Public Land Colorado - Highest of Highs & Lowest of Lows


Veteran member
Jul 8, 2015
This is one of the best and worst posts I have ever shared on this forum.

I want to start by saying that I am very proud of my wife for getting her first elk with a bow. It was text book execution/shot and it happened on the first night we were in camp.

Located the bull, stepped on him, pissed him off, worked the wind, all the cards hit the table exactly correctly. 5 yards broadside. Bull ran 100 yards and was dead in 5 minutes. Very proud of her.


Then onto the bad part and this is not to take away from my wife's terrific trophy. More to let people know what the real world is like out there in the world of OTC archery hunting in Colorado.

On the last morning of my hunt I was able to sneak in on a really big herd bull and his cows up in a rock slide.

Unfortunately, things fell apart and the herd busted and the bull circled underneath me and came right up the side of the rock-slide I was in. I settled the pin behind his shoulder and touched the release at 25 yards and I somehow made a bad gut shot (1/3 way up the elk 1/2 way between the hams and the back of the front shoulder) at close range on a very nice bull (6X6 or a 7X7) I have no idea in the world how I hit where I did. I dont know if I caught a strap on my pack or what happened. It all happened so quick and I was in shock where the arrow hit. Literally I have replayed it 6000 times in my head and I dont understand how it happened.

He was mine...finally at 25 yards after all the miles traveled..and trips taken.....I was calm, settled the pin and had a smooth release....and zing...right in the damn guts...The bull started trotting up the mountain in the wide open.

Realizing what had happened I quickly ran up the slide and I followed up with a poor shoulder shot at 60 yards in the blowing winds.

6" to the left and he would be mine. In hindsight I should have held mid-body and tried to just get another arrow into the center mass of the elk for the sake of just getting another arrow into something that would kill him. But I held lungs and the arrow just got taken the the right by the brutal gusting winds right into the shoulder.

I then sat there and watched the bull walk across a rock slide with guts hanging out the hole in his one side and go into a patch of timber where I felt he would bed down.

Upon leaving the slide I felt confident that if I was able to leave him overnight I would be able to recover him in the morning. I wasn't happy about the shots but with time he would definitely die.

When I left the slide I ran into a Resident hunter and spoke to him for about 15 minuted about the situation. We even exchanged cell phone numbers.

I asked him what his plans where for the day and he said that he had intended to go up into the area where my bull had just laid down. I told him the story about what had just happened and I repeatedly requested that he not go up into the area because I didn't want to bump the bull from the slide area because I knew we would be getting some rain that afternoon. Sneaking up on the bull in the position he was in would be almost impossible and I didn't want to chance it so I decided against that.

The guy agreed that he would circle low and go WAY out around to avoid bumping the bull. So I thanked him many times and we parted company. I then left the slide and so did he.

Sure enough, we got an inch of rain that afternoon/evening.

I went back in the next morning and saw fresh man tracts had been up the trail heading to where the bull had bedded. We walked up to where the bull had entered the timber and there was no blood just a bed where he had laid down and some bile in the bed. I recovered both my arrows and they were clean. I then spent the day on a 45 degree slope and many miles covering that timber patch and a huge surrounding radius of the area. I tracked my every track with my GPS and I looked everywhere. Later that day I found two little pieces of meat where the bull had entered the trees (And I mean little) . I personally put at least 10 miles on looking for the bull and my friend out the same amount of effort in before throwing in the towel. We just could not figure out what had happened. Where could he have possibly gone? He was so freaking sick and just wanted to bed down....

We headed back to camp.

Later that evening, the same guy strolled into my camp and asked me how things were going. I told him not good that I was not able to find my bull and that I could believe that he had went out of that timber patch and that I had looked everywhere for him.

Then the guy tells me that " Oh we were up there yesterday after you left and we found blood in the rock slide above where you said he went into that timber patch"

I didn't even know what to say...

He then went on to tell me how "he had shot at a bull up there after he had left us and had missed it with his bow"

I said "I though I asked you to stay clear of that slide because I had gutted that bull up there and I didn't want to push him?!"

He said that they had "gone around well below the bull but his other buddy was up there anyways"

I just looked at him, still not even knowing what to say....

Trying to get any form of closure, I then asked him if he had followed the blood and shot at an elk or if he had called in a different bull and he hesitated and then he had told me that they had "just seen a bull walking through the timber and he shot over it"

I was floored. Not really knowing what to think of the situation.

One of the nicest bulls I have ever seen on public land. And he got bumped by another hunter who couldn't respect my wishes and now he is gone forever.

Makes me freaking sick.

Things I have accepted form this hunt:

# 1 - I made a poor shot and this is on ME not the other hunter.
#2 - I made a poor followup shot and this is on ME not the other hunter.
#3 - No matter where you are at there are people and you will NOT be able to control or persuade them to not be knuckleheads.
#4 - Public land is public land. People are going to do whatever they want whenever they want.

If anyone hears of anyone finding a 300+" 6X6 or 7X7 in the Colorado Flattops this season please let me know.

If anyone wonders, Yes, I punched my tag and did not go after another bull.

In 23 years of bow hunting this is the first animal I have mortally wounded and never recovered. It truly makes me want to throw up.

Sad ending but thats my elk story for 2019 and thats a wrap folks.
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Veteran member
Jul 26, 2012
Anchorage Alaska
First...A big congratulations to you and your wife on her beautiful bull!! Second...Very sorry to hear how things worked out on the one you shot. But you're my hero for punching your tag and not punching the other guy.
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Veteran member
Mar 27, 2014
Woodland Park, Colorado
First...A big congratulations to you and your wife on her beautiful bull!! Second...Very sorry to hear how things worked out on the one you shot. But you're my hero for punching your tag and not punching the other guy.
Yeah … what AK said !!
Congrats to your wife and sorry your situation turned out that way. But congrats to you for the way you handled it.
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Veteran member
Apr 7, 2011
West Side, MoMo
Bummer. One thing I've learned with public land hunting, is that you absolutely cannot count on anyone doing you a favor or giving you space, etc. I totally get asking the guy to stay clear of the area, but at the same time, that spot may have been the guys #1 area, and he really had no way of knowing if you were feeding him a line or not.
I woulda been real tempted to stay right there until dark, in hopes of better controlling the situation.

dan maule

Very Active Member
Jan 3, 2015
Upper Michigan
Sad story, but your wife shot a beautiful bull. I have a similar story that haunted me for years. I've been told that if you hunt long enough it's going to happen but that didn't make me feel any better either. Keep your chin up and thank you for being so ethical.


Veteran member
Mar 9, 2014
Sorry to hear this story Mallard. Wish it would have worked out better for you. For what it's worth, you handled the situation very well. I know it is tough, but you won't miss the next one due to your determination. Hang in there.
Congrats to your wife.
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Veteran member
Dec 13, 2011
Congrats to your wife. Sorry to hear about your situation. You handled it a lot better then most people would have


Veteran member
Feb 2, 2012
Parker, CO
Big congrats to your wife! Sorry about your bull! Unfortunately that is public land. Not always right but reality none the less! Kudos for punching your tag!