Bow hunting in Southern Idaho is not as simple as picking up a bow and heading for the mountains. Follow Ryan Schiermeier and Mike Shetler on an archery elk hunt and you will learn that the gospel of bow hunting consists of proficiency, hard work and endurance.

Photo © Jason Lugo

Ryan Schiermeier and Mike Shetler

Both hunters spend about 45 days scouting prior to the hunt. As experienced hunters they have scouted and

patterned elk for years to know their habits and where they are each season. “You have to live with the elk to understand it,” Mike said.

Last season they drew out a tag in Unit 54, where “getting a tag is like one in a million and one of the best hunts in the whole western United States. This hunt is a magical tag to get,” Mike said.

On this particular hunting trip, the two hunters knew exactly which bull they wanted from watching him the year before. They hunted for seven days waiting for the bull, wondering if he died or someone else had already killed him. After they couldn’t find him or his sheds, they decided to hunt for another bull.

Photo © Jason Lugo

After a few days of hunting in 78 degree weather. An early morning frost and snow made for a unique hunt.

It had been 78 degrees that week, making it hot and buggy. On Day 8, it was miserable, raining into the night. The morning was dark and foggy until about 9 a.m., and then started snowing. The two backpacked in and spotted a 6×6 with little cheaters but it was not the elk they wanted.

Photo © Mike Shetler

Ryan Schiermeier and his 7x8 Trophy Bull Elk.

The next day the weather was clear and they spotted another bull, which was a 7×8. By this time they had backpacked five miles from the nearest road. Later they spotted two bulls on a ridge and one was the same 7×8 they spotted earlier. The elk were headed toward the hunters and Ryan and Mike needed to get down in the valley to stay in the shade out of the elks vision. The wind blew in their favor and they wanted to get in front of them and let the elk make the mistake.

They sneaked through the bushes to get where they wanted to be. Twenty seconds later they spotted the horns advancing nearby and got down. Ryan crouched and didn’t have time to take off his backpack. Mike got his video camera ready. The elk fed along and Ryan made a little bugle to momentarily stop the elk, which bugled back loudly in response.

Ryan got in position and took a shot, whirling the bull around and sending him into thick timber below. The hunters ran to the top of the hill, but couldn’t see how far the bull went. After waiting about an hour, they went to look for the bull. While they didn’t find a blood trail, they did see his tracks. They followed the tracks and freshly knocked down brush until they came upon the bull, standing in the brush. Although Ryan had made a broadside kill shot, the bull hadn’t died. Ryan shot the bull again to take it down. “The new bows are very lethal,” Ryan said. “We like to shoot at 75 to 80 yards maximum, but you have to be comfortable at shooting a lot. I shot that elk at 42 yards.”

The trophy bull made for a satisfying ending to a spectacular hunt.