I joined this forum several years ago when I began seriously thinking about going on an elk hunt. I bought my rifle, a Rem700 Sendero in 300WM, about 3 years ago for this purpose after input here and topped it with a Nikon Tactical scope. Using the ladder test concept I learned about here, I developed my hunting load of 73.2gr Re22 under a 200gr Accubond generating 2945 fps.
I got lucky last spring, and made friends with a coworker who invited me to apply for a muley/elk tag in Montana since he had a nephew who had volunteered to show him and a friend the ropes if we got tags. I was successful, and have spend all summer preparing for the hunt.
I tested the gun out to 860 yds and added a scope level, anticipating steep shots with no straight lines. I bought a Bushnell 1500 ARC rangefinder to get my ranging ability out further and also get me the shot angles. I generated a drop chart compensating for likely temp and altitude differences.
This past week was the hunt. On Friday Robbie (my local guy) hiked us in 3.5 hours into the Bob Marshall Wilderness and cow-called a bull elk within 100 yds of me. I watched in frustration as the 2 cos with him kept him in the timber, never giving me a clear shot. We left tired from the stalk and very frustrated.
The next day we headed for the same spot, this time Robbie had a bugle call (we had not expected bulls to be bugling in November). We got halfway there, and I spotted an ok muley 3/4 the way up a mountain. I only had 3 days total to hunt and we had not seen many muley bucks, so I decided to take him. I got set up, 438 yards and a 15 degree angle. I dialed in, waited 10 minutes for him to clear a bush, and sent the round across the valley. It was dead quiet, and it was neat to hear the bullet cover the distance and impact. He stiffened and fell right over. There was some movement and I did not want him to get in the trees, so I sent another round in.
After boning him out we headed for where we had seen the elk, but would only have 1-2 hours on site as shooting the deer had cost us a lot of daylight. We got there and Robbie did some cow calls, with no response. Then a bugle, and very very faintly far, far off I heard a bull bugle back. I told Robbie I'd heard a bull bugle way over the mountain. He looked at me with that "you must have altitude sickness" look, but I told him to humor me and bugle again. He waited a couple minutes and did, and this time the bull raged back much louder. We looked up the mountain, and he'd already cleared the peak and was coming right for us! Robbie ducked behind a tree and told me we had to drop into the valley and circle closer, but I was afraid of the wind direction and leveled the bipod as best I could right where we were. I ranged him at 830 yards, and told Robbie just to get him as close as he could. He came in pretty well then hung up at 683 yards, and I decided since there was a treeline at 550 I did not want him getting into that I would shoot him there. I checked the angle (15 degrees), adjusted the scope and told Robbie to call my shots for me as we did not know for sure what the wind was doing in the valley between us and the bull.
I shot, and heard the bullet cut across the mountain but nothing else. Robbie said he couldn't see anything and the bull did not flinch. I held the same and shot again, with the same result. Frustrated and a little panicked, I checked my calculations again. I did not know it, but I was hitting him just a little far back of where I was aiming due to wind drift. "Shoot again before he leaves!" Robbie said. I dropped back into position and shot again. "You hit him good!" Robbie said. I did not hear the hit but the bull now reacted by just turning about 180 degrees. I shot again, and missed; I did not know until later but now that the bull had turned I was shooting just in front of him. I was single-loading now, and fired a fifth time. "You hit right in front of his nose" Robbie called (as you can see from the picture I actually hit the very tip of his nose). Now I had it all figured out! I held further left and sent one last round downrange, and was rewarded with a solid "WHACK!" as the bullet hit him square in the boiler room. He bristled a little, kicked his back leg once, and calmly walked behind a tree.
We grabbed the bare minimum gear and clawed up the mountain for a better vantage point. About 5 minutes later as we stood looking for him and deciding what to do, I heard rocks sliding and falling down the mountain and figured it was him going down. We played it safe as I only had 2 rounds left and waited an hour before I stalked up on him; he fell behind a tree and we did not spot him until 150 yds out. He was a very nice bull by the area's standards, scored 249 and change, 6X6.
I checked the wounds as we boned him out, he was a really tough critter to take that number of hits and just stand there. I had been afraid I was shooting bad or the Accubonds were failing to perform but neither was the case, he was dead on hit feet from the very first shot.
I was very impressed with the performance of my equipment. I loaned my gun to another guy to shoot a 160-class whitetail on the plains the next day, he thought he'd already wounded him so took a Texas heart shot at 200 yds that pretty much cleaned out a back ham and everything in its path to the front chest wall. The local guys were shooting 270s and 7mms and had a bit of caliber envy.
Thanks to everyone on the forum who has taken the time to share experiences and advice over the years. All of those contributions led to a perfect hunt for me.