• Print

Third Time's the Charm 

It had been a slow morning in the tree stand. The warmth of the sun caused me to feel a bit drowsy. I looked at my phone, almost 12:30 p.m. I decided to try and get comfy and catch a few winks since I still had eight hours to go before climbing down. With my bow hanging in the tree by a hook, I positioned myself so that I could use my tree harness strap that tethered me to the tree as a cradle for my head. Sounds weird, but it works. 


Archery elk hunting
                                                               Sunrise from my treestand


I must have dozed off because I was startled awake by the snap of a branch. With eyes wide open, I remained frozen in place. Suddenly branches were breaking everywhere, along with pounding hooves. Elk were storming my stand!

Slowly I tried wiggling my head out from the homemade cradle, but without the use of my hands the strap lowered further down my head, I was stuck. I had no choice but to now use my hands to try and free myself undetected. Busted, the forest erupted with braking branches and thundering hooves. I managed to see a bunch of (10 – 12) elk disappear into the trees, while a group of eight ran to my left and stopped at 50 yards. Slowly I removed my bow from the hook and was surprised the elk didn't bolt. 

In that moment I heard commotion to my right and slowly turned to see 4 elk still standing 20 yards away. Apparently they had no idea what had spooked the others and we're looking every which way but mine. Getting off a shot was going to be tricky, I would need to turn about a 180 degrees to my right. Surprisingly I made the turn without scaring off the herd, but an elk at the rear of the bunch turned to look directly at me. Again I froze. Several seconds later the elk broke its stare, but by that time the other three elk had become nervous and started to move off in a diagonal direction. As the trailing elk followed, I drew my bow. At 45 yards the lead cow stopped in the security of the pines, leaving the trailing elk in the open at 35 yards. 


elk underneath my tree stand
                                                                            Cow elk at 20 yards


My sights were moving across the elk's body, I just needed anther foot and I'd be zeroed in just behind the shoulder...when I felt an unexpected tug on my shooting arm. In that moment I realized the strap tethering me to the tree was limiting my movement; the strap now tight against the back of my arm. Try as I might I could not acquire my target. The rest is history.  

The next encounter consisted of a group of six elk standing broadside at 40 yards. However, the spike bull stood directly behind a cow and didn't provide a clear shot. I drew my bow knowing that if either elk took just a couple of steps, a perfect shot opportunity would present itself. Unfortunately both elk simultaneously took steps forward and in unison continued broadside until both reached the cover of the timber ahead. Strike two.

i went hunting elk arrow complete pass through  hail stone

                 Complete pass through                                                Lumenok glowing, just missed the rocks 

Now feeling a bit desperate, I took full advantage of my next and final opportunity. A cow (my tag was good for a spike or antlerless) elk came tiptoeing from behind my stand to within 20 yards. I was fortunate to have noticed the elk's movement since the rain soaked ground silenced her approach. The elk now stood motionless behind a small pine tree. I was ready. And just as I detected the elk’s first movement I drew my bow anticipating the elk to continue forward.


archery elk
                                      The boys and I with my elk


However the elk changed course, but luckily she was heading for a gap in the pines about 35 yards away. I held my bow at full draw and affixed my sights there. Anticipating the elk's arrival, I envisioned the shot several times in my mind within the few seconds it took for her to reach the slot between two trees. But clearly I had miscalculated how fast the elk would pass through my window of opportunity because my shot hit a little further back than I had hoped, but nonetheless my shot was lethal.