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Nebraska early season elk hunt, part 1

 
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Old 08-28-2007, 10:07 AM
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Nebraska early season elk hunt, part 1

Just finishing up our 2007 early season elk hunt on the Rocking Heart Elk Ranch near Chadron, Nebraska. Now before I start with the hunting story, let me say from the start that this hunt was on a high fence elk hunting ranch. It is not a shoot an elk in a pasture type hunt but it is a high fences area that is very large. Walking across it would not be something I would want to do. Many are opposed to this but in my opinion, these hunts can be some of the very best opportunities to be able to harvest a fine animal as well as test new equipment such as bullets and rifles in an situation that is somewhat more controled then a public ground hunt. Also, the ability to get field results in a hurry really relys on this type of hunting when bring out new products at least when you want to test them on large game which is what I wanted to do with the 338 Allen Xpress and also with the new 265 gr AT RBBT Wildcat 338 bullet.

So just to make sure the point is clear, I am in no way trying to say the elk taken in this story are wild free roaming elk. What I will say however is that it was vastly harder then I ever expected it to be.....

Our adventure started off On Thursday morning as we left home early and headed south for the 11 1/2 hour drive to Chadron, Nebraska and then to the Rocking Heart ranch owned by Ron and Judy Scherbarth. We had hunted on their ranch earlier in the spring to get an idea what it would be like and really had alot of fun with some challanging hunts so that is why we booked the elk hunt.

We arrived around 5:30 and got the motel room set up and taken care of and then drove out to drop off the gear at Rons house on the ranch. Got out there around 7:00 and he met us at the door and wanted to know if we wanted to go do some scouting for an hour or so before the light faded. We were all over that!!!

We drove out in his mule and parked on the ridge of a hill in one of his big meadows . There were at least 30 bulls ranging from two year old bulls up to very mature bulls in the 9 year old range.We glass over the herds for the biggest bulls to try to find the ones he had told us about from his eariler scouting trips.

We spotted three of his biggest bulls. Kept track of them by their ear tag numbers(this proved to be very helpfull later on!!!) The first bull we spotted that looked good was "9L" All of the bulls with "L" were 7 year old bulls, Ear tags with "K" were 8 year olds and there was one "J" bull which was 9 years old.

"9L" was a VERY big typcial 6x6 other then two kicker points on his right G-5 which were both around 5 to 8"; long each. Ron said this bull was a 385 to 390 class bull.

We then spotted the big non typical he had talked to me about. His left side was a perfectly typical 6 point with good tine length and very long main beams. His right side however was all screwed up. He had a typical 5 point frame but then had two huge points on his bottom end. One coming off the base under the main beam and the other coming out of the junction of the main beam and his second point. They were both very long, Ron estimated they were in the 24 to 25" length each!!! He also had a non typical point coming off the side of the main beam at his royal point as well which also forked at the top of the point. This point looked to be a foot long or so. He was not overly wide, around 35" inside Ron figured and said he thought he would score 415 to 420". He was "81K" and the one I decided I wanted.

The other bull was the oldest. Just called him "Red" because he was the only bull on the property that had a red tag meaning he was 9 years old. The year before, his sheds scored 413 as a typical 7x8. This year he lost alot of length but was still very long in the main beam and very heavy and Ron figured he would be around 385".

There was also another bull, "12K" that was a big typical 6x6 that Ron figured was in the 375 to 380 class.

It was very neat to see that many big bulls but to be honest, I was hoping for at least two 400 class bulls and it looked like there was only one on the property. We watched them till dark and then headed back to the house and then back to the motel.

The next morning we made it out to the ranch from the motel at 6:00. There was a heavy fog and so we ate breakfast quick and were headed out to hunt by 6:30. In the fog we drove out to the big meadow. We stopped and got out and Korey grabbed his rifle and we snuck up to the hill where the feeders were on the other side. When we got there there were two elk. One was a 2x3 and the other a very long spike!!!! Not another bull to be found.

The fog was still patchy so we drove over to the other side of the ranch to check out some heavy timbered draws where Ron said the bigger bulls sometimes like to hang.

When we got there we found another big bull. This one was called "Crooked Neck" because he held his head off at a noticable angle. This bull was not in the herd the night before and he was a big bull, just younger with a bit less mass and length then the others still he was as big as any we had seen. Only problem was that he had not even started to rub his rack yet and he was in full velvet. We would have scored around the 370 range Ron figured.

