I've been waiting for this thread to get through the initial swarm of bashes and complements before I said anything, but here it is;
First off I'd personally really like to know what bullet it is that you used and feel like it probably didn't expand like it should. I know you've elected not to mention it publicly, but please PM me the details if you would. I've never shot an elk at all, but I don't want to use a questionable bullet on LR deer or antelope either. I'd at least like to know the velocity limitations on said bullet.
I realize all bullets can and do fail. Hell, I've seen Sierra Gamekings mushroom perfectly yet only penetrate 12", staying just inside the offside hide of a whitetail buck and he went about feeding just like nothing had happened and finally laid down and died 5 minutes later!! That's still a mystery to me, but I Kid you not, it happened right before my eyes. I dont remember the vitals that were hit, it was a friend of mine doing the shooting, but I believe his lung or lungs were hit. That bullet expanded and retained over 50% of it's weight, but the deer didn't act hit in any way whatsoever!! The bullet didn't pass through and it shoud've!! I still cant believe it today!
Now to pass on another story.
The first big game animal I've lost was the season of 2010. My son made a wonderful running shot on a whitetail doe at about 150 yds. Sent her tumbling end over end literally and then nothing......No movement except her head flopped up into view above the grass every now and then, we assumed she was down for the count with a spine/shoulder shot and I proceeded to fill 2 of my doe fawn tags by shooting the two fawns that were out beyond her in the clearing.
Two shots, right over where she lay and still nothing. So we decide to go cross the river and backtrack to where all 3 of the deer lay and get them cleaned (an 800+ yd walk total). No sooner than we approached and she was up, bleated a couple times, jumped across the river and crashed into the willows on the other side. Then we heard another bleat come from her but couldn't see her. There was blood where she laid originally, and blood in the water from her crossing. My son couldn't shoot because when she crossed, she actually put herself closer towards us and I was then between her and the rifle! Glad he didn't shoot, but I wished I'd of had a shotgun with 00 buck at the ready.
My son made the 800 yd dash to get back on the other side of the river where she'd went. I stayed at the ready on my side of the river where she'd crossed. It got dark and he couldn't find her. I did hear another bleat and some more crashing once he got close, but those 10' tall willows were just too thick for him or I to see her, even with flashlights, and we had to call it "too dark".
Went back the next morning and found blood where she'd laid down right across the river in the thick tall willows but no blood trail and no deer, we searched for about 3 hours.
Just judging by where he shot this years running doe (same spot, same distance) my guess is he hit barely below the spine close enough to temporarily paralize her, but no real vital damage.? This years doe didn't get away however, and we found her laying dead right where he last saw her with a spine shot above the liver and massive internal bleeding.
It sucks when it happens, but it's happened to all of us that have spent any time hunting. Long range or not, it happens. I applaud you for posting this thread and please do let me know which bullet it is that you don't have much faith in at this point.
While I'm on a roll, I have a bone to pick with some (most) of the hunting channel archery hunting shows. While I completely understand giving an animal a chance to expire when shot with a broadhead, as often as not, I see them wait until the following morning to retrieve it! Who eats these critters?? I'm not picking on anyone who might be an archery hunter here on this forum, but maybe someone could explain this to me?
For one thing, lesser of two evils. The chances of a bull getting up covering A LOT of distance if you push him are high, and the chances of getting a second finishing shot with a bow are very, very low.
I shot my archery bull right at the end of the day this year. He went down in sight. Given how remote we were, the idea of trying to fully process the animal in the dark and risk someone getting cut was not inviting. A bull had been shot about a mile away the previous morning, and what must have been dozens of coyotes were on the processed carcass right a nightfall.
Normally, given the nighttime temps of about 50 and daytime temps of 80-85, I would have gutted him and spread him to get the meat cooled down before leaving him. However, I was afraid that if I did that the smell would bring in the coyotes and there would be nothing left in the morning. So we decided to risk it and leave him.
We were back in the morning and had him boned out by about eleven, it was 80 degrees by then. We worked and hauled fast and had him on ice by about 3pm.
The meat is fine. If we'd have had to spend a few more hours looking for him though it may have been a different story. The meat that was against the ground on the front shoulder -- kept warmest and with the most blood in it -- had not turned but you could tell it was not far from starting in that direction.
Deer I've never had a problem with overnight but elk and holding a lot more heat.
Just adding this because the thread seems to have kinda migrated towards a meat subject.
