This past weekend, uncle B and I set out after a cow moose. The goal was to bag one over 1302 yards as that is the farthest confirmed kill on big game that my 338 Thunder has had. However, upon scouting this new unit, I found that it was 80% private property and the public ground was mixed in in a checkerboard fashion with no large tracts. So a long shot was going to be hard without trespassing.
However, Saturday morning we found a cow first thing in the morning. She was at 1356 yards away and no clue we were watching. We started getting set up for the shot and just about the time B got the camera out, a couple of guys in a Polaris Ranger came rolling down the road. I don't know if the cow heard them or if it just got too hot to be out in the morning sun, but she quickly trotted off into the trees nearby. Dang the luck. It would have been a perfect setup as we found out later that she was only 50 yards above a 4 wheeler road and it would have been easy to get her out!
Well, these guys in the ranger thought they spooked our moose and felt really bad about it. We asked them what they were doing up on the mountain so early and they replied that they had a bull moose tag. So we agreed to help each other find what we were after and report back if we saw anything worth shooting.
We saw them off and on throughout the day as we were trying to cover ground to see new moose.
Towards the evening, we ended up on the same ridge again and we found ourselves looking across the canyon over to another ridge that had a black dot on it. After closer inspection, we saw that there was not just one black dot but three black dots! It turned out to be a bull and two cows.
The bull was big enough that our new friends Dave and Cole really wanted to take it. But just as they decided to go after it, the bull started making it's way back to the top of the ridge and over it to the other side! Crap!
Well, I still saw one of the cows out in a clearing so I thought maybe if I dumped her, the bull would come back to see where she went. So I quickly got out all the gear and my rifle and began to dial everything in for the shot. I ranged her at 982 yards and took an angle measurement of .99 cosine. The wind was non-existent clear across the canyon. My GPS said it was 6969 foot elevation. I entered all the info into my PDA and it gave me my correction. I don't recall what it said now but it was somewhere around 21 minutes up for my 300 grain SMK to connect launched at a muzzle velocity of 2810 fps. I quickly spun the turret around on my Leupold VXIII 6.5-20x40 long range and readied for the shot.
The cow was peacefully eating from a tree branch as I asked uncle B if he had the camera rolling. He said, "she's ready". I put the crosshairs on her shoulder and leveled my bubble then squeezed off a shot. Kaboom.....nothing. Brian called out that he saw the vapor trail heading straight for her and then it disappeared right by her! It must have missed by less than an inch but we didn't know where. So I quickly chambered another round and held right at the same spot on the unaware cow and touched the second shot off. Kaboom...........THUUD! The bullet struck her in the front shoulder and she wobbled around a bit and fell over in dramatic fashion! I fired one more time at her just to make sure she wasn't going to get back up but it was not needed. She couldn't have been more dead. And she caused so much ruckus that the other cow came back over to her to see what had just happened. In about 30 seconds, the bull realized that both of his cows had left him and he came trotting back over the ridge to find them. My plan worked! Now the bull was sitting there broadside at 950 yards and had no clue what had just happened.
I quietly asked if Dave wanted to dump that bull with my rifle. Well, I didn't have to ask twice! We quickly got Dave set up and dialed in on the bull while the camera was rolling. I loaded the gun and told him to relax, squeeze the trigger lightly and watch the bubble. Kaboom.......slightly high off the neck. I quickly chambered another round and told him to watch that bubble again before he shot. Kaboom.......high hit just off the nose. Both shots looked like they missed by just inches! The second shot got the bull a little nervous and he trotted forward just a couple yards but went behind some trees. I told Dave to try and settle down and that there was no pressure because that bull was going to step out from behind that tree and he was going to put him down. Dave repositioned himself and got more comfortable and we chambered another round and waited. Not more than a minute later, the bull reappeared and Dave let another one fly.......THud! The bullet entered the shoulder blade perfect and the bull dropped like a bag of falling rocks! Awesome! High fives all around and a little hooping and hollering. Two moose down not more than 50 yards from each other in under ten minutes from over 900 yards away! I guess those 300 grain SMK's worked.
Upon inspection of the downed critters, we learned that Dave had actually hit the bull all three times. But it was the third shot that hit him in the shoulder and put him down for the count. It completely obliterated the bone and ruined almost all the meat on the front quarter. It even sprayed blood up onto the antlers.
From up above at my cow kill site, uncle b and I were making slow progress cutting up this huge moose but once we got the hide off, we saw that my SMK had also done some huge damage. The bullet went into the forward portion of the shoulder and went through the lungs into two ribs and was stuck inside the hide on the far side! The wound channel was larger than a golf ball and there was bloodshot meat all the way around the holes for a radius of about 1 foot! I have never seen so much internal destruction on a big game animal in my life. This was like hitting a rockchuck with an 87 grain vmax bullet from a .243. But there was still great penetration too! This bullet was awesome. And the mushroom was almost textbook. These moose never stood a chance against this bullet.
After several hours of butchering, we managed to get the moose out and back to camp. What a weekend! It was exciting, but I'm glad it's over. Once you pull the trigger on a moose, the fun is done and the work begins.
Here is some photography from the hunt:
The moose locations as viewed from the shooting spot
entry wound on my cow's shoulder:
Here is the recoverd 300 grain .338 Sierra Matchking:
And finally, a bull in a buggy with my rifle:
Thanks to Uncle B for his hard work and all his efforts. He's a good sport to come along and man the spotter and the camera. It's not an easy job.
And thanks to our new friends for helping get our moose out. I hope that mount turns out great.