Korey looked him over hards as well as "12K" who had joined up with him but decided that the big "9L" bull was a better bull, I agreed with him so we set out to find him. We drove down into a deep draw, Dad and Ron were in the front of the mule, Korey and me in back Safari style watching for bulls in the timber. As we climbed up over a steep ridge I looked over to my right and saw several patches of tan hide flashing through the timber. Tapped ron on the shoulder and we stopped and I glassed over at the elk just in time to catch a glimpse of the back end of a rack that we had not seen before. He was huge from what I could see.

I could only see from his royals back on the left side but he was a pig. He had several non typical points coming out of his main beam behind his royal making a huge web with the last three points all forking at their tips. HE WAS A BIG BULL!!! I told Korey that I would never pull the trigger on 9L until we made sure what that bull had all around.

We stalked that herd of bulls for 3 hours!!! Finally catching them in a deep draw with half of them bedded down. Getting a look at this new bull it was a good thing Korey waited for him. He was basically a very big 6x6 typical with alot of non typical points on the back end of the left side. His fronts were very long and hooked out and up very aggressively. His thirds were also world class and he had great top ends with extreme mass and webbing on the mainbeam and tops.

I leaned over to Korey and whispered, "There is your 400 bull!!!" He wasn't sure of that so I told him if he did not shoot him, I WOULD!!!!! That made up his mind that I was pretty convinced he was a big bull.

Problem was where he was. If we shot him there, if he fell to the shot he would be a day and a half job to get out of there piece by piece. If he happened to run down the draw, it would be more then that and we would more then likely have to bone him out and pack him out on our backs in some severely steep country with alot of dead fall.

We talked it over and decided Korey, Dad and I would work our way around the herd until we were down wind and on the back side of the draw and then Ron would slowly make his way down into the bottom hopefully just fast enough to make the bulls work their way up and out of the deep draw where we could get a shot and also get to the bull a bit easier after he went down. Ron was pretty impressed with this as he said he had never had hunters on the place that were actually willing to work to get a good shot at a bull. Hell, thats the best part of it, well, a good part of it anyway.

Took us an hour to work around and get to the spot we wanted and then set down. Dad was running the video, I was spotter trying to make sure to find the right bull as there were two other bulls that looked similiar to the big one with the non typical points on their left side, I am sure they were sons of this bull. Only problem is that they were 3 year old bulls and scored around 290-325 is all!!! Wanted to make sure we did not shoot one of them.

After another 30 minutes or so, finally, a big bull came up out of the hole. It was the oldest bull on the place, figures, he had played that game before, only not expecting anyone to be waiting on the top of the ridge. He was first up and then several other 5 year old bulls and then one of the younger bulls similiar to Koreys, I did not think it was him and told Korey to hold off until I made sure.

Part 2 of the story is on the next post because of size..... Read on....
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Allen Precision Shooting
Home of the Allen Magnum, Allen Xpress and Allen Tactical Wildcats and the Painkiller Muzzle brakes.

Farther, Faster and Flatter then ever before.

Web Page: www.apsrifles.com

allenmagnum@gmail.com
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Old 08-28-2007, 10:27 AM
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Part II

Then the big bull came up, it was obvious who he was!!! Long before we even saw his fronts I could see his backs with those three big non typical points that all forked. I told Korey, thats his rack coming up out of the draw. Korey lined up but when the bull came up the side of the draw across from us a small bull ran up behind the big boy and the shot was spoiled. Had to wait and watch the big bull run over the rim and down into the next draw.

We set there until we saw Ron in the bottom of the draw around 800 yards away. We motioned to him that the bull went to the next ridge and he motioned to stay put and he would try to bump them again. Another 30 minutes went by as Ron worked slowly back down the draw and around to the next. This time the first bulls coming over the rim were three small bulls and that was it. We figured the big bulls went over the next ridge instead of back our way. We just stood up to move over to the next ridge when we spotted those big tops coming up over the hill. I told Korey to get up to a big ponderosa pine that was ahead of us and use it for a rest as he may have to take a shot with the bull moving.

