Rocket Aeroheads - MiniBlaster-4
The evening of September 11 found myself and my friend, 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 with calling. Jesse is a fellow PSE Pro Staff member; he is a very accomplished and focused archer. 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 3:30 AM. 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 GPSs we were amazed at the amount of animals that were bugling, there must have been a dozen or more within a few hundred yards of us.
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 in a bull. 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, winded and drooling 320 class bull. For the first part of the hunt I set a goal of 330 or better, so as he stood there at 42 yards we 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 1am. 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 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 20 yards I came to full draw, but he must have heard something he didn’t like because 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 blew it. 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 they were working toward one another; it was time to make our move. Our plan was to position ourselves in between them in hopes of intercepting them. 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 the juniper, I said, “Here he comes”. When he finally appeared it turned out to be a cow that was followed by a yearling, but shortly behind it I could see a much larger elk. As I caught a glimpse of his antlers weaving through the trees 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 approached the clearing I began to draw my PSE Nitro bow, before I was at full draw Jesse let out a cow call and the bull stopped instantly. I thought to myself, “Pick a spot and don’t blow it!” As the 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 began discussing the placement of the shot when we heard a loud crashing sound followed by a thud, Jesse looked at me and said, “What was that? Was that him going down?” We got very excited, but thought it would be best to review the tape before we made the decision to track him. After reviewing the tape, we were certain he was hit well and felt confident that it would be ok to begin tracking him.
The blood trail was very easy to follow.
After tracking him for about 130 yards we could see 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
with the hunt, only to arrive a couple of hours too late, but just in time
to help with packing the animal out.
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 Aeroheads for their continued support. This was a great hunt and I feel very fortunate to harvest such an awesome animal. With 7-1/2” of G-3 broken off, this Arizona bull has a typical gross score of 363-3/8 S.C.I.
By, Keith R. Hubbard - PSE Gorilla Squad
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