Roadside Ruttin' Archery Bull
By Kris Crowley
When my wife, Daesha, first showed interest in bow hunting in 2012, I bought her first bow set up as an anniversary gift that year. She took to it immediately and spent nearly everyday shooting and honing in her skills in the field. In 2014, she was finally ready to try her luck on deer and elk, so that fall we set out after it. After two grueling seasons of pounding the mountains with hundreds of miles of hiking, hours upon hours of sitting on water, dozens of calling sets, and a few close calls, we had yet to fill any of her tags. Like most people that get into bow hunting, it doesn't take long to realize that it is an extremely difficult passion to pursue and there are unlimited factors dictating whether a hunt will be successful or not.
Needless to say, going in to 2016, my wife felt a bit discouraged. She brought up to me early this year the thought of not even buying her resident tags this year since we were very limited on babysitters for our three boys under age five. I could tell that she didn't want to give up, so for Mother's Day I bought her an OTC archery elk tag and told her that we would plan our hunts strategically and that I would stay back to watch our boys whenever necessary. This lit her fire once again and she practiced with fervor until the season started.
With only one weekend left in the season, we were once again in a familiar spot of being exhausted from hunting hard, without having so much as seen a single elk during the season. Despite not having a baby sitter, we decided to give it one more try. The plan was that I would stay in the truck and watch movies on the laptop with our boys, and that she would hunt within a reasonable distance so I could be available to help process and pack meat if needed. As we were watching a movie, she came back to the truck shortly after sunrise. She had located a herd and got in close, but her rangefinder had a dead battery. Rightly not wanting to take a shot without an accurate range, she came back to replace the battery. She explained where the elk were headed and we decided to drive up to a high spot for some glassing in the late morning. Since the boys were content watching the movie, I stepped out of the pickup, staying close, to help her glass. When I peered over a small sagebrush knoll I spotted the herd only a few hundred yards over the ridge. As soon as I saw the lone bull, I knew that he was a special one- perhaps the biggest I have seen in my years of hunting in Oregon. We quickly ran through our options. We decided that because of the very limited terrain and cover where they were laying and the fact that there were about 50 cows, spotting and stalking did not have a very high likelihood of success. We decided that we would stick close to the pickup and attempt to call. My mind was full of all the things that could go wrong with three, potentially very noisy, kids in the pickup next to us, but for the moment, watching Cars on the laptop was holding their interest. I talked about situations that could arise with my wife and asked if she wanted to shoot a cow if the bull was coming. Just wanting to taste success and get some much needed meat in the freezer, she said that unless a bull was immediately following, she would shoot a cow.
I began to cow call and immediately two cows came trotting in to investigate. However, they came in so quickly and from a direction that we weren't expecting that my wife didn't have a chance to draw before they stopped two feet from her. She was frozen and had no choice but to wait. After they eventually wandered off, the bull bugled. I bugled back at him, hoping to lure him up the hill, thinking a bull was trying to move in on his harem. After about a half dozen exchanges of intense bugling, he came in at a trot. My wife knew he was close and put a great shot at him as he ran past her at just 14 yards. Walking up to her, and looking just to my left to see our pickup parked with our three boys no longer watching the movie, but watching the action, the improbability of what we had just done sank in. The bull ran just 150 yards before collapsing. A true monster 8x7 bull that we know most hunters will never achieve in their lifetimes, and we got to share the experience with our entire family! It is a memory that will last with us forever.