Here at Wired To Hunt we’ve been big fans of the work done by our friends over at Heartland Bowhunter TV, and each year we’re excited to see the latest deer they put on the ground. This year we haven’t had to wait long, as they’ve been dropping big bucks and bulls across North Dakota, Missouri, Arizona and Kansas! Today, we’re thrilled to share Skyler Wirsig’s story of his dad’s North Dakota buck, and as a little bonus, we have Skyler’s Arizona elk story as well! Big congrats to Mike and Skyler! – MK
By Skyler Wirsig
My favorite hunting trip of the year tends to be the same year in and year out. It’s hard to beat early season whitetail hunting in North Dakota with Central Dakota Lodge. I had the pleasure of filming my dad (Mike Wirsig) who joined us on the trip for the 5th year in a row. The hunt ended up being shorter than any of other previous trips. It all came together for us on just the second evening. We had only one deer within bow range but it was one we were after. My dad was presented with a 30 yard shot and ended up hitting the buck back. We packed our stuff up and returned in the morning.
We were surprised to find him within a few minutes and just 80 yards from the tree stand. The NAP Killzone’s big cutting diameter saved the day on this buck. It’s my dad’s biggest buck with a bow. Sharing and documenting memories with him never gets old!
My Arizona Elk:
It is hard to put into words the excitement I had going into my Arizona elk hunt. After years and year and years of applying I finally drew a coveted bull elk tag! Now as I write this short version of the story it is also hard to put into words how this hunt finally ended with coolers full of meat instead of a big bowl of tag soup. Clayton Campbell joined me on the trip to capture the hunt on video. We’ve been filming and hunting together for the past 6 years and he was just as ready as I was. We stayed with the incredible Taylor family who hosted us last year for my dad’s elk hunt. Derek Taylor joined us and worked his magic on the calls.
The first three days of the hunt were very good and the bulls were bugling like crazy. We got into several bulls but none of them would leave their cows and walk within bow range. This quickly became the theme, day in and day out. During days 4-9 we continued to see bull after bull, which included a few giants. I was even at full draw on the bull of my dreams but he stopped when he heard our cow calls at 60 yards and turned and faced me dead on. If he had stopped broadside I would have taken the shot. When he decided to make his move he wheeled and ran off never to be seen again.
Day 10 is when things get a little bittersweet. Clayton had to return home for work so we bought him a plane ticket back home so I could continue chasing the dream. We initially planned to both drive back home in my truck, which didn’t work out. Also on day 10 Derek had to leave for work. Luckily another hunter (Tim Jameson) who also stayed with the Taylor’s was still around and helped me on day 10. Half way through this day I get a call from Derek. His flight was cancelled and the next available flight to his destination wasn’t until later in the week. I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was excited and grinning from ear to ear. Derek and I got back after it on day 11 but didn’t have any luck. However on this day I was able to talk my buddy Mike Willey into filming the rest of the hunt. He was on his way back home to Arizona from an early season Missouri whitetail hunt. Now it was looking like the stars were aligning and we could actually get this done!
This brings us to the evening of day 13. It was my 26th hunt and the second to last day of season. We got to where we thought the elk would start bugling and boy were they bugling. I had never heard anything like it. It was seriously hard to come by a moment of silence. I decided to get really aggressive when I could hear a few bulls fighting in the distance. I ended up walking into mayhem. I could see bulls fighting and running cows all over in the thick cover ahead of me. I bet I saw 6 bulls within 80 yards, going crazy. One bull ran by me at 10 yards chasing a cow. He only had half of his rack but at this point I was shooting whatever gave me the first shot. I couldn’t get him to stop in my shooting lane. Then a giant bull runs by at 35 yards and I can’t get him to stop either. Then the half rack bull decides to go back. He crosses in front of me at 35 yards and I let the arrow fly. Immediately a wave of emotion hits me and a sense of relief was lifted off my shoulders. I knew I had just punched the tag I always dreamed of carrying in my pocket. My quest was finally over.
He’s not one of the many giants we saw during the trip but he’s my first elk and I couldn’t be more proud. The way it all finally came together was incredible after hunting so many days for so long. I owe a huge thanks to the many people who helped me along the way! Especially to Derek and Tessa Taylor for inviting us in their home and spoiling us for two weeks! I am very blessed and thankful!
– Skyler Wirsig, HeartlandBowhunter.com