Nolan had contacted Bwana Bubba in the spring time of 2017, asking if I knew a place in central Oregon, that he might have chance to harvest a elk during the archery season. I had an old haunt that, my partners and I had hunted with great success. I was willing to share, but I wanted him to use technology, in order to give him a better idea and also stay legal on the hunt…
Last Chance Bull
Oregon Archery Hunt
The day before the end of the 2017 season, I’d driven out to a new place I’d never seen before as a last ditch effort to try and kill an elk. I’d scouted, prepared, & hunted so hard all season long to make it happen on a D.I.Y. over the counter elk tag, public land, archery elk. After my blunder on opening day when I missed a cow at 44 yards, I figured my 2017 season was over. I blew my shot opportunity for the year and it was going to be a long 12 months until I’d get another one.
As soon as I got out of the truck that morning I heard a bugle, then another bugle, and another. It was too dark to see the ridge that I was hearing the bulls from, but I grabbed my gear and took off. After about 10 minutes I glassed up the shape of an elk about half a mile uphill from me. I knew if I had any chance at cutting him off, I had to hustle. I ran up the drainage to the West of him and when I reached the top I could hear it wasn’t just a lone bull. It was a whole heard, I peered around the corner and saw close to 60 elk working up the draw. Bulls screaming, pushing cows, the whole herd was going nuts.
As I was trying to decide what to do I turned around and saw there was another hunter about 60 yards behind me. I thought to myself, “You’ve got to be kidding me”. I busted my ass to get up here and I’m going to have to compete with this guy. As frustrated as I was, I walked down to him and said “Hey, there’s a big herd of elk up here”. “What’s your plan”? “I don’t want to screw up your hunt”. I fully expected him to tell me to take a hike. Instead what he said next blew me away. He said “We need to cut them off, and get in front of them, let’s go!” I asked him what he wanted me to do, and he said “Come with me” and we took off!
I’m not a tall guy, 5’6”. But this newly met hunting partner of mine is at least a foot taller than I and subsequently covers ground much faster than I can. Before I know it I’m out of breath and desperately trying to keep up with him. As we follow the fence line between the public and private land, we keep getting glances of the herd about 250 yards away in the draw to the east of us. We dropped our packs a ways back to be as quick and low profile as we could. The herd can see us, but we keep pressing on to try and cut them off, in the valley 1/4 mile ahead of us. I keep thinking to myself “I can’t believe this is happening”. We paused at this little knoll and heard some elk coming up to where we were as they headed to cross in to the private, so we set up. I sat behind and told this guy “I’ll range for you” and before we knew it, there was a group of 15 cows being pushed by a big 6×6 up the hill in front of us. I keep ranging him, 124, 117, 111, and 110. He’s not going to get any closer. There are no trees or brush that we can get closer to either. We wait for them to cross the fence so we can keep pushing forward to where the rest of the herd is headed and all of the sudden this piercing bugle rings out no more than 100 yards from where we sat. This massive 7×7 was pushing another group of cows through the same spot! My partner slid down the hill 20 yards, but the bull stayed just out of range and wouldn’t stop. He was on a mission, away from us. We wait for them to clear and then we’re booking it to the next draw, “if we can get to it there’s a good chance they’ll be there waiting.”
Right as we crest the draw we see 25-35 elk pushing up and onto private, there’s still quite a few elk coming up the draw though. I start cow calling to try and bring the big bulls closer. There’s elk everywhere, bulls pushing cows, screaming, heads back and hot to trot. They just won’t come any closer than 120 yards. My new friend scoots down the draw another 10 yards and 6 elk bust out 30 yards below us, it’s so steep that we didn’t even known they were there. A bull stops at 60 yards, I hear “do you wanna shoot that bull?” without hesitation I said “Hell YES”. I pull out from the tree I’m behind, range him at 84 yards. I’ve been making this shot all year. I have flung thousands of arrows practicing for this moment. I can make the shot, I dial my sight to 84 yards, draw my bow, anchor, cow call to stop him, settle the pin on his lungs, and my arrow is gone.
