A good friend of mine called me about a week ago and told me he had a brother who had drawn a limited entry bull elk tag for the Wasatch unit in Utah. He said his brother didn't have a real accurate gun and was wondering if I would help them out by letting him use the 338 thunder. He also told me that they had spotted lots of bulls, but most of them were out of range of normal guns and since his brother has bronchitis and arthritis, a long range plan might be in order.
Well, how could I turn that down?!
So, Friday night we scouted and found a good bull up high but a bad storm left the high country with dang near impassible roads so we decided to hit some mountains in our backyard. Saturday afternoon found us glassing some nice country full of elk. We found a local bull that has become fairly well known in the area as the biggest bull on the mountain face but because of where he was, most people with tags have left him alone. That's because he was on a super steep, super thick and nasty mountain face that you literally have to "pull" your way through. Very bad spot for older knees and lungs.
Anyhow, we watched him Saturday until nightfall and put him to bed. The plan being to get out there at first light and locate him and dump him from long range.
Sunday morning. We found him first thing and not more than 100 yards from where he was bedded down for the night. So we drove our rigs up to the top of a little hill and started getting things thrown in our packs. 7mmrhb stayed down below with a spotting scope and walkie talkie to inform us of the bull's movements as we started the hike to our pre-planned shooting spot.
Uncle B and I had all the shooting gear and optics in our packs and my friend and his brother had fairly empty pack frames for lugging meat out.
Because of my buddy's brother's bad health, it took us awhile to get to our shooting spot but we finally made it. The bull we wanted was up and herding cows and seemed unaware of us 3/4 of the mountain down below. I quickly got the rifle rest set up and the crosshairs on the bull. A quick look to the ACI and it said .91 cosine. The GPS said we were at 5300 or thereabouts and my thermometer said it was 42 degrees. The bull was ranged at 1302 with the Swaro rangefinder (which immediately gave a bounceback in the pre-dawn light) so I plugged everything into my computer and it said to dial up 22.75 IPHY from my 326 yard zero. Up the scope went and then a quick check on the wind and there was not even a breeze. Uncle B was on the Leica 77 spotter and 7mmrhb on my Swaro 80 down below so we had good coverage of the shot.
Ward got comfortable and squeezed the trigger. Boom! After about a 1.5 second flight time, the bullet made a thud. The bull turned his head like he had been hit and something seemed wrong. He took a few steps and then started backing up while his cows started scramming out of there. I quickly chambered a new round for my buddy's brother and settled the crosshairs back on the bull. "Fire when ready" I told him, the gun is pointed at him and is perfectly steady". Boom! A long pause and then a clear "crack" came back as the bullet entered his front quarter and broke bone.
The bull quickly turned downhill and went crashing into some aspens. We knew right then that we had our bull!
So with 7mmrhb keeping an eye on him from below, we packed all our gear up and headed up the unbelievably steep mountain ahead of us. It took us about 3 hours to go about 600 yards up the ridge and another 3 hours to cut across over to the bull. THe scrub oak and aspens were so thick that I dared not put my gun or pack or varmint rest down for fear of never finding them again! So we lugged ALL our gear up the 3000 foot vertical ascent to the kill site. Once there, we found the bull had slid down into some really thick, nasty aspens and would be in a bad place to work on.
Upon inspection, we found the first shot low and back in the neck and the second shot in the front quarter. It looked to be about a 10" group. No bullet has been found yet, but still lots of butchering and trimming left to do to the meat. I will show a pic of the bullet if we find it. The neck shot went straight through leaving a half-dollar sized exit hole.
After de-boning him and taking the cape and horns off, we loaded up our packs with meat and headed out. We got about halfway down the mountain before it got dark so out came the headlamps and it was another hour and a half after dark when we reached the truck. What a rough day but it was worth it!!
Congrats to W.T.! We knew you could do it! Thanks to my friend for the invite and for a great day. I hope you can get the rest of that meat out tomorrow with your lammas. Thanks to Uncle B and 7mmrhb for your big parts in the hunt.
We couldn't have done it without the entire team effort. And we couldn't have done it without the long range capability. The time restraints, health restraints, and location of the bull made it a "long range only" kind of hunt. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wink.gif[/img]
Here is my buddy and his brother and the bull:
THis is the same pic with uncle B and myself added minus my buddy:
This is a pic of myself with the horns inside my truck. Notice how wide he is. It almost goes side to side of my 5' bed:
And finally, here is a pic of the mountain. The green dot on the low right is where we parked the trucks. The turquoise dot up slightly higher and to the left is where we shot from. The green squiggly line is our trail from the truck, to the shooting spot, to the kill site. The straight turquoise line up the mountain is the flight of the bullet and the crosshair at the top is where the bull was shot: