Western Hunting Journal, Premiere Issue whj001_premiere - Page 47

HARD LESSONS LEARNED A disappointing archery season leads to questions, and answers. By Zach Mansfield I KEEP REPLAYING IT IN my mind. As a matter of fact there hasn’t been a day since September 11, 2017 that I haven’t thought about it. Since that day my bow has collected a little bit of dust. We worked a herd all morning, chasing the mysterious mountain bugles into a daunting drainage by late morning. The mid-day lull and swirling winds left Ben and me with two op- tions: walk the five-plus miles back to our base camp or sit and wait for the winds to steady. We sat for nearly four hours until we both felt confident about our steady uphill thermal. We snuck down to the first bench below us and surveyed the terrain. There was limited elk sign. We decided to move down one more bench before we would make a play on the elk. As we were making our way to the second bench Ben piped off a light bugle. A bull instantly answered back and he was close. I looked at Ben and said, “let’s go.” Not overly confident, nor did we underplay the situation. It was a simple statement and we both knew it was time to go to work. Less than a minute later I found a pile of brush 50 yards ahead of Ben to conceal my outline. I checked the wind and took a knee. As far as I was concerned we had a dead bull walking. The volley of bugles between Ben and this bull lasted several min- utes. It was what archery elk hunting dreams are made of. Every- thing seemed perfect; shooting lanes ahead of me and to my left with an opening below. It almost seamed too easy. Movement dead ahead at 60 yards. I waited to draw. The bull was coming right to Ben’s call, directly behind me. I thought I would have www.westernhuntingjournal.com 45