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View Full Version : Elk Chest Shot. Shoot or pass?



wapiti66
03-13-2012, 10:53 PM
I was archery hunting last year with an OTC Co tag and came upon some bedded elk. We spotted them as they heard us and the staredown lasted around 4 minutes...then the herd quietly left. We sat down and cow called for about 5 minutes when the bull showed back up to pick up his lost lady. I was in front with my dad and brother behind me doing the calling. Since we were "pinned down" we felt, nobody ever moved off the game trail, and that was our biggest mistake...we were all in a line and the bull walked down the trail facing me. He stopped behind the last tree between him and I, I drew, and he hung up for a good 2 minutes. When he finally walked around the tree (I was still drawn) he paused for another staredown @ about 18 yds. I had my 20 yd. pin on his throat, but I was starting to shake pretty bad after being drawn for several minutes. I decided not to take the shot because I wasn't sure if an arrow would penetrate the chest of a mature (6x6) bull head on. Also, I couldn't hold steady after being drawn for so long, but I didn't want to let down my draw and blow him out. I continued to shake and the bull just stared through me. Eventually he backed out never giving me a broadside shot and circled around to try and get a better look and then finally left. Since the event I have had people tell me that they have made fatal shots on elk that were facing them at close range (withing 20 yds.) Also some say the only ethical archery shot is broadside or quartering. So, I'm asking for opinions for the next time I'm in the situation. Anybody shot an elk facing them? What specific spot did you aim for? What was the outcome? By the way, that was the only time I got to draw my bow on an elk last season, I ate the soup.

Jon Boy
03-13-2012, 11:03 PM
I wouldnt take the shot. Its a low percentage shot. I know guys who have made kills doing it and, I know a lot of guys who have lost elk doing it. Only animal I have lost was a mulie buck at 5 yards bedded under some rimrock directly below me, took a neck shot thinking it would be fine at that range (pass through), watched him bound off across the canyon to the other side and disappear over the other side 1/2 mile out. I only take broadside or quartering away shots now.

Futboler
03-14-2012, 01:18 AM
I had a front shot on a nice 310ish bull my first year of archery hunting. He was at 12 yards and I passed on it because of lack of experience and never seeing that shot taken by professionals. I remember watching Cameron Hanes turn down that shot before, but just recently watched Jim Burnsworth on Western Extreme take a bull on a quartering to/straight on angle that he must have shot in the throat. Jim's an accomplished archer and has a history of taking shots that the average archer wouldn't. I agree with everyone above...not for me. I have too much respect for the animal and too much fun chasing them.

birdhunter
03-14-2012, 07:57 AM
I myself have taken a cow elk shooting it facing straight at me. She ran about 10 yards then collapsed. I will never take that shot again after the next year I took a braodside shot on a cow and took out a lung with a perfectly placed arrow. The cow ran for 2 hours that night and the next morning figuring she would be dead with the meat spoiled, we found her after 4 hours of tracking. She was still alive and we finished her off. Some elk are as tough as could be and others parish with the strangest shots. After figuring out how tough they are, I decided to make a smart shot every time. Even though the head on shot died instantly. Its just to risky of a shot since just 2 inches left or right can leave the elk living with an arrow in it the rest of their lives.

RUTTIN
03-14-2012, 08:23 AM
I will probably take a lot of crap for this but, I have shot two bulls with a frontal shot, but I have certain conditions before I will take this shot. The animal has to be within 20yds, I have to be steady with my aim, if I am shaking the least little bit I will not shoot. I have change my equipment up so that if the shot presents itself my arrow can penetrate the sweet spot. I shoot a heavy poundage, heavy arrow, and cut on contact broadhead. If the animal is slightly quartering to me I put the arrow in front of the leg and between the brisket, head on goes right in the middle where the dark hair starts. One bull I shot was uphill from me, when my arrow penetrated all that was sticking out was the fletching, my Magnus Stinger had blown through one vertebrae and was stuck in another behind it, dropping him in his tracks. A bull my friend shot at was downhill head on, he shot him just below the juglar so the arrow would find the heart lung area, his arrow went down the windpipe through all the goodies and was stuck in his guts when we opened him up, bull went about 60 yds with one of the best blood trails I have ever followed. I think alot comes down to whether your equipment can handle a front on shot. But like I said before everything has to be perfect, no if ands or buts.

