Friday, October 24, 2014

Broadhead Project

I wanted to share with you guys a little project that we've been working on. RMSGear is going to roll out with our own broadhead line, we've about got the first two broadheads ready to bring to market.

There are a few hang ups in accomplishing exactly what we want. But we're getting close.

Why are we doing this? 

We were single bevel before single bevel was cool. We have personally hunted with this design for a long time, and we wanted to see it done in a solid piece of steel.

We want a head with:

-A single bevel
-Construction from a single piece of steel (with no brazing, welds or crooked and inconsistent ferrules)
-A reasonable price.

Simply put, we couldn't find what we were looking for to use for ourselves.

My first hunting season was 19 years ago.  I tuned my cedar arrows to my Wapiti Spike longbow, and tipped them with a Grizzly broadhead. I was ignorant of broadhead designs back then.  I just used the broadheads my Dad had laying around. My Dad only bought Grizzlys because he walked into Bob's Archery store, and Bob told him that a Grizzly would penetrate well for him and his young sons.

This is one of the first days I carried a bow in the woods and a big game tag in my pocket - 19 years ago. To this day this is one of my proudest shots. My Grizzly broadhead cut this grouse's heart in half.

Those Grizzly broadheads worked well for us.  As soon as I got my driver's license my younger brother and I were in the elk woods every day. We had good grades and understanding parents, so my Mom and Dad smiled and told us good luck when we asked if we could skip school and go elk hunting. My brother was the first one to kill an elk - the holy grail of hunting in our minds.  He had just turned 16, and shot a P&Y bull on a school night with me hiding right behind him. His arrow was propelled by a 47# Wapiti recurve. Danny center punched ribs on both sides of that elk, and he still got an exit hole. Could he have done that with another style of broadhead? Maybe. But the hook was set, Grizzly it was.

Danny has not killed an elk with his recurve with anything but a Grizzly to this day, and he has a nice tally of bull elk for a 31 year old kid.

So to make a long story short, we're not getting into this project because we think there is a single bevel fad, or to jump on the bandwagon. We're looking to build the broadhead that WE want to hunt with. Since we couldn't find it on the market, we decided to do it ourselves.

Why solid steel and not brazed? 

Brazed broadheads in this design are common, available, and relatively inexpensive. There is no need for another brazed or welded single bevel head. We have shot them for years with excellent results. They work. But they have their draw backs. Most broadheads don't spin up true, and some take a lot of work to mount somewhat straight. They are also not as tough. You can see the broadhead in the picture below. I shot a bull moose with this broadhead. I consider this a broadhead failure.

This was the final straw in our quest for something else. This is a major drawback of brazed heads.

We want a broadhead without braze lines. Something that mounts straight and spins true with minimal to no effort. We want a one piece, solid steel, thick, tough broadhead. And oh yeah, we don't want to skip a car payment to afford them. We want a broadhead that is as long as possible, while still light enough to meet popular weights.

Here's what we got.

We plan on filling in on weight and bevel options after a while, but for our first "test" run, we've got 200gr screw-in, and 160gr glue-on. Both in left bevel.

Screw-in 200 grain
2" length
1 1/8th" wide
25° taper, left bevel

Glue-on 160 grain
2 3/4" total length
2 1/2" cutting edge
1 1/8" wide
25° taper, left bevel

What's in a name?

Naming them has given us a lot of fun and "spirited" debates. Here's what we're working with at the moment.

My Dad wasn't thrilled about the name "Cutthroat". He thought that it was too in line with the current broadhead hype marketing garbage. I think he was envisioning a logo with a bloody deer and a big slice across it's throat, with blood dripping off of all of the letters. 

But that is not where the name came from. 

High mountain basins hold a special place in our hearts. Our dad took us on hikes into them as soon as we were old enough to physically be able. We have caught a lot of trout in those basins, seen a lot of big bucks and bulls, and developed some strong bonds up there. We chose Cutthroat because it is the Colorado state fish, and a fish that gave us a good reason to spend time in places that are quite special and near to our hearts. Cutthroat trout live in wild places, places I don't visit near enough.

Besides, all the fierce animals already have broadheads named after them. Why not a fish with a cool name?

Initial Testing

Of course when we got the broadheads in the mail we were excited to see how they stacked up to some abuse. We looked around our store and found the hardest thing on hand. 

