2010 started off with a bang, while filming footage for Send It Volume 3 I anchored a 185” nontypical mule deer at 737 yards with a 338 Edge +P on the opening day of season. I had scouted a lot this summer for a good bull elk for my dad to shoot. My dad has never shot a branch antlered elk and really wanted to anchor one. Of course it couldn’t be just that easy he wanted to take one at longer range using his long range pistol chambered in 338 Edge. I scouted one particular area several times and had videoed and photographed several bulls 5 point or better including one enormous 6x6 that I figured would go 320ish. I showed dad the photos and the video footage and we had decided that this would be the spot for us. In addition to the multiple bulls living in the area the shooting location we found would give us shots from 950 to 1500 yards.
Once we decided that was to be our area for general rifle season we started practicing in areas with similar shooting conditions in terms of elevation, pressure and wind. One thing became clear to achieve the kind of accuracy we would need for a solid hit on an elk the “Canyon Pistol” would need to be limited to 1100-1200 yards for this particular shooting area. Shooting the pistol and my standard Canyon Rifle side by side was interesting. Out to about 800-900 yards there was virtually no difference in the ability to hit a given target, beyond that the extra velocity and stable platform of the rifle made it the choice but not by as much as you would have thought. After spending some time testing and practicing through the summer we had our limits and capabilities dialed in, in short if it was 1100 or closer it was in pistol range, beyond this it was to be a rifle shot. I was really excited about the posibility of dad getting a long range elk on the ground in the spot it had all the things you look for in a great long range spot.
We gathered up our gear (the whole mountain of it) and hiked into our ambush position on opening day. Starting just before first light we could hear a bull bugling down the canyon from us, this was encouraging to say the least. Once it got light enough to glass we started working over the other side of the canyon looking for one of the bulls or the 170” typical mule deer I had seen scouting earlier in the year. We stayed hard at it for about four hours and saw nothing more than a cow and calf elk and one mule deer doe, kind of disappointing but a few of my scouting trips netted the same results, so we called it a morning.
Day two of season was looking good same program a day, hike the gear in setup in the dark and wait for light. As soon as is started to get light the bull down the canyon started bugling again. As it got light the fog in the bottom of the canyon started to quickly rise and we found ourselves fogged in for the morning. The most frustrating part of being fogged in on day two was the additional two bulls we could hear bugling one of them down in the bottom of the canyon where I had twice seen an enormous 6x6. We stayed for the morning and the fog never lifted the whole time we were there. The bulls quit bugling late morning and we bailed about lunch time. I was really disappointed for dad, I felt like if the fog had lifted we would have been in business.
Day three started like the rest except my youngest brother Justin squirreled away some time and came with us. As the first of grey light started we could see some fog in the bottom of the canyon but slightly below where we want to shoot across, so as long as it did not come up the hill more than a couple of hundred feet we would be OK. As it got light enough to glass we spotted a couple of cow elk straight across the canyon from us. I got on the spotting scope and we started glassing around in the pockets of timber trying to locate a bull running with them. After a several minutes we spotted a couple of additional cows, we were glassing them over when I noticed an elk body up the hill and to the right of them 50 or 60 yards. All I could see was from the shoulders back, looking through the Leica spotting scope on 60x I could see the bottom belly fur was almost black and had a lump. I was pretty sure it was a bull so dad started to get my Canyon Rifle setup for the shot. While we were setting up the bull stepped through the open where we got a glimpse of his antlers and disappeared into the timber above the cows. I figured the bull was headed down toward the cows and started ranging likely places for him to come into view. Several minutes had gone by when I glanced up where the bull had entered the timber and spotted him again standing behind a tree. I told dad where he was and made sure the camera was filming. I ranged the spot to the left and the right of him, both being 1315 and 1316 yards and pulled up the drop chart in the Exbal program. The program gave a elevation dial up of 37.50 MOA. I watched dad dial 37.50 and told him no wind as I watched the fog in the canyon below.
The bull stood for what seemed like for ever it was probably only a minute or two at the most when he again reversed course and stepped out into the open. It was absolutely perfect, broadside, no wind, video, spotting scope on him and plenty of eyes on the target to spot. Dad said “I’m on him” and I said “Send It”. Dad applied the 2.25 lbs it took to cleanly break the trigger and sent the 300 SMK on its way at 2800 fps. I watched vapor trail patiently as the bullet traveled almost 2 seconds, dropped 43 feet and still impacted going about 1600 fps. I saw the fur part high in the shoulder in line with the crease, a nearly perfect shot. I called hit and we all watched the bull immediately hit the dirt and start to slide down the steep hillside. He traveled down the hillside about 200 yards and got stuck in a wind fall. This turned out to be a mixed blessing, while it stopped his decent down the hill he impacted the log going about 20 mph and was wedged under it so hard it required packing down a portable winch to free him just so we could start the recovery and field dressing process.
I have now watched the raw video footage several times and it is almost sure to be the stand out clip for Send It Volume 3. This was my dad’s first branch antlered bull and I couldn’t be happier for him. Once again it just shows what the right equipment, practice and technique can accomplish.