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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I was posted up on a mid-mountain bench Sunday afternoon, waiting for game to pass through the area, when a cow elk and her calf suddenly appeared 40 yards ahead and closing directly on me, I mean coming RIGHT to me.

Worried that they would wind me or present nothing more optimal than a facing shot, I drew quickly when the cow went behind a tree at 12.8 yards (I ranged it after the fact) and then, when she came out from behind the tree, quartering to me, I put my pins just right and above where it appeared her shoulder was and snapped off a shot. She wheeled around in a flash and crashed back down the mountain. The calf stood in shock about 20 yards off for a few seconds, then darted off after its mother.

It all happened so quickly, I had little time to commit it all to mind. Later, I began to wonder if the events had ever really happened. But, sure enough, my quiver was short one arrow.

When I went to where the cow was standing when I shot, I saw no blood. I followed her tracks as far as I could before losing them in a sea of tracks on the mountain's steep north slope. No blood. None. Nowhere. I spent hours searching for her and scouring the area in my arrow's path and couldn't find my arrow anywhere.

I want to try an experiment: stand 12.8 yards from my target and snap off 10 instinctual shots. I hypothesize I'd hit the target 10 times out of 10. So I'm almost certain I hit the cow, but how to explain the lack of blood?

In post-gaming the situation, I realize it was a bad shot to take. I really regret that. Better to have let the opportunity pass than make a bad shot, despite how good it felt at the moment. Judging from what I've read elsewhere, a quartering to shot is rarely an ethical shot, and if taken, should be aimed in front of the animal's shoulder, not behind it, where the shoulder blade acts as a shield of the vitals. And yet, I can't help but thinking that a solid-tipped 100 grain broadhead on a 400 FMJ arrow at 12.8 yards would put a pretty big dent in a shoulder blade or even a 2x4!

So, I guess I'm just sharing this to hear what y'all think and kind of own up to some poor judgement. It's one thing I admire about hunting: you have to own your errors. It's win or learn, right? And in this game, there's a WHOLE LOTTA learnin'!
 

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First of all, sounds like an exciting encounter, nothing like it. As far as "ethical" that's only for you to decide, nobody else.

The shoulder on a four legged critter forms a point with the scapula and humerus, so, you likely hit very solid bone. Chances are, she is either clipping grass or just chilling out right now (3:12 pm on Monday afternoon as I sit at my work computer typing this thinking about hunting this weekend).

We've all made miscalculated decision's in the heat if the moment that didn't turn out well.
 

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i doubt it by then, just wondered if you were able to get back there today at all

If she did die there will be something that will find her by then i would assume
 

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Hard to say for sure but from the sounds of it not a fatal hit.
FYI Bowsite.com has several informative shot placement threads that show almost all good shot placements. Just do a search.
I've been playing this game awhile and still find it informative to look at them.
Good luck!
 

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If you were shooting for a spot behind the shoulder, You may have gotten one lung. That is... may. You probably glanced off the shoulder and only cut skin. I did the same thing once with my 30-06. Mine was a deer and so it is not as thick boned. My hunting partner downed the deer later in the morning. I had a broken rib and a long bruise. The bullet didn't even enter into the chest cavity, just followed the ribs down the side and exited. My wise and learned seniors/elders have always taught me to aim for the opposite side front shoulder and you will hit vitals. I was young and not so learned at the time I made my bad shot. So, on a quartering to shot, yes... you would aim in front of the shoulder to hit vitals. I would say that you scared the be-jee-bers out of the elk. She is probably licking her wounds and feeling very lucky that you made such a poor choice of arrow placement.

Another thought, at 12 yards, you probably placed your 20 yard pin on her and no doubt you shot high. Maybe even over her back. At 12 yards, you probably should have used your 25 or 30 yard pin to hit the mark. If you got penetration, you are high and into the "no-mans- zone" and missed vitals. Live and learn. Too bad, a young cow is really tasty.
 

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I am no archer but I'm with johnnycake and will shoot the calf 9/10 times given the opportunity. A whole lot easier to drag out and every bit as tasty if not more so.
 

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I am no archer but I'm with johnnycake and will shoot the calf 9/10 times given the opportunity. A whole lot easier to drag out and every bit as tasty if not more so.
I'll put a solid 3rd on that!!
 

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No blood makes me think you hit her in the guts and the arrow embedded into the opposite hind quarter. I'm sure she is dead and spoiled.

I would think that if you hit the shoulder and it deflected, there would be some blood from that muscle at least.

Elk are big, tough animals. And trying to blow through the shoulder from the front like that is pretty risky.
 

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Already got a calf down this season. Now I'm looking to stock my meat freezer for the year.
Do you know what is better than one calf in the freezer? Two calves of course!

But seriously, I have shot many animals where the hit is higher up on the shoulder and they leave zero blood trail--but I haven't lost one of those yet (then again, rifle versus archery different in too many ways to make a good comparison). Sometimes if the entry wound is positioned high, gravity just takes over and you don't find any blood as it all pools in the chest cavity. There really is only one way of knowing what happened to the cow and that is basically being that cow. Hard to armchair quarterback over the internet when we didn't have the sight picture/etc. Good luck!
 

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The cow I shot last year in the Uinta's only bled about 5 or 10 small drops of blood, had to follow her tracks to get to her. She died about 100 yds from where I loosed my arrow. I shot a cow on the Tushar Mtn about 5 years ago, hit in about the same spot as the cow last year and I had no trouble at all following the blood trail, she went about 150 yds. Sometimes they bleed buckets and sometimes not much at all.
 
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