Oct 30 , 2020
After The Shot
After the Shot
I have been hunting elk with a bow and muzzle-loader since 1986 and been blessed to have never missed a single season. In all those years of chasing elk, I have been on many blood trails most of them have ended with me sitting behind a cow or a bull excited, relieved and happy… A few have not ended the way I wanted and those are hard to get over…
We owe it to the prey we pursue to give it our all, and keep pushing to find, what sometimes is a needle in a haystack… that single drop of blood to get us back on the trail. This past season was one of those blood trails that will be etched in my memory for years to come. My hunting partner and son Thomas shot a bull and the hit seemed a bit low and a little far back. We gave him a good hour before taking up the blood trail. During the tracking of this bull, there was a roller coaster of emotions. Finding what appeared to be good blood in the first 100 yards to finding a drop of blood every 40 to 50 yards. We left the trail at times following fresh tracks down 100’s of yards, only to circle back around to start again at the last blood. It was discouraging to say the least your mind tells you, “Its hopeless you will never find him”. “This amount of blood is not a fatal hit”, “Just give up maybe the hit was just a graze”. These thoughts push their way to the forefront of your mind when the blood is hard to find. You must battle through these thoughts and keep scouring rocks, dirt and leaves for the next drop of blood.
We stayed focus on the trail always returning to the last drop of blood when we hit dead ends. The bull ended up on an old logging road and seemed to want to stay on it. I told my son that this may be one of those cases we find him in his bed so we really need to keep a look out for him as well. Eyes glued to the ground looking for that next drop of blood we pushed down the old road. Elk tracks again going off the road, was it our bull or just another bull passing through? At times 30 minutes would pass without finding blood. Then another single pin drop of blood on a log we are going the right direction! With my son leading the way and both our heads down scouring for the next drop I look to my left and there he is staring at me 15 yards away bedded down off the road! My son had walked on by him so focused on the ground he had not seen him. I managed to get his attention and we both froze. We were able to get another arrow in this bull and he went down right away a few yards down the hill. After tracking this bull 1.3 miles over 4.5 hours, never giving up and staying on the trail our prayers were answered. There were times doubt crept in but we supported each other reconfirming we would find him.
We of course always pray for a fast ethical clean shot that ends in a 30-second harvest. However, there are times it does not go that way. These are the times we have to dig deep and have the perseverance and commitment to follow up to the best of our ability! A single drop of blood is sometimes enough to get you to the final resting place.
We owe it to the game we pursue… Be relentless… be driven… be ethical
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