BKC
03-14-2012, 09:14 AM
I think there are more frontal shots taken on T.V than we see. If the animal dies and they recover it, then they put it on their show. If not they never show it. I think the pressure to get a mature bull on film is too much and they get shot at even when placement is questionable.

GameSlayer
03-14-2012, 03:27 PM
I probably will never take the shot. I have had a friend take the shot at 15 yards and barried the arrow to never recover the bull. Another friend took a bull this way but did have trouble finding it. I know it is a vital shot, but the room for error is slim. Also I think when you only have an entrance wound you have less of a blood trail to follow.

Jon Boy
03-14-2012, 05:06 PM
I think there are more frontal shots taken on T.V than we see. If the animal dies and they recover it, then they put it on their show. If not they never show it. I think the pressure to get a mature bull on film is too much and they get shot at even when placement is questionable.

The same goes for all of the "long range hunting" shows....I wonder how many are actually lost and not shown.

Timberstalker
03-14-2012, 05:32 PM
Not a shot for me, I don't shoot enough for that. I get nervous with a 20 yrd broadside shot, shot placement on an elk is crucial. They are too tough.

cnalder
03-14-2012, 07:53 PM
I'm with RUTTIN on this. If you are confident with shot placement, aren't shaky, and its under 20 yards its an excellent shot. If you hit low the arrow hits the brisket and glances to the ground. I had a friend that happened to. High he likely dies because all the vitals. If you are to far left or right it hits the shoulder and the elk likely lives. With a broadside shot to far forward arrow hits shoulder, too far back and recovery is risky. High means tough recovery. Its all about shot placement and confidence. I would take an under 20 yard head on vs a 40+ broadside. The hunting shows show excellent archers taking those shots but the average person shouldn't. If you can put your arrows in the kill zone at 40 yards you definitely should be able to hit the kill zone of a straight on animal at under 20. All about shot placement and confidence. I did have a 25yd broadside shot on a 6x6. I hit high but did get both lungs. Blood trail was good at first but eventually disappeared. The bull lived for 16 hrs and we only found him because we knew the area so well. I took a quartering to shot at 25yds this year and by far a riskier shot than one straight on. Small kill zone but was able to squeek the arrow in for my first 330 class bull. Guess I'm saying its all about placement and confidence. If your willing to take 40+ broadside shots than head on under 20 should be no problem.

S&S Archery
03-14-2012, 08:26 PM
I'm with RUTTIN on this. If you are confident with shot placement, aren't shaky, and its under 20 yards its an excellent shot. If you hit low the arrow hits the brisket and glances to the ground. I had a friend that happened to. High he likely dies because all the vitals. If you are to far left or right it hits the shoulder and the elk likely lives. With a broadside shot to far forward arrow hits shoulder, too far back and recovery is risky. High means tough recovery. Its all about shot placement and confidence. I would take an under 20 yard head on vs a 40+ broadside. The hunting shows show excellent archers taking those shots but the average person shouldn't. If you can put your arrows in the kill zone at 40 yards you definitely should be able to hit the kill zone of a straight on animal at under 20. All about shot placement and confidence. I did have a 25yd broadside shot on a 6x6. I hit high but did get both lungs. Blood trail was good at first but eventually disappeared. The bull lived for 16 hrs and we only found him because we knew the area so well. I took a quartering to shot at 25yds this year and by far a riskier shot than one straight on. Small kill zone but was able to squeek the arrow in for my first 330 class bull. Guess I'm saying its all about placement and confidence. If your willing to take 40+ broadside shots than head on under 20 should be no problem.

Very well put. A frontal shot at close distance can be extremely deadly, it's not for everyone but if you have the confidence and the right equipment I will take that shot any day. The area on an elk is actually a lot larger than most people think, probably 6"x8".