I watch the glow of my green knock sail across the ravine. THWACK! He drops, barrel rolls 3 times to the bottom of the creek bed, stops, and it’s over. “He’s down”! I sat next to the tree beside me and cannot believe after all the work I put in, the ups and downs, the frustration, everything, that it all came together. It wasn’t over, because of how quickly he went down he didn’t spook any of the other elk, it’s time for me to try and call in a bull for my partner.
I cow call like nothing else to try and bring the 6×6 in from 150 yards but he just isn’t willing to leave his cows. My buddy takes off over the next ridge after him and I start hiking back to get our packs. While I was walking back I was overcome with emotion. It’d been 6 years since my last elk.
As any archery hunter knows, this is something that requires an immense amount of preparation, dedication, will power, and luck. But everything lined up that morning and I was beside myself. My arrow left my string at 7:32 am. By 8:30 I was notching my tag and taping it to his antlers. As I sat and looked at him I realized that I’m here alone. I have a 450-500 pound animal down in the bottom of a ravine, 1.5 miles from the truck and it’s just me. I snapped a few pictures and started the process, 6 hours later he was ready to be hauled out and I started the journey back to the truck with one of my most prized possessions, meat. It took me until 11 PM that night to get him back to the truck. My body was nearly broken, but I didn’t care. I couldn’t wait to do it again. And the phrase that kept resonating in my head stayed there until my head hit my pillow, “Never, ever give up”.
This is my story Nolan Lathrop – 2017 Central Oregon.
It is very tough for the team to stop hunting the ranch, it is an addiction!
It is about time that I share this story with my readers and friends on how the hunt really happened and where! It happen a few years back, lets say some 25 years ago, (which feels yesterday), during an opening day bow hunt in Central Oregon in the Grizzly Hunt Unit for Mule deer. The story is of humor, comedy of errors, or just plain hunting! We would be hunting the Rancho Rajneesh again or better known to the locals as “The Big Muddy” we spent a great deal of time over there, glassing, scouting and taking pictures of the deer and elk that thrived in the area. On this hunt I would be accompanied by one of my hardcore hunting partners Dave Brill who is a very accomplish bow and rifle hunter.
On this trip I actually let someone else drive their truck. This would work out greatly for me at the end of the hunt. “Dave it looks like I won the toss, so I get first shot at a Mulie buck” “Ok! Bubba, even if it is my truck and all!” “Ya! Dave, like you would let me drive your truck?” That was a great line to use, but the next day, I would have his truck while he hunted… I needed to get the deer meat into cold storage in Madras, Oregon. One of the grocery stores in town had a separate locker for game meat! Again we would be hunting one of our favorite spots in Central Oregon, which would be outside of Donnybrook, Oregon on the south side of the Rancho Rajneesh.
There was a couple of parcels we found ourselves going back too every year, as it was B.L.M., yet tied to a couple of ranches that we could pass through and sometimes hunt. Ah! You are wondering of the spot, well I will give you the spot of big bucks as near Hinkle Butte! Old man Crowley (Raymond) was a great man to know in the area! You could find him on his front porch at his home in Donnybrook along Gosner Rd. He had a number of parcels that bordered the BLM in the “Big Muddy Ranch.” This gave a save access into the BLM without being noticed. We were able to keep are secret spots to ourselves for over a 20 year time frame. This land is now owned by Young Life and a real estate broker in three separate parcels.
We had spotted a number of bucks during our trip into the area for the evening hunt. The morning hunt was a bust for both of us! I love to hunt the evening, as most everyone else has settled back down into their camps. It does not bother me to hike out in the dark when I am deep into the interior of B.L.M.; usually the evening is from about 1330 on. If I look back over the years I have probably harvest more game from 1300 until dusk! Figuring that big bulls and big bucks need to stretch a bit after their mid-day nap!
