November 2013 EBJ (Issue 80) - I caught brief glimpses of tan hide passing behind the pine needles on the trees between us. The herd was moving, feeding sporadically on lush grass in the bottom of a timbered draw. I had sprinted across a half-mile flat to chase down a good-sounding bugle and now had the herd within bow range. I was pinned down near the skyline above the draw with the elk roughly 50 yards below me. I couldn’t see the bull, but I had lasered six different cows to confirm yardage.
It was late morning and my guess was this herd had been bumped by someone else and would not stay on public land long. I nocked an arrow and waited for the elk to enter my shooting lane. As the lead cow stopped to take a quick bite of grass, I knew the rest of the herd would soon follow in her footsteps. The fourth elk stopped broadside and I knew she was the one I wanted.
As I reached anchor and settled my red pin behind her shoulder, a whirlwind of thoughts flashed through my mind. First was the similarity between the difficulty of this shot and one I had made in our Montana State Field Tournament. Steep downhill, 50 yards, medium crosswind and a heap of pressure on myself to execute a good shot. Then it was all the frustration I had encountered so far this elk season. Miles and miles had been put on my boots looking for a shooter bull, but nothing astounding was found.
It was just one of those years and I couldn’t seem to find the one. Lastly, and most importantly, I realized how hard I had worked for this opportunity and I didn’t want to mess it up.
The shot broke cleanly and I watched my fletch disappear in a tuft behind her front shoulder. The herd exploded below me and elk ran in every direction while the herd bull came out of the bottom of the draw and exposed himself. I threw my binoculars on him, gazed at a mud-soaked 330-inch sixpoint and instantly wished I had waited a few seconds longer to fire an arrow. The bull brushed by my cow as she tipped over.
I smiled at the luck I was having this year. I knew there was a bull with the herd, but for some reason, at that moment I decided after a month of not drawing my bow on an elk that it was time to acquire some tender table fare. As I watched the bull follow the rest of the herd out of sight I reminded myself that I still had over two weeks to fill my bull tag.
Now with more than full freezer of meat, it was time to locate a shooter bull. I decided to change up the plan a little and relocated to a new area to hunt solo for a few days. I found a solid 7x7 on the first morning, which I tried hard to put my tag on, but to no avail. After two days of intense hiking and glassing into new areas, I realized my chances of finding a big bull were no better there than my normal spots. Kerry had to head home so it was now just Kiley and I struggling to fill our tags.
With only three days left in the season, the weight of the season’s end was bearing down hard on my shoulders. I didn’t want to pull out the rifle this year and there was no reason I couldn’t still harvest a bull with my bow.
For a full account of Jason's adventure, go to page 30 in the November/December 2013 issue of Eastmans' Bowhunting Journal.