Well, finally have a few minutes to sit down and write down a bit about the hunt. First off, let me state that this hunt was booked on a large acreage, high fence private hunting ranch. No more, no less, it is what it is and I am in no way comparing it to anything other then what it is so those of you that are opposed to high fence hunting, I respect your opinion and certainly understand your feelings, please do so in return and we will all be happy campers.
We started off getting down to the ranch midday and arrived to find no one around. We figured that they must be off getting supplies or in the field. We unloaded our gear in the cabin and set on the deck relaxing until the ranch owner came rolling in with another hunter. He was an archery hunter and had gotten into a bad situation that morning with a mature cow at 25 yards jumping his string(traditional recurve gear) and his shot landed on the ham and unfortunately did not cut any major blood ways. Took then nearly 5 hours to get another opportunity to finish off the cow but to his credit he stuck with the bad situation and brought it to an end.
We helped them hang, dress, skin and quater the cow and then went into the ranch house for a late lunch. After that the ranch owner Ron, asked if we wanted to put in an evening hunt. Dad and I both agreed and we geared up and headed out. That morning, Ron had seen a good bull in a draw when him and the bow hunter were looking for cows so we drove the ranger to the head of this draw and then got out and started walking mid level up this timbered draw. We ended up at the end of the draw and had not seen an elk, not an animal for that matter!!!
We jumped over to the next draw and worked our way back down to where the ranger was and still never seeing much of anything!!!! We set at the ranger which was parked on the edge of a big open meadow until dark but the only critters that came to feed were a small herd of Fallow and two young rag horn bulls.
We headed back to the ranch for dinner and then hit the sack to get ready for the next days hunt.
We got up, had breakfast and headed out to the south portion of the ranch. It was pretty much the same type of deal as the evening before, drive to the head of these big timbered draws, walk up them and then jump over into another one to walk back down, roughly 2 miles each way. On this hike we did see more elk but only cows and young bulls.
When we got back to the ranger we drove to another meadow and did some glassing. We spotted a group of elk at the far end of the meadow around a mile away. Farther then Dad wanted to shoot at an elk. There were several cows, several young bulls and two decent mature bulls in the 350" range, both clean 6x6 bulls.
We decided to make a stalk on them and dove into the timber and made out way up to where the elk had been but by the time we got there they had moved on and we could not catch up with them. We looked around that basin for a couple hours but could not locate them again. Ron then decided to head back to the quad and drive to the north end of the property where there was a large timbered bowl that often held alot of elk when the temps rose. This was because there were alot of wallows, ponds and heavier timber which stayed cooler.
We drove to one area and then got out and walked up to a ridge that overlooked the bowl. Set up the spotters and started glassing. It did not take long before we started seeing parts of elk here and there in the timber but could never get a clear view of them. After at least an hour of spotting, we did catch a glimpse of what appeared to be a much more mature bull then we had seen up to that point. He was feeding with what appeared to be 6-7 younger bulls and they were slowing heading toward some heavy timber which on the other side of that was a large meadow that the elk liked to feed at during the night. Normally we would have just went and set up on the meadow and waited but there was no way the elk were trying to make it to the meadow before last light so we decided to try to intercept them.
We dropped back down into the draw and then made our way around to another ridge that should put us right between the bulls and the timber they were heading for.
Seemed like forever but finally we saw the first antler tips coming over the curve of the timbered hillside.
First were 5 young bulls and they fed out into an opening. We were beginning to worry that the larger bull had dropped off this small herd until we noticed the young bulls scatter as one of them got a fump full of antler from behind and the big bull pushed them through the opening as if to say they were going way to slow. We were able to catch a quick glimpse of the bull this time. Not overly long fronts, good main beams, great backs and good mass. He appeared to be a clean, typical 6x6. Dad said, "Lets try for him if we can get set up on him."
We did some quick looking and there were two good shooting lanes from out position about 40 and 80 yards down the ridge. Dad set up on the first one, ranged it at 255 yards and told Dad to hold dead on where he wanted to hit the bull. As the bull neared the opening which was only around 5 feet across, Ron blew a bugle to the bull which did not even phase him until he was past the opening, then he did stop for a couple seconds to see who was worked up.
The next opening was tighter, only a few feet across between two old ponderosa pines. This time as the bull hit the opening, Ron cow called to the bull and he stopped perfectly broadside but this time I screwed things up by accidentally hitting the pause button on the camera with my thumb as I zoomed in on the bull. Luckily I noticed it and told Dad to hold off until I could get the camera rolling. By that time, just seconds later, the bull was off and moving again, well past the opening.
We looked ahead, getting a bit frantic now and noticed another narrow window but we would have to relocate for this one so we ran up the hill about 12 yards, Dad flopped down and I positioned myself right behind him, this time keeping the camera rolling!!!