Let’s get back to the story, as I stated earlier, we had seen a number of bucks on the way in. As we were approaching the honey spot, I notice a real dandy buck up on the hill with what I figured at about a 29” outside spread and heavy racked. Hunt on, as I roll out the truck and took off with my pack, pack frame, crackers, light sweater, Leupold binoculars, camera, new Martin Onza bow, and Kershaw knives! Oh! Did I mention that I forgot water in my pack? The buck is working up the hillside and not knowing that I am behind him I figured. So quiet that I am in the stalk of this “Big Muddy” buck. He is working up in front of me through the Junipers, rocks and Sagebrush still in view at about 90 yards. I feel that I am closing the distance quickly and when I get within 40 yards I will just let him have it when I grunt at him and get him to swing broadside. As I turn the corner of the ridge I was working up he has disappeared, “what no way he is gone.” The wind was coming down the ridge into my face; I just missed seeing him turn into the draw…
Got over that little trip in the mind and decide to continue the hunt at a place we called the swamp.
As I approach the swamp, I see a lone buck standing at the edge of the water with lots of cover to work into him. The buck is not very wide, but tall and extremely heavy with abnormal points. As I get ready to drill him at 35 yards (he has no clue I am behind him), out of the corner of my left eye, I see about 25 bucks starting to get up in another part of the swamp in the cattails at about 45 yards. They were now in full line of sight. I swung onto this buck that was pushing 30” who was just standing their broadside looking me, as were all the rest. Easy shot and I took the shot, only to see it hit the only branch of Sagebrush sticking up at the boiler room. The arrow of course deflected and cut the hair off the top of the buck’s back. He gave me a smile and just walked off into the direction sun and they all stood out at 70 yards on the open hill side! “A bird in the hand is worth how many birds in the bush?” I would have say that was pretty wild and not ever going to be repeated in my lifetime of so many bucks taking a bath together at one time. I found a few empty Ivory Soap wrappers at the waters’ edge…
I am now over that experience also and moving on as I had more ground to cover and see what was out there. I move alone a Juniper tree line and spot 6 good bucks, one being swamper in a small basin at about ¼ mile away. To run the game down to within 100 or so yards, then put the final stalk on was great enjoyment for me. Mule deer with enough cover are pretty easy to sneak up on. I get to Juniper and Sagebrush along a B.L.M. cross section fence line that was next to the small barren basin which is about 50 yards from the deer. You wonder about the 50 yards and all! I used my range finder the wheel type and it said 50 yards to the big buck. I took a picture of the big boy also! You’re saying how many big bucks can this guy find? Well it was un-real, but real. The big bucks were there and everywhere around the area within a 50 mile circle. Alright being skeptical of my dial a wheel range finder (just got it), I felt the buck was no more than 40 yards as I drew back and shot through the brush, I should have believed the range finder, as the buck must have been 50 yards, as I watch arrow past under his belly.
Almost! Horseshoes anyone?
Now I am really bummed out about this whole hunt and rushing into the hunt and not believing first thoughts. Well there was still some day light left and I never give up until it is illegal to shoot.
I am now up on the plateau glassing down into another basin. All of a sudden I see a single buck at about 1000 yards out. I figure he is about 25” to 26” wide and a pretty good looking buck, plus the fact it about time to get the job done. He is feeding in the middle of the basin, but I could see that he was working towards the West. In his path of travel it would lead him past a big pile of dead Juniper trees. Hunt on, as I race to cover ground and get on the buck. Getting within a quarter mile of the spot that I would ambush the buck, I drop my pack frame. With only my Martin Onza (first run production Onza) I raced to the pile of dead junipers. I was completely invisible (another words he had not clue I was standing in the open and waiting for him) from where I was standing, yet I could see his rack as he moved along the pile. I went to full draw and had the 30 yard pin on the spot I figured he would come to once he cleared the pile. It is great that he covered the distance in a short period of time as the Onza had a draw weight of #90. It was mental thing in those days of bow hunting to have the biggest and baddest bow made! In the 21st Century my new Onza 3 with a draw weight of 72 is most likely about 100 fps faster than my first Onza and it was a hottest bow in the 20th Century! (Yes, I know believed the range finder and mentally plugged in points of yardage.) As he cleared the pile and was broadside to me, yet was still feeding, I let my fingers do the work. As the XX75 2317 26 1/2” with a 125 gr. Muzzy in flight the buck look straight at me into my sunglasses (he heard the bow, but it was too late for him). That was the last time I saw his eyes looking at me, as to my amazement the arrow hit him dead center in the mouth. “You got to be kidding me”, as the buck jumped over the side of the rim that I didn’t know was even there. I thought to myself as the light was fading, what I am going to do now? I set my bow down on the rim and started to glass in to the bottom of the canyon. It took me about 2 panic minutes to spot him hunkered up in the bottom (arrow went down this throat about 12 inches). Ok! I have found him, but I don’t have my pack frame or camera. I took off on a dead run to where I left my pack frame and ran right back to the rim. It took me another 90 seconds to remember where I left my Martin Onza. Finally I get myself down to the buck, take pictures as no one is going to believe this shot. I give the buck my “Hawaiian Cut” which puts him in quarters with the removal of backstrap and tenderloins. This is the only way I field dress big game, fast (30 minutes on a deer) and there is little blood! I get as much as I can on the pack frame along with the head and cape.
