The most important skill of an elk
This article is about the ruminant animal. For other uses, see Deer (disambiguation).
Deer (singular and plural) are the ruminant mammals forming the family Cervidae. The two main groups are theCervinae, including the muntjac, the fallow deer and the chital, and the Capreolinae, including the reindeer(caribou), the Western roe deer, and the Eurasian elk (moose). Female reindeer, and male deer of all species (except the Chinese water deer), grow and shed new antlers each year. In this they differ from permanentlyhorned antelope, which are in the same order, Artiodactyla.
The musk deer of Asia and water chevrotain (or mouse deer) of tropical African and Asian forests are not usually regarded as true deer and form their own families: Moschidae and Tragulidae, respectively.
Deer appear in art from Palaeolithic cave paintings onwards, and they have played a role in mythology, religion, and literature throughout history, as well as in heraldry. Their economic importance includes the use of their meat as venison, their skins as soft, strong buckskin, and their antlers as handles for knives. Deer hunting has been a popular sport since at least the Middle Ages, and remains an important business today.
Deer live in a variety of biomes, ranging from tundra to the tropical rainforest. While often associated with forests, many deer are ecotonespecies that live in transitional areas between forests and thickets (for cover) and prairie and savanna (open space). The majority of large deer species inhabit temperate mixed deciduous forest, mountain mixed coniferous forest, tropical seasonal/dry forest, and savanna habitats around the world. Clearing open areas within forests to some extent may actually benefit deer populations by exposing the understory and allowing the types of grasses, weeds, and herbs to grow that deer like to eat. Additionally, access to adjacent croplands may also benefit deer. However, adequate forest or brush cover must still be provided for populations to grow and thrive.
Deer are widely distributed, with indigenous representatives in all continents except Antarctica and Australia, though Africa has only one native deer, the Barbary stag, a subspecies of red deer that is confined to the Atlas Mountains in the northwest of the continent. However, fallow deer have been introduced to South Africa. Small species of brocket deer and pudús of Central and South America, and muntjacs of Asia generally occupy dense forests and are less often seen in open spaces, with the possible exception of the Indian muntjac. There are also several species of deer that are highly specialized, and live almost exclusively in mountains, grasslands, swamps, and “wet” savannas, or riparian corridors surrounded by deserts. Some deer have a circumpolar distribution in both North America and Eurasia. Examples include the caribou that live in Arctic tundra and taiga (boreal forests) andmoose that inhabit taiga and adjacent areas. Huemul deer (taruca and Chilean huemul) of South America’s Andes fill the ecological niches of the ibex and wild goat, with the fawns behaving more like goat kids.
The highest concentration of large deer species in temperate North America lies in the Canadian Rocky Mountain and Columbia Mountain regions between Alberta and British Columbia where all five North American deer species (white-tailed deer, mule deer, caribou, elk, and moose) can be found. This region has several clusters of national parks including Mount Revelstoke National Park, Glacier National Park (Canada), Yoho National Park, and Kootenay National Park on the British Columbia side, and Banff National Park, Jasper National Park, and Glacier National Park (U.S.) on the Alberta and Montana sides. Mountain slope habitats vary from moist coniferous/mixed forested habitats to dry subalpine/pine forests with alpine meadows higher up. The foothills and river valleys between the mountain ranges provide a mosaic of cropland and deciduous parklands. The rare woodland caribou have the most restricted range living at higher altitudes in the subalpine meadows and alpine tundra areas of some of the mountain ranges. Elk and mule deer both migrate between the alpine meadows and lower coniferous forests and tend to be most common in this region. Elk also inhabit river valley bottomlands, which they share with White-tailed deer. The White-tailed deer have recently expanded their range within the foothills and river valley bottoms of the Canadian Rockies owing to conversion of land to cropland and the clearing of coniferous forests allowing more deciduous vegetation to grow up the mountain slopes. They also live in the aspen parklands north of Calgary and Edmonton, where they share habitat with the moose. The adjacent Great Plains grassland habitats are left to herds of elk, American bison, and pronghorn antelope.
