Drew an any bull on JBER this year. First day had stalks on three bulls :-) Morning of day three I found my bull. A 3 x 3, young and tasty. Got up above him and watched him feed straight at me for almost 10 minutes (close as 25 yards). Long story short, he presented the dream quartering away shot at under 40 yards. I have GoPro of his turn, position, and my arrow release. Mid chest strike, but heard bone break so it had to be ribs that it hit (Muzzy 3 Blade, beman ICS Hunter 400, bow 63#). He stumbled over and fell hard onto the off arrow side (also on film). Thrashed 3-5 kicks and jumped up, ran right in front of me confirming arrow placement and sprinted into the trees. I figured he would be dead in seconds.
Waited 30 minutes and slowly started to follow him into the trees, feeling like I had the "dream shot", but I knew the arrow did not do a pass through as I could see 1/3 to 1/2 of the fletching side as it ran by me...still had to be 6 to 15 inches deep. We spent about two hours looking for any sign. I was doing a zigzag pattern (I didn't know my partner is red color blind so he can't see blood). About 200 yards into the forest I found one leaf with blood on it. Marked the spot on my GPS, flagged it, then found my partner to start looking. Between the two of us we found his hoof churning marks and blood. About every 100 to 200 feet I found another drop of blood, a very slow process. We did this for about 1/2 mile and lost the trail. Called the base conservation folks and they sent two people to help. Back on the track...we picked it up again (I was the one finding the small drops of blood while my partner was great and hoof following). We came to a spot where it was obvious he had gone down and rolled as there was two large dinner plate size smears of blood. He seemed to stumble up and go another 20 yards into a grassy area where again there was some blood smears in the grass. At that point we are about 8 hours into the tracking and decided to back out for the night.
The next morning my partner and I returned to the last GPS mark. No help available from the base though. It took about 30 minutes, but I found blood drops again about 200 feet from the last area and off we went. We went probably more than 3/4 of a mile tracking, finding a spot of blood every 100-200 feet until it finally just ended. Lots of ground tracks from multiple animals. A dead end.
This young bull we had seen with a cow and calf, feeding in one spot at the same time three mornings in a row. So today we decided to return to where they had been feeding (also where I shot him) as the cow and calf returned to feed after I shot the bull and we were waiting the 30 minutes to track. We could not find them (we quietly walked in and sat for a couple of hours). There was a black bear sow with two cubs that walked through (also seeing a dozen bears daily and none appear to be feeding on a carcass). We did find fresh moose tracks this morning, where the feeding occurred, the same size that we had been following. No blood or stumbling marks though. We decided to back out for the day.
My guess is that I have seen less than a cup of blood total. I can only think now that my arrow hit a rib and deflected up into the other ribs? When it ran by it was clear that the front leg is Not broken, shown on my video. Instead of the perfect dream hit, I'm now thinking this was a non lethal shot, but I'm not sure. Thinking he might circle back to the cow and calf? Where we had the last blood there were three distinct ways he could have gone. We did zigzag tracking for up to a 1/4 mile without anything positive. Last blood was droplets on a about 4 leaves that had dried. Crazy.
I'm looking for any advice or recommendations. Should I back out a few days, then go back in? Is it likely that he would return to the cow and calf if it was a non lethal shot? Should I hunt the area hard for this guy? I'm not interested in going after a different bull. I've never had a shot like this (perfect conditions, perfect placement) and have an animal run. I appreciate any suggestions. Thanks in advance.