Well...not sure what to say. Disappointment is the first thing that comes to mind. Today was supposed to be my day to come home from a DIY elk hunt w/ my friend JD...we used my uncle's horses and camper. I've done this twice before w/ great success using archery equipment and a rifle.
Travel was done in record time...Armagh, PA to Silt, CO was completed in 24.5 hours! The return trip took one hour longer but still GREAT time.
The plan was to hunt from Saturday (opening day of third season) until we were tagged out or our bodies could not take it any longer. The terrain in the area we were hunting is SUPER wicked.
First day at camp (Friday) had us saddling the horses and taking a cruise up the trail to see what the snow situation was like in the high country. We camped at 7800' but were hunting in 9000' to over 10,000'. Snow cover was sparse...south slopes only...and temps for the week were supposed to be in the 50's (day) and 30's (night)...way too warm for the area we were hunting.
Anyhoo...somehow on this first day at camp I managed to smash my right thumb pretty good. It swelled to twice the size of the left thumb and was pretty much unuseable. Ouchy #1!
First day...saw lots of elk early but could not close distance before they made their way to the mountain tops and out of our reach. Other than that this day was pretty much done.
Second day (and final day...you'll read why in a minute)...up at 3AM, saddled horses and just about ready to head up the mountain when my uncle's horse (Angel) spooks (w/o him on it) and steps off a shear enbankment, pinning herself between a scrub oak tree and the bank...oh...forgot to mention she was UPSIDE DOWN w/ the saddle against the tree and her feet up the hill!! JD and I pulled the halter rope w/ all we had to get her head around while she struggled to right herself and Uncle was pushing from below. She quickly righted her front legs and the back soon followed but the enbankment was too steep for traction and she slid another 25' down the hill onto a trail area. The real kicker is that it was dark and JD and I could not see her rear come around and her slipping...so when that happen we were still grasping the rope w/ all we had...this means that when Angel went down the hill, so did we!! JD smashed head first into a rock while I encountered a tree w/ my head and rock on my left shoulder. Not a good way to start the day!
After getting Angel righted, Uncle proceeded to go deer hunting while JD and I attempted to bag an elk. JD mounted his ride w/o a problem while my ride (Hank...but who I now effectionately refer to as Skank!) was giving me a fit. Once I got aboard he tried to buck me off twice but I got his head up and ended the fight.
Up the mountain we go was before daylight, spot elk and still could not close the distance fast enough. So about lunch time we go back to the rides and plan on ending the day early to recoop from the exhaustive hiking of the day before and that morning.
Again JD gets aboard his ride w/o fault while Peckerhead (oops...Skank...errr...Hank) was still being difficult. I let him graze a little while and tried again. I got one foot in the stirrup and the other just over the saddle when we jumped forward, tossing me onto his arse, he jumped twice and kicked me off.
Now pause a second...230# man, 15# pack, full hunting garb and a $1800 full custom XP-100 get tossed into the air. The only outcome...well...let's just say it was not good but could have been MUCH worse.
I landed on my left scapula (gun was on the right side) and missed a medium size log by mere inches w/ my shoulder and head. Knocked the wind from me but I managed to loose a long stream of cussing that was total directed at Hank. After several moments to gain my breath (and feet) I assessed the situation to conclude that I could walk off the mountain (minimum three mile walk) eventhough I had a sharp pain in my upper left back area and a semi banged up knee. If it would not have been for the saddle needing to get off the mountain, I would have loosed a 160gr Nosler AB into Hank's head.
JD and I (and the horses) made it back to camp, decided to cut our losses and called Uncle to come gather his horses. We packed camp while waiting for Uncle, spent the night at his house and left on Monday AM.
The only good part of the trip...on day two I pulled the trigger on my APS XP-100 7mm-270WSM. After the elk were long gone I pulled out the Leica 1200 and lasered a rock at 429yds. I assessed the slight down hill angle, wind conditions, chose the correct stadia in the Burris scope and squeezed the trigger. Just as I squeezed, the wind shifted from a 12 o'clock requiring no correction to 11 o'clock requiring a correction hold of 3-4" into the wind. I realized this just as it went bang...and my bullet landed 3" to the right. I missed the mark but mentally called the miss before JD spotted the bullet splash. That felt good.
Anyhow...the Dr's visit upon returning home concluded that I had eight dislocated ribs and a sprain knee. Getting the ribs back in place felt about like getting thrown from Hank again...but I know feel much better and the treatment prescribed was heat for the back, easy walking on the knee, Ibuprofen as needed...and fall turkey hunting (OK...I added that).
So this AM I headed for my favorite turkey spot with the APS XP-100. Round about 8AM two large toms made their way along the woods edge but did not hang aroung long. Then the hens started pouring into the field. I picked a group of four, ranged them at 396 yards and got on the gun. As soon as one broke from the group and turned directly at me (head down feeding), I gave the correct hold (no windage was needed) and loosed a 162gr A-Max.
It's not a 340" bull elk but here's the results.
The bullet entered the top of the chest and exited out the pooper (about a 4" hole). Breasts will be good on the grill tonight!