Reindeer herds, standing on snow to avoid flies
The Eurasian Continent (including the Indian Subcontinent) boasts the most species of deer in the world, with most species being found in Asia. Europe, in comparison, has lower diversity in plant and animal species. However, many national parks and protected reserves in Europe do have populations of red deer, roe deer, and fallow deer. These species have long been associated with the continent of Europe, but also inhabit Asia Minor, the Caucasus Mountains, and Northwestern Iran. “European” fallow deer historically lived over much of Europe during the Ice Ages, but afterwards became restricted primarily to the Anatolian Peninsula, in present-day Turkey.
Present-day fallow deer populations in Europe are a result of historic man-made introductions of this species, first to the Mediterranean regions of Europe, then eventually to the rest of Europe. They were initially park animals that later escaped and reestablished themselves in the wild. Historically, Europe’s deer species shared their deciduous forest habitat with other herbivores, such as the extinct tarpan (forest horse), extinct aurochs (forest ox), and the endangered wisent (European bison). Good places to see deer in Europe include the Scottish Highlands, the Austrian Alps, the wetlands between Austria, Hungary, and the Czech Republic and some fine National Parks, including Doñana National Park in Spain, the Veluwe in the Netherlands, the Ardennes in Belgium, and Białowieża National Park of Poland. Spain, Eastern Europe, and the Caucasus Mountains still have virgin forest areas that are not only home to sizable deer populations but also for other animals that were once abundant such as the wisent, Eurasian lynx, Iberian lynx, wolves, and brown bears.
The highest concentration of large deer species in temperate Asia occurs in the mixed deciduous forests, mountain coniferous forests, and taiga bordering North Korea, Manchuria (Northeastern China), and the Ussuri Region (Russia). These are among some of the richest deciduous and coniferous forests in the world where one can find Siberian roe deer, sika deer, elk, and moose. Asian caribou occupy the northern fringes of this region along the Sino-Russian border.
Deer such as the sika deer, Thorold’s deer, Central Asian red deer, and elk have historically been farmed for their antlers by Han Chinese, Turkic peoples, Tungusic peoples, Mongolians, and Koreans. Like the Sami people of Finland and Scandinavia, the Tungusic peoples, Mongolians, and Turkic peoples of Southern Siberia, Northern Mongolia, and the Ussuri Region have also taken to raising semi-domesticated herds of Asian caribou.
The highest concentration of large deer species in the tropics occurs in Southern Asia in India’s Indo-Gangetic Plain Region and Nepal’s Terai Region. These fertile plains consist of tropical seasonal moist deciduous, dry deciduous forests, and both dry and wet savannas that are home to chital, hog deer, barasingha, Indiansambar, and Indian muntjac. Grazing species such as the endangered barasingha and very common chital are gregarious and live in large herds. Indian sambar can be gregarious but are usually solitary or live in smaller herds. Hog deer are solitary and have lower densities than Indian muntjac. Deer can be seen in several national parks in India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka of which Kanha National Park, Dudhwa National Park, and Chitwan National Park are most famous. Sri Lanka’s Wilpattu National Park and Yala National Park have large herds of Indian sambar and chital. The Indian sambar are more gregarious in Sri Lanka than other parts of their range and tend to form larger herds than elsewhere.
The Chao Praya River Valley of Thailand was once primarily tropical seasonal moist deciduous forest and wet savanna that hosted populations of hog deer, the now-extinct Schomburgk’s deer, Eld’s deer, Indian sambar, and Indian muntjac. Both the hog deer and Eld’s deer are rare, whereas Indian sambar and Indian muntjac thrive in protected national parks, such as Khao Yai. Many of these South Asian and Southeast Asian deer species also share their habitat with other herbivores, such as Asian elephants, the various Asian rhinoceros species, various antelope species (such as nilgai, four-horned antelope, blackbuck, and Indian gazelle in India), and wild oxen (such as wild Asian water buffalo, gaur, banteng, and kouprey). One way that different herbivores can survive together in a given area is for each species to have different food preferences, although there may be some overlap.
