Author’s note: Bill Epeards of Goshen, Ohio, has traveled the world and taken some legendary animals on some unbelievable hunts. A member of the PSE and Mossy Oak Pro Staffs, he works with Jimmy Houston Outdoors and is a member of a world champion archery target team. “I shot competition archery for a lot of years, but I got away from it,” Epeards reports. “Then I got with some other older fellows, and today we shoot the senior class of the Bowhunter Division of the IBO. We won the national championship for two consecutive years – 2008 and 2009 – came in second in 2010 and won 2011 and 2012.” Epeards also guides and hunts in the United States. This week Epeards shares with us some of his most memorable bow hunts.
Question: Bill, what was one of your most memorable bow hunts?
Epeards: I guess it was my hunt for the elephant. I’ve been fortunate enough to take an elephant, a Cape buffalo, a lion and a rhinoceros with my bow.
Question: Where were you hunting?
Epeards: I was hunting in Zimbabwe with Sigianuna Safaris with a guide, Riaan Vosloo. I shot my Cape buffalo, my lion and my rhino (which was a green hunt) with Riaan. When you’re bowhunting for dangerous game, you’re trusting your guides with your life, because when you’re hunting the big five, there’s a lot of danger involved.
Question: Which bow did you choose to take the elephant?
Epeards: To take an elephant with a bow, you’ve got to have a bow with a tremendous amount of kinetic energy. I shot the PSE X-Force at 98 pounds draw weight with Alaska Bowhunting Supply arrows, because they make a dangerous game arrow that’s 1,600 grains. I was shooting an Ashby broadhead.
Epeards: When you’re pulling a bow that’s almost 100 pounds, you’ve really got to train hard. I shot 35 to 40 arrows every day before the hunt. To test the broadhead and the shaft, I shot the broadhead through a car door. I went to a salvage yard, and the owner let me shoot through a car door to make sure that I could get the penetration I would need to take an elephant. When I got to Zimbabwe, I made several stalks. But each time we made a stalk, the elephant would wind us and run off. On one stalk, the elephant charged us, and I couldn’t get off a good shot.
Question: What did you do when you got charged?
Epeards: I backed up really quickly. When you have an 11-foot-wide animal running at you with his trunk up and his ears flared out, the time has come to move. I don’t care what you’ve got in your hand to stop him with. Riaan was standing right next to me with a .416 Rigby rifle. Luckily, the wind changed. Suddenly the elephant laid back his ears, dropped his trunk and walked away. On another stalk, we were moving close to two big bull elephants. I heard something to my left, and I whispered to Riaan, “I hear something to my left.” Suddenly, this big bull elephant came out at 37 yards, and I took the shot right behind the shoulder. The arrow buried up all the way to its fletchings. I was really concerned about making sure I got the arrow past the ribcage without hitting the bone. Luckily I did. When the arrow took the elephant, he grunted and ran off. We wait for two hours and then brought in the trackers. We tracked the elephant for about 250 yards and found him piled up.
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