We didn't know what to expect when we shot into the biggest piece of steel in our store.

We had no idea what to expect. But we were pleasantly surprised to see it bury in this piece of steel. So naturally we had to shoot another broadhead that we like to see what would happen. The hole on the left is from a Cutthroat. The dent on the right is from a brazed broadhead of equal weight.

It sounded like glass shattering when we shot the steel with the other broadhead. These are literally the only two pieces that we could find.

In the field

Do they work? 

The first bowhunter to take the field with a Cutthroat broadhead killed a deer on his first evening. He's still in the field at the time of this writing, and I will update this blog with a high quality picture when I get it. In the meantime, this is what I got.

The exit hole from the first Cutthroat ever shot in the direction of an animal

I'd post a picture of the entrance, but I gotta say, entrance holes have never concerned me in the slightest. Show me the exit or don't show me anything!

We haven't even had these broadheads a week, but you can bet that we're going to shoot them at a deer or two in the coming weeks. More hunting pictures to come!

At the time of this writing three whitetail deer have fallen to Cutthroat broadheads. Early field testing is looking good.


We made a fairly small initial run. We are not currently set up to do large scale grinding. We have spent the last week or so trying to develop the easiest method to grind these heads.

We are not the kind of people to try and rush to market with a product that hasn't been tested extensively. Heck, I've been shooting a simple tab design for over a year and I've yet to package and sell one. Nonetheless, we will start accepting orders, and we will start building a pre-order list for our next batch.

This week I got these broadheads into the hands of some of the best hunters I know. I promise you that we are going to be more judgmental and harder on these broadheads than any others we've used. There's not going to be any marketing tricks here, no doctored images, no hype, no bullsquat. I'm going to be extremely nit picky so that you do not have to.

The broadhead speaks for itself. It is a time tested and proven design built in the toughest manner possible with the technology of the day. A couple hundred years ago it was obsidian, then steel, then welded, brazed, and now machined.

You can order through our website, at this link. Orders will be slow to go out the door at first, we're still experimenting with the best ways to grind, and we are all going to be in the field over the next few weeks. We are going to let the response dictate how fast we expand on weight and bevel options.

You can follow us on Facebook. We'll be updating our customers about Cutthroat broadheads both through our RMSGear Facebook page, and also Cutthroat Broadhead's Facebook page.

Be sure to sign up for our newsletter so that you can get updates on Cutthroat Broadheads and other RMSGear news.

Get updates about Cutthroat Broadheads and other RMSGear news

* indicates required

/ ( mm / dd )
Email Format

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

October Deer

Brock and I made our way to Kansas last week to do a little pre-rut scouting/hunting trip. We talked to some farmers and got permission to hunt some of the finest looking whitetail land I have ever laid eyes on. Getting shooting opportunities at a buck doesn't worry me, but I don't know if I have the resolve to hold out for one of the big guys running around out there. I'm not a good trophy hunter, I'm just too grateful for any deer.

Brock and I were suppose to leave on Friday night. From my treestand that evening I watched over 30 deer pass by a different trail, just 50 yards from me. I called my Dad and my wife and asked if I could stay one more day. Well, I begged more than asked, but I'll spare you the conversation with my wife. I'll just say, marrying her was the best decision of my life.

Saturday evening Brock and I got ready for what I thought was going to be an epic night. We had four doe tags between us, and I was certain we would fill them all. We found the best spot and put our stands right next to each other in the same tree. We had a big bedding area to our west, and a cornfield to our east.

The trail from the day before would have put them in a great shooting location.

But, of course, the deer had other plans. We saw just as many deer, but they weren't using the same trail as the previous evening.

With day light dwindling down, and all of the deer passing barely out of range, we finally caught a break. A couple does and a couple fawns were finally feeding down a path that would take them 15 yards from our perch.

As soon as the first doe stepped into our shooting lane she picked up the pace and started to jog for no apparent reason. Brock was up first, he sat at full draw as all five deer ran right through his shooting lane. Brock did not lose focus. He leaned out to get a shot through the branches.

I was looking at the deer when he shot, but I did not see his arrow. I heard the arrow hit, but the deer did not react. I didn't fully trust my ears and asked Brock if he hit her. He told me that he made a great shot.