Australia has six introduced species of deer that have established sustainable wild populations from acclimatisation society releases in the 19th century. These are the fallow deer, red deer, sambar, hog deer, rusa, and chital. Red deer introduced into New Zealand in 1851 from English and Scottish stock were domesticated indeer farms by the late 1960s and are common farm animals there now. Seven other species of deer were introduced into New Zealand but none are as widespread as red deer.
Deer constitute the second most diverse family after bovids. Though of a similar build, deer are strongly distinguished fromantelopes by their antlers, which are temporary and regularly regrown unlike the permanent horns of bovids.Characteristics typical of deer include long, powerful legs, a diminutive tail and long ears. Deer exhibit a broad variation in physical proportions. The largest extant deer is the moose, that is nearly 2.6 metres (8.5 ft) tall and weighs up to 800 kilograms (1,800 lb). The elk stands 1.4–2 metres (4.6–6.6 ft) at the shoulder and weighs 240–450 kilograms (530–990 lb). On the contrary, the northern pudu is the smallest deer in the world; it reaches merely 32–35 centimetres (13–14 in) at the shoulder and weighs 3.3–6 kilograms (7.3–13.2 lb). The southern pudu is only slightly taller and heavier.Sexual dimorphism is quite pronounced – in most species males tend to be larger than females, and, except for the reindeer, only males possess antlers.
Coat colour generally varies between red and brown, though it can be as dark as chocolate brown in the tufted deer or have a grayish tinge as in elk.Different species of brocket deer vary from gray to reddish brown in coat colour. Several species such as the chital, the fallow deer and the sika deerfeature white spots on a brown coat. Coat of reindeer shows notable geographical variation. Deer undergo two moults in a year; for instance, in red deer the red, thin-haired summer coat is gradually replaced by the dense, greyish brown winter coat in autumn, which in turn gives way to the summer coat in the following spring. Moulting is affected by the photoperiod.
Deer are also excellent jumpers and swimmers. Deer are ruminants, or cud-chewers, and have a four-chambered stomach. Some deer, such as those on the island of Rùm, do consume meat when it is available.
A fawn’s first steps
Nearly all deer have a facial gland in front of each eye. The gland contains a strongly scented pheromone, used to mark its home range. Bucks of a wide range of species open these glands wide when angry or excited. All deer have a liver without agallbladder. Deer also have a tapetum lucidum, which gives them sufficiently good night vision.
Main article: Antler
All male deer possess antlers, with the exception of the Chinese water deer, in which males have long tusk-like canines that reach below the lower jaw. Females are generally lack antlers, though female reindeer bear antlers smaller and less branched than those of the males. Occasionally females in other species may develop antlers, especially in telemetacarpal deer such as European roe deer, red deer, white-tailed deer and mule deer and less often in plesiometacarpal deer. A study of antlered female white-tailed deer noted that antlers tend to be small and malformed, and are shed frequently around the time of parturition.
The fallow deer and the various subspecies of the reindeer have the largest as well as the heaviest antlers, both in absolute terms as well as in proportion to body mass (an average of 8 grams (0.28 oz) per kilogram of body mass); the tufted deer, on the other hand, has the smallest antlers of all deer, while the pudú has the lightest antlers with respect to body mass (0.6 grams (0.021 oz) per kilogram of body mass). The structure of antlers show considerable variation; while fallow deer and elk antlers are palmate (with a broad central portion), white-tailed deer antlers include a series of tines sprouting upward from a forward-curving main beam, and those of the pudú are mere spikes.Antler development begins from the pedicel, a bony structure that appears on the top of the skull by the time the animal is a year old. The pedicel gives rise to a spiky antler the following year, that is replaced by a branched antler in the third year. This process of losing a set of antlers to develop a larger and more branched set continues for the rest of the life. The antlers emerge as soft tissues (known as velvet antlers) and progressively harden into bony structures (known as hard antlers), following mineralisation and blockage of blood vessels in the tissue, from the tip to the base.
