Don't Tell the Doc

Two and a half months ago I underwent major back surgery. My doctor told me that I’d have to put all hunting on hold for a minimum of 6 months and possibly for an entire year. But mid-August found me in the heart of the mountains, bow in hand with an elk tag in my pocket…don’t tell my doctor!

Luckily my back seems to be healing quite well, but I’m definitely taking it easy. In fact, in anticipation of possibly getting out on the archery hunt this season I went to my local archery shop a week before the hunt and had them crank down my bow to a random 52 lbs. When the guy slid my bow across the counter and asked if he’d turned down my bow far enough, I said the only way I’d know would be to attempt to draw my bow, my first challenge. Nervously I pulled at my bow string. Without feeling any strain on my back, my bow came to full draw quite easily, good enough.


Archery elk hunt view from treestand
           My view for 15+ hours per day


Not wanting to overdo it, but knowing that my sights would be off, I took 5 shots to see where I was hitting. At 20 yards my shot was close, two shots at 30 yards found my arrows to be a couple of inches low and my last two shots at 40 yards showed that I’d need to hold four inches high to compensate for the adjusted poundage.


My next challenge came when I had to use my tree stand to climb up above my mineral lick. Surprisingly it wasn’t too difficult as I sat perched 18 ft. in the air awaiting elk to come into my stand. What was difficult was the 15+ hour stint I spent each day for 2 days straight in my tree stand, alternating between sitting and standing on an 18 inch platform. Especially when the only thing to show for my patience was a few close encounters with some small bucks and a glimpse of 3 elk quickly passing  through the trees 60 yards away.


Archery elk hunt, deer buck in velvet
                                 Who knew my elk would stand in this exact spot the next day


Then it happened, day three at 6:30 a.m. I heard a branch break off in the distance. On high alert I stood with my bow hoping the sound would materialize into something shootable. Several minutes passed until I again heard branches breaking approximately 60 yards through the timber. It wasn’t until the animals had approached to 35 yards that I was able to get my first glimpse of the noisemakers, elk. Just as I’d hoped, the four elk came straight into my mineral lick 20 yards away. My patience worked against me as I figured the elk would hang out for 5 – 10 minutes. I passed on a 20 yard broadside shot, awaiting the perfect moment to draw back my bow unnoticed. However, after about a minute or so all the elk left the lick and started walking directly toward my location, I couldn’t move. The elk stopped directly below me and fed at the base of my tree. As they stepped a few feet to my left, they either noticed my slight movement or they felt my looming presence because they looked straight up and stared me down for a long 10 seconds. Unsure of the figure above, they started walking directly away to my left and this time my lack of patience worked against me.

I went hunting elk, archery elk hunt
                        Luckily one elk went left around the big downed pine and stopped in an opening


All too anxious, I drew my bow before they had made it 10 yards. They either heard or saw my movement and bolted. By the time I came to full draw, 3 elk had already disappeared into the thick pines to their right. But one elk made the mistake of heading left around a huge downed pine tree and stopped broadside at 35 yards to look back in my direction.


Archery elk hunt, pack out elk  Archery elk, following blood trail

                The boys coming to help me pack out my elk                                        Found my arrow...elk went thataway

Compensating for my arrow drop, I settled in on the elk and let an arrow fly. My shot was true as the elk only made it 80 yards due to a perfect heart shot!  And then my final challenge, getting the elk out of the back country, but luckily that challenge too was easily overcome as I called on my adult son to come do the heavy lifting, thanks boys!


Archery elk hunt, got elk with my bow
                                      Now comes the hard part...