Stringmusic
03-14-2012, 08:33 PM
I will probably take a lot of crap for this but, I have shot two bulls with a frontal shot, but I have certain conditions before I will take this shot. The animal has to be within 20yds, I have to be steady with my aim, if I am shaking the least little bit I will not shoot. I have change my equipment up so that if the shot presents itself my arrow can penetrate the sweet spot. I shoot a heavy poundage, heavy arrow, and cut on contact broadhead. If the animal is slightly quartering to me I put the arrow in front of the leg and between the brisket, head on goes right in the middle where the dark hair starts. One bull I shot was uphill from me, when my arrow penetrated all that was sticking out was the fletching, my Magnus Stinger had blown through one vertebrae and was stuck in another behind it, dropping him in his tracks. A bull my friend shot at was downhill head on, he shot him just below the juglar so the arrow would find the heart lung area, his arrow went down the windpipe through all the goodies and was stuck in his guts when we opened him up, bull went about 60 yds with one of the best blood trails I have ever followed. I think alot comes down to whether your equipment can handle a front on shot. But like I said before everything has to be perfect, no if ands or buts.

+1 from me!

wapiti66
03-14-2012, 09:32 PM
I can see myself taking the shot if ALL conditions are perfect. I have the confidence to hit the kill zone within 20 yds. On all of the animals I have taken, or passed...the moment before I release I ask myself if I am honestly confident that I can make the shot. In this particular instance I had been drawn way too long, and couldn't control my shakes. It was an easy decision for me to pass at that particular time. But, since then I keep replaying it over and I was curious what other experienced archers have done in similar instances. It's been all good info, I appreciate it, and I agree that it depends on what you are comfortable with...based on your skill level (how much you practice and how well you shoot) and the particular situation. I think it comes down to really being honest with yourself, if you are confident you've got the shot...let it fly. If not, let him walk and enjoy the opportunity.

potsie
03-14-2012, 10:30 PM
I would not take the shot my best friend shot at a huge 4x4 blacktail in the chest at 32 yards we waited 1 hour and tracked it 2 days and never found it very sad to lose such a great buck

Jerry
03-14-2012, 10:32 PM
I just watched a show called Beau knows outdoors where he stuck a nice bull in the low chest, which basically dropped in his tracks! I was very surprised as it looked to be 30 or 40 yards. Oh well, you learn something every day!

Bitterroot Bulls
03-14-2012, 11:07 PM
I just watched a show called Beau knows outdoors where he stuck a nice bull in the low chest, which basically dropped in his tracks! I was very surprised as it looked to be 30 or 40 yards. Oh well, you learn something every day!

That is Beau Turner. He probably just paid the bull to fall over.

RUTTIN
03-15-2012, 08:22 AM
That is Beau Turner. He probably just paid the bull to fall over.Ha Ha.............That's funny BB

Maxhunter
03-15-2012, 07:45 PM
I've had plenty of these shots present themselves but I usually pass. I'm a pretty good shot but all it takes is a little to much either way and it's a wounded animal. Called a bull within 15yds for a friend who is darn good shot and he didn't get the sweet spot. Is it a good shot to take only you can answer that one IMO!

Jerry
03-15-2012, 08:34 PM
Ha Ha.............That's funny BB
I had never heard of the guy nor seen his show, but he sure acts the part you just described!

Stringmusic
03-15-2012, 08:40 PM
KE plays a big part in my choice.

Montana
03-15-2012, 08:56 PM
I will now pass on the shot... I snuck in to about 45 yards of a bugling bull and his cows. After about 5 minutes after calling he was headed right to me, straight to me.

Now back up with 2 series of events that took place over the last month. One buddy drew the mecca 380 tag and said he lost a bull at 10 yards with a head on shot. I was sad to hear the story. Then weeks later, talking with another friend he tells me he passed on the same shot, I told him "good job", another friend just took the shot and lost the bull.

Now back to the bull coming my direction... There is no doubt that he is mine, he is slowly walking 10 yards out and starting to turn broadside. As he walks behind a tree I draw back, here he comes, no idea I am there. At the last minute he turns right at me now at 5 yards. I couldn't believe it, now I was faced with this decision, it never hit me until he took the last step... Now I had the same decision. Everything played in my head and just like the above mentioned posts, I thought it was perfect, At this distance there is no way it couldn't penetrate. So I released the arrow, burried 3/4's of the way into he chest.. He ran out 50 yards and stopped, I waited for him to drop, still no doubt in my mind but then he turned and started to walk away... My heart sank and instantly the voices came back i knew I shouldn't have taken the shot... It was sickening, I backed out immediately and got 2 buddies for the next day. 2 days of searching and never found him.

I can only guess the arrow caught the edge/start of his rib cage and slid down to the front of his shoulder, between the ribs and shoulder....

