Frontal shots on elk are controversial. Some guides ask their clients not to take them, while others prefer that shot angle. As you watch this short YouTube clip, you will see how effective an arrow to the front of the chest can be, yet this shot angle must be done carefully and accurately.
In my early hunting years I was advised, nearly commanded, never to take a frontal shot on elk. In at least two occasions, bulls walked away as I followed that advice. Then I hunted with Darwin vander Esch in his Seven Devils Idaho camp. Before the hunt began, Darwin led a mule to our group of clients and explained the frontal shot.
“You have a basketball size area in the center of the chest where an arrow does not have to penetrate shoulder muscles or ribs. DO NOT PASS UP THIS SHOT.”
The first elk of the trip fell to a bugle challenge. Darwin carried on a bugle battle with a bull well down the mountain side. When the most recent bugle sounded closer, he advised his hunter to get low to the ground and shoot if the bull came over the hill. The enraged bull charged up the mountain and came directly to the bugle tube. As it crested a small rise, the kneeling archer put an arrow into its chest at 15 yards. In seconds the bull lay still.
As you will see and hear in this video, someone behind the hunter is cow calling and luring the bull toward the hunter. If you are using this technique or calling on your own, the bull will likely approach facing you. If you wait for the perfect broadside shot, the elk may scent or see you.
This shot works best at close range. You will need to draw your bow well ahead of time and concentrate on the center of the chest. The arrow must strike below the neck and above the belly line. This spot can be difficult to see, which is why many outfitters advise against it. Watch the video, notice the shot placement and don’t pass up this lethal opportunity.