- by Paul Biggs
You never know exactly what you’re going to get into when you decide to head west in search of whale tales, but you can be prepared for all when you’ve practiced, done your homework and have complete confidence in the gear you’ve chosen—so that ultimately, you’re ready for anything the adventure throws your way.
Prepared for All.
Over the years, my appetite for elk hunting has continued to grow – the ‘highest of highs’ and ‘lowest of lows’ aftertaste it leaves has helped me prepare differently each time.
Drawing the highly sought-after Arizona Apache National Forest elk tag was just the start to months of preparation which included running 3 miles a day, 4 times a week. Like most hunts, you can’t ‘over-prepare.’ I would often shoot my bow from random, unknown distances immediately after a long run — while I was out of breath and my heart was beating out of my chest. Although this doesn’t exactly replicate what it’s like in the moments leading up to arrowing a bull, it’s the closest I can compare and a training tool I use to help with mental focus, composure and breathing control.
With small kids and a hectic fall schedule, I only had five days to hunt which is often not enough time on public land. Luckily, my buddy Dan Adair lives in Luna, NM which borders the Apache Mountains, and he knows the area like the back of his hand.
I will take every advantage I can get. So, beyond focusing on my ‘lungs and legs’ and in addition to having Dan’s eyes and ears on local herds, I also spent a lot of time behind my bow. I have a SLAP tear in my right shoulder – and being able to roll over the Omnia’s new SP Cam with ease and comfort was a true testament to the bow’s smooth draw cycle which helped make practice that much more enjoyable. In addition to my shoulder issues, I’m a short draw guy and especially liked having the extra speed that the Omnia offers. During elk hunts, you can often find yourself shooting unknown yardage when there isn’t enough time or luxury to range the distance. Having a flat shooting bow that you’re confident in is crucial.
Ready For Anything.
The first few days in Arizona, running into other hunters was an obstacle of its own. With 3-5 trucks parked in every spot we tried, I felt like we saw more hunters than elk at times.
At one point we were within 89 yards of a big bull and two other hunters just walked in between us and the bull. They managed to bust the hole herd and to this day, I’m still not sure what their strategy was… Needless to say, we had to get away from the pressure if we were going to have any chance on connecting with a bull.
On the 4th day, we committed to going deeper into the mountains. While there was no sign of any other hunters; there was sadly was no sign and no sounds of elk. It was an emotional rollercoaster as most elk hunts are.
Finally, off in the distance—and what felt like a million miles away, we spotted 2 bulls that were moving away from us on a bench. We crested a big mountain top and continued to glass. We let out a bugle which was greeted with heart-sinking silence. Another bugle – more silence. Finally, we heard an ever-so faint rebuttal that lighted up our eyes. We were off; beelining in the direction of the scream. We stopped again, called – and listened intently. To our surprise, the distance was cut and we were within an earshot.
We set up quickly and within seconds the bull was within range. It all happened so quickly. The tips of a giant 6 x 6 appeared. I barely had time to set up and instantly started rolling back my Omnia while he was at 30 yards. He got broadside and I touched off a shot. I saw my arrow disappear on its mark, and he made it just 40 yards before expiring. All the frustration of the prior days were long forgotten and I was on cloud nine. Not wanting to come down anytime soon, I’ll keep this hunt on repeat in my mind for as long as possible. Each hunt I try and learn something new so that I can continue to prepare for all while being ready for anything with the Elite Omnia.