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Lessons Learned

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Lessons Learned

Postby Swede » 09 12, 2019 •  [Post 1]

Sometimes hunting is a jubilant experience where everything goes well. Sometimes it feels more like a kick in the groin. I had both this season, but I definitely had a share of the later.
The very first morning within a half hour of climbing into his stand, my son killed his bull. It was great as he had less than three days off work to hunt, due to a shortage of employees in his hospital department. His friend, who came with him never had a reason to draw his bow that I know of. They left for home Monday morning.
Two days later in the afternoon I was alone in the woods. While in my stand, a spike bull led a herd along a trail just 13 yards away. The spike stopped broadside to me and just stood there. I came to full draw, aimed and squeezed the trigger on my release. I saw the arrow sticking out of the side of the bull as it ran off. I wondered if it was just a little high, but knew it was pointed downward and into the vitals of the bull. I was confident of a speedy recovery.
To make a long story short, I searched for hours and went out over 1/2 mile out looking for my bull. I searched until I was exhausted and totally dejected. I found only about 20 yards of a sparse blood trail starting about 25 yards from where the bull was hit. After that, I saw where it had ran for a ways, then the tracks were lost in the mass of other tracks. I looked along many adjoining game trails in the area. I found nothing definite.
To make matters worse was the heavy brush and it got dark within a couple of hours of when I got out of my tree. Immediately after losing the tracks and blood trail, I went to the bottom of the draw and looked into every Alder thicket around. Nothing! I went up on the side hill and looked out. Nothing! I went back to the last blood and tried to extend it some more. Nothing!
Finally, At 11:00 PM I went back to bed on my cot and tried to sleep that night. That was an almost nothing too. The next morning I got out and looked over much of the same area and found nothing more. I knew by 9:00 AM it was spoiled so I went in and had breakfast in camp.
Four days after I shot the bull, I went out again into that stand area. The ravens were working nearby and I knew exactly what it meant. My little bull was very near. It was dead just 400 feet (GPS) from where it had stood looking at the water hole below. The bears by this time had dragged it out of the brush pile where its life had come to an end. I had walked by within 15 feet of the bull several times and just could not see it.
Lessons learned. I am still struggling with that question. For sure; if you hit high, with an arrow going downward, you will not get much of a blood trail unless you get a complete pass through. The shot was good and the broadhead did its job. I have to admit; I did not.
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Re: Lessons Learned

Postby 7mmfan » 09 13, 2019 •  [Post 2]

It's a tough pill to swallow. I'm sure we've all been there. It's good to feel regret because it means you care about the animal and the process. Like you said it's lessons learned. That brush patch was probably as inconspicuous as the numerous other brush patches. It really is amazing to me how well they blend in and how you can just walk right by them while you're looking for them. You'll not forget about it anytime soon, that's part of the curse of being a hunter. Hold your head high though, and keep moving.
I hunt therefore I am. I fish therefore I lie.
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Re: Lessons Learned

Postby Indian Summer » 09 14, 2019 •  [Post 3]

Don’t sweat it Swede. You and I know you’re an ethical hunter who respects the animals you hunt.


I lost one elk in my lifetime. Perfect broadside shot and he only made it about 100 yards. We found him at first light the next morning but it was blazing hot out and by the time we got the meat to the truck it had bone soured. Like you we had been within 30 feet of that bull not long after he died. But he had buried himself in a thick patch of timber boxed in by burnt blow downs and it was dark so we didn’t see him. My lesson was don’t shoot bulls with bows when there is only 20 minutes of light left. Will you be getting back out at all? If so good luck.
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Re: Lessons Learned

Postby Swede » 09 14, 2019 •  [Post 4]

There was the strongest urge not to fess up about the elk I shot, as it is not pleasant to remember, but if it helps someone, then maybe it has merit. I am certainly not pleased or satisfied about losing a great animal. I am done for the year.
If we are honest with ourselves, we know there is risk when we shoot something. We do everything to minimize it, but can never completely eliminate it. The butcher shop in Burns Oregon has a large display of old broadheads they have taken out of animals they butchered.
When my son was looking over the brushy area, he said I should expect a lot of trouble locating downed game in there. If I had a beagle I would have used it. I would not take a weapon along so I would be just taking the dog out for a walk. I doubt I could shut him up, but the elk would not go to waste.
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Re: Lessons Learned

