Hunter takes Wisconsin’s first bull with a bow in modern times

A Wisconsin hunter working an archery Super Slam has taken the first deer killed with a bow in at least 140 years. Dan Evenson, of Cambridge, shot the 6-by-7 bull on Oct. 15 in the Clam Lake area after drawing one of only three elk tags awarded in a state lottery that drew more than 25,000 entries.

An experienced bowhunter who has tagged more than 50 big game in trophy books, Evenson has now successfully hunted 25 of the 29 big game species that make up the Pope and Young Club Super Slam. In fact, he told her Milwaukee Journal Sentinel he has never shot an animal with a rifle. He learned he had drawn the long odds deer tag while bear hunting in Alaska.

Rocky Mountain Elk once thrived in Wisconsin, but became extinct in the 1880s due to unregulated hunting and habitat loss. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources began a restoration effort in 1995, releasing 25 Michigan elk into the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest near Clam Lake in Ashland County. A second phase of the project transplanted 31 Kentucky elk to the Flambeau River State Forest in Sawyer County in 2017 and another 48 Kentucky elk in the same area in 2019. The state began allowing an annual bull-only elk hunt in 2018 , with 14 bulls harvested in the first three seasons. Until this year, all successful harvests have been taken with rifles, although participants may use archery equipment if they wish.

Wisconsin Hunter Bags state's first bow elk in modern history
Evenson managed to snap a few photos of the big bull before shooting it. Dan Evenson

Evenson began researching his once-in-a-lifetime hunt in late summer, making several trips to the Clam Lake area to gather information on the herd. He also continued his usual practice routine with his 8-pin compound bow. Although he regularly shoots targets out to 100 yards, he says most of his hunting over the years has been between 20 and 25 yards. “There’s an ethical limit to shooting an arrow, and it’s different for everyone,” Evenson told him. The Sentinel Newspaper. “It’s important to learn what it is and stick to it when you’re hunting.”

Read further: A Spot-and-Stalk Post-Rut Bull Elk in Colorado

With some friends in tow, Evenson arrived at Clam Lake a few days before the opening to complete his research. On October 13 he found a herd of 30 elk south of Clam Lake, then found the same group the next day about a mile away. On October 15, the opening day, he again found the herd in the morning and afternoon. He was able to jump the range during the afternoon hunt and then wait for the deer to feed next to him at 60 yards. His broadside shot on the big bull was true, and he and his friends found the big 6-by-7, which green scored 283 7/8, just 100 yards away.

Wisconsin Hunter Bags state's first bow elk in modern history
Evenson poses with friends — Mark, Jimbo, Josh, Rod, Crackers, Herm and Bruce — who helped him track down and retrieve the big deer. Dan Evenson

“Putting it all together was so sweet,” Evenson said. “I feel very lucky, very humbled. What an experience, and right here in Wisconsin.” As of July 2021, the state’s two elk herds were estimated to support about 445 animals, with a long-term management goal of 1,400.

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