EDITOR’S NOTE: It’s never easy to lose an animal. As hunters, such a loss is hard to take and we are often left with only the hard lessons that keep us awake at night. Thinking, remembering and playing the scenario in our mind over and over again. Asking ourselves how we would have done things differently. Sometimes the answer is clear, but other times we are left just shaking our head and questioning ourselves. Hard lessons.
When we received this letter from Jeremy Senner of Canada, we felt that it was an important story to share. It’s real life y’all and it doesn’t always come with a happy ending. Sometimes things go south. But this story is one that Jeremy wanted to share to help others learn from his mistake. He gives no excuses. He did so many things right and was in the middle of an incredible experience. One that he will never forget. But again, one that came with a hard lesson.
We at ElkBros have no doubt that a good hunter just became an even better one. That Jeremy is exactly the type of hunter that we want in the woods. No excuses. Admit your mistakes. Learn from them and even more importantly, help others to learn so that they don’t have the same thing happen. Thank you Jeremy.
The rut was definitely on when we got back out our first morning with an immediate 2 bulls bugling in front of us. They split and one went further into the timber and the other bull bugled his way right to the down wind side of us and just kept bugling his way down the ridge.
We gave chase, only to have him get to far ahead of us back towards the road (there is a distance requirement for rifles from the road) so we turned back to continue in our original direction.
While on our way back up, the bull we left behind kept bugling and we’d bugle back to him every now and again and that got another bull further up the ridge to start bugling. We just let those two bugle at each other while throwing a bugle of our own into the mix every now and again, while working on a plan.
I gave out a small cow call and had a bull light up just in front of us. While figuring out what he was going to do next, he bugled ahead of us. Then again off to the left. From what I had learned, he was going to try and get behind us to scent check since we had the wind blowing in our faces. So I moved up and to the left and waited.
He came in just like I’d hoped he would. The next things to happen were almost text book:
As he came in, he was coming head-on and at the last minute he veered off to my left. I had to make a quick adjustment to shoot over a deadfall tree with limbs. Between the limbs mixed with a walking and quartering to me shot, I ended up hitting high and back.
Even though I had felt good about the shot at the time, and it sounded like he fell within 40 yards, we gave him some time. When we started the track, it was obvious that the shot did not pass through and there were only sparse drops of blood and the trail went dry within 100 yards. It just came down to following tracks we believed came from him. Regrettably after 8.5 hours and 4 kms of tracking we were unable to locate the bull.
I can make all the excuses in the world but it comes down to rushing a shot I had no reason to rush. That bull had no idea we were there and in hindsight I could have even stopped him with my mouth reed. Even if he busted we had four other bulls bugling that we could have made a move on. I also overestimated what a .50 cal 250 grain sabot from an in-line muzzleloader could do.
Great season with a disappointing end.