I've only had to leave a gutted carcass overnight one time. It was in the wilderness of North Western WY in September and I was 15 yrs old. I shot a big muley buck near dark. We were about a two mile hike (direct line) from camp when it got dark, and it was the next afternoon before we got horses and mule back up there via the trails to pack the meat out.
We gutted the buck and drug him at least 100 yds from the gut pile. We propped him belly down, legs splayed over some logs, so air was getting up under him, front and rear quarters were kinda up in the air. We slit the hide from the brisket, down underneath the shoulder, and back to the ribs to help it cool out.
I was worried about coyotes and bears, but the guy that was with me said to scatter around some empty recently fired brass, and tie my orange vest to the antlers. He said no bears or coyotes should mess with it then.......... I even left my hat just for good measure, and he and I hiked back to camp following the creek downhill in the darkness.
Well, long story short; we finally got the mules and horses in back up there and got him quartered and packed the next afternoon, but by then it was too late in the day to try to return to camp so we slept on our horse blankets and hung the panniers in some trees. I've never been so cold as that night sleeping on a wet horse blanket!! Next day, 40 some hours after the kill we finally made it back to camp with the deer and all the meat and all of our own hides too. We were bushed and cold and tired.........but the meat was good and nothing bothered it those nights on the mountain.
We ate alot of that deer the following few days as camp meat.
I was hunting with experienced elk hunters that were all about my dads age, and can only assume that they would've treated an elk the same way if it were in the same situation. Fact is, they probably learned those tricks from getting elk up on that same mountain.
I don't know if it always works, but it sure worked then.
Pretty sure the assumption was that this elk wouldn't be shooting back.
He made a lot of assumptions and that is why the animal was lost. And now we will be stuck with his assumption that it was bullet failure for the next ten years when in fact he doesn't know if it was or not.
Was talking with an aquantance last night who constantly gives me a hard time for shooting such large, high intensity rifles as he says his 270 Win will do anything the bigger guns will do and last longer as well. I told him to come to LRH and read this post. He is not a member here but comes and visits now and then.
Anyway, had an e-mail from him this morning where he simply attacked long range hunting and all of us being ego bound for the reason that this elk was lost.
And that his 270 would have done as well or better then how this story turned out......
I looked at the time of his e-mail and noticed he had JUST sent it and that he was marked as on-line with G-mail so I sent him a chat message to see if he was around. He replied and the debate started......
Asked him if he remembered loosing that big 6x6 bull elk two seasons ago during the Montana archery season? He replied that he remembered but asked what that had to do with anything. Well, when I heard about his situation, he was down at a local archery shop owned by a friend of mine. I had stopped in to talk with my friend and there was a group of guys talking about archery hunting stories. I was just hanging around listening to the conversation as my friend was working with a customer. I was amazed to hear story after story from these, "self proclaimed archery elk hunting experts", about elk being lost. Of the 6-7 guys in the group, I heard 5 different stories of hitting and loosing elk during archery season.
When they talked about each story, each and every one of them had an excuse as to why the elk had gotten away, bad broadhead performance, elk took a step (no fault of their own for the bad hit!!!), bull jumped the string. After hearing just about enough of the crap I walked over and asked if what I was hearing was true, that 75% of the hunters flapping their jaws had lost a bull elk in the past 3-4 years and not one instance was because of a bad shot from them?????
They just stood there stupified that someone called them out on it as it seemed this was not unusual in the bow hunting crowds. Just something that happens and is part of bow hunting, thats why its "SO DIFFICULT".
One guy spoke up and replied, well, we do not feel that we need to shoot cannons to harvest our big game animals. My only reply before I left the crowd was "ya, your archery gear is doing very well for you, isn't it!!"
My point for this post is simply this. IN my 15 years of long range shooting and 10 years of long range hunting, I have never lost a big game animal that I hit at ranges past 500 yards. Now, I did not say I have not missed animals, there have been a couple of misses for sure but I have NEVER lost a big game animal that I hit at long range.
More to that point, I have spoken with and had reports from HUNDREDS of customers of their big game hunting results at long range and over the past 10 years I can count on one hand the number of big game animals lost from long range hunting.
My point is this, lost wounded game happens but it is actually a very rare thing in the long range hunting community. Even more then that, when it does happen, most long range hunters, just like Elkaholic, are humble enough that they blame themselves before thinking up a list of excuses as to why they lost the game animal when in most situtations, the reason the animal was lost was about 95% on the shoulders of the hunter.
I have heard reports of dramatically more big game lost from conventional rifle and archery hunters then anything coming from the long range community. Yes there are alot more conventional hunters which could mess with the numbers but in my way of thinking, its more likely that we as long range hunters GENERALLY are much more perfectionists when it comes to our equipment and what shots we are willing to take.