Not a single deer reacted to the shot. They continued walking to the corn field. About 45 seconds after the shot we heard thrashing in the corn field. I gave Brock a big high five and got my bow ready....MY TURN!

Brock shot this deer with a Hawk recurve and an Abowyer broadhead.

Shooting light was now fading fast, and we couldn't see anymore deer heading in our direction. All of the sudden a doe started walking towards us from the corn field. There was absolutely no reason that she should have been coming our direction, but sure enough, she was about to be directly beneath us.

Of course I was ready, and when she turned broadside at 10 yards I let go of my arrow. The doe ran off but stopped about 10 seconds later, still in our view. She stood still for another second before tipping over.

I shot this deer with my 60# Wapiti recurve, CX Heritage arrows, and a Grizzly broadhead.

I tell you what. The drive home that night was a lot more enjoyable with two deer in the back of the truck. And I absolutely cannot wait to hunt this spot in a few weeks.

Danny hunted for a morning and evening in Colorado a few days ago. He saw a few deer and a bobcat. The bobcat cruised right underneath him.

More to come! The good stuff is just around the corner now. My Dad and brother will be hunting in Wisconsin again this year, Brock and I will be in Kansas, and we all have Colorado tags. Good luck everybody.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Del's 2014 Bull

Here's an elk story from our friend and hunting partner, Del Jolly. Del is hell on elk, and he shot a great bull this year, again, in the first few days of the season. Here's Del's story in his own words:

This year I was lucky enough to draw a great tag. I have never had much of a desire to hunt a trophy unit, but with a large accumulation of points, and my hunting partners drawing elsewhere, I thought I'd put in.

My early scouting trips got me pretty excited. There were elk everywhere! I usually hunt with llamas, but my good friend was using them on the opener, so I was living off of my back for the first week of the season. I packed about 2 miles into the Weminuche Wilderness. When I got to timberline I heard a big bull let out an awesome bugle. Nothing like hearing a bugle the day before the season starts! I watched that bull come up the mountain with about thirty cows. I thought it was a bit strange that he was herded up so early. I paid no attention and got to my pre-planned base camp.

A few elk from one of my scouting trips.

Do you know anybody who has ever found a dead mountain lion in the woods? I found this cat on the way into one of my elk hunting spots.

The next morning was amazing. I got into a ton of elk and had tension on my string two different times. Once, I got to within 10 yards from the biggest bull I've ever seen, up to that point. I worked very hard to go straight up a mountain just to be pinned between two trees and this bull. He came in bugling and stopped just ten yards away, but through a bunch of branches. I knew he couldn't see me so I started to rake the heck out of a tree. He proceeded to do the same. I stopped, got my bow up, and waited for him to emerge. As he started towards me, a soon to be re-occuring theme happened - the wind hit the back of my neck. Little did I know, this would be the first of many times that I would be within 40 yards of good bulls and have the wind blow it, literally and figuratively.

As the days passed, and the wind kept taunting me, frustration started to settle in. I decided to leave the bowl I was in and hunt another area. I went to a burn area I had scouted earlier in the year, I was immediately into elk.

The next morning I bugled at the top of the burn and had an immediate response. It was very far off so I started towards the direction of the bull. I had not traveled more than 100 yards when I spotted a cow heading my way. I was in the middle of these blackened, toothpick trees that had no horizontal branches. But as luck would have it, my back was almost directly against a tree and the sun was out of my eyes. A herd followed that lead cow, and a good 6X6 was in the rear. I always like it when cows pass by first, it gives me a chance to see where my possible shots might occur once the bull comes through.

As the elk filed along I saw a small tree that would give me the cover I needed to draw my bow. The bull followed suit, and I thought for sure that this was going to be the end of my season. I watched in dismay as my arrow flew just under the bulls chest. The herd erupted in a cloud of ash and dirt. I believe I misjudge the distance due to the openness of the terrain.

The next morning I was greeted with a throaty growl that only big bulls make. I cow called and two rag horns came running right to me. The raghorns ran into thirty yards before they caught my wind. The commotion drew out a massive bull, the biggest I've ever put my eyes on, and he was MAD! He screamed and started heading straight to me. He was coming down the same line as the raghorns. I knew I had to do something before he hit my wind. I made my move and dropped to my knees so I could shoot under some branches. Right as I reached full draw the bull pegged me. I could feel the wind hitting my back. I knew it was now or never, and forced a shot faster than I like. I was sick to my stomach as I saw my arrow fly right over his back. In my haste I didn't pick a spot.