I have to climb out of the bottom and head back to the truck that would be waiting for me I hoped. It would be about 3 miles line of sight to get back and light was fading fast, real fast. There was a great deal of cheat grass and it made it possible to see for a while. I had decided to take a short cut to the road, which would be a mistake for me. It was now dark and dark, as the thunder heads over the John Day River were settling in. Thunder and Lighting now was everywhere, plus it started to rain. When the sky would light up I would move towards the direction of my pickup spot. I could see the micro wave tower light and that helped me for a while. I then lost all the grass and got into just rocks. I could no longer go forward in reaching the truck or Dave. I had lost the lighting as it would move further east towards Mitchell, Oregon. I was going to have to spend the night out in the weather with only a light sweater on. Did I mention that I had forgotten water, now I needed it for sure after eating the crackers? The crackers were pretty dry. It was a good thing that I trained in the desert on running missions with no water… The temperature had now dropped and my sweater was not enough at this point. I hate DIRT, (did I say I hate dirt?) but knew the only way I was going to make until morning, was to hunker down under a low hanging Juniper and bury myself in the dirt (dust). Though it was raining it would not last very long, as the storm had past. That is just what I did; waking up about every two hours to see if light had come finally over the John Day River. It was probably about 5:30 AM when I woke up again and could see a hint of sun coming over the hills above the John Day River. There was not a cloud in the sky now with only the sun to show up for the day!
Later in the day the temperature reaches about 98 degrees, same the first day. I was now up and getting the pack frame on with most of the buck attached. It was a good thing I did not try to venture further during the night; I surely would have found myself in the bottom of narrow rock crevice for life. There was no way that I would have seen the edge and would have fallen to the bottom. Making it out to the dirt road, out of no where, Dave and his truck appeared. Dave had driven the dirt road hitting the horn once in a while until about midnight, and then parked off the road until morning; he figured I would be ok with my military background!
I told Dave it was time for him to hunt the elk he had seen while he was coming up the road. I could get the front quarters out later in the afternoon! Dave never got on the elk again, but at the end of the season we went back to our spot and he killed a great buck! That will be another story, but I will let you see Dave’s buck from the last weekend of the archery season in 1987!
Morale of the story: Be Prepared – Have a Trusting Friend
Though this story will end up with harvesting of a small Blacktail Buck from the Willamette Valley in Oregon, it is more about the principles and aspects of aging in the hunting scenario.
Over the years, especially when I was younger I lived to hunt and fish. I was very selfish and would spend most of my time either at work or doing the great outdoors. It was a total escapement from reality after serving in the U.S. Navy and being In Country. I found great excitement with chasing and harvesting game. My fishing was about how many fish I could catch, later finding it was more fun to catch and release.
Now later in life I find I do not have as much time to hunt and fish with the reality of still working into my 60’s. Weekends are a thing of the past since I have been in the RV selling business. Hunts have now turned to hunting in the valley close to home for the elusive Blacktail Deer.
What started with getting permission to take pictures of Blacktail Bucks on a parcel of land outside of Oregon City & Canby, Oregon has turned into the place to have the opportunity to harvest a Blacktail. The landowner himself is a Vietnam Vet and I know he finds great peace to be able to walk his timbered land and in some places be able to escape the daily grind!
This year was different from the past years on the M & L Ranch as I call it. It is the first time other than a Blackberry thicket blind, that I have setup a real tree stand and fixed ground blind. My thoughts have always been to glass, spot and pursue the game, with an occasional wait at a nearby waterhole for Pronghorn.
