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					                                   My first Archery Elk

         It was still dark, and the fog was so thick that I could only see twenty yards in
front of me, the upside to that is that it would also dampen any sound I might
inadvertently make during my stalk.
         It was just beginning to get light when I heard a noise off to my right, I slowly
hunkered down and looked over my right shoulder, there were two Cow Elk staring at me
from about twenty yards, I lowered my eyes so as not to make eye contact and very
slowly faced forward again. The fog had begun to lift a little and standing directly in
front of me was a small five by five Bull, I had sneaked right into the middle of his harem
and he was not sure what he should do about it. It was not the same majestic and wily
Wapiti Bull that I had bedded down the night before, none the less; he was a respectable
freezer pet for a meat hunter.
         He was at seventy five yards which is way beyond my current shooting skills, and
before he had made up his mind about what was going on, his “Lead Cow” must have
decided she wanted no part of this situation, and she gathered together him and the rest of
the cows and headed for the top of the distant ridge, (same ridge that I had bedded down
the behemoth the previous night).
         I had not moved during the whole 45 seconds that this took to play out, and the
Elk were not spooked, they ran to the edge of the timber then headed up the ridge to a
small knoll, where they bedded down just below the top. I could not see the Bull, but I
could see three Cows lying in perfect position to cover all approaches to their bedroom.
         I very slowly moved back out the way I had come in with out spooking them
further. This satellite bull and his harem were between me and the area that I had bedded
down the big bull the night before, so it was time for a new game plan. After some
extensive soul searching, I decided that a “rag horn” in the freezer is better than a
“Monarch” in the bush, so I began my stalk.
         I needed to be within 45 yards of my target, to be in my comfort zone. (I practice
out to 60 yds. but I will not shoot at an animal at that distance at this time.) That left me
with two choices; I could head into the timber and try to sneak up and around them to
come in from behind, or I could go right up the middle of a two year old clear cut. I opted
for the timber, and after a half an hour of trying to fight my way through the young stand
of 20 ft. tall, un-thinned re-prod, I changed my mind and decided to go with the clear cut,
even though the Elk had three sentries on guard.
         When I finally made it back to the edge of the clear cut, I hunkered down with my
binoculars and studied my approach options. By far the easiest approach would be to stay
on the fire break trail at the edge of the clear cut; however, two of the three sentries
would be able to watch me for most of the way. I could move out to the center of the
clear cut where there would be more cover, but all three of the cows could eye-ball that
approach at different places. I finally settled on a point about 50 yards out from the edge
of the timber and began my stalk.

        Two of the cows were looking in my direction initially so I had to wait for what
seemed like an eternity before both were looking somewhere else, I then scurried across
an open piece of ground to an old stump, then to another stump, and so on until due to the
lay of the ground, I was in a position where only one cow could see me at a time. Two
hours and 800 yards later, I was in position directly below the knoll the elk were bedded
on, but I was pinned down because of an open area about 40 yards across. The fire break
trail was 40 yards to my left, but that approach was covered by a bedded sentry about 60
yards above me, another was bedded down behind an old snag and she was facing off to
my right, I could not see the third cow and that made me a little nervous.
        I was trying to decide how to proceed when the cow above me stood up, I ducked
down behind the stump thinking I had been busted, the fog was still moving in and out
sporadically but what little breeze there was, was in my favor as it was still fairly cool
and the thermals were moving down hill. I peeked over the stump to see the cow above
me was gone and the one to my right was just vanishing behind the old snag she had been
bedded behind. It was now or never, I crossed the 40 yards to an old bug log lying below
the edge of a bench. There I dropped my pack, took the quiver off my bow, removed two
arrows, knocked a 100 grain Muzzy broadhead, set my Parker Hunter Mag beside me at
the ready and began to range find everything in front of me.
        I heard noise from above me and to my left, and I dropped my range finder and
peeked out around the left end of the log. It truly does not get any better than this. The
Elk had come down and around the backside of the knoll, the bull was leading the way,
and he would pass directly in front of and about 30 feet above me at approximately 40
        I picked up my bow, came to full draw while still on my knees, and crouched
down behind the log. When I heard the Elk passing in front of me I raised up, bringing
my bow to the firing position in the same movement, I was in perfect form, my sight pin
tucked in tight behind the front shoulder with a perfect slightly quartering away broadside
shot, only it was a cow elk filling my sight picture and not the bull.
        The 5 by 5 bull was about two paces behind the cow and Quartering to me, not a
shot that I would take. I had a decision to make and not much time to think about it.
        I could wait, and hope that the Bull would turn slightly, and give me a shot before
the cow came to her senses and bolted, or I could flex my back muscles and put this
freezer pet where it belonged, in the freezer!
        Just before I heard the Cow give her alarm “bark”, I recalled the words of my late
father. “Horn soup just don’t stick to your ribs the way Backstrap does”. So, I flexed my
back muscles and sent out a dinner invitation, in the form of a Beeman 340 ICS Hunter,
and she graciously accepted my invitation with no reservations.

       I hit a little high, and she dropped like a hot rock then rolled down to what I had
thought was a bench but was actually one of the old logging roads. I then put another
arrow through both lungs to still her beating heart.

      It’s almost as if he’s thanking me for taking one of his cows and letting him walk.
Maybe I won’t be so hungry next year, and will hold out for the “Horn Soup”.

        The Bull and the rest of the cows would not leave, they just kept hanging around
waiting for her to get back up, so I finally pulled out my little pack camera and took some
pictures; they finally started drifting away as I was taking pictures. They never did run.

                                                            Jeff Hendricks


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