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"Vulture Peak Bull"
Written by Keith R. Hubbard, PSE Gorilla Squad, www.huntingarizona.com

Vulture Peak Bull
The evening of September 11th found myself and fellow PSE prostaffer, Jesse Lim, sitting high above the forest floor behind our binoculars in hopes of locating a couple of bulls which I had seen on previous scouting trips. It was the evening before the 2003 Arizona archery elk season. Jesse wasn't fortunate enough to draw a tag this year, so when I told him of the tag I drew he offered to come along to video and help out calling. Jesse is a very focused and accomplished archer, so I knew he would be a tremendous asset to my hunt.

An hour and half of glassing yielded about a dozen bulls, almost all of them were quality animals, but four seemed to be outstanding. As we watched these vocal beasts we strategized for the morning's hunt. We decided it would be best to get out in front of the elk and cut them off as they were in route to their bedding area.

After what only seemed like a couple of hours of sleep, the alarm clock sounded at 3:30am. It was time to get up and put two months of planning into action. After a 35 minute drive, we stepped out of the truck and were greeted by quite a few very vocal bulls. As we gathered our gear and plugged the truck's location into our GPS's, we were amazed at the amount of animals that were bugling, there must have been 15 or more within a few hundred yards!

As we headed by moonlight deep into the forest, the elk moved all around us mewing, bugling and glunking, the action was intense. Shortly into shooting light, we decided to setup and see if we could coax a bull in. We positioned ourselves in a small saddle in an area we referred to as Vulture Peak. I let out a couple mews and got an instant response. A few minutes later we were staring at a very excited, growling and drooling 320 class bull. For the first part of my hunt I set a goal of 330 or better, so as he stood there at 42 yards, we just admired him until he walked off. As the next few days passed, the action grew slower, although we had quite a few more opportunities, we were unable to connect. Due to family and work responsibilities we had to head home for a few days.

After a long drive back from southern Arizona, we arrived in camp at 1:00am. As daylight approached we moved quickly toward Vulture Peak. We managed to get out in front of half a dozen bulls, but ended setting up in a bad location and had a satellite and herd bull pass us just out of range. Rather than waiting for some of the other bulls to come to us, we decided to trail the herd bull up into his bedding area. As we approached, we heard quite a few bulls bugling. We isolated one and worked our way toward him. As he continued to bugle we finally realized he was making all of this commotion while lying in his bed. Once we got within 50 yards, Jesse let out a soft cow call and the bull stood and began to walk toward us. When he approached within 20 yards, I came to full draw, but he must of heard something he didn't like, he turned around and begun to walk away. When he entered a clearing we tried to stop him, but he wasn't interested, I rushed the shot and missed. I couldn't believe it; I had just blown an opportunity on an awesome bull.

After an exciting, but disappointing morning, we decided to locate a shady Juniper and take a well deserved nap. While we were resting, bugling bulls occasionally awoke us. We decided that at 3:00 we would do a little calling and see if we could get someone fired up as they came out of their beds.

Jesse let out a bugle and we got an instant response from a throaty bull a couple hundred yards to our left. His bugle was quickly cut off by another bull, which was down to our right. After a series of calls from both bulls, we knew the bulls were working toward one another; it was time to make our move.

Vulture Peak Bull
Our plan was to position ourselves between them in hopes of intercepting one of the two. We moved a 100 yards and quickly realized that the bull to our left was closing in on us fast, so we stopped and began to glass. I picked up some movement amongst a juniper, I said, "Here he comes". When it finally appeared it turned out to be a cow that was followed by a yearling, but shortly behind I could see a much larger elk moving through the trees. As it came into view, I said "I see the bull". We knew we were going to be rushed, so we decided to setup where we were. While Jesse got the camera ready, I got into position and looked for some shooting lanes.
After a quick scan I only came up with one, and it would be my only shooting opportunity. To my surprise, the lead cow entered the lane, so I quickly ranged her, if the bull followed suit the shot would be 52 yards. The second cow entered in the same location, so I felt very confident the bull would be just behind her. As he entered the clearing I began to draw my PSE Nitro, but before I came to full draw, Jesse let out a cow call and the bull stopped instantly.

As the big bull turned to look in our direction, the arrow was already on its way. I watched the arrow from about mid-flight and saw it penetrate in the shoulder area. As the bull spun and ran off I could see part of the shaft hanging out. As I sat there trying to compose myself we were discussing the placement of the shot when we heard a crashing sound followed by a loud thud, Jesse looked at me and said, "What was that, was that him going down?" The shot seemed solid, but I wasn't positive of exact location where the arrow had hit, but after reviewing the tape, we were certain he was hit well. We were confident that it would be ok to track him.

After tracking him for about 130 yards, we saw him piled up at the base of a large juniper. We couldn't believe his size, with each step we took the larger he got. He was a magnificent bull, from his spectacular mass to his width and long tines; he carried 6 points on his left and 8 on his right. After quite a few minutes of celebrating and admiring the trophy, we phoned our wives and relayed the good news. Once we were done with the photo and video shots, we quartered him up and headed back to camp. My brother had just made the 7 hour drive from San Diego to help me with the hunt, only to arrive a couple hours too late.

This hunt could not have been successful without the support and assistance of family and friends. I would like to extend my gratitude to Jesse for leaving his family and responsibilities behind to assist me with this hunt. I would also like to thank PSE Archery and Rocket AeroHead Corporation for their continued support.

This was a spectacular hunt, I feel very fortunate to harvest such an awesome animal. With 19" of antler broken off, this Arizona bull has a typical gross score of 363 S.C.I.