My wife Rena started shooting a bow in 2008, the year we both started archery hunting. She and I passed on a lot of bulls, so we went out with our rifles on the first day of rifle season. I spotted a bull I was going to take. But before I got set up to take the shot, some other hunters came in and spooked the bull. We talked for awhile about how upset we were that this nice bull had been spooked by the other hunters. Then we heard some elk on the other side of the mountain from us.
Rena walked up the hill behind us and spotted a herd of about 30 cows that started running and came within 50 yards of us. We saw that there was a nice 6-point bull in the back of the herd of cows that was pushing the cows. So, Rena spun around, brought her rifle up and shot him. I was standing right there with her when she took the shot. When Rena squeezed the trigger, the bull didn’t take another step. Rena had put her first bull down by 7:30 a.m. on the first day of gun season.
Rena said, “Since I took the bull, I’ll field dress and quarter him.”
All I had to do was hold the legs while she skinned and hold some skin, while she continued to skin and quarter him. It took us about 3-4 hours to get our packs and carry the bull back to the truck, which was a mile and a half away. One of the reasons that we primarily hunt in the morning is because we want to make sure that if we take an elk, we have plenty of time to field dress him and get him back to camp during daylight hours.
The bull that Rena took was a really nice bull - bigger than my first bull (the raghorn) and bigger than the bull I took one week later that I had to carry out for five miles.
In 2016, I called in a herd bull that had broken antlers from fighting. If his antlers hadn’t been broken, he would have scored in the 280 or 290 range. On that hunt, everything that could go wrong did go wrong. On the way in to our hunting spot, we had a flat tire on the truck. There were people camped nearby where they weren’t supposed to be camped. So, we left the truck and walked to our hunting spot in the dark. When we reached the place where we wanted to hunt, we spotted some bulls below us, but we couldn’t get the bulls to commit to coming to the call.
We started slowly sliding on our butts to get down to where we had heard and seen the bulls in the timber. What we didn’t realize, until it was too late, was that we had slid right into the middle of a whole herd of elk. We got into those elk, because we had focused our attention on three bulls fighting at the bottom of the drainage, and one of those bulls was the elk that Rena wanted to take. When we realized what we had done, I quickly put up a Montana Decoy of a cow elk. Both of us had taken a bath in elk estrous urine. We smelled horrid - much like skunks.
I started giving cow calls, and I had two bulls walk right past me at six yards. They were decent bulls. Rena took a shot at one of the bulls, but she was so excited that she shot low and missed the bull. However, she didn’t spook the elk she wanted. He just kept right on walking the way he was going.
We had Travis Patzer with us, and he missed a bull. I thought, “What else can happen to ruin our elk hunt?” Finally, the cows in the herd stood up. Rena moved off to the left of Travis and sat down about 40 yards from a trail. The cows and the bulls were both below us. The cows came up the trail and were within 40 yards of Rena.
Finally, the bull came up the trail and stopped. Rena drew her Bowtech HeartBreaker Bow and released the arrow. When the NAP Hell Raiser Broadhead found its mark, Rena was confident she had made a lethal hit. From where I was sitting, I couldn’t see the flight of the arrow, so I couldn’t see the arrow hit the bull. But I noticed that the elk got really disturbed. To be honest, I thought Rena had missed. Then, I saw the bull run off to about 50 yards and then pile up.
When I looked back at the cows, they were just standing, still looking at the downed bull. The three of us sat still and didn’t move, because we didn’t want that herd of elk to know that we were in the area. We were hoping that Travis would get another shot at another bull, but that didn’t happen. The herd of elk slowly walked off. They weren’t spooked at all. I got up to walk over to where Rena was, but she had already gone to the bull that she shot.
Rena downed her bull at about 10:30 a.m. So after we looked at the bull, I went back to the truck and fixed its flat tire. I drove the truck straight down the hill to within a half mile of the downed elk. Because the elk was so close to the truck, we carried the quarters, the head and the hide out. While Rena was field dressing and breaking down the elk, Travis and I made two trips back to the truck. Rena carried out the backstraps and the head. She was really proud of her first bow elk.