Oregon Elk hunting is some of the most intense, extraordinary, and gratifying work for an archery hunter like myself. I first fell in love with elk hunting when I was 8 years old, getting to join my father and uncle in the woods chasing elk in late August and all through September. I grew up hunting elk with a bow and as you may know, archery hunting is a beast in itself and harvesting an animal with a bow is far and few between. This challenge is what kept my interest and still to this day makes me an avid bow hunter.
My first successful archery elk hunt comes at the age of 21. My father and I were hunting the ranch for a few weeks and we were nearing the last weekend of archery elk season. We had been seeing a couple nice bulls on our trail cams coming into the waterholes at last light.
My father and I split up to sit in tree stands over separate waterholes. Friday night passed and nothing came in during shooting light. I heard my father driving in to pick me up so I lowered my bow and put my backpack on to climb down from my tree stand in the dark. I reached the ground and grabbed my bow. As I was walking out in the dark I stepped on a branch and made some noise. At that moment the woods around me erupted. I couldn’t see anything because it was dark so I dropped to the ground on top of my back pack searching to find my head lamp. By the time I got my head lamp out and on there was nothing to be seen besides dust. I got to the side by side and my father told me about the elk he saw running out of the waterhole that I spooked leaving my tree stand.
The next day I sat in the same tree stand starting at 4pm. Not much moving around or coming in to drink so I thought I was going to be out luck for the season. Getting closer to 7pm I noticed a 5x5 bull coming in to drink hesitantly.
I watched the bull walk in from 50 yards out. He checked the wind nose high in the air coming in across the left side of the waterhole. I ranged him at 32 yards. Drew my bow back and let an arrow fly. A shot through the heart, my arrow exited the other side of the elk and he took off running almost directly under my tree stand.
The track was on. I climbed down from my tree stand and followed the blood trail for 80 yards to find him in the low brush of a clearing.
The feeling of harvesting my first archery elk was like nothing I have ever experienced before in my life. With this successful hunt, I was hooked. We took photos in the dark and field dressed the elk. Getting out of the woods I remember looking over to my father and all I could say was thanks. He has raised me to love the land, respect the animals and take pride in my adventures. I will forever hold true to that.