” me, but the one I think about most often is the shot I missed on a full curl Bighorn sheep several years ago.
It was the only sheep tag I’ve ever drawn. I trained and scouted for my DIY hunt harder than any before or after. 2 weeks before the hunt I blew up my AC joint in my right shoulder from a mountain bike crash.
With one day left before the season, I cranked the poundage down on my bow and tried to draw it. It brought tears to my eyes, and I had to awkwardly draw at waist height, but I got it back and I could shoot. So, against the advise of my docs, I went on the hunt.
On the second day, I got within range of one of my hit list rams. I missed judged the 45 yard shot for 40. With the lower poundage on my bow, that was enough to cause a clean low miss. To this day I believe I would have killed that ram with my bow at its normal poundage.
I had a great remainder of the hunt, but that was my only shot opportunity. Now that I think about it, I guess it does haunt me a little.
Getting married the first time.
This truly haunts me although nobody was hurt. I met a young lady hiking as I was heading out of the woods . She had two dogs and one was very friendly. He somehow got into my bow mounted quiver. It ended under his collar and he ran off with my exposed broadhead flailing in front of his face. I was able to quickly pull the arrow free . It could have been very bad.
I don't know if this counts. This past September I was calling a bull in off a ridge above me and my buddy. My buddy was setup between the bull and where I was setup. The bull was coming in and my buddy could see the bull. For some reason he decided to make his first and only cow call during this entire call session. The sound that came out of the call, sounded like a cat being crushed. The bull simply turned and walk back up the ridge. I decided to go after the bull, my buddy said he was done and went over to his tree stand (this plays into the story later). I work the bull for another 45 minutes to hour. During this time, I was able to get within 45 yards, but the shot was not good. This is a great bull, easily 320 inches, probably more. For some unknown reason the bull decided brake off and started to move out. I gave chase but in short order he was gone. I sat down put my arrow away and got some water; I was parched. I was not sitting there maybe 5 minutes when the bull bugled just over the rise. I grab my bow mounted the arrow stood-up to have bull 10 yards away looking right at me. The bull turned up hill and walked out of my life for this year. Here is the crutch of the story! I found out the reason the bull had broken off and left me. The bull had heard my buddy calling from his tree stand. His stand was over the ridge and I would guess between ¼ to ½ mile away as the crow flies; longer if you consider the terrain. The bull came into 30 yards of his stand, but never gave him a clear shot. There is plethora of lessons learned with the whole event. First never give up! Maybe this should be first, don’t have your first call of the session be when the bull is on top of you! If I had not put the arrow away, I’m sure I could have had a chance. Elk can hear way better than we can. I could not hear my buddies’ calls; the wind was blowing his call the opposite direction. I could list move, live and learn!
This one still haunts me!!
I didn't grow up in much of a car family, they were functional tools to my dad and grandpa. My other grandpa on the other hand moved to another state when I was about 2, he was the car guy. He rebuild a willie's car with a wood dash and stuff it was cool but I was too young and ignorant to know what it was.
He also bought two Ford mustangs when he moved away, both blue with white interiors. One was a mach 1 the other a fastback. Again I was too young and ignorant to know what they were.
He moved back to Montana to retire when I was a senior in High school. to do so he sold the willie's and the fastback. When we were unpacking their stuff and moving them into the trailer house, I stopped him and said, " I want to buy the Mach 1 when I get home from college, give me 5 years" and grandpa replied " It is yours when you come up with the money "
When I got home 5 years (1991) later and went to visit, the Mach was gone. " you could not have afforded it I got XXXX dollars for it". I don't know what engine it had, I think the 351, but it was perfect, like a car guy would keep it.
I maybe could not have afforded it, but I would have afforded it. know what I mean.