I was dejected. In the past 24 hours I missed more elk than in my whole hunting career (with a trad bow). Two great bulls, one of them the bull of a lifetime. I was looking for my arrow when a bugled popped off several hundred yards away. I did my best to shake off the miss, and started working towards the bugle.

I closed the distance as fast as I could. This bull was a little bit more leery. He came to within 50 yards several times, but since he never saw another elk, he wouldn't commit to coming any closer. As he turned to leave I opened up my Montana Decoy and moved in on him, I felt I had to take the chance or the bull would be gone.

With a swirly wind, and the bull at 50 yards I held up the decoy and moved to a better position. The bull saw me moving and started walking towards me. It seemed to work!

I set the decoy down and got ready to shoot. I stopped the broadside bull with a short call and let go of my arrow. I saw my arrow in flight for a short time, but lost it when it hit an overhanging branch. Since I wasn't 100% sure of the shot location I waited a full five hours before beginning my search.

The bull was in the center of this frame when I shot.

I started to get a little nervous as the blood trail dwindled down. Then I experienced one of the strangest things that has ever happened to me in the woods. A small hawk swooshed right by my head, startling the heck out of me. The hawk landed thirty yards below me and started to bob his head at me. Then he turned to his left and bobbed his head three times. The hawk flew straight at me, again, I took a step back because he was coming right for my face, only to make a sharp turn five yards from my head, and then he was gone.

As silly as this sounds, I felt that the hawk was telling me something. I walked down to the spot where he landed and looked in the direction that he pointed. Sure enough, there was my bull!

The bull was a decent 6X6, and my second biggest to date! I was very grateful for the experience. The elk action, and the close encounters with big bulls, will make this a very painful 11 months as I wait to do it again.

I shot this bull with my 48@28 Spirit longbow, Carbon Express Heritage arrows, and VPA Terminator broadheads. I do not think that I would have killed this bull without the Montana Decoy.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Is It Over Already?

I really don't want to wait another 11 months before we can chase bugles in the Rockies again. But it's not like we have another choice. I live for this short time of the year. I'll spend the next 335 days anxiously awaiting the chance to do it all again.

My cousin, Chad, came out for the last 9 days of the season. The action started off intense. I had a number of massive bulls within shooting distance, but that always elusive shot just barely evaded me. There was always one branch, one small rise, or a bad angle that prevented me from loosing an arrow. 

My brother, who already tagged out on a dandy, joined Chad and me to do some calling. The three of us snuck our way through a beautiful aspen grove on Sunday afternoon, one week before the season ended. We made our way to the top of the hill where, on the other side, it turned into a steep and gnarly north face ridge. Lots of blown down, dark timber. The perfect bedding area for elk.

Here's Danny double fisting the calls. He sounds good, but unfortunately on this set up a big 6X6 came from behind us instead of in front of us. Danny could have shot him, but Chad and I were in the wrong spot!

Chad taking a peek at a group of elk who were interested in our calls, but not committed to coming in.

Five years ago I would have never dreamed that I would pass an opportunity to shoot any bull elk. But this year I was really hoping for a chance at a good bull. Several times this season I had smaller bulls in range that I just needed an excuse to let go. I probably would have shot any of them if I didn't have an excuse, but each time I let them go to my hunting partners, or got winded before I could get an arrow off my bow. Don't get me wrong, I would have been tickled pink if I ended up killing any of those bulls earlier in the season. But as we were sneaking our way through that aspen ridge, with one week left in the season, I was questioning my lack of urgency at the beginning of the year. My standards were about to get thrown on the window!

After Danny, Chad and I made our way to the top of the ridge we threw out a couple of bugles. We didn't necessarily expect anything to answer us so early in the afternoon, but on September 21st anything can happen.