At times we make poor judgement calls. In the case of Elkaholics situation, as he mentioned, had he approached the elk with a rifle ASSUMING it was still alive it likely would have been shot in its bed, who of us have not made the same mistake approaching game. How many of us have stormed up to a dead animal that would have jumped up and ran like hell because of our approach to the animal but we were just lucky that the animal was dead or we would have had the same result.
Hell, a couple years ago I punched a decent mule deer buck through both shoulders at a bit over 700 yards with my 7mm AM. Fell on his nose. It took me around an hour to get to the buck. Knowing the buck was dead I decided to go light for the hike to the buck and just took my 1911 handgun and left my rifle at the truck.
Got to the buck, reached down and grabbed the antlers to pull the buck down to a flat spot so I could dress the buck out. Grabbed the rack, started pulling the buck down the hill and felt something odd, the buck was pulling back on me, HARD!!! He then stumbled to his feet, kind of, and flopped and stumbled down the hill about 100 yards away from me..... Obviously I had a fully alive 300 lb buck that was wounded and it was getting very dark and I only had my damn handgun. Well, things worked out, got a bit western to finish him off but my point is I did the same thing Elkaholic did, assumed the animal was long dead.......
Generally long range hunters blame themselves for these situations, most conventional hunters and bow hunters I have talked to generally blame their equipment or something other then themselves for this type of thing but most hardcore conventional hunters will call us the ego bound ones.......
There are several good points made by elkaholic to help all of us remember how to do things correctly. 1. Use enough gun with the right bullets for the job. 2. approach big game as if you expect it to jump up and run away.
Very good points for ALL OF US to remember and I commend him for having the humility to tell us this story more for a reminder for all of us.
The .270 probably does just fine for him at the ranges he's capable of hitting.... .
For a lot of us HERE an 800yd shot just starts us thinking about "Long Range". For the average hunter though .300yds is beyond the limit they will take a shot. Hell most guys never kill anything much beyond 100yds. Three of the nicest bucks I ever took were between four and six hundred when I'd guided a hunter within range so they could shoot it but were afraid to. In each case I even handed them my rifle and told them exactly where to hold for the kill shot.
In each of those cases I ended up taking the rifle back and showing them exactly what I'd been telling them.
Without the First and Second Amendments the rest of The Constitution is Meaningless.
I will tell you once again you don't have a clue what actually happened with the bullet because you never recovered the elk to see. You make a guess and call it a fact. That's what got the 1LT killed- making guesses.
Shawn related a story about a bear four or five years ago that should have been dead but wasn't and Kirby has retold a story he told once before of a very well hit animal that should have been dead but wasn't. I had the same thing happen with an antelope which I broke both front shoulder on. What happens with these animals is fairly easy to figure out if you ever see it yourself. Usually the bullet passes through both lungs making a large exit hole but when the animal falls, it falls on the wound and mashes the exit wound closed because it is underneath it and on the ground. The entrance wound closes as the hide moves to a new position and seals the small entrance wound. The animal lays there for a few hours and the internal wounds clot and the external wounds clot. This allows it to re-oxygenate the blood and it is good to go again if the limbs are not broken. When I was about 44 YO and running marathons I collapsed a lung but still managed to run 5-8 miles a day for several days until I went into the hospital and was put on a chest tube. So if you do not collapse both lungs by keeping the chest open to the atmosphere or hit enough blood vessels to get it to bleed to death internally it is very easy for the animal to recover sufficient strength to run for a good long distance.
He didn't state it as a fact.
Here is the sad part to me: I have preached to others on this forum about bullets having a window of effectiveness and have even stated that this particular bullet will NOT expand effectively at this velocity (approx. 1860'). I suspect that I made a pencil sized hole in, and probably out, according to the evidence on the ground. Some of you might say, how do you know it was the bullet and not the shot placement?The truth is, I don't for sure but from the blood evidence in his bed, It looked to me like a shot with my .300, and my bullets that are designed for this exact situation, there would very likely have been a dead elk there.
Berating the man most certainly serves no worthy purpose and you are misstating what he has said.
You're a thousand plus miles away so you most certainly aren't the authoritative source on what happened.
He made a couple of bad choices that day and instead of keeping it to himself he decided to share it here to save others from making the same mistakes in the future.
Your berating him just serves to make others tend to shy away from sharing their errors as well in the future which will lessen the value of this forum to us all.
Without the First and Second Amendments the rest of The Constitution is Meaningless.