The 2012 Archery Season in Oregon was of great expectations in harvesting one of the Big Three Blacktail bucks that we all had captured on Trail Cams. With Odd 3 X 3 leading the pack, “Sticker” second and finally the P & Y buck Even 3 X 3. You do notice that I have never mentioned a 4 x 4! I have yet to see a 4 point buck western count in 2012. In the past I have seen a number of them and have put them on film!
I truly hate to say it, but many of the big bucks I have seen have been poached. I have heard rifle shots in the familiar sound of hunting situation before the archery season and during the season. Poaching has become a major issue in Oregon! It can’t be about the meat, but about the rack.
So with the missed opportunity on the Even 3 X 3 in the first couple of days really took me back mentally. The easiest shots, can most often not work! I am sure most know that deal in hunting. Having hit the tree stand rail not once but twice on the 25 yard shot was embarrassing for sure. Small note: WHEN PUTTING UP A TREE STAND AND SETTING UP THE LINE OF THE ANIMAL TO BE POSITION, MAKE SURE YOU PUT UP YOUR STAND IN RELATIONSHIP TO BEING LEFT HANDED OR RIGHT HANDED. In this case for me being Left Handed I should have put it across the path to the opposite tree. It is definitely a Right Handed tree stand. Guess I will have to get another one and put it on the opposite tree 25 yards across the path! My partner’s JR (Frankie) and Mark are right-handed! They had decided what tree to put the stand up before I can to help! Pretty smart guys!
As most of you know that are in the circle, with two weeks into the archery season had a second chance with a 20 yard shot on a nice heavy 3 x 3 at 20 yards (No Hesitation Either).
I shot through the Camo mesh of the ground blind, leading to a close Kill shot (3”) to a glancing arrow hitting the shoulder and ricocheting upward and out. I have had someone call me unethical for not making this one buck the one find and harvest. In this case give me a break with a Blacktail and the odds, especially with a bow! Mark and myself spent 3 hours looking for blood on the buck, which ended with one final drop about 300 yards away in the dark at 2200. The following morning I spent another 3 hours and found no more blood on the ferns and what appeared to be a buck with normal walk back into the forest (no broken limbs or down branches).
So in the following weeks the buck has been on trail cams in good health. In fact when Mark was in his tree stand with his rifle (Willamette 615 anything tag) the buck came to within 12 yards of him in good health. As this is another story of Mark’s buck that he took at that time, all I can say is the buck might have been a vendetta for me to get him, but I was not worried about his health any longer. Just a bad hit!
It is now Sunday September 9th in the morning about 0430 and my wife wakes me up and says “aren’t you going hunting this morning!” Na! I got to work and need my sleep! I am now awake and say to myself, I am gone. In minutes without combing my hair I headed out the door and into the darkness. Looking at my cell found I see JR.; my son left me text messages (10) about the morning hunting. I text back are you awake as I am already heading to my secure parking spot! No return text, guess I got the place to myself today! It would have been great to have him with me!
It does not take me long to get ready once there and I head off to the stand about ¼ from the parking spot. Quickly get up in the stand with the anticipation of a good hunt, as it cooler this Sunday. I figured I might get the spike and of course plus the one doe with twin fawns in first, with maybe a big boy coming in before 0700. I patiently wait, which is a major problem for me as it super quite in the draw. The only noises are the wind rusting the trees and occasional Scrub Jay squawking in the distance. I should add the lone owl hooting in the canyon!
It is now approaching 0700 with no movement at all on the forest ground, I am extremely bored and need to get on feet and make a ground hunt. I lower my bow and day pack to the ground, check the trail cam and see that only 6 pictures from the 12 hour period. I thought about heading back to the house and catch a few winks before work, but I would not get any sleep. I dropped the pack and headed over to Mark’s stand near the edge of the western sector of the farm. No movement in the heavy grasses and I surely did not jump anything, as Mark’s stand borders the field and heavy timber. Hmm!