Postby Indian Summer » 09 14, 2019 •  [Post 5]

That’s a very sincere post Swede. I have to tell you that if anything this thread increases my level of respect for you. When I know someone went hunting and I never hear a word about how their hunt went it makes me wonder. Why don’t they want to talk about it. I figure the most likely reason is they weren’t successful and would rather not talk about their disappointment. But I also wonder what else may have gone wrong. Maybe the reality of what it takes just to get to where elk are made them cut their hunt short. In other words they got their ass handed to them. Maybe they blew an easy shot. Maybe all of their internet scouting put them in an area where they never saw a single elk. Every season there are lots of elkless elk hunts. But I’d have to say the one thing nobody wants to tell the world is that they wounded an elk or killed one and it went to waste. It takes a real man to sit down and start typing that kind of story. For that my friend my hat goes off to you.


Just like elk we are God’s creatures. And although you did not eat that elk some of God’s other creatures did. Wolves kill elk and walk away. Brown bears catch salmon and eat the skin and eggs and toss the rest in the stream. But they don’t float very far before smaller bears or seagulls get them just as the elk and deer killed by predators give life to many other animals. It’s all part of the natural cycle of life and the world where not all living things go to a grocery store for food. If anything that’s s thread is a confession and I’m sure God has forgiven you. I know I do. Live and learn. Try to make improvements from year to year. That’s what being human is all about brother.
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Re: Lessons Learned

Postby Swede » 09 14, 2019 •  [Post 6]

Thanks.
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Re: Lessons Learned

Postby Elkhunttoo » 09 15, 2019 •  [Post 7]

Welcome back Swede... wish the experience could of been better for you... it can be super frustrating by yourself in a big mountain looking for an animal
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Re: Lessons Learned

Postby Roosiebull » 10 22, 2019 •  [Post 8]

Swede wrote:Sometimes hunting is a jubilant experience where everything goes well. Sometimes it feels more like a kick in the groin. I had both this season, but I definitely had a share of the later.
The very first morning within a half hour of climbing into his stand, my son killed his bull. It was great as he had less than three days off work to hunt, due to a shortage of employees in his hospital department. His friend, who came with him never had a reason to draw his bow that I know of. They left for home Monday morning.
Two days later in the afternoon I was alone in the woods. While in my stand, a spike bull led a herd along a trail just 13 yards away. The spike stopped broadside to me and just stood there. I came to full draw, aimed and squeezed the trigger on my release. I saw the arrow sticking out of the side of the bull as it ran off. I wondered if it was just a little high, but knew it was pointed downward and into the vitals of the bull. I was confident of a speedy recovery.
To make a long story short, I searched for hours and went out over 1/2 mile out looking for my bull. I searched until I was exhausted and totally dejected. I found only about 20 yards of a sparse blood trail starting about 25 yards from where the bull was hit. After that, I saw where it had ran for a ways, then the tracks were lost in the mass of other tracks. I looked along many adjoining game trails in the area. I found nothing definite.
To make matters worse was the heavy brush and it got dark within a couple of hours of when I got out of my tree. Immediately after losing the tracks and blood trail, I went to the bottom of the draw and looked into every Alder thicket around. Nothing! I went up on the side hill and looked out. Nothing! I went back to the last blood and tried to extend it some more. Nothing!
Finally, At 11:00 PM I went back to bed on my cot and tried to sleep that night. That was an almost nothing too. The next morning I got out and looked over much of the same area and found nothing more. I knew by 9:00 AM it was spoiled so I went in and had breakfast in camp.
Four days after I shot the bull, I went out again into that stand area. The ravens were working nearby and I knew exactly what it meant. My little bull was very near. It was dead just 400 feet (GPS) from where it had stood looking at the water hole below. The bears by this time had dragged it out of the brush pile where its life had come to an end. I had walked by within 15 feet of the bull several times and just could not see it.
Lessons learned. I am still struggling with that question. For sure; if you hit high, with an arrow going downward, you will not get much of a blood trail unless you get a complete pass through. The shot was good and the broadhead did its job. I have to admit; I did not.