THe bull came over the ridge at a trot and down into the draw we were sitting on but right into the group of small bulls again preventing a shot. After a minute or so, he started walking dead away. As he got to the top of the ridge, I yipped to him to try to stop him. He turned his head but kept walking. Then just as he started to go down the other side of the ridge I yelled at him with a loud hoot and I'll be damned if he didn't whirl to his left and the big 358 STA barked and the big bulls feed folded under his chest and he fell where he was standing. Its something to see a bull that side pile up like he was hit by lightening. The 280 gr Swift A-Frame took out the tops of both shoulders as well as the spine.

We set there for a second and the big bull rolled his head back and forth. We figured he would die in a couple minutes so we just set there and waited but the bull kept lifting his head so we decided after 10 minutes to walk over to the bull. When we got there we found out his legs were basically dangling over the edge of a pretty damn steep ridge. If he had not dropped where he did, he would have went right down into hells country!!! Korey put another one in him to make sure he did not wiggle his way off the top of the rim. He put one down through the top of his withers and it was all over.

The bull was a hog, not overly long in the main beam but very long even points and alot of mass on the main beam. He had 7 points on the right and 10 on the left.




When Ron got there he just scratched his head. He had not seen this bull all year and really did not have any idea he was on the ranch. By the time we got him hauled out, hung and skinned, caped and put in the cooler the day was pretty much over. We ate dinner and headed back to the motel as we were all whooped little puppies, pretty pumped up though.

Before we left Ron just rough scored Koreys bull which was a 7x10. Came up with 403" SCI!!!!
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Kirby Allen(50)

Allen Precision Shooting
Home of the Allen Magnum, Allen Xpress and Allen Tactical Wildcats and the Painkiller Muzzle brakes.

Farther, Faster and Flatter then ever before.

Web Page: www.apsrifles.com

allenmagnum@gmail.com

Last edited by Fiftydriver; 08-28-2007 at 10:57 AM.
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Old 08-28-2007, 10:28 AM
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Part III

Part III

The next morning I was raring to go hammer that big non typical. Ron said he was the highest scoring bull on the place, that was until he saw the one Korey shot and then said they would be very similiar in size. I was thinking it may be possible yet for both of us to bring home a 400" class bull.

We drove out to the far end of the property. Ron said the big non typical and several other mature bulls generally hung out around a couple deep draws on that end of the ranch. Unfortunately he drove up to the first draw and nailed it on the head, the old boy was in there with 5 other bulls, all good bulls but we got to close and blew them out of the draw. I just caught a glimpse of "81K" as he bailed out of the bottom of the draw. There was no mistaking that big non typical point coming off the base of that right antler and hanging a couple feet out of the base.

We decided to give them some time as they were not overly spooked and then we tried to loop around them on foot. First try almost worked but instead of getting ahead of them, we looped right into them and blew them out again. We tried again to look but this time they were moving to fast and got to far ahead of us.

We walked back to the mule and drove around to the other side of the canyon to see if we could glass them down in one of the draws on the other side. When we got there we found plenty of elk but none of the bulls that were in the herd with 81K or him. By this time it was about noon so we took an hour or so for some lunch and talking over where the hell we thought he may have went.

After lunch and a bit of a break we drove back to the other side of the draw where we started. This time we took our time over the draw and I'll be damned if those bulls did not come back to the exact same draw. Only problem this time, the wind!!! We were busted again by an unexpected swirl and unfortunately 81K was the first out the door again. From that point on, we never saw 81K again. We busted that canyon all day, in fact until 6:30 that evening. We caught up to the group of bulls that was with 81K but he was not there. He simply disappeared and no matter where we went we could not catch a glimpse of him. We thought we had finally caught up with them but only to find 81K had dropped out of the herd somewhere.

We talked it over sitting on our tired rears in some thick timber taking a break. To be honest, we were all pretty weak in the legs from walking the steep draws looking at the same damn bulls over and over having no idea where 81K was. We had put over 10 hours into walking this canyon with not even a hint of a shot possibility and only two positive sightings and one maybe sighting.

I asked Ron if the bulls generally came out onto that big flat in the evenings to feed and he said many times they will, at least all the young bulls will come out and alot of the mature ones but every night some of the bigger bulls would stay in the black timber until it was dark and then they would come out.

I told him we might as well take a break for an hour and then set up somewhere where we could see as much of the meadow as possible and just sit there and wait for the evening. If he showed up great, if not, we would start over in the morning and give him a night off from being chased all over. Obviously at this point, he had won that game!!!

