My New Mexico Unit 15 elk hunt
Well this year was the first year that I have ever hunted or shot with a bow. I bought the bow back in January and shot just about everyday from 30 to 70 yds. I found that my comfort zone was 50 yds. I drew a Unit 15 archery tag for elk here in New Mexico this year from Sept. 11 to Sept. 18. This would be the first opportunity that I have had to ever hunt elk since I haven't drawn a rifle tag for seven years since I moved to New Mexico.
I got there two days early to do some scouting and the bulls were bugling pretty well so I was excited about that. On the opening day, they were still bugling well. I used a cow call and a bull responded with a bugle immediately. I call again and he was coming closer as his bugle this time was louder. I moved forward about 30 yds and got set up by a juniper tree and gave a light chirp. The bull bugled back immediately but was going away from me now. He did not want to leave his cows to come investigate. I started moving forward and go to within 70 yds of the bull and he and the 8 cows all took off. He was a 5x5 but not too big (big for me though since I have never even shot one before).
At this point, since I am so new at this, I didn't really know what I was doing or what I was going to do next. So I just decide to get right back into some elk and try again. I got busted many times the first day. That evening it rained for about 12 hours straight. Not a heavy rain but steady. After that, the bulls just shut off. For the next two days, I was trying to put stalks on bulls that would bugle every 30 mins to an hour. Impossible you say? Well you are right! I got close but they would bust me because I wasn't sure where they were.
Friday morning, I was more determined than ever to ambush a bull. I got set up in an area where I noticed they had been coming through quite frequently. It was on a Mesa on a small mountain that was adjacent to a larger mountain and a shallow canyon separating the two. I just sat and listened for about two hours. Then I heard a bugle and i guessed the distance of the bull to be about 200 yds away from me. I decided to use my cow call to see what he would do and he responded with a bugle immediately. I called again and he responded and was coming closer! I called again and he responded but was moving away now towards the side of the canyon. He didn't want to leave his cows! I walked in the direction of his bugle but he was out pacing me. So, I dropped my pack and took off in a swift run arching around to where the canyon y's off so that I could get ahead of him. I stop in a small opening and briefly see three cows walking on the side of the canyon about 40 yds from me. I freeze in place until they pass and I am about to try to get closer for when the bull walks by but something just told me to stay where I was at. Right after that thought, the same 5x5 that was 70 yds away from me on opening day pops out of the canyon right in front of me just 20 yds away. He turns to my right (never even noticing me) an slowly walks at the edge of the canyon towards his cows. As his head passes behind a tree, I pull my bow up and draw. He stops just on the other side of the tree and still doesn't notice me. Because of the branches of the tree, I have about a 3 ft area that I can shoot through to get to his vitals. I take aim a little low with my 30 yd pin and let it go. The 100 gr slick trick magnum hits him right behind the shoulder and exits out the other side.
He does a 180 degree turn and runs back the way he came. I could see blood pouring out of the exit wound as he ran off. Not even a minute later I hear a loud crash and a gasping sound and then all is quiet. I walk up to the spot where the bull was first hit and there is a good blood trail. I also find the back piece of my arrow with the fetching and knock. It is covered in blood. I give it a few minutes and then I follow the blood trail. The bull had only travelled 50 yds and then fell over and died. The slick trick magnum did some very, very nasty damage to both lungs.
I will have to post pics later but I was pleased with my first archery shot on any game and my first elk ever. I can't say that I like archery better than rifle hunting but I can say that archeryhunting can make you a better rifle hunter. I will continue to archery hunt for elk as it is so much easier toget a tag. And it is fun.