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  1. #1
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    Elk Chest Shot. Shoot or pass?

    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.

  2. #2
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    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.

  3. #3
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    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.

  4. #4
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    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.

  5. #5
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    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.
    Shoot STR8

  6. #6
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    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.

  7. #7
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    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.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by BKC View Post
    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.

  9. #9
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    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.

  10. #10
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    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.

 

 

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