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Lessons learned this year.

 
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Old 11-25-2007, 04:38 PM
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Lessons learned this year.

It was an interesting season. Although I've shot animals at 'long range' before, it was always out of necessity and not due to prior planning. This year, I 'planned' on shooting long range and only managed 520yds (350yds short of my personal best).

Besides 'trying' to hunt long range, there were some other firsts.

This year, I used electronic muffs for the first time. I'd get on a ridge or point and put on the Walkers Game ear power muff quads, adjust them so I could hear a little more than normal and proceed to glass the hillsides and basins. I heard elk walking in the aspens that I couldn't see (they sound a lot like a horse walking). I heard bugles and cow calls that absolutely drove me crazy because without snow, I couldn't find the animals. One afternoon, after glassing a basin for an hour or so, the sun came out and I got a little sleepy. So I just reclined back and took a bit of a nap. Every time I'd start to fall asleep, I'd take a deep breath and those dang electronic earmuffs would amplify the sound and wake me up! Another time, I could have sworn I heard a growl, maybe a bear or a cougar. Then the second time I heard it, I also felt it (it was past lunch); amplification can do silly things. I finally got used to those problems and then a Golden Eagle zipped over the ridge at an amazing speed and just about scared me to death (the sound of air over its wings at about 4' and then amplified by the muffs definitely got my heart going).

I used a spotting scope more this year than I ever did before. I'd never used a scope with the 45 degree angle, and it took some getting used to (at first I could hardly find the hillside, much less a particular spot on the hillside). All in all, I think I like the angled scope better than a straight scope.

I never used a computer (palm pilot/exbal) while hunting before. Coupled with the Swaro LRF and a Kestrel weather instrument, it worked like a charm. I'd get to a spot and enter the prevailing field conditions, then open up the drop table and adjust it to the most likely range. That way everything I needed for the shot was at my fingertips.

Although I've shot a few times at 'super long distance' (mile+) just fooling around, I never actually expected to hit anything when shooting more than 1000yds. This year, with the 338AM and all my support gear, I fully expected to hit everything I shot at. We hit well up to 1500yds, which is the farthest we shot this year.

I might not have killed the largest elk this year, but I definitely had the coolest looking rifle. I was scoping a point near an ATV trail and another hunter came by and started visiting (when you're way out in the back country, sometimes it's nice to see another human). We visited for about 5 minutes and he kept glancing over at the 338AM. Finally, he just blurted out "What exactly IS THAT rifle?" I had to laugh out loud, because I was wondering to myself how long it was going to take for him to ask.

Then later in the hunt, we talked to some guys that were camped down the road from us. One of them asked what I was shooting and I tried to explain it to him ("408 cheytac necked down, improved ...). Anyway, he reaches into his pocket and proudly shows me a shell from HIS new long range rifle (a 7mm WSM). I couldn't hold back the smile as I sat one of the 338AM shells next to his. His buddies sure gave him the business for such a 'girly' rifle.

We all laughed about that.

AJ
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Old 11-25-2007, 06:17 PM
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A J


Sounds like you was having some Fun .

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Old 11-25-2007, 07:03 PM
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AJ great write up had me smileing the whole time

JIM
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Old 11-26-2007, 01:54 PM
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Well, I am not the worlds greatest elk hunter but I believe the skills that make a person successful at the short to intermediate ranges are the same skills needed for long range. I think longrange builds off of those skills and that you need to hone the short range and intermediate range skills to a razor sharpness inorder to be successful at the longer ranges. So I conclude you did a good job but the elk were where they were and that is the shot you had.

I was impressed by your statement in your story--
Well, 30 minutes later, I had made it down to the point, even though I was doing my best to be quiet, I'm sure I was making a considerable racket.


I am pretty well deaf and if I hear myself approaching the shooting spot then it is clear to me that I am making too much noise. Silence is golden. Even at long range one needs to be quiet.

In addition to being quiet, a person has to have the skills to be able to make a determination at long range that a particular canyon has the vegetation for cover and food that elk like as well as water and terrain features for elk. A short or intermediate range hunter can walk into the canyon and see everything up close but the long range hunter checks things through his binoculars and knows from short range hunting experience that the canyon will or will not hold elk or trophy mule deer.

I personally do not think that buying thousands of dollars of gear and rifles will turn an unsuccessful hunter into a successful hunter. If you canít catch a sunfish on a cane pole with a worm then donít buy a $1,000.00 flyrod.

I have a few thoughts on pursuing personal long range goals and would suggest that elk hunting is not the way to succeed in bettering ones distance records. Antelope hunting is much easier for breaking distance barriers and bettering ones own records. And antelope is no cake walk itself. The winds in Wyoming are fickle and treacherous and you can go for days without getting a shootable wind. Once again, if you canít kill antelope at 300 yards, there is no reason to believe you will be successful at long range. If you should decide to try to break 1K or some other distance you can read my stories and I am pretty honest about the mistakes I made and the things I did wrong. I suspect there are numerous other things to do wrong that I have not discovered yet, but given time I will stumble onto them.
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