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Tagged out in ten

By Jason Haley
11/01/12 --It was dead silent. My heart rate was starting to slow and the sweat was starting to evaporate on the side of my face. The cooling felt good. I had an arrow nocked and it was still plenty dark as I began to settle into my stand. Within twenty minutes the woods began to wake up and the faintest of noise started, mostly birds on their roosts. The ground dwellers followed suit and the noises became mixed, more frequent and harder to separate despite the still ultra-quiet morning.

Logan Miles with a quarter and his packboard secured by LoopRope.

It was daylight now and promising. Suddenly there was a loud crack and then another. Something big was coming up from the bottom and heading my way. Was it an elk, a bear, another hunter? It sounded like a single whatever it was and perhaps two-footed. The footsteps were relatively constant and seemingly carefree, making no effort to be quiet or stop and listen. It’s a hunter I thought. You’ve got to be kidding me. Right off!? Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore and summoned the courage to move my head six inches, slowly, to see around the large-diameter fir directly in front of me. Here they came, two spikes single file.

Anarchy, LoopRope, Frank Galusha,, Jason Haley,

I felt a small breeze on the back of my neck blowing directly toward them and figured that would be it. It had been still all morning. What a piece of luck. They kept coming anyway on their way up the mountain where they would likely spend the day in the thick brush and timber. They were on a collision course and I had to draw at 23 yards before my shooting window was gone. The first bull stopped instinctively even with the silent, slow draw. He never caught movement. It was just as if he knew he was entering a danger zone and put on the brakes. He was quartering toward me at full draw and I didn’t like the angle. He turned slightly away and broadside with his next step and I let it go. The crack of a down tree or limb came almost simultaneously and the elk just lifted his head on alert, ears up. I had missed! Unbelievable, I just missed a chip shot, I thought.

Anarchy, LoopRope, Frank Galusha,, Jason Haley,

He just stood there for a moment trying to figure out what had just happened. I was trying to figure out the same thing and could not believe I’d just blown an easy shot. He turned back and took a few steps away from me just looking and listening. I could hear his partner in the background standing around probably doing the same but not advancing. My bull took another step away with his backside toward me before turning sideways and going away another step and pausing broadside again. I had a second arrow ready and the morning was still so silent I was afraid to pull the nock tight to the string for fear the noise would spook him. I had no choice though and nocked the arrow and drew at once. There was no reaction. He still didn’t have a clue I was there. I took better aim this time and picked out a spot behind the shoulder. Again, nothing, just another clack!

I could not believe this meltdown was actually happening. It’s one thing to miss but it’s entirely another when the opportunities are gift-wrapped. He barely moved again, only enough to turn away and show me his butt again while his traveling partner stomped around nearby, still out of sight.

OK, I thought as I reached into my Tight Spot quiver for my second-to-last arrow. But before I could draw again, the elk abruptly crouched and his back legs did the splits. It took a second to register but the bull was hit. I watched a few more seconds and it became clear. I still didn’t know which shot hit him or where so although he was frozen, I didn’t know if he was done or capable of tearing off down the hill and creating a tracking/packing nightmare or not.

I was reluctant to do anything but with what I knew I had no choice but to try another shot in hopes of anchoring him. He was either suffering or, if not, he had a superficial wound that could create a real bad situation. I had a quartering away shot the third time but only about six inches of vitals showing behind a small tree. I tried to squeeze it in there but nicked the tree and it angled into his hind quarters. It was ugly but effective and he went down after that.

Amazingly, my season was over just like that. What seemed like an eternity was actually only about 10 minutes after daylight on the first shot and another 10 till I was gutting. I high-tailed it back to my pickup and tore off to get help knowing it would get warm soon. We went to work skinning and quartering and had the bulk of the work done by 10:30. My friends got to hunt the evening while my work continued. It was bittersweet. I was really looking forward to hunting this season. Despite the shortened season, I know all too well how tough it can be and felt fortunate to have filled a tag. My instincts were on the mark and my gamble on hunting location and stand placement paid off.

It took us a couple of trips back in and few weeks to sort out what had actually happened with my elk. I did find all three arrows eventually. As it turns out, the first shot was a clean pass-through right behind the shoulder. He was dead on his feet but I didn’t know it. The second zipped through also but a bit far back and the third hit a tree but still went through both hams. I found my Anarchy broadhead lodged in the far-side hide while skinning.The first photo inset above shows what it looked like after hitting a tree/bone and what it looked like after I repaired and resharpened it.

I use LoopRope to tie a hind leg back while gutting.

The 100-grain Anarchy performed amazingly just as it had on my broadhead target before the season. Interestingly, when I shared this story with Chad Staten he said that he’d heard similar stories from numerous hunters using his broadheads. The short, ultra-low drag design of the Anarchy makes it perfect for today’s high powered bows like my Elite. It’s like a laser with zero sound in flight.

The durability of the Anarchy is equally impressive. All three broadheads are back in my quiver for late-season archery deer, including the head from my third shot which took a beating. It was quite easy to pound out the bends and re-sharpen, just as advertised.

(Authors note: Special thanks go out to Logan Miles and Mike Crawford for the scouting, packing, cooking and story swapping. I would also like to acknowledge Southern Oregon Archery for setting me up with a great bow package. Of course I always use LoopRope for field dressing and packing.)

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