I pick up my day pack and talked to myself and ask the question to drive around to the eastern sector and hunt from there and see if I can jump a Blacktail Buck. I tell myself to go back to the stand and head up the trail that leads to the dry creek bed and the eastern sector of the farm (most of us old war dogs talk to ourselves a lot). I decide that I wanted to go light on this expedition with only my bino’s, range finder and bow! I am wearing a Camo long sleeve shirt and I have my booties on as it is very noisy place to walk and think you are quiet when making a good stalk.
Here I am only about 200 to 300 yards from my stand on the trail and spot a doe that had just come up out of the draw that leads down to the creek bed and the other side of the farm. It is a warn trail now and used by the game since Frankie (JR) and his cousin had taken a D-6 Cat through the property, it has given a game when not disturb a bit easier route to feeding areas. There are places near the creek bottom that are so thick; I would have to eat the deer there!
Ok! I spot the doe and she is a ways out there, I would put her at about 50 yards line of sight. Not sure if she has caught me as slither back into the Scott Broom. I decide to range her in and use my left hand, my release hand. Shaking a bit, I target to the left of her to a small bush and it says 48 yards. I got the area pretty well dialed in and will wait to see what come out of the draw. Finally a very smart move on Cobra’s part! Her fawns that no longer have spots doodle along and up. I can not see the doe at all during this time and I assume she did not see me! Then I see a deer coming up, it stops and see it has a rack, I can not tell the size it all seems to blend into the background of brown grasses and the fir trees. Knowing what my Martin Onza 3 can do for me, I am at instinct mode and without though of size or distance my eyes as they are looking through the peep side have the orange 40 yard pin set about 1-2 inches above the back bone. The release is very smooth and no hesitation on my part. I see the arrow in flight as the Norway Zeon Fusion (pink) vanes are evident in flight.
The buck has moved forward during the short time of flight of the arrow. “Damn” is all I could say when I see the arrow hit the hind quarter forward. What surprised me was to see the deer drop like a sack of bricks and then he shook! Wow! Then to my further surprise the buck go back up and struggled into the Scott Broom. Out in the distance at about 100 yards there is a monster buck facing directly at me when I stepped out to lay the bow down! I quickly move up to the spot and find blood. I marked the spot with my bow and head back to the day pack to get what I needed. I call my JR and to my surprise he answers his phone! Hoorah! He is on his way with his truck that he can get back there and not be upset with the blackberries scrapping the side of his truck. I do check at my launching point and range find to the spot the buck was initially standing at and it hits 63 yards.
I have to tell you that during the flight of the arrow, there seem to be little arch (trajectory) in the flight. What a strange feeling of watching the flight which was under a second, like out of a movie! The Martin Onza 3 is most likely pushing 330fps with my setup! Outstanding performance for me! Martin bows have never failed me on a hunt!
I have pulled my rig near the stand, hoof back to the area with cameras and my Gerber’s. I did not have to go very far from the hit spot, the blood trail was extensive and the buck was stretched out about 80-100 yards from the impact area. I could see the buck is one that I had seen on camera and past up an evening before when I went to the stand and had him at 40 yards. He was a young 3 X 3 or better 3 X 2 with no eye guards.
I was in combat mode during this time period of spot and shoot. I truly love to spot, stalk and then kill! I have found that the times in the field with difficult shots and I go to combat instinct mode the job usually gets done. I do not think about anything, but the mind has allowed me to react! One can read a book call “Blink” and understand what I am saying. Thinking about a situation to much, I feel that you can make a dumb mistake! Let me tell you I have made mistakes and failed number of times. Being on the ready at all times makes for success.
The arrow did hit his hind quarter on the right side, failed to pass through. During the Hawaiian Field Dressing operation I could see what had happen and I am most surprised, as I have never seen this before. I failed to mention that JR had given me a package of new broadheads to try and just that morning I did put one on my arrow. The broadhead does not look like it could be as effective or un-effective as the Thunderheads I had on the rest of the arrows. The name of this broadhead is Slick Trick 100 gr. Magnum.
