It's been a couple weeks since the hunt. Busy, computer trouble...
I put in for cow elk here in Utah. I was anticipating a new rifle from Kirby and wanted to make sure I got to shoot something with it. Happily, I got lucky and drew a tag. The area had been hunted hard during the general seasons and didn't hold many elk until snow moved 'em back. Around wednesday we got a good snowstorm, and I made plans to hunt with my son, Kayden and brother, Jared.
By the time saturday rolled around most of the snow had melted. I figured the elk would be furred up and staying in or near the snow. I chose a trailhead leading to a high snowcovered peak. Kayden, who's nine as of the 22nd, Jared, and I saddled up before light and headed for a glassing spot in the pre-dawn chill.
We stopped at a vantage point and soon located a lone 360ish bull, a 170ish muley, and a herd of around ten cows. They were all high and in the snow. We watched for an hour then I tried to get a range off a knoll I figured to be halfway. My $1k rangefinder was broken!
Around noon we were back at the glassing spot with a borrowed rangefinder. We glassed up the bedded herd of cows, then headed up the trail. We were a couple of line-of-sight miles from the elk. The day was sunny and pleasant. As we rode we enjoyed watching the muleys. The rut was going and every little shady spot seemed to hold a few does and a buck. The trail switchbacked up the steep mountain. Each turn presenting a greater view as we let the horses blow.
After months of hard riding and hours of steep climbing the horses were tired and need a break. Mabey my fat carcass had something to do with it? we were still a mile from our intended shooting spot wich is behind the cameraman. While the horses rested we glassed. A few minutes turned up a couple cows bedded in the scrub oak.
I didn't take any of the photos. Jared took this one. This is through a 20x spotter. I don't think he had any zoom on the camera. I don't think he could see the blade of grass in the way iether. This was Jareds first hunt. Having learned to shoot in the Marines, he was fascinated with my long range shooting. He doesn't have much experience but took to it like a duck to water. I was tempted to let my son spot / watch but decided I needed the feedback Jared could give.
With plenty of time, I carefully set up for the shot. I put the laserguide on the tripod and ranged the young cow several times: 1188 yards. Cosine .95, ellevation 9500', baro, 22.6, temp 45, humidity 28. Xbal said up 26.25. I started with 2 minutes of wind, but an hour later I had taken it all out as the wind had died completely. The shot was a bit challenging. With only one spot to shoot from I had to build up a rear rest for the 18 degree incline, and cut some brush thirty yards ahead.
Finally, we were set, solid, and the elk stood up to feed. "On it" I said. Send it, Jared replied. I chucked the 210 berger off the mountain and waited for the spot. The sun was setting behind my shoulder and flashed off the ocular lense in the recoil. Consequently, I couldn't spot my own shot. "Miss, barely over her back", Jared said. I cranked the scope down a minute and settled in for another shot. I'd held for a high shoulder shot. As she looked around, wondering at the size of the local insect life, I settled the cross hairs on the shoulder.
This time I chickened out. I dropped the crosshairs to mid body instead of high shoulder. Because she was quartering away I should have also pulled them back. I didn't. On it, I said again. Send 'er, Jared replied. I chucked another berger off the hill and blinked at the flash off my lense. This time I saw the bullet hit shoulder and stagger the cow. Hit, shoulder, says Jared. I realized I should have held further back as I crank another in.
As the other cow aproaches to see what's wrong with the one I'm shooting I realize the young cow is this years calf. After a few minutes the calf turns a 180, presenting a nice quartering to shot. Ready, I call. Send it. Boom. Whack. Two broken shoulders. She's done, says Jared.
Now Kayden gets his turn at the spotting scope while Jared and I hastily load rifle and gear. We've got to cover a steep, thick, nasty mile in half an hour, or it'll be dark on us. Kayden informs us the mother won't leave the calf. Then, we bail off the hill leading the horses. The first half mile is straight down. I have Kayden move ahead and to our right as the horses tumble pumkin sized rocks downhill.
We make it just at dark. We build a fire, and have a quick dinner before Jareds first quartering / dressing job. With the front shoulders smashed and the calf the size of a nice muley the quartering goes quickly. We are soon on the horses and enjoying the ride to truck in the moonlight. Kayden had a field day with the camera while we processed the elk. He then got a kick out of the horseshoes sparking in the rocks. I was impressed with him. I had worried it would be too much. Leaving home at 4am, we rode 6-8 hours, hiked for an hour, and glassed for a couple more.
The whole outing was surprisingly pleasant. The weather was beautiful. There was plenty of wildlife to entertain. We got to shoot. We got to build a fire. With the target being cow elk, I was surprised how relaxing it was, just enjoying the trip. Jared and Kayden were both exposed to a part of my life I love. We enjoyed each others company and the granduer of the outdoors immensely.
On another note, here's the pic of dads antelope from the story in October. This is dads first kill.
This one is Adams (sisters husband) first kill. First morning of his first hunt too. Unfortunately, the batteries in the camera had died. This is a cell phone pic. First kill: 752 yards.
Dad also had an elk tag. However he didn't have much time to hunt. We made it out the last day. We found a herd and were in the final stages of setting up for a 1408 yard shot when the fog rolled in. No dice.
The rifle used was the one in the antelope pic. Semi custom 300 win mag, 210 bergers (awesome bullets), honest half minute rifle / load. I haven't seen the APS creation yet. But, I'm as eager as a newleywed. Kirby's like my first wife, the worse I want it the longer I have to wait!