After three years of coming up short on my archery elk hunts, I finally punched my tag. It was one of my biggest dreams to get an elk with my bow. When I got the news that I drew a trophy archery elk tag on the Navajo Reservation, I immediately started to shoot my bow. A week prior to my hunt I went out scouting with a close family friend. We found this giant bull and that’s when I decided to pursue this amazing animal. I was very eager to start my hunt and chase this bull.
The first Saturday of my hunt, we chased the big bull for miles. When we finally got close to him, he was still 300 yards away. Sunday morning, we started early and walked a mile down the ridge to where we last saw him. They were in the bottom of the draw so we tried to take advantage of the high ground and glass the bottom. I spotted an elk in the bottom and he looked big. I made my way down to the bottom and followed his bugle. When I felt I was close, I took off my shoes and my pack. I snuck over a small hill towards them and he was right there! I thought he was in range (within 70 yards), but when I put up my rangefinder, he was still 150 yards away. I was amazed at his size. Since there wasn’t any other cover between us, I had no choice but to wait and see if he would walk to us. The wind shifted and he caught it, his nose went up and he walked the other way. I followed his track for about a mile, but decided to back off and head back to my truck and wait for the evening hunt.
When it was nearing three o’clock, my dad and I headed into a little clump of cottonwoods. We noticed the bull was feeding around these trees every morning and every evening, so we made the decisions to sit there that night. When we ventured down there, we found a very small natural spring. It had little water, but enough to drink out of. It had a small wallow, so I was confident that this was where elk would return in the evening. I moved about 30 yards off of the water and found a little spot to sit. My dad sat about 10 yards next to me. While we waited, coyotes ran through grabbing quick drinks of water. Around five o’clock we started to hear the elk talking. Then, we saw a large bull start to work his way across the flat towards us. He looked fairly large, but I had to wait for him to work his way to us. Once he got about 200 yards away, he stopped. He put his head up and looked behind me in the trees. I slowly turned my head around, only to see the monster bull I had been chasing for days.
"The moment I put my hands on his antlers, I instantly felt the pressure release and the moment of joy flourish."
He stepped out from the trees and started towards me. The other bull that had been working his way across the flat took off in the other direction. When the big bull started his way to the water, I had to wait for him to get behind a large fallen tree so I could situate my body and get into a shooting position. When he walked behind the tree I stood up and got ready for the shot. I could see his enormous antlers over the tree when he walked. As he got to the end of the fallen tree, I took a quiet breath and drew my bow. Once I pulled back, I looked for him as he should have stepped out at that time. I then looked and saw his antlers still in the trees. He stopped before he got to the clearing. I was stuck, at full draw for thirty seconds waiting for him to step out. All of a sudden, my arm gave out without any type of warning. I tried to catch myself and did, but only at half draw. I was worried he would leave, but he stood like a statue. I was still trying to pull my bow back at this time. He then stepped out which gave me enough adrenaline and motivation to pull back. He stopped perfectly broadside at 38 yards. I lined up my pins just behind his front shoulder and the second before I was going to release, he started to walk again. I stayed on him with my pins and was ready to shoot. After two steps and one towards me, he stopped. I settled my thirty and forty yard pins in the crease of his front shoulder, about halfway up, then released.
I can still play back the shot in slow-mo in my head. I can see the arrow flying off of my string, then hearing it make contact with him. Once that arrow hit him, he turned around and bolted. He went into the middle of the flat and stopped. I was going to try and get around a tree to sneak in another shot, but before I could, he took off again. I watched him run all the way to the other side. Then, I saw him stumble. After a couple more steps, I saw him start to look very uneasy. All of a sudden he stood very high, then toppled over. I jumped up and rushed to my dad, breathing heavily and starting to tear up. We still waited a little while to make sure he was down. I could see him laying there and it felt like all of my hard work had paid off! My dad and I worked our way over to him. I approached him with caution to make sure he was not going to get up. The moment I put my hands on his antlers, I instantly felt the pressure release and the moment of joy flourish. It took me three years to finally punch my tag, but it showed persistence and motivation. I am so honored to take such a magnificent animal that I respect so much. I consider myself blessed and lucky to be able to go out hunting and have this privilege.
While I was on this amazing hunt, I used my Hunter Series 6 Pocket Mountain Shadow Pants. They were extremely quiet when I was sneaking in on elk and they also offered enough pockets for my rangefinder, wallet, phone, keys, knife, etc. I always wore my Cotton Button Up Shirt as a base layer. It was light enough to wear during the middle of the day and still stay at a comfortable temperature. My favorite product is the Hooded Soft Shell Jacket. One of my favorite parts of this product is the removable hood and the neoprene inner cuffs. Another one of my favorite products is the Hunter Series Vest. This product was amazing in the early and late mornings when we were taking long hikes. It would be too hot for the Soft Shell Jacket, but without anything it was too cold, so the Hunter Series Vest was the perfect option. A small accessory, yet an essential, is the King’s Camo lightweight gloves. They were light and sensible enough to shoot my bow, but they were also warm enough to keep my hands from freezing while carrying my bow. I really like this camo pattern as well. The Mountain Shadow camo pattern is one of my favorites because it helps me blend in and stay hidden.
Cole's King's Camo Gear of Choice:
Hunter Series Pants
Classic Cotton Button-Up Shirt
Hooded Soft Shell Jacket
Hunter Series Vest
If you've had a successful hunt this fall in King's Camo gear and would like to share with us, email firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll share your story with the King's Camo community!