So during the Hawaiian field dressing using one of my gifted Gerber Gator knives I find that if the arrow had passed through there would have been pumping out even great flow of blood, but what happen once the arrow hit the flesh it angled back and somewhat down hitting the knuckle in the hip joint pulverizing the ball joint. I have never seen this done to an animal with a Broadhead in all my years of bow hunting. I have seen ribs cracked or cut, but for the arrow to go through that much tissue and still do that at the range of 60 yards is simply amazing. As you know at this time I will be changing in the future to Slick Trick Broadhead. Another thing that arrow flew as straight as if I had shot at 10 yard target. My Onza 3 highly tuned, as all my Martin bows have been. Reminds when I tried Barnes X bullets 225 grain in my Weatherby 340 on an elk hunt and took out the bull at 1000 yards approx (testimonial proof) and he dropped in his tracks. I have never looked back on using the product. Knowing that the product will do the job, if there is a mistake it is usually the hunter! It can be equipment also if you don’t check and make sure it ready to shoot! So my deer hunting for 2012 has come to an end and I now can if time permits to focus on elk or help JR get his archery buck in the State of Oregon!
This story has been posted in Archery Talk, which is a big deal for me to get a story posted!
“Frank you can’t shoot at the bull, you already have one out there somewhere.” Those were the words from an old hunting buddy Dave Brill, as we were calling in a dandy 5X5 bull on the Big Muddy. We had hiked in about 2 miles from our base camp that Dave, Ben and myself had set-up in the middle of Smith’s Ranch. We had plan to work a canyon that held a lot of elk just about anytime you ventured into it. Ben had split off from Dave and me as traveled across the flat just before the canyon. As we got close we could her a couple of bulls bugling down in the canyon. It wasn’t long before we could see a large herd of elk and about 5 bulls wandering around with one doing all of the major calling. I could also see the spike that I had taken a shot at the day before that the arrow had deflected off a tree and bounce across the bull’s back.
You wonder why I would shoot at a spike; well that is a great question. The spike had sabers that were are at least 40 inches long. He would have look pretty good on the wall. I had only seen one other bull that had horns like that and that bull had been taken by the old owner of All Sports in Portland, OR. Anyway Dave and I decided to charge right in on the herd and split the bull from the cows. It wasn’t more than about 10 minutes and we were sitting in the bottom of a dry creek bed with the cows to our back side and the bull in front of us in the Junipers.
I have always liked to be a smaller bull; Dave on the other hand along with Ben would always pretend that they were big bulls when calling. I have had a great amount of success using Glen Berry calls, both diaphragms and bugles. I have been using Glen’s call for more than 25 years. If you ever get the chance to talk to Glen or his son Chad at one of the Sportsman’s Shows, you’ll understand why I feel he has a great product for the average and experience hunter. I have made many a deal with him via a handshake. Go to Glen’s website and check-out his products! http://www.berrygamecalls.com/
Ok! Getting back to part of the story that I will give you today. I start to do my typical cow and small bull calling. It wasn’t long before the bull went into a rage, ripping up sage brush and grunting a lot. The bull came right in on us, you could see his red eyes bulging and saliva dripping from his mouth. He was not more than 20 yards from us. I still went to draw as he was coming in, but my awkward sitting arrangement my arrow slipped from the rest. Dave was at full draw and I wondered if he was ever going to take the shot, the bull was still coming in on us. The bull would be on top of us soon. Dave let the arrow fly at about 15 yards, almost missing the bull at that range he hit the bull high in the spine. The bull is enraged but decides to turn and trot off down the canyon. Not wanting to pack out the bull that is hurt and not able to run full tilt, I run across to the top of the creek ledge I made the decision to head the bull off and turn him back up the creek, so Dave can get another shot off and put the bull down. I am able to catch the bull in about 300 yards and make him turn back up the creek. The bull goes by Dave and he lets an arrow fly and again the bull is hit high in the spine. The bull comes to the edge of a ledge above the creek and jumps, landing on top of an old corral, breaking through to the ground. The bull was dead when he hit the ground.
Ben during this time period had been on the ridge above us watching everything unfold. I believe his words went like the following: “I thought maybe the Circus was in town with you two guys!” “I wish I had a video camera so I could sell it and make a million.”Charging in on the herd worked on this stalk, but it doesn’t always work which I found out later on the hunt. The bull I thought I could charge in on, decided to work his way to the spot that I had originally called from…
Sometimes one has to have patience when it comes elk hunting! There is more to this story, but that will be a later time.