September/October 2012 EBJ (Issue 73) - It was already half way through Oregon’s general archery elk season, and I was headed out elk hunting for the first time this year. Until now I had been calling and spotting elk for friends. After a recent heavy rainstorm, the bulls were rutting hard and I had located several bulls.
On my first afternoon I let out a bugle, which received multiple answers. My brother, Cody, went after one bull and I chose another. The bull I headed after stopped responding to bugles and was only interested in hot cow talk. I set up under a large juniper tree and called to the bull for about 10 more minutes before he began coming my way. Once he was on his way it all happened extremely fast. The bull was running in my direction and with little cover between us I had to draw my bow while the bull was still nearly 200 yards away.
The bull went from a full run to a slow walk as he approached the 100-yard mark. I had been at full draw now for a few minutes while at the same time field judging the bull. He was a heavy 6x6 with good tine length; 345-350 I guessed. The bull continued slowly on his way, 50 yards, 40 yards, 30 yards… soon the massive bull stood tight against a large juniper tree only 15 yards away. I thought to myself, "I can thread an arrow between the branches for a perfect double lung.” I settled my pin and released. Then I heard the "THUD.” It was the unmistakable sound of arrow meeting tree…I had just missed a true Oregon trophy!
I spent the few remaining minutes of daylight carving my arrow out of the branch. It was a long walk back to camp knowing that this may have been my best opportunity at a large bull this year.
After an attempt at a few restless hours of sleep, morning finally came and Cody and I picked up right back where we left off the previous evening. We raced back, attempting to beat the rising sun on our four-mile hike into elk country. A locating call was not necessary this time as the bulls were already rutting hard and screaming back and forth to one another. We worked our way into the middle of this September rut fest and began enticing bulls to come our way.
The first bull to come in that morning was a small six-point, but we knew there were bigger bulls in the herd. It was still hard to pass up any size sixpoint hunting Oregon’s public land, but we let the bull live another day and continued up the mountain towards the rest of the herd. The next bull to come in to our calling was heavy-horned bull. I guessed this bull to be close to 340 and he was a shooter. The only problem now was the cow standing between the bull and me. The cow stood perfectly still less than five yards away, while the bull walked past at ten yards, never allowing me to draw my bow. The bull had been long out of sight before the cow finally fed her way into dense forest.
For a full account of Nick's adventure, go to page 58 in the September/October 2012 issue of Eastmans' Bowhunting Journal.