Well, 6 years ago this is how it all happened for me.. my start and reason for learning how to hunt long range....
enjoy.... ( ps ,I didn't edit much so forgive me.)
Arrrrghhhhhh.... damn, horse.... How'd he break that picket again....? I thought I said to myself... Just then Steve peered above the mummy bag and said.. "those coyotes barking at him all night that's how." "Christ Steve, you scared the crap outta me..."I didn't know you were up.... "Crap, now I would feel better if I'd crap.. that 30 mile ride 2 days ago has me freakin' constipated!" Hey Steve, that's way to much information and we have 5 days to go, so no whining. He flipped me the bird and rolled over. Gotta love this guy, he's a flatlander but weren't we all at some point.
Hey cheese whiz! You make coffee? A mumbling from the bag filtered out and sounded like ... make your own damn coffee I don't drink the stuff remember.....Damn, I thought.. "yeah, I forgot"... I said.... "Well, then go help Dusty get his foot outta the picket and get KC and a pack horse ready... I got the bird again!" "Hey, assmunch.! get the heck outta your sack and get the horses ready, I'll make some grub!" I got more 4 letter words but I know he just wanted an excuse to get up. After our brief hunt yesterday afternoon, and the images we saw just before dusk were enough to make any man wanna hunt through hell for this deer!
"Man, this weather is dirty cold isn't it.?" I said to Steve as I peered over to see him fixin' his latigo... and glance back at me.... We have this look and all hunting buddies have this look... well, he threw it at me... The look said it all.. he doesn't feel a thing... hot or cold.. the images in his head are haunting him, everytime he looks at the mountain he see him.... everytime he stares at the fire.. he sees him....
We swung over and kissed at our string, just 3 today, and reined them towards the canyon....were only hunting 1 deer and 1 deer only.
About 30 mins up the trail Steve whispered, "we going to the cliffs?" "Yup" , I said...we're gonna set up on the east side so when the sun comes up it'll be at our back.... "good idea, he said" the rest of the ride was silent, both of us just thinking... is this the year?
We pulled in to camp about with about 2 hours of good day light ... threw our stuff in the cabin tent and unsaddled the pack horses, picketed the mare and kicked the rest loose ... we kept our saddle horses ready and headed to a point that over looks the...(well I can't tell ya that) anyway... we set up the spotting scopes to see what the migration brought in... lots of deer this year.... some nice bucks, but not what we want..... hmmm, not sure buddy.. Don't see any monsters ... silence. hmm.. Steve, what you looking at... "coming off the top, about 15 deer," " I can see good horns in the pines.... for the next 15 min. we watched intently as this deer worked the edges of the pines before entering the meadow at the top of the saddle....then... all I heard was my heart pounding as Steve grabbed me by the shoulder... "OH my God!" Yeah, yeah I see him too! This monster melted into the meadow and turned his head to look back and for that brief moment, as short as it was, was all we needed...." well over 30" I shouted!" It was almost like he heard me because he melted back in to the timber ... we packed up and headed back to camp to get our gear put away...and put on some supper.....
We rode for about 20 min. without really saying much. I know, I was beyond words, just thoughts of how to approach this.
Supper was pretty uneventful ... the fire stole our attention and there wasn't enough whisky to drowned this memory... Steve and I exchanged futile glances every now and again...but no words spoken, I wasn't necessary... I broke the silence. "hit the rack," I said? "Yeah, sounds good," Steve said..." I don' think we both slept much ... between the images, the yotes and Dusty breaking the picket ... rest was hopeless....
I whoaed up Dusty and tied off...."tops about 2 clicks west, I whispered" I never had to tell Steve what to do .. we just work that way...on went the packs and I rubbed Dusty's star for luck..as I whispered "bring me luck 'ole boy"
We headed into the black timber almost as if by instinct. Picking our way to the top wondering if he'll be there? We got to the top about 20 min. before first light. We got out the spotting scope, and the rest of the gear, got settled in for first light...
