Sitka Gear
Mistake tonight
Contributors to this thread:
Doc 07-Sep-21
WV Mountaineer 07-Sep-21
Rocky D 07-Sep-21
Bowboy 07-Sep-21
Dale06 07-Sep-21
Scrappy 07-Sep-21
elkmtngear 07-Sep-21
wytex 07-Sep-21
Pop-r 07-Sep-21
Rocky D 08-Sep-21
WV Mountaineer 08-Sep-21
Shuteye 08-Sep-21
sticksender 08-Sep-21
Dyjack 08-Sep-21
Pop-r 08-Sep-21
bad karma 10-Sep-21
From: Doc
So I made a mistake tonight and I make many, so this is another doozie. I have been hunting elk for years and left the woods shaking my head. Perhaps I just need to remember how hard this can be. But I believe there is a solution and I wanted to submit this to this forum to see what you all think. Here’s the setup:

6 PM- I set up in small Aspen “brush” on the downwind side at the edge of a long meadow running parallel with a thick, overgrown ridge that loomed overhead. It was a small finger brushy Aspen finger extending from bigger trees and stuck out 15 yards into the meadow- allowed me to see across both the left and right sides of the meadow without losing the periphery and having something sneak in from 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock. The wind blew steady downwind toward me as I cow called- a few calf and assembly mews. I heard a cow call back above and then another. Then a pop and crunching branches. More crunching. Then a large cow stepped into view and a another smaller cow. Munchjng away and no stress. Both cows called back gently, the older cow assembly mewed back to me. It’s her beach apparently so I give ground. No bull. I switch to a lost calf because it seems like a mom and adolescent pair. Then two more cows drifted into the fringe of the meadow which is 125 yards from me. No bull. Then I heard a light huff and he popped into view- huge for our area. Big mature 6. I assembly mewed at him with a little urgency and added a whine. He turned, watched the meadow and then ambled on, gently guiding his group to the left. This goes on for 10-15 minutes and I realize I am missing him. I was standing behind a 6 foot Aspen with a 3 foot wide span and other smaller scrubby aspens around me. I saw a hefty dead Aspen branch 10 feet behind me in a small copse of brush and stepped into it, grabbed and raked like hell. I ripped a small squeal. That bull turned on a rope and started toward me. Frontal the whole way, maybe a partial turn to look back at his cows but gently huffing and slobbery and watchful. 80, 60,40,30,20,12 yards. Great. He had me perfectly eclipsed the whole time with that Aspen tree. He stopped at 12 yards and I had no shot except a perfect frontal through a small Aspen bush. I tried and eased to my right as he was watching intently for a quick shot- it was 12 yards after all, but before I could set my front foot, he saw the movement and spun and trotted back to his cows. I got him back to the edge of the meadow with more pleading and stomping and calling but he rounded them up and ambled away. I snuck out and hope he is happily awaiting my next encounter. My question to the group is what mistakes did I make, how can I address them in the future and are there tricks from the solo hunters out there to maximize shot opportunities when you are solo calling and shooting. I was thrilled with the whole thing, incredible to see him cross that meadow- they are so damn big. And glad I didn’t do anything stupid and wound him and lose him. Thanks. Hope everyone is getting after it and feeling good out there.

Not getting an arrow into him when he gave you a chance at a killing shot is the only mistake you made so to speak. If you do a similar setup again he’s liable to give you 10 easy shots those times. It’s hunting. Not target practice.

Nothing is standing in line to step up and take that perfect broadside shot. You gotta take the first killing shot you got. Making it happen is easier when you come to grips with that reality.

From: Rocky D
Since you got him to 12 yards I would assume that I had done everything ok to that point. The problem was not getting the shot off because you were behind the aspen instead of being in front of the aspen!

From: Bowboy
Like stated you had to much cover in front you and it prevent you from getting a clear shot.

From: Dale06
What Rocky said.

From: Scrappy
Thats hunting, no mistakes made.

From: elkmtngear
Any movement with his head exposed will be a bust, which is why I shoot a compound. I try to draw quickly as soon as his head is behind a tree, and take the first shot opportunity he gives.

Not much you could do, if there was nothing in between you but open space.

From: wytex
Set up in front of the cover.

From: Pop-r
Totally disagree with setting up in front of cover. BigDan did too.

From: Rocky D
Pop the number one basic fundamental of camouflage is to break up your outline.

Using BigDan as evidence to justify your position does give some credibility to your your point. BigDan’s position was based on his vast experience and with his success. This is akin to you telling every NBA rookie to trash talk like Michael Jordan or Larry Bird to get to the hall of fame. BigDan’s decision process was based on years of experience and his ability in picking the location and handling the situation however it played out. I will bet that the vast majority of elk guides have their hunters positioned in front of the cover versus behind the cover.

Let me say that I have done both in front and behind with success but for most hunters and most situations they would be better off positioning themselves in front of the obstacle to break up their outline and ease of movement in drawing the bow.

With elk, there are few reasons to set up behind cover. They just don’t pick you out like a weary deer. With that said, plopping down in front of a tree with open ground in front of you is worse then shadowing that tree while using it to block the oncoming animal. There is few chances of drawing like that.

Each situation is going to be different. And, sometimes the outcome is just what it is. Nothing would have changed it. They just don’t line up to take it voluntarily.

From: Shuteye
I'm not an elk hunter but it sounds like fun and you know what your are doing. I have been hunting deer for over 70 years and still learn stuff every year.

From: sticksender
Quote: "he saw the movement and spun and trotted back to his cows".

IMO this was probably the only error. If he saw movement, you were moving too fast. Truly "moving slowly" is kind of an art form.

From: Dyjack
I don't think you did anything wrong. You just had a good encounter that didn't go the best.

Setting up in front of cover is good if you can hide the movement.

Sticksender is definitely right. I try to remind myself "smooth is fast". Meticulous movement. No movement if their eyes are sided toward me, or looking at me.

From: Pop-r
I can agree that certain situations I would want to set up in front of cover. Especially if there's a good more bit of cover in front of that to give me a drawing opportunity. Otherwise I'm behind.

From: bad karma
You had a wary bull at 12 yards. I'll say you could have the same scenario tomorrow and kill a good bull. Or's hunting and sometimes what you do won't work because your luck is doodoo. Go find another bull at 12 yards and post the picture of your kill.

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