I got up early to go to work this morning and drove to my shop. I noted on my 15 minute drive to work that it was about 20 degrees, clear, and only a slight wind. This was the first cold snap of the year for north Idaho. I thought that the conditions were almost perfect for a particular long range hunting spot I have for mule deer and elk. Now I was able to take a few days off and take my dad hunting for his first elk and that was a huge bunch of fun, but I had not been able to take any additional time for myself to go hunting. So as I looked around the shop mapping out the days work I decided that the day would go much better if I took a couple hours and went hunting. It just made perfect sense to me that if I went hunting for just a few hours that the day would just go better. So I change into my gear that I keep in the truck all season for just such a hunting emergency grabbed my 338 Edge (like what else would I take) and headed out.
I arrived at the location I park the truck about 20 minutes later and threw on my Elberstock pack, with the Edge and the various tools of the LRH craft. I walked about 10 minutes from the truck to a small knob that overlooks several ridge fingers of alder patches, grass, and broken timber patches. I had barely got the pack off when in the grey light of the morning when I spotted 3 or 4 shapes I though were elk. I slipped the pack off and snatched up my binoculars on the chest strap. I spotted 4 elk but could not see that any were bulls. Hoping on or more were spikes or small bulls I drug the Edge, the Kestrel
, spare ammo carrier with drop chart, and my Swarovski range finder out. I used the NF 5.5-22 NXS as a spotting scope. The 4 elk I had seen were in fact all cows. I lazed them at 1053 yards. I was looking at them hoping that one would grow a set of spikes in the grey light but knowing that that was hopeless (the NF optics are worth every penny) when I caught a short bugle coming from further down the ridge. I grabbed my binoculars up and spotted 3 bulls down the ridge from the cows. Two of the bulls were 4-6 point animals and one spike. I lazed the group at 1038 yards. I got in behind the rifle and looked at the ACI it was on .98, I quickly multiplied 1000 x .02 and knocked 20 yards off of 1038 in my head giving a flat line distance of 1018 yards. I looked at my drop chart and got 24.50 moa for 1025 yards, so I dialed up 24.25 moa. I had a slight breeze 3-4 mph and quartering, I dialed .75 moa to the right. I put my earplugs in and settled in behind the Edge again and watched the bulls milling around. One bull was a 4-5 point raghorn, one was a larger 5 point and then the spike. Since I had only limited days to hunt this year and none of them was a monster I decided to take the first one of the two larger bulls that provided a good shot. I didnít have to wait long before the smaller raghorn turned to a quartering forward position. I place the cross hairs in front of the front shoulder aiming for the off shoulder through the chest cavity. I squeezed the trigger and felt the slight recoil of the Edge (muzzlebrakes are wonderful things). I recovered to the bull just in time to see him hump up a little and spin to trot off like he was hit, but obviously not a shoulder breaking hit. I racked in a second shell to shoot again. The bull was moving up the ridge parallel to my position, I used the NPR2 reticule to trap and lead him 5 moa for the trot and squeezed the second shot off. I again recovered to see the bull stop turn straight away and walk into the alder out of sight. I watched the other two bulls looking in his direction trying to figure out what was going on when they just took off running. I had seen this many times and knew that the bull had crashed to the ground. I hiked back to the truck and grabbed my camera tripod and ditched everything but meat cutting gear and bags. I hike down to the spot where the first round had been fired and saw dig out marks where the bull had taken off at the first shot but no blood trail. I walked up the ridge toward the location of the second shot and not a drop of blood, no hair nothing. I turned at the obvious pivot marks on the frosty ground (did I mention it was cold?) I followed the direction the bull had walked off about 10 yards and saw a few drops of blood. I looked up and saw the bull laying in front of me about 20 yards. The bull had traveled about 50 yards total. I first checked to see where the hits were like any long range guy does. The first shot landed within inches of my aiming point just in front of the left shoulder and passed through just behind the right shoulder. The round was a good shot it just failed to connect with the bone. The second moving shot was good on elevation but a little further back than Iíd have like entering just behind the rib cage and passing out the other side between a couple of the rear most ribs. Bullet channel and penetration performance was excellent for the range. Both shots were good lethal shots even with the last being back a little far. I grabbed up my cell phone and called Jr. and Brandon my hunting buddies who gladly left the hunt they were on to come and help me pack out. I have said it once and Iíll say it again good hunting buddies are tough to find. I had the elk boned out and bagged up when they arrived and the three of us made one trip and had it packed out. Now if I can get Kirby hooked up with a tanker of a whitetail buck it will have been a great season.