Now for the bullet. Daniel told me he had heard good things about Berger VLD Hunting Bullets, so I researched them and decided to try them out. I had also heard rumors that went both ways, the biggest concern was that the bullet wouldn’t penetrate at closer range as it was intended for long range shooting. My grandson and I went to the range with about 6 bullets of each powder load that we chose to start with. At one point I tried shooting at a 2’ X 2’ piece of 3/8” plate steel, and the bullet went clear through the plate at 100 yards and again at 200 yards.
That settled it; these bullets would indeed pierce an elk shoulder in my mind. We settled on a Berger 168 grain BTHP VLD Hunting Bullet as 168 grain would have less recoil than say a 180 grain bullet.
Important note: I have found that Berger’s VLD Hunting Bullets fly different than Berger’s VLD Target Bullets in my gun, so be careful.
Next I searched for a powder that would be the best propellant for this round. I have used Hodgdon Varget with great success in the past and decided to try it with this rifle. Walt Berger recommended a starting load of 44.5 grains to a max load of 49.6 grains of Varget powder. In 30-06 the 168 grain Berger VLD Hunting bullet, propelled by 46.1 grains of Varget Powder seemed to be just the ticket.
Next came the optics. Burris glass is my absolute favorite so I gave my recommendation. Daniel bought a Burris Fulfield II 3.5-10 X 50mm scope. Now we had a really accurate combination!
Two of my grandsons, Matt (12) and Micah (9) were shooting this firearm at the range, hitting a 12 inch metal plate at 200 yards consistently with this rifle, powder, bullet and scope combination. Each time we would go to the range, I would only let Matt and Micah shoot 6 rounds at a time and had them to take turns with instruction between each shot so their arms wouldn't get too sore.
Finally the big day came. Hunt day #1: Daniel and I decided to try an area in the burned area which was once my favorite “honey hole” in times past. Just several days before, I was able to get a few bulls to talk to me there, but no luck today. Later that day, we tried another area on the west side on Conklin Ridge, and while we found a few bulls around 5pm, they weren’t what we were looking for.
Hunt day #2: I kind of got drastic and decided that since the elk in the burned area weren’t acting like they used to, we should try the Greens Peak area as it was untouched by the Wallow Fire. The second morning we got totally skunked as we really weren’t thinking about hunting that area in the beginning. I had spotlighted a huge 8X8 bull the week before in this area, but he only came out after dark, and went to bed before light. After a nonproductive morning, I decided to try for the big 8X8 and found that he wasn’t anywhere to be found. Later I found he had been arrowed a couple days before at the end of the archery hunt.
Instead we found that one bull with about ten cows was where he used to be. This bull turns out to be the bull we chose to target. Since we found that this bull didn’t come out till evening, we started to make a plan. We scouted out the area and decided that when the bull came out of the woods to eat and drink from a creek, that was about a half mile away. We would be there in the cover of the woods for the shot.