I was hunting in the Uinta Mountains in northern Utah fairly close to the Wyoming/Utah border. I was guiding a lot back then. Because we never had clients coming in before the first of September, so I did my personal hunting at the end of August.
The weather was super, super hot, and the elk weren’t bugling. I was hunting over a spring, and I found a spot that would provide cover for me if an elk came in to drink. Many times when I'm hunting over springs, the elk don’t come in to water until just before dark. However, I always try to go in early to the spot I'm planning to hunt, because I don’t want to spook any animals. Dark didn’t occur until 9 p.m., and I got to the spring about 6 p.m. As soon as I reached my stand site, I tried to get situated so I’d be facing in the direction where I thought the elk would come in.
As soon as I looked up into the aspens, I spotted a bull coming to the spring at the quick step from about 100 yards away or less. I still wasn’t in a position to take the shot. I hadn’t even taken the arrow out of my quiver. I was in panic mode. I knew I couldn’t draw my bow as the bull was coming to me. If I did, he'd see me. The bull passed by me at 15 yards. When he had gone past me, I drew my bow. I was just above him about 10 or 15 yards up the hill. At that time, I was shooting a PSE bow that had a piece of surgical tubing holding the peep sight straight on the string. I was holding the bow at full draw, starting to look through my peep sight, and the surgical tubing to the peep sight broke. So, I couldn’t look through my peep sight. But I felt like I was so close I could still make the shot, even without the peep sight.
I was going to have to make a 10-15 yard shot almost straight down on the bull. I took the shot when the bull was still moving. I hit him a little bit far back from where I wanted the arrow to hit. After I had arrowed him, he wheeled and went back up the trail he had come down and disappeared into the aspens. I was still bummed out about the shot and not being able to use my peep sight.
When I decided to start following the blood trail up into a canyon, there was tons of blood along the trail the elk had taken, and the blood trail was easy to follow. As the sun faded, I looked up on the side of the mountain, and I could see the antlers of my bull. I backed out off the blood trail and decided to come back the next morning with a friend to try and recover the bull.
When we came back the next morning, we saw a big patch of blood where the elk had bedded- down, but we saw a new blood trail leading off from the bedding site. So I searched all the next day. Finally, I gave up. I went back to my truck, and I had locked my keys inside the truck. I had to bust out the window with a rock. I decided that I had been through the misery of not finding my bull, something good had to happen. So I opted to go look in one more canyon, even though this canyon didn’t seem like a place my bull would have gone.
The truck was less than 400 yards from the canyon. I only had walked 200 yards up the canyon when I found my bull. Luckily, the meat was still fresh. The bull was still limp, and I was able to save the meat and the trophy. I pulled my truck up to within 200 yards of where the bull was. Even though he wasn’t a huge bull, he was a nice 5x5 buck that would have scored about 280 points.