Antlers might be one of the most exaggerated male secondary sexual characteristics, and are intended primarily for reproductive success through sexual selectionand for combat. The tines (forks) on the antlers create grooves that allow another male’s antlers to lock into place. This allows the males to wrestle without risking injury to the face. Antlers are correlated to an individual’s position in the social hierarchy and its behaviour. For instance, the heavier the antlers, the higher the individual’s status in the social hierarchy, and the greater is the delay in shedding the antlers; males with larger antlers tend to be more aggressive and dominant over others. Antlers can be an honest signal of genetic quality; males with larger antlers relative to body size tend to have increased resistance to pathogensand higher reproductive capacity.
Most deer bear 32 teeth; the corresponding dental formula is: 0.0.3.33.1.3.3. The elk and the reindeer may be exceptions, as they may retain their upper canines and thus have 34 teeth (dental formula: 0.1.3.33.1.3.3). The Chinese water deer, tufted deer, and muntjac have enlarged upper canine teeth forming sharp tusks, while other species often lack upper canines altogether. The cheek teeth of deer have crescent ridges of enamel, which enable them to grind a wide variety of vegetation.The teeth of deer are adapted to feeding on vegetation, and like other ruminants, they lack upper incisors, instead having a tough pad at the front of their upper jaw.
Deer are browsers, and feed primarily on leaves. They have small, unspecialized stomachs by ruminant standards, and high nutrition requirements. Rather than eating and digesting vast quantities of low-grade fibrous food as, for example, sheep andcattle do, deer select easily digestible shoots, young leaves, fresh grasses, soft twigs, fruit, fungi, and lichens. The low-fibered food, after minimal fermentation and shredding, passes rapidly through the alimentary canal. The deer require a large amount of minerals such as calcium and phosphate in order to support antler growth, and this further necessitates a nutrient-rich diet. There are, however, some reports of deer engaging in carnivorous activity, such as depredating the nests ofNorthern bobwhites.
Female elk nursing young
Main article: Rut (mammalian reproduction) § Cervidae
Nearly all cervids are so-called uniparental species: the fawns are only cared for by the mother, known as a doe. A doe generally has one or two fawns at a time (triplets, while not unknown, are uncommon). The gestation period is anywhere up to ten months for the European roe deer. Most fawns are born with their fur covered with white spots, though in many species they lose these spots by the end of their first winter. In the first twenty minutes of a fawn’s life, the fawn begins to take its first steps. Its mother licks it clean until it is almost free of scent, so predators will not find it. Its mother leaves often to graze, and the fawn does not like to be left behind. Sometimes its mother must gently push it down with her foot. The fawn stays hidden in the grass for one week until it is strong enough to walk with its mother. The fawn and its mother stay together for about one year. A male usually leaves and never sees his mother again, but females sometimes come back with their own fawns and form small herds.
Deer are believed to have evolved from antlerless, tusked ancestors that resembled modern duikers and diminutive deer in the early Eocene, and gradually developed into the first antlered cervoids (the superfamily of cervids and related extinct families) in the Miocene. Eventually, with the development of antlers, the tusks as well as the upper incisors disappeared. Thus evolution of deer took nearly 30 million years. Biologist Valerius Geist suggests evolution to have occurred in stages. There are not many prominent fossils to trace this evolution, but only fragments of skeletons and antlers that might be easily confused with false antlers of non-cervid species.