There have been more than a few over the years...But...there was this Giant 4x4 Muley outside of Salmon Idaho Years ago on a Late Season Archery Hunt...My Only thought as I shot my arrow was...when I Kill this Buck it will make Me more Famous than Fred Bear...24yrs Old and Stupid...(65 now and still do/think stupid stuff)...watched the Arrow go just over his shoulders...Did I mention he was Over 35" wide and GIANT!!! LOL...4finger
Had a doe coming my way with a big 12 point following she passed & as the buck went behind a big tree I drew soon as he passed the tree he turned off of her trail & came straight at me & looked up at me he was 10 yards I put the pin between his neck & shoulder & released he dropped & turned the arrow hit the top of the shoulder & maybe penetrated 3 inches. I was shoot a Hoyt super slam bow 80# with fingers 2419 shafts & 160 grain thunderheads. I thought with that setup & that arrow - broadhead weight I could shoot through anything well that buck proved me wrong. Iv mostly been shooting 2 edge heads ever since then
Dang Hunt! That one haunts me too just looking at the pic!
In the middle of a wilderness area in central Colorado there is an 2315 shaft with a Thunderhead on the front buried in a tree 20 feet off the ground. Bull ran up on a ridge above me. Arrow has been there since 1997. Should have killed that bull with a 10 yard frontal shot 30 seconds before, but everyone knows it was unethical and nonlethal to take a frontal shot until about 2010! LOL
Biggest regret was not starting to hunt out west earlier in my life. If you wait until you can comfortably afford it then it's usually too late. That's what happened in my case even though I worked a side job to afford it for many years in my younger days. Really wish I would have started in the late 80's rather than the mid to late 90's
I have plenty of my own but I really feel for Ucsdryder as I remember his story behind the photo he posted (which I can relate to on several occasions)..........badbull
Hit a 370” in the shoulder. Saw him coming up the ridge I was on. I dropped below the ridge line and ran up ahead of him to a saddle I knew he was most likely going to come up through. Sure enough just as I was getting into position he was coming up the hill at 42 yds. I pulled and cow called to stop him. He didn’t even slow down, but glanced my direction and then veered away from me at a semi hard quartering away angle. The wind was howling where we were at around 20-25 coming from my right to left. In the moment that didn’t even cross my mind. I also didn’t think to hold for the back rib, instead just aiming behind the crease. I let it go, and watched my arrow hit way far forward, where the dark brown and tan meet. As he ran away I could see most of my shaft sticking out of him with about 2” of penetration. We followed him for half a mile, but eventually ran out of blood. If there’s one encounter or shot I wish I could do over it would be that one! I didn’t kill a bull that year either. Haunts me every time I reflect on it. Fortunately the successes since have caused the pain to much less severe!
Wow, great thread!
I can relate to many of the elk hunting stories (but not the Stevie Nicks or Dana Delaney story) as I have screwed up so many bull elk opportunities!
A 200+ whitetail at sixteen yards comes unglued just before I start to draw. He makes one bound and he is at twenty twenty two yards broadside. Only problem is a single sapling is somewhat blocking his vitals. Three small limbs are playing a depth perception game with me. I know that I can make the shot but the thought of wounding such magnificent creature overrides the decision to shoot. One more bound and he is out of my life forever. I do not regret the decision to not shoot but he still haunts me to this day.
I have plenty but I forgot all about my stupid hunting stories when I saw Dirk Diggler’s post. All I can say is Amen brother and Thank You For Your Service!
In 2017 my son shouldered this bull. He jumped on private and never left. Haunts us both to this day!
Trail camera pic in August of same bull.
Trail camera pic in August of same bull.
Of all the critters I've shot, or not, for any and all reasons, only one thing haunts me to this day. It's my biggest hunting regret.
A few decades ago, I allowed myself to be convinced by those with vastly different priorities, that I needed to update my equipment to include a high letoff(for the time) accessorized compound. I hunted with it for two years and it made my archery and bowhunting so easy that I was about to quit altogether.... after archery and bowhunting had been a huge part/love of my life.
Out of desperation, and a visceral need to be more challenged and personally invested, I turned back to traditional archery, and decided to try to make my own bow. Which I did. I made a 53 lb d/r longbow and practiced religiously for over a year. I got to be a good shot. Could have killed a deer with it inside of 20 yards, and hunted with it almost every day of that season.