"Damn, this is the worst part, Steve whispered!", " you know they are just over on the other ridge but you can see yet." "I try not to think about it," I replied. ( I was lying to myself and Steve at this point.) It was all I was thinking about.....I uncovered my eyes one more time and I could slowly see the top of the ridge start to materialize. I looked over at Steve and said " game on" for the next 1 1/2 hours we glassed the groups of deer coming off the bottom and the valley hay fields.... "Man, Steve, where is he?" I whispered..". "I don't know!" was the reply... For some reason I decided to look way south to a small meadow on top I remembered.. I have no idea why I just did.... STEVE! STEVE! there he is....there he is! Laying at the base of one single pine in the corner of the meadow was the monster.. He was facing east looking right at us ... almost as if to say.. "well, it is about time", "I've been here for 2 hours, wondering when you'd find me..." " range that son of a buck"!, Steve said... ( uhhh.. we got a problem I thought) Steve, he's at 984 yards.... "WHAT!?!" was his reply.. " he looks closer than that." Steve, no man, he's just that big! ... I was thinking, we better pack light.. it's gonna be a long stalk.. Steve was already emptying his UN-necessaries as I was thinking this.... "Steve take one more look, It could be the last" for the next 4 hours we climbed, scaled, dropped, fell, stumbled our way to a closer look. Every so often trying to get a peak to see if he was there... at 500 yards we verified.. yup he;s there... "Steve, wanna take a poke?" I said... "No way, I don't wanna blow this one." Steve, he may not be there after this next stretch, we make one wrong move and he's into the park." My reply was something along the lines of . "look, don't make a wrong move, if you do I'll kick the living crap outta you!".. "OK buddy, I'll see what I can do...", drop everything but your rifle and bullets ... lock and load..." we eased the face of what seemed like Mount Everest at this point ... and finally came to a small bare spot were I thought we could crawl out and see if he's there... As I eased out I saw the tips of his antlers and the pine tree behind him...I ranged the tree...273 yards. I looked back at Steve, he knew. he just knew. He eased up next to me ... and slid on by...at any moment I knew we had a buck of a lifetime... I was already working out a way to pack him down the mountain ... then I realized. not shot. No movement.. what the? I saw Steve go up to one knee... swinging along the cliffs... I jumped up next to him. "what's up?" "the damn wind changed!" I looked up to see the monster climbing and putting a lot of real-estate between us... "let him go," I said.. "he'll stop one time before he disappears...," "then take him.". that plan would have worked....but he stopped at over 600 yards away.... Steve said, " I just won't take the chance," "I respect that and if you did take that chance. I wouldn't respect you," I replied... " I know," he said.... We both sat there as the monster slipped up the mountain and into the meadow we were watching that morning... It was 1:30 p.m. . "nap,?" I said. " Yeah, I'm beat" We took our ciesta and prepared to head back..... haunted the whole time....
The rest of our hunt was more of the same. Just 2 buddies and the mountains. we never saw anymore shooters that week but man we had a blast...
On our pack out..... we were doing the usual BSin' and reminiscing about the monster. But the thing I remember the most is ... the questions Steve asked me... " How could have we gotten the guy?" I thought for a while... " from where we were when we saw him".. WHAT ? he said . "yup, ... if guys can shoot targets from 1000 yards we can hunt from it...", I replied.... He looked at me like I was nuts..... I think I am.....
I began when I found a new hunting spot overlooking some swamps on the hillside several years ago. There were tall alders on out to about 350 yards where the clearings in the swamps really began, so that was really my closest possible shot.
I got the Ruger 338WM all tuned in the summer before on out to about 400 yards in preperation, if you call reading the number of inched of drop from the Sierra manual "preperation"... Verifying drop never happened, this led to my first miss on a bull in three years of doing it and knockin 'em dead like this. Reading more and more on ballistics and what influences changes, temp, zero shift, misjudging range, and everything else I could find to explain what had happend really got me interested in shooting more accurately. That and the fact that the swamps extended to about 800 yards where I also saw lots of Moose, well beyond reach.
The more I read, the more I learned how to, and that compensating for bullet drop and other variables that effect a shot were really very simple, with effort... so began my quest to master my new 800 yard hunting ground.
