Back from my elk hunt, I\'m just sick
Went out to western CO for the 1st rifle elk season with a bull tag. I was hunting the east side of the Uncompahgre Plateau at about 8500 feet.
The hunt started out crappy when my buddy pumped his gas truck full of diesel. That set us back a day or so and we had to set up camp in the dark, rain and cold. We had rain the first 2 days of the season, but some of our friends who live out there took 3 decent bulls. I thought I was going to get a shot at one of them but he wandered up the canyon to the other guy who made an excellent shot.
My 6 month old Burris 4.5-14 fogged up on the inside and I had to set it in the sun for about an hour to clear up. You can bet I will be talking to Burris about that!
On the third day I was looking off the side of a mesa that dropped about 200 ft sheer. There were mixed pines and cedars down below me. I spotted a bull but couldn't get lined up for a shot before he disappeared headed to my left. I kept working my way down the rim glassing and finally stopped and decided that I would watch there since the bull hadn't been moving very fast. After about 10 minutes I spotted him moving slowly. He stopped behind some brush and stood there for a couple of minutes. There was an opening next to a tree near him. I ranged the tree at 496 yds and waited prone with my roto-tilt bipod. He finally slowly moved into the opening and I put my 500 yd wire on his shoulder and started my trigger squeeze. Just as it was about to break I wavered and had to readjust my aim. By then his shoulder was behind the tree and I shot about 6 inches behind the shoulder. I heard the hit and saw the bullet kick up dirt behind him. He slowly continued behind the tree and never came out. I stayed behind the rifle for 15 minutes and didn't see movement so I called my friend on the radio to help guide me to the spot where I shot.
It took an hour on a 4 wheeler to go down and around to the general area where he was and another half hour on foot for my friend to guide me to the tree. About 30 ft from the hit site I found a pool of bright red blood about 12" diameter like he had coughed up or blown it out. After that there were half a dozen small drops then nothing. He had walked down below a small ridge which is why I never saw him come out from behind the tree. I searched for about an hour and it was getting late so I flagged the tree and went out. I figured I would come back in the morning with several guys to search.
We woke up the next morning to a heavy snow just starting, so we hastily cut up a bunch more fire wood and stayed in the tent all day keeping the stove going and knocking snow off the roof of the tent. We ended up getting about a foot of snow all together.
The next morning I went over to the rim and looked for magpies or crows flying around and didn't see any. I went down to the basin and spent 4 hours searching and never found the bull. As we were breaking camp the next day I talked to some guys from Mississippi who were going to hunt that basin the 2nd season. They had a big group and were familiar with the area so they took my name and address in case they found the bull. I'm not going to hold my breath, though. Even if they find the bull, the game warden might confiscate the anlters. He was a nice 5x4.
I definitely learned a lesson on shots at bull elk. I have killed 2 cows and have seen several others killed and they go down pretty easy. I have been told by several local elk hunters that bulls don't leave much of a blood trail as a rule and that they are hard to put down. Next time I will shoot only for the shoulder or shoulder blade. I'm pretty sure that bull died and it makes me sick that I couldn't find him. I shot him with a 338 RUM and a 225 gr AB at 3050 fps. I don't think it mattered what bullet I used hitting him just through the ribs like that.
I hope some of you other guys had better luck than me. At least my rifle shot very accurately. I put 3 shots under an inch at 200 yds when we were verifying zero and I dead centered a rock at 500 yds the day before I shot the bull.