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A sad end to my AZ elk hunt, a reason not to rely on shoulder shots

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A sad end to my AZ elk hunt, a reason not to rely on shoulder shots

Old 10-03-2014, 04:57 PM
  #1  
Fork Horn
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Default A sad end to my AZ elk hunt, a reason not to rely on shoulder shots

It was the morning of my last day, and the elk had started bugling again after losing 1-1/2 days to rain and another to simply no bugling. My hunting partner and I drew cow tags in Unit 8 near Williams, AZ. This morning when my partner exited the camper to water a cactus, he heard bugling that sounded like it was less than 300 yards from camp. He's in his 70's and didn't feel like chasing them any more, but I jumped out of the camper without breakfast, grabbed my Optima Pro and pack, and headed out after them.

The elk were on the move, and it was hard to catch up to them. I didn't even have to call to locate them because a couple of them kept bugling. As I approached them, I jumped a couple of cows within 100 yards. One hesitated and I trained my rifle on her front shoulder. The 300 grain Gold Dot went sailing, and I was sure I had a good hit--but she took off running along with the what turned out to be 3 other cows and 3 calves. I reloaded the Optima and followed in the direction I saw them head. Just a short distance, I saw my small cow laying down behind a log, just 40 yards from me. She tried to get up, but it was obvious that her front leg or legs were broken, and she continued to lay there. I raised my rifle, aimed at her head, pulled the trigger, and it went "click". I had forgot to put a new cap in!

Right then, she got up and hobbled down Sycamore Canyon https://www.google.com/search?q=syca...2F%3B640%3B424 Yeah, it's almost the Grand Canyon. I quickly installed a new cap and headed after her. I was seeing quite a bit of blood, and she was headed down a game trail. But pretty soon the blood just stopped, and the trail did too. I continued down the canyon, zig-zagging, hoping to find more blood. I finally got to the bottom, but no more blood. So I started back up, zig-zagging again and saw one splotch of blood, but no trail. I went back down again and then back up. By then, I was panting and seeing nothing. I checked my GPS, and found that I needed to go across this finger of the canyon to get back to camp, so I went back down to the bottom and up the other side.

I was sick. I couldn't believe I had lost her! Never again will use a shoulder shot when I could have a perfectly good lung-shot. My whole purpose of hitting her shoulders was to avoid that canyon scene that I knew was several yards away. Arrgh!
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Old 10-03-2014, 05:17 PM
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excellent write up. Sorry to hear about loosing the elk.
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Old 10-03-2014, 05:24 PM
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Man, that's a bummer Don.

Don't let the "what ifs" haunt you. It happens. All we can do is learn from those kinds of things.

I've never hunted Elk. But have had a similar experience with a nice little six point whitetail that I put an arrow through the liver on. I saw the hit clearly, and the liver blood was obvious when I began tracking. But I didn't wait long enough before following him. Jumped him up and he made it to a humongous clear cut with five foot high blackberry and brier. Looked for two hours and never did find him. He was likely dead within ten feet of one of my crawls through the thick stuff.
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Old 10-04-2014, 08:00 AM
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Thanks, Cayugad and Semi. It's just that this is the first big game animal that I know I wounded and lost.
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Old 10-04-2014, 01:36 PM
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that's a bummer i know exactly how you feel except i lost a 380 class bull in 6b last year on my archery hunt. i am headed up to 6b again for a muzzleloader deer hunt in october. but i don't use those little bullets anymore i switched a long time ago i shoot those huge white slip fit bullets 465-495 grain even if you hit the shoulder they usually get familiar with the ground pretty quick. buy the way i still replay that whole thing in my head after all this time and probably will for a long time to come !!!
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Old 10-04-2014, 02:44 PM
  #6  
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Thanks, Muzzle. I never thought of a 300 grain bonded bullet traveling at 1870 fps as being light . That combo has made for bang-flops on two previous elk--one double lunged and one through front of the chest.

I haven't been putting in for deer in several years because of the dearth of mulies here. But on this elk hunt, I couldn't believe how many deer I saw--all does except for one really nice buck on the side of I17 during the drive home. He had a very large set of antlers still in the velvet. It was probably in Unit 6A. Good luck with your hunt!
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Old 10-04-2014, 03:39 PM
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If you hunt long enough you will have things happen that you don't like. If it doesn't bother you it's time to stop.

Losing an animal that you've worked for, and done your due diligence to recover is a heart breaker for sure, but move on and let the experience shape your future hunting excursions ... but don't let it end them. Stuff happens and if you weren't upset or disappointed I'd be worried. But when you have the need to spill your story b/c it's eating at you it proves you understand the sanctity of life ... and for that you are a lucky man.

I know you'd rather be cooking up some back straps right now, and your disappointed in the loss, but remember, Mother Nature wastes nothing. Good luck and move on the best you can.

Last edited by 8mm/06; 10-04-2014 at 04:44 PM.
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Old 10-04-2014, 04:28 PM
  #8  
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i used to shoot barnes copper sabots can't remember the weight some where about 295-300 grain there not really that light i just meant in comparison to the big lunkers i shoot now. yes iv'e been seeing a lot of deer i think it's because the decline in elk numbers in the areas i hunt in. i think the elk push deer out if there's too many of them. i hope you didn't get offended when i said those bullets were light !!
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Old 10-04-2014, 04:33 PM
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thanks for the comments 8mm/06 yes it does shape you when these things happen that's why i wont forget them if i do i would just be one of those pig type "hunters" that don't care what they do out there. i do know the bull lived on though i heard him several times the next couple of day's and those darn animals are tough as nails!!!
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Old 10-04-2014, 05:19 PM
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Fork Horn
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Originally Posted by muzzlestuffer
i used to shoot barnes copper sabots can't remember the weight some where about 295-300 grain there not really that light i just meant in comparison to the big lunkers i shoot now. yes iv'e been seeing a lot of deer i think it's because the decline in elk numbers in the areas i hunt in. i think the elk push deer out if there's too many of them. i hope you didn't get offended when i said those bullets were light !!
No offense taken.
Yikes, I'd rather see the elk population thrive, I guess.
I use to hunt desert mulies around the old mining roads near Wickenburg, but the population dropped dramatically. I think that was due to overusage of the land by motorcycle/atv riders, etc.
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