Swede, that's rough man.

I think most, if not all of us can relate.... i'm sure I told the story here of shooting the first lion I called in, I was shooting a rifle, and the shot was just over 30yds.... i'm sitting down, back against a tree, with the rifle on shooting sticks.... missing wasn't happening. I saw the cat sneaking AWAY from the call, about 10yds above it (sneaky buggers) and it was across from me on a steep sidehill, so the shot angle was probably just like yours, shooting just right of the spine, behind the shoulder blades, looking for an exit through the brisket.... dead critter...

long story short, I made a good shot, the cat only went 150yds, but it ran into a swamp with head high saw grass and other swamp brush.... bullet did not exit, and I never found any blood at all.... I heard the cat (probably kicking out) and looked all over that night despite it being nerve wracking looking for a lion in brush with zero visibility.... I could not find it and came back first thing the next morning, and started by thoroughly searching where I had heard it the night before... there was a little 2" wide creek running through the swamp.

I used my gps and grid searched for 8hrs... covered the whole swamp, then every area around it I could.... I knew it was dead, and couldn't figure out why I couldn't find it.... I kept coming back daily, starting on top watching for bird activity, then going back in and looking and smelling hoping to find it... finally on day 6 I went to go set up a cam, thinking maybe my bullet did something weird and the cat lived... when I got down there, I saw about 5 buzzards circling, and a few ravens squawking… I went back out in the saw grass and flushed the buzzards, but one held it's ground on a snag right where I had heard the cat the night I shot it.... right there, the creek forked around a little 10' island, and that is where that cat was... I spent so much time looking within 10ft of that cat, the brush was too high to see the little mini island.... I scoured both sides of the creek, just didn't actually cross the creek right at that spot.... I was really bummed out.

zero blood from the high entry and no exit was the deal breaker, along with that cat going further than it should have. I remember the feeling, and it sucks.

a blessing and curse as a hunter is never having the knowledge or ability to do a perfect job every time... all we can do is move on and consider the circumstance next time, and decide if that lesson applies or doesn't.

if I did a lot of stand hunting, I would likely shoot a very tough, sharp head pushed by a heavy arrow... out of a stand, your shots will be inside 40yds almost always I assume? you won't really notice any difference in trajectory adding 100gr inside of 40 yds (out of a 70lb triax, I shot a 440gr side by side with a 585gr arrow, and at 50yds, there was a 4" difference in point of impact.... not a big deal, and the difference shrinks as you get closer) something to think about with your hunting style.

I just got another compound (65lb xpedidtion xcentric) and I built some 610gr arrows for it, still have a mpbr of 35yds (any deer or elk inside 30yds would be dead using my 30yd pin aiming center of vitals) not much different than a 420gr arrow in reality, just quieter and more forgiving, and better performance on game.

I can imagine the frustration knowing you made a good shot, did the homework to put a stand in a spot that you get that shot, having that opportunity come to fruition, and not get the elk.... that sucks doing so many things right, then not recovering your bull because of a couple little factors unique to that situation.... we have all been there, and it's never an easy lesson to learn, and what are you supposed to take away from that?
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Re: Lessons Learned

Postby Swede » 10 22, 2019 •  [Post 9]

Roosie: It is a haunting experience isn't it? How could I miss seeing the bull so close? I have no good answer. It is almost as if the ravens packed it over near the trail and dropped it there just to torment me.
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Re: Lessons Learned

Postby Roosiebull » 10 23, 2019 •  [Post 10]

Swede wrote:Roosie: It is a haunting experience isn't it? How could I miss seeing the bull so close? I have no good answer. It is almost as if the ravens packed it over near the trail and dropped it there just to torment me.

hindsight keeps us humble Swede
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