The ruminants, ancestors of the Cervidae, are believed to have evolved from Diacodexis, the earliest known artiodactyl (even-toed ungulate), 50–55 Mya in the Eocene. Diacodexis, nearly the size of a rabbit, featured the talus bone characteristic of all modern even-toed ungulates. This ancestor and its relatives occurred throughout North America and Eurasia, but were on the decline by at least 46 Mya. Analysis of a nearly complete skeleton of Diacodexis discovered in 1982 gave rise to speculation that this ancestor could be closer to the non-ruminants than the ruminants. Andromeryx is another prominent prehistoric ruminant, but appears to be closer to the tragulids.
The formation of the Himalayas and the Alps brought about significant geographic changes. This was the chief reason behind the extensive diversification of deer-like forms and the emergence of cervids from the Oligocene to the early Pliocene. The latter half of the Oligocene (28–34 Mya) saw the appearance of the European Eumeryx and the North American Leptomeryx. The latter resembled modern-day bovids and cervids in dental morphology (for instance, it had brachyodont molars), while the former was more advanced. Other deer-like forms included the North American Blastomeryx and the EuropeanDremotherium; these sabre-toothed animals are believed to have been the direct ancestors of all modern antlered deer, though they themselves lacked antlers. Another contemporaneous form was the four-horned protoceratid Protoceras, that was replaced by Syndyoceras in the Miocene; these animals were unique in having a horn on the nose. Late Eocene fossils dated approximately 35 million years ago, which were found in North America, show that Syndyoceras had bony skull outgrowths that resembled non-deciduous antlers.
Fossil evidence suggests that the earliest members of the superfamily Cervoidea appeared in Eurasia in the Miocene. Dicrocerus, Euprox and Heteroprox were probably the first antlered cervids. Dicrocerus featured single-forked antlers that were shed regularly. Stephanocemas had more developed and diffuse (“crowned”) antlers. Procervulus (Palaeomerycidae), in addition to the tusks of Dremotherium, possessed antlers that were not shed. Contemporary forms such as the merycodontines eventually gave rise to the modern pronghorn.
The Cervinae emerged as the first group of extant cervids around 7–9 Mya, during the late Miocene in central Asia. The tribe Muntiacini made its appearance as †Muntiacus leilaoensis around 7–8 Mya; The early muntjacs varied in size–as small as hares or as large as fallow deer. They had tusks for fighting and antlers for defence. Capreolinae followed soon after; Alceini appeared 6.4–8.4 Mya. Around this period, the Tethys Ocean disappeared to give way to vast stretches of grassland; these provided the deer with abundant protein-rich vegetation that led to the development of ornamental antlers and allowed populations to flourish and colonise areas. As antlers had become pronounced, the canines were no more retained or were poorly represented (as in elk), probably because diet was no more browse-dominated and antlers were better display organs. In muntjac and tufted deer, the antlers as well as the canines are small. The tragulids, however, possess long canines to this day.
With the onset of the Pliocene, the global climate became cooler. A fall in the sea-level led to massive glaciation; consequently, grasslands abounded in nutritious forage. Thus a new spurt in deer populations ensued. The oldest member of Cervini, † Cervocerus novorossiae, appeared around the transition from Miocene to Pliocene (4.2–6 Mya) in Eurasia; cervine fossils from early Pliocene to as late as the Pleistocene have been excavated in China and the Himalayas. While Cervus and Dama appeared nearly 3 Mya, Axis emerged during the late Pliocene–Pleistocene. The tribes Capreolini and Rangiferini appeared around 4–7 Mya.
Around 5 Mya, the rangiferines † Bretzia and † Eocoileus were the first cervids to reach North America. This implies the Bering Strait could be crossed during the late Miocene–Pliocene; this appears highly probable as the camelids migrated into Asia from North America around the same time. Deer set foot in the Southern Hemisphere during the late Pliocene (2.5–3 Mya), thanks to the recently formed Isthmus of Panama, and emerged successful due to the small number of competing ruminants in the continent.