We laid back there on the hill for an hour or so and then drove over to an area in the timber and parked right on the edge of the treeline. There were over a dozen smaller bulls already on the flat eating grass. They had had a good bit of rain a week or so before we got there and fresh grass nubs were coming up.

We got set up, Dad was videoing some of the bulls and we watched to pair of bulls put on some entertaining sparing matches. Nothing serious but two of the bigger bulls, "9L" and "12K" pushed each other around a bit which was fun to watch. We were 750 yards from them and you could easily hear those big horns smacking each other with no problem.

After about 30 minutes a couple other mature bulls broke the treeline onto the park and started eating. They were in the group that had been with 81K earlier in the day.

Shortly after them the big boy came out. I got on the rifle and rangefinder and he was 510 yards out but walking dead away from us. I think Ron was a bit worried about me making the shot. He commented the fathest shot he had ever seen on a mature bull elk was around 400 yards. Kind of made me smile as I was watching the bull through the Weaver Tactical set on 14x to make sure he was 81K with those big nontypical points it was not hard to confirm who he was. His body size was just huge. I asked Ron how much he figured he weighted and he guessed over 1100 lbs live weight before the rut for his 8 year old bulls. As I was looking through the scope I commented, "your farthest shot witnesses may be broken tonight!"

81K continued walking dead away for quite a while in that lazy walk that big bulls have. Like their to darn heavy to even move. Then he stopped and to all our suprise, laid down!!! He was laying quartering away from us. The sun was starting to dip pretty low, in fact the shadows from the pines were covering most of the meadow now so I was getting a big worried. Then just as I was about to consider taking a laying shot, a small 4x5 laid down right behind 81K!!! It was like he knew exactly what he was doing.

I told dad to just keep the camera on him as I was going to get set up for a shot if he stood and cleared from the small bull. I ranged him several times. He was so big I only got one measurement 604 yards.

We set there for 20 minutes. The sun was on the ridge by now and I was thinking we would be waiting another day to kill this bull at least. Then all of a sudden he stood up and stretched. I tucked the 2nd mil dot down from the main crosshair right in the shoulder pocket of the big bull before he came to a full stand. He took a couple strides, I figured he covered no more then a few yards, estimated a 607 yard actual shooting range which would not change my hold at all.

I asked to make sure Dad had the camera recording and he gave the go ahead. Seconds later, the trigger broke and the only reaction from the big bull was that he lifted his nose in the air slightly. I raked out the empty and got a fresh round in the chamber in a second. Just as I found the big bull in the scope I heard the THWACK drift back across the +600 yards. Then the big bull lifted up his off side front leg and then took a half falling/trotting semi-circle trot of around 5 strides and fell over on his right side.

When he fell, his offside was laying up and there was a large red stain on the offside just behind the shoulder. Obviously full penetration!!! There were no solid shoulder bones hit but the bull still went down within 25 yards!!!!!

When we got down to him, I damn near fell over. I knew he was a big bull but had no idea how big he really was until I get my hands on him. Ron was even amazed. We took pictures and started getting him ready to haul out.





He was pretty much exactly what we thought he was, only bigger!!! 11 points on the right side, 7 on the left. When we got him skinned, caped and put in the cooler I ran the tape over his rack and came up with the following score sheet:

Measurement Right Left
Main......................................61 5/8......................56 4/8
T1.........................................16 0/8.....................16 5/8
T2.........................................19 0/8.....................17 2/8
T3.........................................no point...................20 4/8
T4.........................................21 0/8.....................24 2/8
T5.........................................4 5/8.......................14 1/8

NT1.......................................3 3/8.........................2 2/8
NT2.......................................25 7/8
NT3.......................................1 4/8
NT4.......................................31 1/8
NT5.......................................17 4/8
NT6.......................................1 4/8

C1........................................11 3/8.......................11 0/8
C2........................................11 3/8.......................8 3/8
C3........................................8 0/8.........................7 6/8
C4........................................10 3/8.......................6 2/8
Length Totals.........................244 2/8....................184 7/8
Inside spread credit.................37 3/8
Total SCI score......................466 4/8

We were all pretty much amazed. Now remember that SCI scoring system is a total inches system with no deductions. Just the total inches that are on the animal which in my opinion is the best way to really represent the true size of an animal. Scored on the Boone and Crocket scoring system, the gross non-typical score would be the same as the SCI but the Net non-typical score would drop to 420" mainly because of the lack of a typical G3 on the right antler by B&C standards. Still a hell of a score but does not represent how big this bull really is.

