by: Kenny Hollingsworth, Bowtech Pro Staff
After being successful in the 2015 New Mexico drawing in a highly sought after unit in Southern New Mexico, and missing two bulls, I was anxious to apply for a tag for the upcoming 2016 season. Amazingly, as a non-resident, I was able to draw my third choice this year. A non-trophy unit in Northern New Mexico; however, as most people are probably aware, anywhere in New Mexico can be great for elk hunting. Since I had never been to the area, I started my research in various areas online. I have a friend in California, Jeff, who also drew the same unit. This was good news, as we are both hardcore bow hunters and work well together.
Fortunately for both of us, another friend drew a first season tag in the same unit. This allowed us to have some up to date scouting information in the area. He agreed to share info with us upon arrival. We were both driving in from opposite ends of the country for the September 15th opener. Jeff was able to arrive a day early, with me arriving in camp late on the night of the 15th. I setup my tent in the dark and waited for Jeff to return from the first day’s hunt. He arrived almost two hours after dark and was excited to tell me about several bulls he had heard bugle, along with a few sightings of bulls and cows. We were both anxious to get a game plan together for the morning hunt.
Once we had a plan together, we left camp the next morning at 4:30. We had decided to use our topo and GPS to find an old road to access a distant mountain. This was a little sketchy, as we did not know if the road was even passable for my 4WD truck. It turned out the road was not bad as long as we kept the truck in a low gear and went slow. We found a place to park and set off for the distant mountain.
Around 7:45 a.m. , two miles from the truck , we heard our first bugle of the morning. This was immediately followed by several additional bugles in the distance. We both scrambled to get into position ahead of the distant bulls before the morning thermals began to change. After another mile or so, and a game of cat and mouse, we were ahead of the bulls on the same ridge. I had found an opening to setup for a call sequence. As I was thinking about my strategy, I caught a glimpse of a cow in the brush. I quickly moved 25 yards to some cover under a scrub oak. This allowed me a clear shooting lane out to 45 yards, if an opportunity at one of the bulls was presented. Almost immediately, the biggest bull I had ever seen alive came into view. At the same instant, he let out a screaming bugle challenging the other two intruders in his territory. The two satellite bulls continued to respond and refused to back off. At this point the big bull was only 20 yards away in the wide open. Unfortunately, I had no shot as the bush I was hiding behind prevented it. This allowed me to take it all in as I began to shake from being so close to such a huge animal! Eventually the bull began to show interest in his cow again and started to slowly move in her direction. This was great news for me as he was heading towards my open lane! As he closed the distance on my one opening at 39 yards, I came to full draw on my Bowtech BT-X. As luck would have it, the bull stopped a few steps from my lane to let out an ear piercing bugle. I was already at full draw for close to a minute at this point. As I began to get tired, doubt crept into my mind about whether I could hold at full draw long enough for the shot to materialize. I refused to quit, as I had trained for this moment all summer. No way was I going to let this bull escape! I dropped the bow down to my thigh and pressed down on the cam to allow me to hold easier. Nearly two minutes or more had passed and the bull of my dreams took the few steps I needed to take the shot. I stopped the bull with a short cow call and sent the arrow on its way. I watched my Firenock light up and the arrow hit is mark just behind the shoulder! I immediately grabbed my bugle tube and let out a loud scream to try and stop the bull on his death run. This worked great and the bull fell over less than 40 yards away! The biggest bull of my life was down!
Me and Jeff exchanged a big hug and some high fives and proceeded to take some photos. Once the bull was quartered and caped, the journey to the truck began. At the end of the day, 16.61 miles were covered, over half of those under 100+ pound loads for both of us. The thing is though, I can’t wait to go do the same thing next year!!