As we sat there contemplating our next move we all heard a big branch break below us. Now in the old days, when we were still 'wet behind the ears elk hunters', we would not have thought twice about that branch and then been dumbfounded when an elk walked right up to us. I know that because the three of us have done that exact thing about 1,000 times in our elk hunting careers. But we're older now, better. Without looking at each other or saying a word Chad moved right, I moved left, and Danny dropped back over the hill.

Chad and I had this elk covered, no matter how he came in. I set my knees on the ground and lifted my head just in time to see antlers popping over the rise. The bull's head emerged, and his eyes locked onto me just as fast. I was wondering how he could possibly see me, and right then, Danny let out a little tiny bugle over the ridge from us. The bull immediately started walking right towards us.

I was about ten yards closer to the elk than Chad, and even though he had a shot opening before I did, he chose to let this elk walk into my opening. I pulled my bow back as the bull walked behind the double tree in the center of the picture below. He emerged on the other side, still walking, when I let go of the string.

The elk thundered off. Danny came over the hill at the same time Chad and I gave each other a high five. The shot was spot on.

Finding this elk was a lot more difficult than we anticipated with the shot placement. It had rained hard for a couple hours before I shot this bull, wet pine needles are tough to follow a bloodtrail on. We found this bull on a ground search less than 200 yards from my shot.

Danny, Chad and me.

I shot this elk with a 60@28, 58" Wapiti recurve. I was shooting CX Heritage 350 arrows with 200gr VPA Penetrator broadheads.

A bone-in hind quarter and the head on my Kifaru. Easy as pie.

The elk action slowed down for a few days before picking back up in force. The last few days of the season were everything elk hunting should be. Danny and Chad saw two different fights, tons of incredible elk behavior, and heard non-stop bugling. Chad had his chances, he's as good as anybody in the moment of truth, but it didn't happen this year. 11 more months...dang it. The pain will go away a little bit once I get into the whitetail woods next week. Good luck to everybody this fall.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Elk Update

Our action has started to pick up a bit, but it is still hit and miss. We are still running into groups of cows all by themselves.  I have typically found that somewhere between Sept 15th-20th the big bulls start to get real serious about finding all the straggling cows, and those days are magical when you hit them.

After those magic days, when the bulls have their cows, they don't want a thing to do with another bull. They'll bugle back until they lose their voice, but each bugle gets further and further away. Once that happens you'll need a jetpack to keep up with the herds. If you can get out now, get out now!

My brother has amazed me twice this season. I'll tell you how.

Danny, his girlfriend Ashley, and I snuck our way in front of a group of elk last week. We heard the bull bugling from an aspen ridge in front of us. We quickly hurried around them and got on the back side of the ridge, where we figured they would be going. We were right. The bull bugled a few more times allowing us to get set up in the perfect position. Danny and Ashley sat together, and I was 50-75 yards off to their right. Ashley only has a cow tag this season.

Danny and I each gave a few very soft cows calls, not to call the elk in necessarily, but hopefully just nudge them in our direction. It worked like a charm. Within a few minutes Danny and Ashley had cows milling all around them. The bull was rounding up the back, and he was a dandy. Ashley started to get out of Danny's way so he could take a shot at the bull. 

This is the first time Danny amazed me. He did it with his selflessness. That bull was a stud, as big as the one my Dad killed this year. A massive 6 point. We've hunted our entire lives, and we are finally good enough to play this situation exactly right and get a bull like that in shooting distance. When Danny saw Ashley getting out of his way he instructed her to stay put and take the first shot that presented itself. The bull and a cow both started walking into an opening 20 yards away. A shot at either or both was imminent, and Danny told Ashley go ahead and shoot at the cow. 

I was out of sight of all of this, so all I heard was the thundering of hooves. I waited a few minutes and made my way over to them. Ashley was visibly dejected, she missed. I got the whole story, and before Ashley could apologize again Danny cut her off and said, "Hey, it's just a stupid elk, don't worry about it". Amazing act of selflessness. 

And now for the second time that Danny amazed me this season.

The following day we had some rain and fog roll through. The perfect time to get out all day. Danny was hunting by himself and planned on hitting a few aspen ridges that the elk frequent. 

