I know this is a little long winded but it was my bow hunting highlight of all The 10 ft Archery Bull
My hunting partner dropped me off not 300 yards from camp as we saw a cow wonder off the road at first light, I had planned to get dropped off farther along the road with my coffee, a lawn chair and a good book to cow call while he carried on to a spot we had good encounters at two nights before.
After he drove off, and before I could even get my chair set up, I could hear a cow in the overgrown cut block not 200 yards away.
I walked quietly down the Rd following her lovesick calls running parallel to her right towards the spot I had planned to get out of the truck originally.
At my spot and now without my coffee, lawn chair, or daypack ( I left it at the side of the road as I carried my bow at the ready following the cow calls)
I quietly eased into the line of timbers that edged between a new cut and the overgrown cut. I was listening to the faint cries of the cow and answered back with my own cow calls with a couple bull grunts as I started to setup my inflatable seat pad and get out my book to pass the time as I thought it would be another long morning of calling and waiting.
No sooner then I sat down and opened my book then from the direction of the cow calling came the unmistakable sounds of a branches breaking and the deep grunts of a bull! I was up and ready with an arrow nocked, I ranged my shooting lanes and realized with horror as the bull was not coming from down below me where the cow had been calling but directly parallel with the road, there was no time to move and the wind was slightly blowing his way! This was the second time in a week that a bull had changed direction and angled down wind of where I was calling from, ( the first time my buddy had been calling and I had set up well down wind and the bull still managed to bust me with only showing a flash of antler and bellowing with rage that only could be described as an angry miniature T. rex !)
The frustration mounted as the second time in 4 days of hard dawn till dusk hunting the bull stormed off in a bellowing Roaring rage as he could smell my intrusion into his interrupted romantic encounter with the "other " girl.
Much to my disappointment I could here him roaring and busting branches from 50 yards to out of earshot as he headed down the hill back to his girlfriend. No sooner as I heard his final bellow did I hear directly behind me the unmistakable sound of another bull coming up the way I had originally thought the moose were traveling through this corridor! Could the bull have moved so far around me to come back again!? Doubtful, I turned and readied my bow and as I sat there listening to the sounds of the bull approaching, he was beginning to veer off towards the sounds of the cow calling that had not really let up since I got there. Not to be undone I gave my best cow call and tried to imitate the sounds of the love sick cow that I had been chasing for over an hour. With out hesitation the bull turned toward me, stepping out into the clearing showing himself to be a good 5x6 with modest palms, while taking a look around for his hopeful girl friend. I realized that I could no longer have a chance to range this new direction and decided that I would not shoot past what I was confident 45 yards was as this was my comfortable maximum range.
My competing cow called again as I watched my bull , now at less then 150 yards do a 90deg turn and head toward my competing cow! Not giving up I gave my most desperate cow call and the bull turned mid stride and walked toward me fast! Not on the edge of the cut block like all the sign said but right in the open directly towards me! He turned sideways as I came to a full draw, he stopped perfectly still as a began to doubt my prearranged yardage guess.
As I sat at full draw thinking he's just out of range, do I take the shot!? My rival cow called again. And my bull was on the move, out of sight and into the over grown cut on the other side of the Timber swath I was hidden in.
I ranged the spot he was standing in after he left. 46 yards... It would have been a perfect shot for me to take.
Depressed, saddened and a little bit frustrated that I have just had three good encounters with one blown chance at a perfect opportunity to loose an arrow this week, and after 4 years of trying to get an archery moose I was ready to call it quits for the morning , walk back to my camp to finish my coffee that was still siting about a 1 km up the road and still probably warm in my insulated coffee mug.
As I heard my lovesick cow call one more time I felt the heat, anger and rage that could only be described as full rut behavior! Screw the wind, the noise and the fact that the wind was wrong, the terrain was less then 5 yards visibility where I was headed into, with no chance at ever coming to full draw in the thick cover I started out with an angry pace no sensible archer should take if he wanted to spot and stalk hunt!
I crashed thru the bush making guttural bull sounds , cow calls and caring nothing for the fact that my day pack was sitting on the road with all my gear that I NEVER leave behind when I step into the bush.
I charged thru the underbrush without heed to wind direction or exposure. As I crashed thru the bush and I came out into a less thicker part of forest with spaced regrowth, scattered willows and the tree line I was sitting previously in directly up wind. It was obvious that this was the area the cow and her bull of choice had been spending some time. The area was pounded by sign.
I paused just long enough to cow call and to listen for either of the two Bulls that has both given me the slip.
I stood still for several min as a realized I must regain my composure or loose any chance of ever successfully harvesting my dream animal of an archery moose.
Hearing nothing , and referencing my gps, I decided to make a loop back thru to camp that would take me a couple of km, seeing as the wind had died down and I was in a Moosy looking area.
I took one step forward to have the bull I originally had at 46 yards trot out of the bushes less then 25 yards away and up the hill I was planning to go! I don't know if he had been standing there looking for his girl before or after I called but I never saw him till I spooked him!!
Since the ground was mossy I decided to follow the easy footprints for no other reason to practice following fresh sign.
With a new game plan and a calmed mind I began to just relax and have fun again, practicing mimicking his bull grunts and following his tracks. 10 min later I had crisscrossed with so much sign that I was heading back to the spot I had generally come from.
100 yards from the tall trees I had originally sat in but only much farther in from the road then I was originally.
There it was again, my bull was ahead of me grunting!!
I grunted back, gave my best cow call and just headed toward the sound this time.
Time seemed to slow like "The Matrix", I realized this guy was yet again coming in hotter then before. I stopped and had only time to nock an arrow and position my self for the shot best I could, I ranged 45 yards and 20 yards both to my left and right and waited. Barely 50 yards out I see movement and go to full draw yet again as I wait for him to come in range. Seconds go by and there he is at 45 yards, (wait... This is not my bull! antlers are different!, but yup antlers is all that matters so I don't give it a second look) I concentrate on shooting distances and shot angles my bull sticks his head out from behind every tree then veers right, left, right. He's coming in hot but right at me. My arms are burning as the last bush he's stopped at and deciding which way to go around is the bush that i'm standing behind! As I struggle to keep holding at full draw, he veers left , sticks his head past the tree and stops!! No shot but now I'm about to let down I can't hold my draw! He takes one more step out and I see leg, chest and my arrows away!!
As I watch my arrow impact at a distance less then 10 feet away, my lighted nock says that I'm just below horizontal center , just behind his front leg. I was dismayed to see the bull lurch forward and the arrow fall to the ground on his third stride as he continued on his forward path. It seemed to me the arrow had hardly penetrated . ( on my black bear and white tail I've always buried the arrow Into the ground on the other side of my target and i shoot 70lb 32" draw)
With a sinking feeling I watch my bull crash away and disappear.
To make it worse the skies open up and the rains decide it was time to power wash the woods before winter.
I approach my arrow to see its been Broken in half, blood and hair on three quarters of what's left of my arrow. What just happened?
As I wait and watch the ground I can clearly see tracks but not a single drop of blood and it's raining like a monsoon.
I gps the spot. And slowly begin to follow the tracks. 1 footprint at a time. 35 min later still no blood . 65 yards in. At this rate I will never find my bull. 36 min later I'm crouched on my haunches to see the track better when I catch a glimpse of something that makes my heart soar!!
There he is! But as I look at my watch and realize it's too soon to think he might be dead . Especially after the arrow I recovered . I sit motionless in a squat for 20 more min as the rain beats down on my un water proof clothing.
I walked quietly as I can up to my bull with an arrow nocked just incase.
From the lowest low to the highest high you can describe, this is what I found .