Well, most hunting seasons I take off from the shop pretty much from the middle of October until December to do nothing but hunt. Put in alot of time and generally shoot better then average animals. This year, the shop work load just did not pan out that way and I just had to keep working through out most of hunting season. I did however have the best shipping months of August and September to date so I guess thats good news and October was good as well.
Anyway, I drew a pronghorn permit this year again and there is not alot to tell. Did not have alot of time to hunt. In fact it was late in the second week before I really went out and hunted at all. Actually I was going up to test a customers rifle before shipping on the property were I do my long range accuracy testing and guess what I found. Drove over a rise and here was this group of pronghorns. They all bailed over the hill so I grabbed old green, my old reliable lightweight 7mm Allen Magnum and ran over to where I could see the opposite side of the valley which would have been from 500 to 800 yards away depending on where they came out at.
Laid there for several minutes and then the does started to show up. Ranged them at 650 yards or so and waited. No bucks at all came out of the bottom. I set up off the rifle and just about that time a small band of pronghorns popped over the ridge off to the side of me. Sure enough the two mature bucks that were in the herd came back for some reason following a couple of the does. They were only a bit over 200 yards away but the largest buck was plenty mature for me, so I centered the crosshairs of the Leupold Mk4 on the bucks lungs and let the 160 gr Accubond do its thing. The buck fell to the shot inspite of no bones being bit other then a rib on the offside.
With the very limited hunting time I had to use this year I was very happy with him. Measured just under 15" long in curl and curled in very sharpy inward, actually crossing his tips. Unfortunately one tip had 2" broken off but he had good mass and above average cutters and scored a respectable 77" even with the broken tip. Had he not been broken it would have pushed the Montana record book minimums of 80" pretty hard.
I was a bit concerned how the 160 gr Accubond loaded to 3414 fps would handle this close impact but it did extremely well. 1/2" entrance wound, 1" exit, mess in the middle.
Deer season opened the weekend of Oct 23rd. Again, I was very limited on when I could go out and on top of that, it was very warm and windy. averageing near 70 degrees for alot of the season so far. Lately it did start to cool off so I did take some time and went out the last two mornings and evenings to chase my favorite targets, whitetail deer.
Yesterday morning I watched two very nice bucks walk up a draw with a handful of does so my Dad and I went back up yesterday afternoon to hopefully catch up with them again and see if we could set up and have them come down to property where we could shoot them.
The big bucks we saw that morning did not show up but we did have a nice solid 5x5 show up late in the evening. Normally, I would have probably let this buck walk even though he is a mature 4 year old deer, just not a real high scoring deer which I knew.
We are heading out for 10 days of whitetail hunting in Oklahoma this weekend so this was my last two days of Montana hunting so I figured what the hell. I did not have my spotter with us but I could easily tell he was a mature deer and a solid 5x5.
He walked down a draw and stopped at 350 yards. Then he started walking back away from us. At 505 yards he stopped to check a does bed and then turned quatering away from us with his head to our right. I was again using old reliable, my lightweight 7mm Allen Magnum. The drop on the scope said to hold 1 mil for this a range and I dialed in 1.25 moa to the right to comp for the wind estimate.
I held for solid center shoulder and let the big 7 bark. The resounding THWACK came back to us almost instantly and you could see the air pocket swell up on the impact sight. The shot did not take the buck off his feet. The 160 gr Accubond impacted about 3" farther back then I wanted to take out the offside shoulder but the buck only took three labored steps and fell over dead.
He was a very heavy bodied buck and I was curious if the 160 gr Accubond even exited with a buck of this size. When we got to him we found that on impact, there was a severe impact wound under the skin. That Accubond did serious damage on impact. In fact it appeared that it had blown up, BUT, on the offside just behind the shoulder blade, there was a 1" exit wound showing that the bullet had expanded dramatically but still penetrated well over 20" and exited this heavy bodied whitetail. Again, for a 3414 fps launch velocity, that is pretty good performance in my book.
The reason for the impact being a bit far back was my error in wind estimate. Normally, when using the old 200 gr ULD RBBT, this amount of wind error would amont to around 1" of additional drift. Generally you never even notice it. But with the lower BC of the Accubond, it makes a bigger difference. Not enough to get you out of the vitals but you better know when you should not shoot in certain conditions if you can not peg them very close to perfect. Another 1/2 moa and it would have been a perfect wind dope!!!
When we got to him, we found pretty much exactly what I thought he was. A solid 4 year old deer. Good mass for his age. Solid points but a bit short but very good bladed eyeguards. He scored right at 135" which is not overly impressive for this area but good enough for this being my second to last day and a good heavy bodied montana whitetail.
And, another +500 yard kill for my old friend which makes 18 big game animals killed now with my lightweight 7mm AM at ranges over 450 yards. Not bad for a barrel that should have been replaced at least two seasons ago.
Now its time to pack up to go chase some big deer down south for a week and a half. Really looking forward to this. Going to the same ranch I went to last year but this year hunting his native whitetails. The ranch owner said we should see some +160 class deer with the potential for even larger bucks then that so I am pretty excited. This will be my last real vacation for the year and then back to the shop to hopefully finish the year off with a flurry of rifles being shipped!!!
Good luck to everyone this season. I did not kill any monster animals but for the time I put into the Montana season, I am very happy with the results.