Learning more about what cartridges would give maximum advantage at LR was another thing I delved into, and after that met some of these guys at huntameica.com and learned other guys were pursuing the same things. Sometime after that Len started this site up where probably every topic one could imagine pertaining to LRH has been discussed at least once, often in very great depth.
I hold the likes of Len, Ian, Dave, Ric and Darryl responsible for the kick in the ***** I needed to get the right gear, and education I needed to make the most of this adventure. Been a fun ride, and still learn somethin new almost every day.
Great story, looking forward to more. There were several things that got me into LRH, but probably the most memorable influence was a shot my buddy Ernie made on a small bull elk maybe 6 years ago or so. We are backpack SS pistol hunters, and hunt the lower alpine and scrub oak basins of SW CO. One day he and i were glassing a big basin, and located some elk up on a small sparsely forested west facing slope. We could only close the distance to around 550 yds. lasered. I asked Ernie how he felt about taking a shot, and he said not great, but he knew what the drop was out of his XP .284 Win, 3-9X Burris LER scope, with the 140 Ballistic Tip out to 500 yds. He said he just happened to read somewhere that a small bull elk measures about 28" back to brisket He said that knowing those 2 things he felt he could interpolate for 550, aim the calculated distance above the elk, and kill it (we have a lot of team experience shooting pr. dogs over many years shooting together which i believe helped immensely on his decision). So we set up for a shot. The small bull was following a cow thru the pines. I told Ernie when the bull passed into the next open area, i'd bugle him to a stop for the shot. He said OK, so when the bull went into the next meadow, i did just that. When the bull stopped to look at us Ernie fired, and the bull just turned his head and stood there. All the other elk were gone shortly, but the bull's antlers started to droop, and then he just laid down, and died shortly after. That was the main catalyst that got me into investigating the true potential of LRH.
This last season Ernie put 3 shots from his Gre'-Tan XP 7.82 Patriot into a 417 yd. cow, and all 3 bullets (180 Gamekings) formed a cloverleaf group <3" centered perfectly in the elks chest. This year we are heading for Dave Lauck's International Tactical Riflemen's Championships in Gillette, WY. (roving silhouette targets out to 1000+ yds.). It'll be the 1st time anybody's ever competed with SS pistols-- man, i can't wait.
.. Great stories, fellas..!!
.. Mine started with Gene.. Several years ago I wanted to get more seriously into shooting again but didn't have anyone to turn to for advice.. I ended up with a Rem VLS in .308 on a trade and that's where it started.. It eventually turned into a VSSF in 22-250.. I met Gene out at the range and talked to him about how I'd like to get into this groundhog huntin' and that I had access to some property in the mountains but I didn't know exactly what to do.. He offered to go with me and "show me the ropes".. Cool beans..
.. The next day we headed up there and when we got to my cousin's farm we stopped just in the woodline.. We got out and Gene showed me where to look for "slick" holes and 'hogs.. I then spotted my first 'hog afield at a whopping 75 yards.. No matter.. He was toast.!
.. After my non-spectacular first score on a 'hog we moved on out in the field.. Gene found a slick hole and said he wanted to set up on it.. I started to get stuff out but he said "Nope, we're gonna move".. OK.. Next thing I know we're headed away from the hole.. He stopped at about 400 yards out and we set up.. No 'hog ever showed but it got me to thinking that hey, these guys really do shoot pretty long.. I better study up..!! The search lead me to GoGoVarmintGo message board and eventually, to here.. Several trips with Gene to SW Va. and witnessing several "one-shot" 600+ yard kills on hogs convinced me to get more into it.. I joined the SouthEast Hunt Club and there I've had access to a place where I can shoot as far as I care to..
.. The year before last I scored on a 491 yard crow and this past deer season I got a deer at 440.. Nothing spectacular but I'm stepping out as I feel comfortable with it.. This past week I scored my first hits at 1K in terrible conditions and I look forward to a lot more reactive target shooting..
.. Anyhow.. That's my story.. d:^) JiNC
PS- You guys out west make me sick..!! I'm sooo jealous.. [img]images/icons/grin.gif[/img] [img]images/icons/wink.gif[/img] BUT.. We do have a place or two.. Hehehe