Trying to keep the story brief here... I set a stand in a lone tree in a logged out area that had a few trails nearby, within 10-15 yards, but with a main trail 30 yards away. It was very close to a bedding area and the south wind needed to hunt it didn't come until the last week of the season, and that was the first time I hunted it. It was also the first day of the season I left my homemade longbow at home, after much deliberation. I thought I might get that 30 yard shot... and would 'need' the compound.
Nearing prime time that evening, a mature doe came in from the right/west, close, not on the 30 yard trail, and she had a mature buck tending her, making some noises I never heard before, or since. I shot him, with that compound, at 7-8 yards, while my homemade longbow sat at home.
To this day I feel I underestimated and betrayed myself as a bowyer, archer, and bowhunter, and it will Never. Happen. Again.
This one comes back in my memory too often: I borrowed the money to go to Zimbabwe....one and a half times my yearly income! We snuck into an elephant kill site with hopes of killing a hyena and found a pair of lions. We had the male dead to rights at less than 100 yards. The PH told me I could shoot him for $5,000. At the time I was $30,000 plus in debt on the cost of the hunt and making a bit more than $20,000. $5,000 seemed like WAY too much. I let it walk away because I thought it was outrageous. Haha. I wouldn’t say I REGRET my decision at the time but I certainly do in hindsight. That was nearly 25 years ago.
Almost 4 decades ago I discovered the bow and arrow and was determined to take a trophy buck with a bow. That year I scoured a farm I had permission to hunt and found some huge tracks and sign of a monster buck frequenting the property.
As the year progressed and the rut was coming on I found huge rublines and a series of scrapes, but the cherry was finding secondary trail leading in-out of the property where I found his tracks. So, I set up my (very dangerous) climbing tree stand and only hunted that spot when conditions were right. After countless hours on stand I’d let a few small bucks pass, and as the rut was slowing down I was beginning to regret my decision.
It was about 1/2 hour before dark on the last day of the bow season and I was just becoming OK with the idea that it was not gonna happen but I gave it my best. Then, out of the corner of my eye - movement. There he was - I caught the first glimpse of the monarch - a huge-bodied old brute with a massive rack, tall and well outside of his ears. I counted at least 10 points but stopped looking at his rack - afraid I’d lose control.
He moved with the stealth of an Army Sniper. Looking, listening, sniffing and studying - making sure nothing in his kingdom seemed odd or out of place. This was a time before laser rangefinders but there was an open shooting lane to a point on the trail he was walking that weeks before I’d paced off at 30 yards. He slowing creeped along the trail. When he paused behind a big sycamore tree I came to full draw. Then he stepped out and paused, very slightly quartered away.
When I let the arrow fly I knew it was true. But in the fading daylight I hadn’t noticed the small sapling in front of the buck. Of course my arrow hit the sapling and deflected past the buck. I cannot begin to describe my disappointment, but at the same time my exhilaration.
If I’d killed that buck my life would have likely turned out very differently. As it is that missed opportunity lit a fire in my belly that’s never been extinguished. Nearly 4 decades later I’ve traveled the world, been on countless adventures, and been blessed to make friends on multiple continents. For many years I was tortured over the memory of coming so close on that monarch. Today, I have no regrets.
Such a profound post Jeff Durnell!
Profoundly telling, profoundly egotistical and profoundly condescending, that is.
As one of those guys with “vastly different priorities” (that are clearly inferior to yours), I take great offense to the way you attempt to erase the accomplishments of the overwhelming majority of the honest, ethical sportsman here that are bowhunting in a way that’s “so easy” it almost made you quit. Take your elitist rhetoric somewhere else bud, there’s no place for it here.
This is an EASY ONE! In 2017, Dall sheep in the NWT. 31 yards uphill. I grazed his hind quarter. He got away. Since that moment, honestly, not 1 single day has gone by that I don' think about that moment......and get nauseous. The agony I went through to get a shot opportunity, then to miss at that distance. I was so overwhelmed by the terrain and the stalk, that I just lost my focus at shot time..........oh the pain.....I will never forget it........and I will never get over it!! Just writing this hurts!
One of my first years bowhunting - I was 12 and sitting in my stand when I had 2 bucks show up. One buck was noticeably bigger, but I had never shot a deer before so I focused on the smaller buck that I had a better shot at. He was ~15 yards away and I somehow kept my cool and put what I thought was a good shot on him.
