Ben had spotted some really good bucks one drainage over from where Kenny and I had hunted, one of which was a real keeper. His plan was to be on the ridge above them at daylight on opening day. Mind you, this involved a hike of 3 miles or so and a climb of at least 2000 feet in altitude in country that you sometimes needed ropes and pitons to maneuver in, but he was up for the challenge. They had made it up and over and were on the downside slope as the sun was rising, lighting up the drainage. Already they had spotted a few deer moving out into the open. As he side hilled over to a better lookout spot, a rock rolled underfoot and the tumble began.
He managed to keep from hurting himself, but the rifle was not so lucky. He had it strapped to the side of the backpack and in the end-over-end tumble it had broke loose and went tumbling through a rock slide. Here is where he wished he had taken my advice and brought along a backup. The wooden stock was broken, right through the handgrip, and the scope was broken completely off the mounts and the eyepiece bent about 45 degrees. Of course about this time is when the big buck stepped out from the shadows at an easy 300 yd range and looked around to see what the ruckus was. I am sure that at the time he was much more worried about what dad was gonna say about his broken rifle.
Well, after several frantic phone calls and help from his brother, a backup plan was made. Kenny would bring his rifle up as a backup, his well-tuned rem 700, 300 RUM, and help him salvage the hunt. Remember, these tags took 8 yrs of applying to draw, so his brother made every effort to help out. They got together later that afternoon and the swap was made. My poor rifle was delivered home in very sad shape, but the hunt continued. Ben took a nice buck the next morning, but alas, the first shot was at about 600 yards and he didn't allow for a steep downhill angle and shot over on a quartering away shot…..right through the right horn at the base. Shot the horn clean off! Of course he thought he had made the perfect shot because the buck had dropped dead in his tracks.
After congratulations, they got up and headed down the hill only to see the buck get up and go over a ridge out of sight. Long story short, he had to make another shot on the buck after tracking it over a mile away. He had to eat a lot of crow over this hunt, but he was humble about it. We decided the bucks were about the same, considering that you could not tell because of the shot off horn.
I was able to repair the broken stock on the 338 and sent the super sniper scope off to Bushnell and they repaired it for ten dollars. It was back to shooting before the elk season, albeit with a few battle scars.