- Category: Archery
- Published: Sunday, 28 August 2016 19:34
- Written by Greg
Glutton for Punishment
They say that patience is a virtue, but I say it can also be a pain in the butt, literally. I just spent 50 hours and 19 minutes in a tree stand over the span of 4 days but was ready to spend 120 hours in the tree during my 8 day hunt, but luckily I got off light. I guess you could say that I’m a glutton for punishment but I knew that if I was able to harvest an animal, the sacrifice of enduring the cramped sitting conditions would be worth it…at least to me.
Day 1 – climbed up into my tree stand at 5:30 a.m. At 8:40 a.m. a doe and a fawn walked directly underneath my stand. After sitting for another 9 hours, three more deer (a doe and two fawns) walked near at 5:38 p.m. Finally at 8:40 p.m. I had had enough and climbed down and headed back to camp.
Day 2 – again in my tree stand at 5:30 a.m. After roughly two hours I unexpectedly heard the snap of a breaking branch directly behind me. I glanced at the time, 7:38 a.m. I peered around the tree to look behind me but could see nothing through the thick pines. As I continued to look in the general direction of the sound, I saw no movement but could hear the growing clatter of approaching animals. I positioned myself forward facing in anticipation of a shooter elk or deer walking out into my shooting lane. A couple of intense minutes passed as a few elk (purely an assumption at this point) ambled toward me. Finally some of the foot steps stopped directly below me. Cautiously I took a peek toward my feet and there stood a cow elk twelve inches from my tree, a shooter! However, she clearly sensed something was amiss as she remained frozen in place for a full 5 minutes. Then my heart sank as I watched her next steps slowly turn this wary elk 180 degrees…all I could do was watch as she eased back into the thick cover and disappeared along with the other two cow elk. The rest of the day was mostly uneventful as I only saw three antlerless deer before calling it quits at 8:25 p.m.
Day 3 – excitement occurred before reaching my tree stand. While riding my 4 wheeler I encountered a herd of 20 elk crossing the two-track less than 300 yards from my destination. The waning moon shone bright at this time of the morning, providing a decent view of the elk. My hopes were high as I had elk in the general vicinity of my tree stand. Again 5:30 a.m. rolled around as I sat awaiting first light. But unfortunately for me, day 3 would be long and uneventful as the only movement I saw all day long was a lone hunter pass 120 yards in front of me unaware of my presence. I should mention that 50 minutes of continual rain and hail, followed by 2 hours of light rain made the day drag on even longer. At 8:25 p.m. shooting light was about gone so I descended once again.
Day 4 – up the tree stand I ascended once again, 5:30 a.m. At 6:51 a.m. two does and two fawns came in and hung around for 20 minutes before moving off. Morning continued to progress but without the mid-morning breeze/wind that I had experienced each day to this point. No 5 mph breeze or gusty 20 mph winds, just a calm quiet morning. Of course the mental games were in full swing…is it worth sitting here all day again, how many days does a guy have to sit and wait for a legal animal to cross this particular piece of the mountain, do the animals smell me, should I take a break and come back in a few days, has the hunting pressure pushed the animals out of the area, etc., etc. And just as I was considering my breakfast muffin, I heard the recognizable snap of a branch. As I rose to my feet, I looked at the time, exactly 11:00 a.m. After 5 minutes of staring in the direction of the sound, I finally saw an antler tip waving up and down through a small opening about 120 yards away. Sure enough, it was a bull elk raking the trees with his antlers. Moments later more commotion as a cow elk popped into view, moving down the hill in my direction, then another and another until I counted 8 cows and a 4 point bull elk moving toward me. Methodically the elk picked their way through the dense pines until finally the bull sauntered into an opening 50 yards away. A bit later 2 cows joined him broadside in the meadow at 40 yards, while others continued to clank their way through the pines closer and closer. Previously I had made the decision to shoot no matter what if a 40 yard shot opportunity presented itself, yet now I was going against my better judgment. Unsure as to what might happen next, I waited. Finally I saw movement through the nearby trees. I readied myself in anticipation of the elk choosing the easy route through the forest which would provide a 20 yard broadside shot. Just as I was about to draw my bow, the elk unexpectedly continued straight toward me, right through the thick stuff. Caught off guard I didn’t draw my bow. Maybe the elk would stop in its tracks any second now, who knew, but I wasn’t going to risk drawing my bow and not being able to hold it back as long as needed. However, the elk actually blazed straight through the trees and before I knew it the cow was at 10 yards. In a split second I decided to draw, despite the concern that the elk might notice my movement and spook. Luckily a little 12 ft. pine separating us provided just enough cover to allow me to come to full draw undetected. At 8 yards the elk stepped into the clear. I made a perfect heart shot…11:19 a.m. and my tag was filled!