Large deer with impressive antlers evolved during the early Pleistocene, probably as a result of abundant resources to drive evolution. The early Pleistocene cervid † Eucladoceros was comparable in size to the modern elk. † Megaloceros (Pliocene–Pleistocene) featured the Irish elk (M. giganteus), one of the largest known cervids. The Irish elk reached 2 metres (6.6 ft) at the shoulder and had heavy antlers that spanned 3.6 metres (12 ft) from tip to tip. These large animals are thought to have faced extinction due to conflict between sexual selection for large antlers and body and natural selection for a smaller form. Meanwhile, the moose and reindeer radiated into North America from Siberia.
Taxonomy and classification
Deer constitute the artiodactyl family Cervidae. This family was first described by German zoologist Georg August Goldfuss in Handbuch der Zoologie (1820). Threesubfamilies are recognised: Capreolinae (first described by the English zoologist Joshua Brookes in 1828), Cervinae (described by Goldfuss) and Hydropotinae (first described by French zoologist Édouard Louis Trouessart in 1898).
Other attempts at the classification of deer have been based on morphological and genetic differences. The Anglo-Irish naturalist Victor Brooke suggested in 1878 that deer could be bifurcated into two classes on the according to the features of the second and fifth metacarpal bones of their forelimbs: Plesiometacarpalia (most Old World deer) and Telemetacarpalia (most New World deer). He treated the musk deer as a cervid, placing it under Telemetacarpalia. While the telemetacarpal deer showed only those elements located far from the joint, the plesiometacarpal deer retained the elements closer to the joint as well.Differentiation on the basis of diploid number of chromosomes in the late 20th century has been flawed by several inconsistencies.
In 1987, the zoologists Colin Groves and Peter Grubb identified three subfamilies: Cervinae, Hydropotinae and Odocoileinae; they noted that the hydropotines lack antlers, and the other two subfamilies differ in their skeletal morphology. However, they reverted from this classification in 2000.
EAUT#296 The Most Important skill of an Elk
“He will see you 3 times then leave,
He will hear you 2 times then he will leave,
But if he smells you once he is gone!”
Troy Ence was learning this from 23 days of Archery elk hunting how important wind direction can be when you are after a big bull. He was hunting public land the Indian Peaks area of the San Juan unit with his good friend and guide Jesse Shipp. Jesse had been hunting this area for 10 years and knew it well. Jesse had drawn a tag for this unit the previous year, and Troy had helped him for a couple of days to fill his tag with a nice bull.
He had booked the hunt with Doyle Moss of Mossback Outfitters and Videos, and brought in the help of Cody Weber. A man with terrific eyes, and a reputation for,” If the elk are there, Cody will spot them.”
Covering an area of a two mile radius was Cody’s protocol and he seldom missed anything in that radius. They had also put out 4 trail cams on trails and by water holes, and wallows. Each day the routine was to walk the cams while hunting and exchange the chips. That afternoon they would view the chips and make their plan for the afternoon hunt.
They had numerous portraits of the same bulls like club horn, a good 6×6 with a huge drop time club. Also “tuning fork”, a 6×6 bull with a dagger tine, twice the length of the one on the other side. But thing really got excited when the saw a huge 400 plus bull they called “Stellar” (Surfer slang for excellent) that the wallow camera caught at 2:30am. A nocturnal bull, which was somewhat unusual with the minimal hunting pressure in the area. As the days and nights passed they would never see Stellar in the daylight and only occasionally in the camera at night. It was early September but the only the small bulls were rutty, the cows and the big bulls weren’t even interested yet, that may change with time.
Every other day or so they would put a good stalk on a 360 or so class bull, just to have there the mountains winds swirl and the bull blow out from the heavy junipers he was feeding in. Over 3 weeks and it was bulls 6 Troy 0. He did get one shot but a well place stick diverted his arrow, deflected it to the ground and showed Troy how weak a deflected arrow seems toward a 1000 pound bull elk.
Finally Troy told Jesse, “Any 350 or better is ok, I am tired of learning about the wind! I am ready for home, a warm shower and sleeping in until after sun up again.”