The performance of the new 265 gr AT RBBT at least in this one example could not have been better for the shot placement. The bullet landed just behind the shoulder on impact leaving a 1/2" entrance wound. Centered a rib going into the chest cavity. Both longs had a continuous 3 to 5" hole bored through them. On exiting the chest cavity the bullet centered another rib and left a 1" exit wound in the hide.

It appeared that expansion was not overly excessive but enough to produce a very respectable permanent wound channel while still retaining enough weight to full penetrate the width of an animal the size of this elk. Could not be happer with it on this shot. More testing to come this big game season as well but so far its off to a hell of a start.

The next morning was much more casual. We headed out to get Dads ram. We had looked over the Fallow but there were none that were really that big and all of them were still in full velvet and dad did not care much for that so he decided he would rather take the ram.

It took us a couple hours to find him but finally we did and dad made a great shot with his 25-284 and put one of the Wildcat 100 gr Bonded Core HPs right behind the shoulder and the ram fell within a few yards of the shot. The range of the shot was around 125 yards in some heavy timber. A good shot.



He is a good ram, 27 1/2 and 28" curls. Significantly bigger then the one Dad shot this spring and he scored 124 5/8" which easily maked the SCI record books, in fact places Dad at 171 in the world in the current record books for hybred sheep species. I only have one ram larger then this one.

He has a really pretty cape as well so I told Dad I would get him shoulder mounted for him for some more shop decoration!!!

After that we headed back to the ranch for lunch and then to start butchering. That took most of the afternoon but we got those two bulls quartered and packed up in the 6 coolers we had and put them back into the cooler to stay cold until we left the next morning. After a good dinner and a good nights sleep we made the trip home with no troubles at all.

Was a great time for all. I will be honest, obviously this is not the same as a wild elk hunt, not one is saying it is close. The physical strains of most back country elk hunts is extreme and generally end with no animal more often then not.

The odds of getting a big bull on this type of hunt are great if you can shoot. The biggest challange is getting what you want and being able to pass on smaller bulls that are still very large and right in front of you many times.

Still, this hunt was much more of a challange then I ever expected which just added to the fun. Got some great field testing, some great pics, some great video and some big critters and best of all some time with family, thats what its all about.

Now its back to the shop to get out some more rifles.

Good shooting and good luck this big game season.

Kirby Allen(50)
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Kirby Allen(50)

Allen Precision Shooting
Home of the Allen Magnum, Allen Xpress and Allen Tactical Wildcats and the Painkiller Muzzle brakes.

Farther, Faster and Flatter then ever before.

Web Page: www.apsrifles.com

allenmagnum@gmail.com

Last edited by Fiftydriver; 08-28-2007 at 12:15 PM.
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Old 08-28-2007, 10:46 AM
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Kirby:

Great story and pics. Nice shot on your elk. Gets the blood flowing just thinking about getting out hunting. Thanks for sharing.

WG
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Old 08-28-2007, 11:21 AM
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Kirby, great story and pics, I can't wait to see the big boy when I come out. Congratulations on a great shot. Congratulations as well to Richard on what appears to be a very successful new bullet. It's great to spend quality time with family isn't it? Do ya feel refreshed now? GOOD, get back to work!!! LOL
Jim
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Old 08-28-2007, 12:10 PM
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Kirby, That is a beautifull bull!!! Congrats on such a great hunt. Maybe me wishing you luck helped LOL.

Michael
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Old 08-28-2007, 12:57 PM
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Kirby:

As usual great write up, pictures and super animals. Tell Korey and your dad congratulations on a great bull and also a great ram. Looks like the Allen boys had another pretty good trip.

Non-typical elk are pretty rare around here but it looks like you guys found some dandies. Those racks, the bulls and the ram, are something I'd guess you'll be happy looking up on the wall at. I know I would be. 403" and 466 4/8" is something you guys are going to have a hard time beating.

Elk are big tough animals and I've seen them react like your bull did. Dead on their feet, but no initial reaction to the shot if no major bones are hit..

Looks like the gun, the Allen Mag and the Wildcat bullet did the trick, just like you predicted they would.

Now we'll see what happens for the rest of the 2007 season.
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