A tempting thought came to mind about stopping for some photos with the mountain shapes in the foreground, starry sky in the background. Today's technology with high ISO settings would make this feasible. But I had purposely left my camera back in camp so as not to be distracted on this first day of the elk hunt.
I was with Robb Wiley of Non-Typical Outfitters. We rode our horses for nearly an hour and a half as we worked our way up the main valley. The sound of the horses' hooves on the trail was magnified just a little bit in the still air. I felt like I was "in the zone" -- ready for the hunt.
This was my first hunt with my new LRR rifle in 28 Nosler
. The bullet was the long awaited 195 grain offering by Berger. I have been a 7mm bullet guy since I bought my first bolt action rifle in the late sixties chambered in the then new 7mm Remington Magnum. But for the past 15 plus years I had been a loyal shooter of the 7mm Dakota. And now the greater case capacity of the brand new 28 Nosler coupled with the 0.755 BC of the Berger 195 was responsible for me dropping my dependence on the otherwise excellent Dakota round.
BERGER'S 195 GRAIN BULLET
We reached the mountain's top just after first legal light. We had glassed for a brief moment only once in the minutes before we reached the top. Now we looked off to the east down a narrow valley to the only visible opening in the thick timber in this smaller valley.
We quickly spotted several cows and three bulls on the opposite side of the draw. Two of them were shooters. My G7 BR2 rangefinder
told me it was 1,354 yards. I waited for Robb's direction which came quickly. "We're going for them! Get ready.”
The temps were very warm these days and the bulls would not stay out in the open long this morning. As it is, they were only 75 yards from the timber on either side. We would leave the horses here and make a quick dash for a closer shooting spot further up the draw. It would mean side-hilling through the thick timber on our side of the valley while we worked our way downhill. It wouldn't be easy -- especially to get there in time. But I train outdoors seriously almost all year around for the physical demands of my mountain hunts and I was ready.
The 28 Nosler chambered rifle was in the scabbard of my Eberlestock pack and shooting sticks were hanging from a carabiner on my belt loop. Chances were very high that this would be a shooting sticks shot, most likely from a tricky position. I have learned in recent years while hunting these western mountains of Wyoming that this is often the case. It's pretty hard to shoot prone with a bipod when you're facing downhill on a 20% grade.
So off we went. 1300 yards doesn't sound very far under normal conditions. But I was carrying a pack and rifle together weighing 30 pounds, we were at 8,000 feet, the footing was unsure in many very steep, tricky places and we had to step over fallen trees often. Plus the clock was ticking very loudly. The whole time while we scurried closer we knew we would have no second chance to spy the elk in their small opening. Would they be back in the timber already when we got into position?
Finally we reached the perfect shooting spot where we could see the opening several hundred yards across the small valley. Taking a seat, I quickly tucked my own pack tight up behind my back and whispered to Robb to hand me his own pack. For the seated upward shot off my shooting sticks I would lean back for support on my pack, plus be able to rest my shooting arm on Robb's pack. Helping to teach this position in the LRH-NTO Shooting Classes these past two summers has given me even more appreciation for this type of uneven ground positional shooting.
Only two of the bulls were still there and the cows already were gone into the timber. I took aim at full power through the Nightforce ATACR 5-25x56 scope and discovered that the larger of the two remaining bulls, a nice six point, was partially screened by small tree branches that I hadn't noticed through my 10 power binoculars.
The largest bull of the three bulls spotted from the mountain top was already in the timber. I waited several minutes hoping this remaining shooter would clear the branches but stop for a shot before he stepped into the timber. The ATACR scope's power throw lever made it quick and easy to move from 25 power for a close look at the obstructions and then down to a lower power for the shot.
I used the original model NightForce ATACR 5-25x56 for a year and a half before the new one came out. Now I really like the new features on my newer ENHANCED version even more. CLICK HERE to learn more.
Meanwhile Robb and I communicated in muted whispers. My SoundGear earplugs made this easy. I had inserted them right after breakfast before we rode out of camp.
Finally the larger bull started easing his way to my left towards the heavy timber. Just another two steps were needed. But he took more than two. Robb made a noise with his mouth to slow or stop the bull for my shot. It worked, I fired at a spot just behind the shoulder. Through the scope I could see that the bull made a big lurch and went down. He rolled a few yards down the steep slope and onto his back with antlers stuck into the ground -- stopping his slide. One and done!
28 NOSLER CARTRIDGE DIAGRAM
This was my first animal taken with the 28 Nosler cartridge and the Berger 195 bullet combo. Here's what I've been saying on my Long Range Rifles website for a while now.
I have been a shooter of the 7mm Dakota cartridge for over 15 years. But the higher velocity provided by the 9% greater case capacity of the new 28 Nosler plus the advent of the Berger 195 grain bullet have caused me to switch.
That bullet has a .755 BC. Velocity is nearly 3,100 fps. At 1,000 yards in the 8,000 foot elk hunting mountains this will still be nearly 2,200 fps with 2,100 ft-lbs of energy and only 32 inches of drift in a 10 mph wind. A serious long range elk hammer with 40% less recoil than a big 338 magnum!
To learn more about obtaining a long range rifle chambered in 28 Nosler by my Long Range Rifles, LLC -- CLICK HERE
. I have dies, brass and bullets available.
More info on the overall group elk hunt results later -- but it was generally much tougher hunting than last year because of the unseasonably high temperatures.
Len Backus is the owner of www.LongRangeHunting.com
. He has been a long range hunter since the 90's and is as likely to bag his game with a camera as with a rifle. His outdoor photography can be seen at LenBackus.com
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