As he was sneaking his way through the forest he stepped on the smallest of branches. Movement from his right caught his eye, and as he looked he saw a huge rack swinging around. A big bull was bedded just 20 yards away, facing the opposite direction. Danny was pinned down, but thankfully a giant log was covering him from the bull's view. All Danny could see were two big antlers poking around both sides of the log. He was in a compromising position but he held still. Danny glanced at his watch, 5:05pm. He never really believed that shot would present itself. The wind never holds out, and the bull obviously heard him step on that small branch. But finally, after what seemed like an eternity, the big bull turned his head and looked the other direction. It was now 5:35pm. That bull did not move for a full 30 minutes.

Danny slowly brought his feet together and did a few small knee bends to get the blood flow moving again. He worked an arrow out of his quiver and took a step to his left in order to get a good view of the bull's body. He studied the bull for a few minutes. Initially, he didn't think that a shot was available. But after closely looking at the bulls position he saw where he could place an arrow. Ever so slowly Danny contorted his body in order to get his bow back.

I mention Danny's shoulder a lot in this blog. It's been 3 years since he has had a functioning shoulder. Twice, in his awkward position, he yanked on his bow string to try and get his light weight compound pulled back. Finally, on the third try, he painfully got the bow to full draw. 

Danny shot. The bull took a long time to get to his feet but once he did there wasn't a tree or stump big enough to slow him down. The bull ran through EVERYTHING to get out of there.

Danny glanced at his watch again. 6:10pm. It took him another 35 minutes to get an arrow out, take a step, study the bull, and get a shot off. Over an hour after he first saw the animal. 

A short bloodtrail later and Danny found his elk. The bull was too big to move with one arm, Danny made his way to an area with reception and called Dad and me to come give him a hand. We both left immediately. Three and a half hours after his phone call we hit the closest trailhead and started our long night of cutting and packing. 

Danny's selfless act, and his ability to slip in on a big bull in his bed, have added to his legend in my mind. My little brother always blows me away in the woods.

A big thanks to Aron Snyder and the guys at Kifaru for getting Danny and I set up with new packs this year. A hind quarter never felt so easy! I still love my Hornehunter, like what my Dad is using in the picture above. But I am a small guy and the Kifaru fits me properly. I never would have guessed what a difference it would make.

I drop my wife and kids off at the airport in a few hours, they are going to visit my in-laws in Wisconsin. Since my Dad and brother have both killed nice bulls this season, and my family is out of state, there ain't a force on earth that will keep me out of the woods for the remainder of the season. Good luck everybody! I sure hope to have one more good story this elk season.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Big Bulls on Opening Weekend

I'm going to share my version of the events of the opening weekend. I'll try to talk my Dad into sharing his version at some point. I want to know what was going through his head, what he thought and felt, and get his story in writing. I'll leave out the details of the shot and the moment of truth so that he has the chance to write it himself.

It took forever, but elk season finally arrived. Last winter my brother, Danny, made a comment that he was going to live on the mountain this summer trying to find the biggest herds of elk, and of course the biggest bulls. He wasn't lying. Danny had the elk pretty much pinned down throughout the summer. He got pictures of around 15 different BIG bulls, and countless smaller bulls.

Danny looking for elk at around 12,500 ft.

The mountain below is one of our favorite scouting perches. This summer we saw a lot of big bulls where I was standing when I snapped this picture.

Thursday evening my cousin, Chad, our buddy Blake, and I drove up the mountain so that we could be in position to do a little scouting on Friday morning, the day before the season started. We were not let down, we saw around 90 elk between two of the mountains that we were planning on hunting.

One group of 30 elk was on the mountain that my Dad planned on backpacking into with my Mom. Blake had his eye on a close by spike with super long tines that he wanted to fill his tag on, but Chad and I couldn't take our eyes off of the herd bull across the valley. He was impressive. All morning he would run around the cows with his head tilted back. Of course we were too far to hear him bugle, but we watched him stretch out his neck and cut loose every few minutes. 

Chad, Blake and I hurried off the mountain so we could catch up with my Dad before he packed in. We got out our topo maps and showed him where the elk were. The cows all bedded down in the wide open, but at 9am that herd bull got them on their feet and pushed them through a saddle. Since we have hunted this area quite a few times in the past we knew that on certain years the elk get in a pattern where they pass through that saddle twice a day. My Dad knew exactly where to be the next morning. We all wished each other luck and headed out to our separate camp sites for the following morning's hunt.