Not long after, it started to rain, so I got down and signaled my dad who wasn't too far away. We found my arrow with a bunch of hair on it, but very little blood. At the time I was shooting NAP thunderheads and all the blades had come off. The O-ring to secure the blades weren't secure. I don't know if that would've made a difference, but it was a good lesson to check your gear before you head out.
I was hunting on my cousins little quarter section just outside of Kankakee, I’ll. on an extremely cold November morning almost 20 years ago. At first light a 120 inch or so 4 by 4 was making his way toward me, after leaving a picked corn field following the couple does that had already passed. I was having a hard time deciding what to do. Shoot or pass. I passed with no regret. An hour or so passed, and I grabbed for my rattling horns that were hanging over a limb, and made a short rattling sequence. As soon as I hung the horns back over the limb, I could hear a deer walking toward me in the 6 inch crusted snow. I first seen him at about 60 or so yards, and let me tell you my heart skipped several beats. A solid 190 or better typical was soon gonna be in my lap. He had it all. Easily 22 inches inside, 26 or so inch main beams, and rib cage looking rack with 6 inch 4’s on both sides.
The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. I loved every second of the raw emotional roller coaster I was riding at that very instant. I wish that emotion to everyone who hunts.
The buck was now approaching my comfort zone, that frigid morning. At 30 yds. when he went behind a large oak, I made made a slight turn on my tree stand to get ready for the shot, and that’s when I noticed the fence. He was on the OTHER side, and I didn’t have permission. He kept coming to about 15 yds. and locked up, and would not leave. Snot running out of his nose, all bristled up. Just a damn stud. I coulda killed him several times but would not take the shot. It is still, to this day the hardest shot I never took. I wish he was on my wall but I have no regrets. It was the right thing to do. I’m just thankful, I was there and got to witness the whole thing.
Not hunting related and not my story....but my Dad dated this chick in college and she so wanted to marry my Dad. Well, Dad finally had enough and broke up with her. Then a few years later Dad married my Mom.
A few years after that, his ex-girlfriend won the Texas Lottery! So, yes that one haunts my Dad!
No one specific instance but there have been several times over the years, deer and elk, whereas I was waiting for the PERFECT shot but just should have taken the GOOD shot. Perfect never developed.
That I didn't start bowhunting until my early twenties. Have a few elk & mule deer I missed before electronic range finders were the norm.
Horse kicking my brother leg and broken leg while loading a elk quarter. He laying on the ground and pulling his pistol out. I say what are you doing. He responded he going to shoot the horse. I say no he carrying you out.
I'm not exactly haunted by this as I had a great hunt and ended up killing an excellent bull, but I would have loved to find this guy during my hunt. We had him on trail cam and saw him when scouting several times, but despite extensive glassing and hunting in the same area he completely evaded me.... Don't know if he made it through the year, but I have 2 buddies who will probably draw this tag this year and we'll be searching for him again.
Gila wilderness 2010. Called a massive palmated 6x6 with matching 8-10" daggers about halfway up each of his fourths. At 10 yards he saw me draw my recurve and stepped backwards as I released. He didn't run but stood there looking at me as I nocked another arrow and drew a second time. As I released he stepped back again and the arrow passed through his brisket. He ran 20 yards and stopped when I bugled at him and then came back. At around 20 yards he turns to his right giving me a broadside and when I release he dodges left and the arrow buries 12" deep in his chest in front of his left leg in the chest area. He runs 100 yards and beds down. I watch him for an hour and he gets up, wobbles a bit and then slowly walks away. At dark I make to where he bedded down and marked it on my gps to track him the next day. At midnight a thunderstorm comes in and I get up and run to where I marked his bed. In the pouring rain I tracked him until there was nothing left to follow. The next day I scoured the mountain for 10 hours and found nothing.
To this day I still search the net for images of nm Gila bull, sheds, deadheads, etc, hoping for some closure.
What haunts me and is my biggest regret to date, is that back in the early 80,s that I didn't join the service. If they would take me now I would go.