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Unit 9 Archery Elk Hunt - Written by: bowhuntinmaniac

When my son was 16 years old, he drew an AZ - Unit 9 archery bull elk tag. This unit is known worldwide for it's huge bulls, and to say the least, the chance to draw an elk tag there is difficult. Since my son Greg was still in high school, he could only hunt on the weekends. So, a friend and I did the scouting, set up camp, and waited until he showed up for the next morning's hunt.

At 4 AM, we were ready and in the woods, listening to elk bugles and figuring which way they were traveling. Before first light, we decided on which bull to try to get on and we started working our way in. When we were about 150 yards away, there was enough daylight to see the blonde bodies, and using our binoculars, we could see a bull.

"Nice bull", I whispered. Greg just looked at me and didn't say anything, but I could tell there was excitement in his eyes. As it got lighter, the lead cow started moving at a slow pace, and we could sense that she was going to lead the group into the trees, to bed down. We snuck down the hill and ran (yes, I mean ran) to get ahead of the herd in an effort to set up an ambush for this great bull.

We went quite a ways, stopping to listen for the location of the herd by their bugles. Realizing we weren't far enough ahead of them yet, we ran some more and then stopped again to listen. "OK, lets get to the top of the hill and find a place to set-up", I said. As we worked into the trees, and because it was so thick, we found the furthest shot my son Greg would have would be about 25 yards.

Looking for a place to allow Greg some clear shooting lanes, the bull started screaming his lungs out, and he couldn't have been more than 40 yards from us! We sat down right there and I got set-up about 5 yards behind Greg to do some calling. Sitting perfectly still, I looked over at Greg and saw that his arrow was almost bouncing on the arrow rest from him shaking so much!

Then, all was quiet, except that you could hear the bulls' antlers hitting tree branches as he tried to walk through the thick trees. Then came another bugle... Oh, he's getting closer! Now, my heart is pumping and I'm getting excited being this close to a bull that has no idea we are there. It was then that I could finally see his antlers through the tree limbs - coming closer.

Neither of us moved. Greg has a shooting lane straight away to his left, one to his direct left and another behind him, allowing for a possible quartering away shot. The bull bugles again and I can see his head and part of his antlers moving through the trees as he does. HE IS NOW ONLY 15 YARDS AWAY!!

Greg is shaking almost uncontrollably by now, but he manages to remain still. The bull starts walking again and is headed right for the shooting lane. It looks like he will be at about 10 yards. I can't believe it, a dream come true! Then, unexpectedly, the bull turns and walks straight toward us! He clears the trees directly in front of us at 6 yards and looks directly at us!

There is no way Greg can take this shot - with most of the vitals covered. In a split second, the bull wheels around and heads back into the trees - crashing through everything as he goes.

To end, this was just a portion of Greg's hunt, as there was much more excitement through the entire hunt season. Unfortunately, Greg did not harvest his bull that year, but he and I have memories that we often share with each other, and which has made this one, my favorite hunt… ever!
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