Opening morning came, Danny and I headed to the drainage where we saw the majority of the big bulls throughout the summer. Chad, Blake, and two other hunting buddies headed to another drainage where we saw 60 elk the day before.

Danny and I crept through this beautiful area with that morning's elk sign all around. We must have barely missed them because we didn't see a thing and nothing bugled near us.

We all carry Garmin Rino GPS/Radios with us these days. It is fun to be able to check in with each other, or get coordinates to another's position with the push of a button. We all agreed that we would check in on the hour if it was convenient, but that we would make a real effort to check in at noon.

With the morning hunt mostly over Danny and I found a beautiful spot to take a break and eat a few snacks. 11am rolled around and I turned on my GPS to see if anybody else had theirs on. I was just about to turn my unit off when I got a half a second of static. I called back, anybody out there? A garbled message came back, something about a "bull behind the shoulder". I looked at my GPS, it was Dad! 

"Come again Dad, what did you say?"

"I hit a bull right behind the shoulder. I thought it was a heart shot but I don't see any blood. I'M FREAKING OUT!".

My Dad asked how far away we were, and we told him it didn't matter.

I asked back, "Was it the big bull, and do you need any help?"

"Yes the big bull, and yes I need help."

Danny and I gave each other a big high five, we were PUMPED! Dad is color blind and cannot see red hardly at all, so him not finding blood didn't concern me. We gathered our things and started walking. We had a long, long, looooong way to go. 

A half hour into our walk and we could finally see the mountain that dad was on. 

Here's a zoomed in shot of the picture above. You can see the small saddle that the herd went through.

Five hours of straight walking, 1,000 ft down, and 2,000 ft up later, we walked up to my Mom and Dad taking a nap. My Dad just shook his head and said, "You guys are studs". I told him I didn't feel like a stud, and as I set my bow down I lurched to the side so I could yak in the bushes.

My Dad apologized for making us walk that far. He couldn't find any blood and spent the previous 5 hours zigzagging through the trees looking for tracks, blood, elk, anything. He said it was the biggest disappointment in his hunting career, and that he was flabbergasted. He thought that the shot was perfect, he saw the bull run away with only a small bit of his arrow sticking out in the crease of the front leg. 

Even though Dad was bummed out I knew that we were going to find him. My brother is special, he has a sense, he has uncanny woodsmanship, and he's a total bloodhound on the trail.  I said, "Don't worry about it Dad, you got Danny here now, we'll find him". 

My Dad told us the entire story and showed us the last drop of blood, if you could call it a drop. 

Danny found a scuff mark a little ways down the hill from the blood. "Here you go Dad", he says. My Dad didn't think it was from his bull and told us that the herd ran the other way. Danny insisted on following the track. He reasoned the next few steps and walked through some bushes. "Here's another speck of blood!" Danny called out. Unreal, he doubled back?

Danny finds another speck of blood and then turns the corner around some trees, and there he was. My parents were napping within 50 yards of the elk. The bull didn't even make it 75 yards from where my Dad shot him.

Talk about going through some highs and lows in the span of a few hours. My Dad went from the excitement of knowing that he killed the bull of a lifetime, to confused at the sign, then utterly disappointed, and then back to elation. 

My Mom was 3ft behind my Dad when he shot the bull. I'm so glad she was with him.

The bull as he lay.

My Dad did shoot this bull right through the heart. You can see the entrance in the picture below, and the exit in the next. In the entire 75 yard long track we found a total of 6 droplets of blood. He just didn't bleed through the legs like he obviously would have if the arrow went through his ribs.

The tip of the VPA Terminator was just barely poking through when we rolled him over.

This guy has some great mass.

Me, Danny, Mom and Dad

Danny was within 50 yards of the biggest elk he's ever seen, twice. The season has just begun and the best stuff is all ahead of us. Good luck everybody. More stories to come!

My Mom is TOUGH. It took us 4 hours and 45 minutes to walk back to the truck that night, mostly in the dark (we walked out to call for help for the packout). We kept having these nasty little storms come over the mountain and hammer us with sideways rain and hail. She had a hard time walking through all the rock fields and busting through the stunted pine. Not one time did she ever make a comment about how difficult it was. I was miserable, so I know that she must have been too. 

Here's a parting shot of a sweet 7X7. I hope we can find him again!