Ron cow called again and this time the bull stopped but turned quartering toward us at around a 45 degree angle. I told Dad to take him right on the point of the shoulder hoping to punch some of both lungs.
At the shot, it was clear Dad had missed the shoulder but had impacted very tightly behind it. The bull stumbled at the effects of the 195 gr ULD RBBT at 280 yards, regained his feet and slowly walked up the hill around 40 yards to the younger bulls that were bunched up and looking all over for what caused the loud noise. The big bulls hind end wobbled and he fell. I thought this was the end but he got right back up and slowly walked another 40 yards. The timber was to tight to get off another shot at the bull but he was not moving well so we knew he was hurt. Finally he laid down again but it took him 10 minuted before he laid his head down on the ground.
We gave the bull another 20 minutes just to be sure he had passed. Through the spotter we could not see any sign that he was breathing so we slowly made out way to him.
He was pretty much what we had thought he was but wider then average. Great tops, a bit short on the fronts but overall a great bull. Dad was very excited and the hectic nature of getting the shot off really had him worked up!!! It was good to see. I will never forget the look on his face when he walked up on the bull and realized it was dead. It has been 40 years since his last bull so he was well overdue.
Here is the happy hunter right after getting up to him.
This view shows the good tops of this bull. Ron said that they had had a very dry spring which was the reason for alot of the short fronts on the bulls this year. He said this bull on a normal year would have been a +380" bull pretty easily but on this year he taped in at just a hair over 365". Still a great bull and again, Dad was very happy.
Dad with his bull back at the cabin. This view shows the spread on the bull which was just over 52". His thirds really laid out well on this bull and gave him a unique look.
Another side view of Dads bull.
By the time we got the bull hung, skinned and in the cooler, it was time for dinner. After that Ron asked if I wanted to go sit on the timberline of a meadow to look for some Fallow, sounded like a good plan.
We geared up again, Dad switched out the 270 AM for the camera and I grabbed my M70 6mm-06 loaded with some 107 gr SMKs at 3400 fps. We drove to the start of a large meadow and then walked to an area where Ron said that a good herd of Fallow had been using regularly for feeding in the evenings and that there had been several mature bucks in the herd. The area was bowl shaped and protected by some rolling hills which I am sure is why the Fallow were using it as a feeding area.
As such, we had to sit up on one of these hills to overlook this area. This also limited how far I would be shooting, from 150 to 380 yards max which was fine.
After 20-30 minutes we spotted some Fallow does working through the timber out into the meadow. It was not long before there were at least a couple dozen does and younger bucks in the meadow feeding. Eventually, we caught sight of some mature bucks hanging back in the timber. There were three of them. Two light colored fawn and one dark red fawn. One of the lighter colored bucks had long main beams but few points and thin palms so he was taken out of consideration for a shooter right away.
The other light colored buck also had long main beams, pretty wide, good palms but not that many points.
The darker colored buck has shorter main beams but very wide palms and alot of points. I figured he would score the best of the group so I set up on him. The two lighter colored bucks were just on the timberline but the darker buck was deeper back in the timber so I just waited for him to work his way out to the timberline for a shot. After 10 minutes or so, to our suprise, the lighter colored bucks went back into the timber farther and the dark buck started to follow. I decided I better take the first shot I had. Ranged him at just over 300 yards which was pretty much dead on for the big 6mm-06. He cleared some pines and presented a prefect broadside shot.
The trigger broke and the 107 gr SMK landed perfectly right behind the shoulder. Had I not had a PK brake on this rifle I would not have known I hit him because he kicked once and then just stood there as if he was not hit at all. I was beginning to worry about the SMK pin holing through the buck so I worked the bolt for another round but by the time I got back onto the scope, Dad said he was going down and he did right there, within 10 yards of where he had been hit.
We walked up to the buck and I was happy with what I saw. Again, not an overly large frame on the antlers but a pretty buck, big palms, lots of points and great cape color. I was very happy.
This picture is a bit blurry, need to talk Dad into letting the auto focus do its job on the camera!!! LOL. The buck has relatively short fronts but was good everywhere else.
He ended up scoring right at 190". Not my biggest buck but a good one. Several years I took another Fallow that scored just over 200" but it did not have near this pretty of a coat, larger framed but not as good of points.
We loaded the Fallow up and got it skinned and in the cooler and hit the sack. We were both pretty whooped. The next morning we got up early, boned out the bull and quartered the Fallow and packed them all into several big coolers and headed for him.
All in all, it was a great trip, fast but good. I was hoping to get Dad a bit larger bull but we killed the biggest bull we saw so you can not complain about that. I also would have liked to shoot a bit longer ranges but Dad made a great shot and I did alright as well so how can you complain about a 2 fer 2 performance.
Now its back to the shop for around 6 weeks until our big game season opens here in Montana. Hopefully get a load more rifles out to customers by then so they can get them out in the field as well.
Hope everyone has an enjoyable hunting season, look forward to all the hunting stories.