All I can say is never give up no matter how little blood you have to track with. This elk is far from my biggest and I've killed quite a few of them over the last 15 years, but he is probably the most special in many ways. I learned a couple valuable lessons with him. First of all, never pass up on the first day what you would gladly take on the last day. I shot this guy on my last day of a two week hunt. I was holding out for something big and when this fella came charging into my dad's calls on the last day I finally let the arrow fly. I made a bad hit on him at 8am and knew it was a bad hit. However after I hit him he ran off and I couldn't see my dad. He was about 60 yards away calling. I continued calling because there were other elk still bugling in the area. As I continued calling I heard my dad shoot. After meeting up with him we quickly learned that we had each hit an elk and his shot deflected off a branch which in the end resulted in us never recovering the animal. After we exhausted all options and ran out of any tracks or blood to follow on my dad's elk, we took up the track of mine. Unfortunately we jumped him within 200 yards of where he was hit. We decided to sit on it and go catch up with my buddy Dave, who was hunting on the lower side of the mountain.
After we caught up with Dave we went back to where we jumped the bull and sat on it until around 3pm. We started tracking again and blood was sparse. We lost the blood numerous times. Finally at around 6pm we decided to give up for the night and come back in the morning. We all decided to do a sweeping circle and see what happened. I was the middle guy in the circle and I found a few tiny drops of blood. He was on a game trail so I stayed on it. Within about 1/2 hour we saw him laying in his bed, unable to go anyplace. It killed me to see him, but I shot another arrow and finished the job I had started almost 10 hours earlier. This whole adventure was a classic combination of teamwork. I'm thankful to my dad and Dave, because without them this elk would have had to suffer much worse than he did. I've killed about 10 of these guys and this one has a pretty special place of all of them. He bugled like mad on the way in and then fought like a trooper on the way out. For everyone out there who has a marginal hit, never give up because you never know the animal could be just over the next rise.
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