There are so many important aspects of successful big-game hunting.In previous articles, I have discussed preseason scouting, physical conditioning, and heading to the shooting range to sight in a firearm or improving one's shooting ability.
Well, after last week's archery elk hunt, I realized another important facet of a successful huntay be tracking an animal after the shot is made.
aving spent almost a week in the field with long hikes before first light getting to my treestand and numerous after dark walks back to my truck, my opportunity to let an arrow fly happened on the late afternoon before Thanksgiving.
When that elk appeared my adrenaline kicked in and the excitement of the hunt intensified.
Waiting for the right shot is pivotal in a successful hunt and harvesting that animal.When the elk stopped at 25 yards, the shot was very doable, even for a very average archer like myself.As the arrow hit the vital mark, I was very confident it would be a quick retrieve.
There is a general rule of thumb to wait 20 minutes before following the elk or deer.As with most hunters, the time went so slowly, but I finally climbed down to follow the tracks.
Much to my surprise, I could not find the animal as the night time darkness swallowed me up.
etracing my steps to the exactocation, I began a slow and tedious process of examining the ground and leaves for a track or drop of blood.
On my hands and knees with the aid of an LED headlamp, I finally found a tiny speck of blood which raised my spirits, knowing I was at least heading in the right direction.
After 30 minutes I could find no more sign of the animal, so I marked the spot and walked out to return at first light with reinforcements.
ongtime friend Dean Pederson and his son Andy were joined by Jerry Green, FLW tour bass pro, and his son, Ryan, to be part of the tracking team.
To watch a seasoned tracker in action is quite impressive, as Dean continued to find clues which enabled us to recover the elk after a one-half mile trail. With the aid of Andy's and Ryan's young eyes, we were able to accomplish the goal of harvesting the animal.
When we reached the animal, we noticed a bear had already claimed his Thanksgiving dinner prior to hibernation. We were able to field dress the rest of the elk and still make itack for our Thanksgiving dinner with our families.
As rifle elk season begins, I would encourage all hunters to follow up every shot with a thorough search to determine if an animal has been hit.
This will take time and energy, but it is well worth it. Our wildlife is too valuable a natural resource to waste. Have a safe and successful hunt and enjoy God's creation.