A good friend of mine who I grew up hunting with drew elk/deer tags in Montana with me this year. He had never been LRH before as he typically hunts the Michigan woods, but given my experiences out there last year (438 yds on a muley and 683 yds on a bull) I thought it was wise to have him be comfortable out to at least 600 yds.
He ended up getting a 700 SPS sporter in 300WM and was shooting 180ABs out of factory loads. He practiced and got his drop chart down as I instructed him, and felt comfortable to the suggested 600 yds by the time we left for the hunt.
We had no luck with bull elk. I think with the bad weather that the hunting pressure had been very focused on a few days and since we were going the second weekend of the season the elk had made themselves scarce. We intended to get around this by getting pretty far into the back country (we were backpacking) where there was no hunting pressure, but we found ourselves snowed out of the passes to get back there and ended up spending 2 days camped out viewing a nice spot that allowed 300-950yd shots. We saw nothing but muley does. We finally got up into one of the passes and over it as it thawed; apparently elk HAD been through the area while we watched it, but stayed on the highest reaches of the mountains and out of sight before turning north and exiting the area.
After a couple days' rest filling our antelope tags (nothing special, 300-400 yds all) we decided to give a shot at filling our elk tags in a cow-only area. We climbed up on a butte overlooking a flat, swampy area that we were told was typically a hiding spot for elk. As we would later find this was maybe true opening day, but by this late in the season the elk had been pressured out of there. When sun came up there were no elk, but we did see some deer scattered around.
Soon after light I spotted a buck, but could not tell if he was good as I left my big spotter at home that day to save weight (I was pretty beat up). We lost him, then picked him up again later as he followed some does out. He was a decidedly average muley, but it was our last day and my buddy had never shot a muley so he was more than willing to take him. We had a moderate gusty crosswind, and the Bushnell was reading 550 yds. My buddy is an excellent marksman but is less experienced with executing the calculations of long-range shots so I took the wind readings and decided on the drops for him. We dialed in, and got set up side-by-side. The deer were preparing to circle out so I knew we'd have to shoot soon before they were tails to us. We were afraid that he would be un-locatable if he ran any distance from the landmark he was near, so I told my buddy that if I KNEW he hit him but he did not go down on the spot I would back him up to anchor him. When the wind got within the range we were dialed for I told him to wait for a broadside and shoot at will.
I saw the deer turn and sure enough, my buddy took the first good opportunity. I saw the shot impact him and he jumped, but I could not tell exactly where he was hit. He took a couple jumps and was steeply quartering, but his head was still up and he did not look sick enough to me. Worried he'd take off after the does, I followed him with my crosshairs and sent a 200AB in for insurance. I lost him in the recoil, but when I got back on target he was nowhere to be seen and not among the does bouncing away. We knew he was down.
It did take us quite awhile to find him. We walked all over where we though he was, but could not locate him. I had to walk all the way back up the butte to our shooting location and wave my buddy in using the rangefinder to keep him in the right arc. Apparently he had fallen into a dip nearly under a bush. The insurance shot had been well worth it.
This pic shows the exit wounds. My buddy's shot had been absolutely perfect, taking out both lungs. I'm sure that deer would have dropped in seconds if I had not doubled up on him. My shot entered within 3 inches of the first, slightly further forward, exiting out the neck. There was plenty of damage when we boned him out; the 300WM is definitely overkill on deer under 500 yds but over 500 yds it seems perfect.
He could not stop talking about that shot the rest of the trip, he was so proud to have made that. While he is already an excellent marksman I now have him hooked on learning the rest of the LRH toolkit.
While we ended up leaving with no elk (I had 2 nice bulls in my sights at only 150 yds just before we left but it was a cow-only area) it was an excellent trip. We had lots of good, challenging hunting, saw some game, and pleased a local farmer by ridding his field of a couple unwanted antelope (it was NOT hard to get permission to hunt antelope if you could figure out who owned what).
Unfortunately I'm not sure how much longer elk hunting will be decent there. The wolves moved in this year, we saw tracks everywhere the place we were hunting that last day. I'm hoping now that they have permits for them (a local smoked one scavenging his bull while we were there) that things will turn out better than areas south where the wolves got way too thick while the greenies prevented rational hunting of them.