Crunch Time

By Heath Peterson
Utah, DIY, Public Land

Heath Peterson - Crunch TimeJanuary/February 2013 EBJ (Issue 75) - My dad Todd Petersen, and I sat near a clearing in a small canyon at the bottom point where several ridges met. We were getting some bugle responses even in the early afternoon.

At about 6 p.m. we decided to walk up around a corner to get closer to where a bull had been bugling and chuckling back at us. As we were settling under a tree, I noticed a thick and heavy 5x6 rack coming up over the ridge towards us. The bull was walking and feeding at a fast pace so I dropped to my knees to get ready for a shot.

I kept ranging the bull, but he was moving swiftly along the ridge, making it difficult to get a good distance measurement. I had forgotten my diaphragm cow calls, so I could not chirp to stop him. I awkwardly drew my bow back under the pine tree and as I started to put my 50/60 yard pin on him he went behind a small bushy tree and seemed to stop. I mistakenly lowered and carefully let my draw down right when he decided to come out from behind the tree. I quickly ranged him again at about 55 yards while trying to catch my breath from all of the excitement. My heart was raging as if it was up to my throat. I stupidly took a quick, unsettled shot without focusing or following through. My shot went over his back as he walked over the ridge.

Distraught and upset with myself, I quickly went up over the ridge to follow him. He picked up the pace and dropped down into another ridge bottom and then climbed back up another ridge, disappearing into the thick pines.

My dad was still down at the bottom of the ridge under a big pine tree practicing his bugling technique. As Dad kept bugling the bull suddenly came charging back down the ridge across from me and darted straight down the ridge towards him. My dad will tell you that watching the huge 1200-1400 pound, 5x6 bull charging right at him was one of the most unsettling, yet thrilling experiences he has ever had. The bull then quickly ran up and over the ridge and just kept going.

I was sick. I thought for sure I would be regretting that miss for the rest of my life. I spent the rest of that night tossing and turning in my sleeping bag, unable to sleep over having an easy opportunity that close to the end of the hunt and missing.

The next morning, the final day of the archery hunt arrived. This was it. The top of the hourglass was almost out of sand. It was crunch time.

A sense of urgency filled my heart like never before. I only hoped I would get one more chance at a good bull. Early that morning my dad spotted the same 5x6 with his herd of cows. They were bedded down near the bottom of a ravine in some thick pine trees on the side of a ridge. There was no way to get to them from up above because they would see me coming from a long way off. There was no way to sneak down on them from the south side through the thick pines because they would hear me coming from a couple hundred yards away. The only way I could get to them was from the east, sneaking below them down the ravine. The wind was blowing up from the east right towards them. I knew if I tried approaching them right then they would smell me. I had to be patient.

Dad and I decided to get down in below the elk on the east side of them, but farther into the ravine where we could stay far enough back until the wind changed or the elk dropped down into us. The wind changes all the time on the Pahvant, so we knew it would just be a matter of time.

Heath Peterson - Crunch Time

For a full account of Heath's adventure, go to page 32 in the January/February 2013 issue of Eastmans' Bowhunting Journal.