Wyoming- The morning began chilly and somewhat disappointing when my dad and I got to our parking spot. There was a truck already parked there but we got out and headed out anyway. Almost immediately, we could hear bugles in the direction we were headed, and about a half mile down the trail later we had 3 or 4 bulls bugling down in a drainage.
My dad decided he would stay high and try cow calling as I dropped into the drainage in pursuit. After slowly working my way towards the bottom, I was between two screaming bulls and decided to chase the one that was closer and gave me a favorable wind. Each time he would bugle, I would charge in his direction until I knew I was close enough to send a bugle in return. He answered immediately, and sounded to be somewhere near 100 yards from me. After advancing and exchanging a few more bugles, he finally revealed himself, coming out of some thick pines about 70 yards from me. I froze, and waited for him to make a move, to my dismay he turned and trotted away.
Confused, I went to where I saw him leave and decided to quickly shed some layers after working up a sweat from trying to run him down. He finally bugled again, this time probably 200+ yards away across a meadow and I thought it was game over. I debated heading back to my dad when he bugled again, somewhat closer, and in a better direction for some more chasing. I again began to jog in his direction and bugled when I felt close enough. He answered once again, this time in a thick Spruce/Aspen mixed wet area. I pushed forward and once I got what I thought to be close, I bugled again and he sent back a mean bugle followed by some intense chuckles only about 50 yards out of sight. He then began to thrash some trees which went on for about 5 minutes before I knew I had to do something. There was a downed tree in front of me that I needed to get past so I chose to stomp my way through it to gain some ground.
Shortly after, I caught movement of him heading my way through a small opening. He came straight to me at about ten yards, without presenting a shot, and proceeded to bugle and chuckle right at me. Taunting me, I could see the steam rise from his mouth. He then decided to turn around and start walking away when I sent back a bugle with some of my own chuckles, which caused him make his final mistake. He turned and began to make a half circle around me. I knew I had one opening to shoot, so I drew back and waited at least 30 seconds for him to make it to my open window. I took a knee, settled my 30 yard pin in the hole. First his antlers, then his head, front shoulder, and I released. It looked perfect, right until my arrow deflected off a small twig. I could see my arrow slant downwards and slightly back.
The bull jumped and took a few leaps, so I cow called and he stopped for about 15 minutes and then slowly walked off. I thought I had missed by the way he reacted and I felt heartbroken. After waiting some time I went to my arrow and found some blood and backed out not knowing how well the hit was. After waiting nearly 6 hours, I headed back in with my dad, brother, grandpa, and some other guys to try and track him. Once on the blood trail, we found that he only went 220 yards and was down for the count. This experience could not have been any better and to top it all off, my Grandpa, at the age of 82, was able to be there with me to recover this magnificent animal. The entire moment was humbling, and the way the events unfolded I truly feel blessed.