Jesse nodded his agreement and said, “I understand, any longer and we’ll have to get a mailing address to stay on top of this mountain any longer.”
Then Cody spotter it, a huge bull moving along the cedar and juniper tree line. It was a big bull, but its antlers were so big it made the body look dwarfed. Jesse and Troy both said at the same time, “It’s the Stellar Bull!”
The bull was about 500 yards from the trail cam and wallow that had taken his portrait on many a night but this time he was heading there late in the afternoon on this cloudy day. Time was short, but Jesse and Troy had to make the distance even shorter and they covered the two miles as fast as their mountain veteran legs could carry them.
Jesse said to Troy, the wind, the wind, the wind, we must get above the wallow and straight down wind of him. Then slip down while he is enjoying the wallow. Troy knew what Jesse meant, he also knew they had the wind in mind on the other stalks and with the exception of one never released an arrow. The danger is you can walk, or sit and make no noise. You can be camouflaged in the cedars and with the camo pattern. But if the wind swirls and the bull smells you, none of that matters, he gone.
They found themselves above the wallow when they got the view, the wallow was empty, and the bull had slipped out, probably another statistic of nose work by the bull. Troy got up with disgust, and started down toward the wallow, as Jesse firmly grabbed his pants leg and pointed to his nose. Jesse took a deep breath and he could also smell the elk. The pungent order of a bull fresh out of a wall could be considered a “stink” by many, but for these two archers it was better than a pretty woman wearing Channel number 5 perfume.
Their archery duel could both smell elk, and rigorously spun their heads around trying to spot the source of the odor before he spotted them. Through a small opening in the cedars a hoof and heavy brown leg pulled the bull up the hill.
The bull had left the wallow alright, and was feeding uphill to their position. Troy crotched behind a ½ round cedar bush, and watched the bull through the sparse limbs of the bush. As he fed on selected clumps of grass, his big rack was waving from side to side, waving as to tantalize Troy to visualize each tine, fork and main beam mass. As Troy watched he could feel the adrenaline that can be the main component of buck fever. As a veteran hunter he had long since learned how to control it, but this time the flow was major, and it was a real challenge to keep his head clear.
The bull slowly fed closer to the waiting ambush, and then as Jesse confirmed the range at 15 yards, Troy came to full draw locked on his 20 yard pin as it lay behind the big bulls shoulder. Troy on his knees felt dwarfed by the big hulk, he thought to himself now I understand the relationship between Sampson and goliath.
Just as he got ready to release he noticed a stick that could possibly deflect the arrow, as it did earlier that week at a much smaller bull. He held the 74# Martin Cougar at full draw, as he felt his energy draining. The bull still unaware of their presents as he continued feeding up the hill as he had done many times before without spectators, and the danger behind one of the many thousands of cedar bushes.
Finally Troy could hold no longer, his ar was aching, and he was beginning to shake, he had to get the Muzzy tipped Easton arrow on its way before he lost the control in his arm to provide a good release.
As the bull turned away to feed on a clump of grass to his right Troy leaned forward, into view, with a unobstructed shooting lane and released the arrow. In slow motion he saw the brightly colored fletching leave his fingers and fly through the air as if in slow motion. As the spinning motion of the fletching turned into a blur the fletching stuck right behind the bulls left front shoulder. Just as quickly it disappeared as though it was never there.
He knew it was a good shot, but felt like he disserved to have something marking the spot of the hit, much like when he played, “Pin the tail on the donkey when he was a kid.”
There was no question from the bull it was a hit. Even though he didn’t know what hit him he spooked into a quick trot and was out of sight in less than a second.
The two looked at each other and thought the shot was good but with all their past experience they knew it isn’t a good shot until you are standing over the might beast.
After 15 minutes, over a small hill and 35 yards they found their beast, still not knowing what hit him, but at this point he never would know. The arrow was a double lung pass through and he had slowly stopped breathing.
Scoring would later prove the big bull to score 422 gross 415 net Utah’s # 2 and pending #6 in world.
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