Monday, December 6, 2010
The buck was buried in thick catclaw at around 600 yards. I could see enough of him to know that he "could" hit the 100" mark but I also knew that I don't have the patience to pass any high 90's class buck on a Oct. leftover tag! The gun was set up on the tripod with the new "Loc Jaw and Rifle Railz" adaptor and I just shot a 4" group the day before at 600 yards with this setup, so I was confident with the shot. There wasn't a angle to worry about but the wind was variable and I could see it wasn't windy where the buck was but was windy where I sat. I pulled out my phone, called my dad who was on an elk hunt and told him I was getting ready to whack a buck! He knew I wanted to hold out and also knows how trigger happy I am so he told me, "Don't do it!" I laughed and told em' it was big enough and to just listen then I set the phone on a rock. There were 2 canyons between us and I decided the wind was going to be a factor so I held into it considerably and just as the buck stopped mostly broadside, the crosshairs were rock solid and level...BOOM! Craig says, "He's hit and running left!", I reload expecting to hear Craig say he's down but instead he says "maybe he's not hit"!!!! WHAT! Now I'm back on the buck and through trees I can see him just standing there then he starts walking around normally and seemingly fine! I'm frantically trying to get a good range on him but with the brush I know I'm getting wrong readings. Finally, the buck clears the brush and I get a good range, hold tight..BOOM, "To the right, the winds pushing it"!! I'm now realizing that the wind is blowing very inconsistently in the canyons between the buck and I and 2 more failed shots ring out leaving me disgusted and frustrated!!! The buck trotted down into and out of sight in the bottom after my last shot and I didn't even have to tell my dad what happened, I basically just said "I'll call ya later" and hung up. Craig and I both replayed the events and Craig swears the buck "humped" up at the first shot but then appeared completely normal. I agreed, the buck seemed perfectly fine as I missed my last 3 shots and I could see where the wind had blown my shots each time except for the first.
As we sat there replaying and discussing what just happened, 3 bucks that were bedded near my buck had gotten up. We watched them feed directly towards the trail my buck walked down. Immediately as their noses hit that trail they all stopped feeding and started sniffing around! Then, 1 by 1, they walked down the trail where my buck went and after a while they came back up and resumed feeding. We both knew that wasn't normal and I planned to be on that spot first thing the following morning.
Bryan aka "Butters" came up that night and he hiked over to the spot with me in the morning (this part is on the video). We arrived at the exact location of my last shot and I trailed the tracks back up and around and couldn't find any sign of a hit. As I stopped on his tracks back at the spot where my last shot drifted just off his right shoulder I told Bryan that i must've missed the first shot too. Just then a buck blows and busts out of the brush below us! I swing my rifle up, jack a round in, find em' in the scope and notice he's walking stiff legged. I glance at his rack and it appears similar, then look again at his back end and notice he looks humped up so with all this going on in a fraction of a second I find his shoulder..BOOOM! He piles up like a potato sack and my emotions just poured out! I had said prayers that night hoping I was able to finish this deal if i had indeed connected on the buck and my prayers were answered! My thoughts were confirmed as I walked up to him I had indeed hit him the night before with my first shot but the wind had caused a huge drift carrying the bullet almost 2 feet from where I held. There obviously was more wind then was evident and this new 7mm is way more finicky than my .300wm when it comes to wind, next time the 7mm is stayin' in camp if it's windy!
The lesson here is "Always follow up on your shots and make sure you didn't wound the animal"!!! I would've swore that buck wasn't hit, he acted completely normal, never licked himself, never walked funny, and I never noticed him humped up at all. It was great when those 3 bucks gave me that clue but I still would've gone over to double check and I'm very glad I did!
Craig did an outstanding job holding out and it almost paid off on the 5th day of the hunt when he barely missed a buck that no doubt would've hit the 100" mark. The shot was 407 yards but I forgot my inclinometer and we guessed wrong on the angle so the buck got a hair cut and an education! We didn't see the numbers of quality bucks like usual but we did still find 5-10 bucks a day so it was an awesome hunt. I still haven't taped out my buck yet other than some rough measurements, but he's right around 96-97" and is gonna look great on the wall!
And now for the rest of the story, check out the video!
To read a more in depth story and lots more photos click on the link to CWT.com
We spent a ton of time looking for "Kickstand" and passed up opportunities at several bulls between 360-390" in hopes that Kickstand was around and not broken. It was on the very last day when Manny and Mel called stating they had found Kickstand but he had broken both of his G4's and a G3 and was a little smaller than we had hoped on the frame. This was the last minute of the hunt and Bob said "let's go look at em'"! We took off and as we ran up and over the last mountain we found his herd and snuck in. We never got a good look at the bull but as they finally winded us and started taking off I stopped Kickstand in an opening and Bob quickly and instinctively hammered em'! Bob had already made up his mind that he was going to shoot this bull regardless of the breakage simply because it was a bull we had hunted very hard for and it had a history. It wasn't any ordinary bull, this was the ghost that had eluded us for days and this was the last chance to take a bull on this hunt so it was a no-brainer! This bull had huge G4 tines before breaking and great character making him a special bull and a great bull with 7 full days of hard hunting behind em'! Congrats again Bob, it was a hunt we will always remember! Jimmy>
Now that Bill drew a coveted archery bull tag he called me and the hunt was planned. We had been scouting extensively in his unit all summer long and although there were very few "giant" bulls this year, there were definitely plenty of great bulls to hunt! We planned on a 7 day hunt but figured we'd be done well before that because of all the great bulls and the good rut starting early! Little did we know the hunt would last for 12 days! We were on huge bulls daily, a couple were 370-380" and one bull in particular, named "King Henry" was a huge 6x6 bull and he teased us every day. We would chase King Henry daily but the country was flat and thick and he had his harem with no desire to add to it. To know we were hunting such an amazing animal was awesome and kept us going but in the end we realized he was simply untouchable and we had spent too much time on him. If it weren't for the fact we were chasing our dream bull the whole time Bill could've taken several other great bulls but he stayed vigilant and held out. Here's King Henry..
By now we were already into the 11th day and Bill decided to call it quits. He was very happy with the hunt and the bulls we passed up and called in, some to under 10 yards! I agreed it was an amazing hunt regardless of not killing but I haven't had an archery hunter go home empty handed so I told him to get back up before the hunt ends. Bill said he'd try and then headed home. Later that night he called and said he'd be back up the next day! Wore out but excited the game was still on I decided to hunt a different area and call it quits on King Henry. The new area had good bulls but our expectations for these last 2 days would be only for the first 6 point to give us a shot! The first day out was overcast with light sprinkles. The bulls were screaming and Bill and I were set up in some open country callin in bulls! The first bull was a raghorn and he veered around us. The second bull was pushed towards us by a much larger bull that we caught a quick glimpse of. This larger bull had some seriously long tines but was obviously only interested in his cows. The bull he pushed towards us was good enough and Bill and I both agreed, a bird in the hand is better so we got ready. The bull stopped behind brush at 60 yards as Bill drew and held on an opening at 50 yards and waited. In no time the bull came into veiw and stopped perfectly just as Bills arrow arched towards the bull! THWACK! The shot was perfect, the bull ran 20 yards and fell! I ran around the tree to get a visual just in time to see the bull get back up and run falling again shortly after!
Bill and I both were very excited and happy to still wrap a tag on a good bull after such a long hunt. We had opportunities at much larger bulls, seen a couple huge bulls, had tons of great experiences and still put down a good bull with a phenomenal shot in the last inning of the game! Thanks Bill for a great experience and congrats again! Jimmy>