So let me tell you..... It is one awful feeling if you have made the wrong choice.

Stringmusic
03-15-2012, 09:23 PM
I will now pass on the shot... I snuck in to about 45 yards of a bugling bull and his cows. After about 5 minutes after calling he was headed right to me, straight to me.

Now back up with 2 series of events that took place over the last month. One buddy drew the mecca 380 tag and said he lost a bull at 10 yards with a head on shot. I was sad to hear the story. Then weeks later, talking with another friend he tells me he passed on the same shot, I told him "good job", another friend just took the shot and lost the bull.

Now back to the bull coming my direction... There is no doubt that he is mine, he is slowly walking 10 yards out and starting to turn broadside. As he walks behind a tree I draw back, here he comes, no idea I am there. At the last minute he turns right at me now at 5 yards. I couldn't believe it, now I was faced with this decision, it never hit me until he took the last step... Now I had the same decision. Everything played in my head and just like the above mentioned posts, I thought it was perfect, At this distance there is no way it couldn't penetrate. So I released the arrow, burried 3/4's of the way into he chest.. He ran out 50 yards and stopped, I waited for him to drop, still no doubt in my mind but then he turned and started to walk away... My heart sank and instantly the voices came back i knew I shouldn't have taken the shot... It was sickening, I backed out immediately and got 2 buddies for the next day. 2 days of searching and never found him.

I can only guess the arrow caught the edge/start of his rib cage and slid down to the front of his shoulder, between the ribs and shoulder....

So let me tell you..... It is one awful feeling if you have made the wrong choice.

That is a tough one for sure. At five yards, I believe most would think the same thing (arrow should go through everything). Did you put your top pin on your target? Or your bottom pin?

I shot a bear at 6 yards facing me, and I put my top pin on the spot I wanted to hit, and pulled the tigger. Hit way low. At that range I should have put my 40 or 50 yard pin on him.

dhershberger
03-16-2012, 10:17 AM
Pass the shot! If you mess it up, you feel terrible!!!! It's important to take ethical shots when bowhunting!

cnalder
03-16-2012, 04:48 PM
At 5yds it may be an ethical shot. If you know where to aim for the kill zone of a head on animal, know what you arrow does at that distance, and are steady, its a high percentage shot. Most folks probably haven't studied the kill zone and I've rarely seen head on shots at 3D shoots. With the advance of bows most folks have rarely practice at 20yds let alone 5. Just like if you hit one high broad side, you only get the upper lungs when hitting a head on high. Could take the animal a day or two to die with no blood trail.

And then the unknown is how steady a person is while shooting at live animals. I've overcome the shakiness but it took years. I have a buddy that out shoots me every time at 3D shoots but can't shoot worth a damn at live animals. In 15 years of hunting he has only harvested on elk with lots of misses. Last year he missed a spike at 25yds and the next day a 6pt at 30yds both broad side. The frustration is that he believes he has made good shots, only to find no blood and clean arrows. Several of us believe he gets to excited.

I practice head on shots at different distances because I hunt alone during the week before going to work. Unfortunately when alone most bulls are coming directly to you and the biggest problem is getting drawn before they are on top of you. Comes down to confidence and whether you've practiced these or not. I've go a great way to practice head on shots but the consequence of poor shots are broken arrows. Let me know if interested.

In God We Trust
03-16-2012, 06:13 PM
I don't ever base any hunting decisions on a tv show. I have seen a lot of people on T.V shows do some stupid things. I watched a guy shoot at a bull with a bow as the bull was spinning around to run off. He hit him perfect and it only made it 40 yards. Everyone shook his hand and told him great shot. B.S, that is an irresponsible shot and the guy probably couldn't pull that off if he had 9 more chances. I have seen from posts that most of us have hit an animal badly with a bow and not found it. That feeling is the worst and makes me sick to my stomach. I feel we owe it to the animal to make a clean and ethical shot. I don't think a frontal shot is a good idea. I shoot all year out to 60 yards, still won't take the shot.

Blackbear74
03-21-2012, 05:43 PM
I have seen Kurt Wells take a frontal shot on a bull elk and be successful, however I believe that is a very risky shot to take. There is a lot of muscle to pass through to get to the vitals in comparison with a broadside shot. I'd say pass on him, and be thankful for the opportunity and chalk it up as another learning situation.