Successful Hunting Season
After a friendly reminder from the forum administrators, I realized that I had not posted anything recently. So....I thought I would tell of my "long range" kill this fall.
I drew a combo mule deer/elk tag in my home state of Utah. This hunt runs during the regular elk hunting season and ends a few days prior to the general season deer hunt. I was exstatic for the opportunity to hunt Mulies with a rifle before all the other guys were able to.
About mid summer I learned I had also drawn an antlerless deer and an antlerless elk tag. Knowing that the opportunities were there to fill the freezer, I decided to concentrate on hunting large antlers, especially deer.
After an opening day that met me with much snow and one smallish three point mule deer, I had to work for a few days. Next day out, I was concentrating on filling my tag on a nice mule deer buck.
On this hunt, my friend had also drawn the tag and declared that he would kill the first legal deer or elk he spotted. Upon climbing the long ridge to my predetermined location, I sent my buddy a little higher up the ridge where he would have a good vantage point. Shortly after sitting down on the ridge and beginning to glass, I spotted a lone spike elk feeding about 550 yards away. I looked carefully for his older brother and found none. I then turned around and glassed my buddy 300 yards up the hill from me. Oh no!
Tim was in a predatory stance trying to close the distance to the spike elk on the opposite ridge. I couldn't believe that only 15 minutes into the "trophy" buck deer hunt, my buddy was stalking a spike elk.
All of sudden Tim was down in shooting position and preparing for a shot. Was there another elk or deer on the ridgeline that I couldn't see from my vantage point? I didn't know, but I decided I had better get a little bit closer and start ranging the hillside and prepare for a possible shot just in case. As I moved to the other side of the ridge only 25 yards from my initial glassing location, I heard the report from my buddy's 30-06. Then another and another. By the second shot, I was watching the spike through my rifle scope just in case I needed to make a follow up shot for my "new hunter" buddy. I propped the 7mm Rem Mag up on the shooting sticks and then watched more intently from my binoculars. I looked back up the hill towards Tim only to see him making his way deeper into the scrub oak and working closer to the spike.
I noticed him get to the crook in a tree and rest his rifle to prepare for a shot. By now he had shot three times from his original position and the spike was watching him warily but acted as though he needed more food and began feeding again. All of sudden another shot. I swung my binos back to the spike and saw his head up and alert, then all of a sudden he bolted down the hill into the trees and immediately I heard the report of Tim's .30-06 for the fifth time. Great! He had just wounded a spike elk about as far up the mountain as possible.
I watched the trees looking for the tawny figure to reappear. After about five minutes, I saw the elk again, further down the hill towards me. He was walking through the trees but showed no sign of being hit. I could've sworn that Tim had hit him with the last shot. Being so close to the property boundary and not wanting to let the elk get over the opposite ridge where it was much more difficult to pack him out, I decided that I should take a shot at the first opportunity.
I set up the rifle again, ranged a couple of openings and prepared for a shot as soon as it was presented. The elk moved slowly through the thick quakies and scrub oak. Soon he appeared in a small opening and was facing back up the hill. He appeared to be feeding, but I also wondered if he had been wounded and thus had his head down. I ranged him at 433 yards, got behind the Burris Signature Select with BP retice. I set the 400 yard hash mark on the bulls shoulder about 2/3 up and gently released the 160 grain Accubond. Immediately the elk bolted to the right and then was gone.
Great! Where did he go now, was he down or was he just hiding in the thick growth. I sat there watching intently knowing that if he emerged again from the growth, he would be close to the ridge or lower in the canyon closer to my location. After about 15 minutes I had not seen any movement. I looked back up the ridge to my left to see Tim working his way over to where the elk had been.
I climbed back up the hill a few yards to gain some elevation and to be in position to guide Tim to the area the elk had been. Soon, Tim was in the general area and I was giving him hand signals to the general area that elk had been. After looking for a few minutes, Tim had not found the elk and the elk had not bolted from the cover of the trees. I decided that I needed to work my way over there and try to find any sign of blood or hopefully, my first bull elk that my buddy had "wounded".
I put my rangefinder away and began to sling on my pack when I noticed Tim waving his hands wildly. I watched carefully and noticed he had a large smile and was excited to exclaim that the mighty spike elk had horns and was dead.
I dropped into the canyon and up the other side. I had forgotten how thick that stuff is. Anyway, we found the spike with one perfectly placed hole low in the chest perfectly behind the leg and square through the heart. The bullet had blown out the other side and took out the opposite leg in its exit.
Upon further investigation, we found no other bullet holes and determined that the spike had just been scared by Tim's bullet and began feeding again when things settled down. Anyway, although he wasn't what I had dreamed of, I had still taken my first Bull elk. A Clean one shot kill with a very reliable bullet at somewhat long range. Certainly long range for me, although I had practiced to 535 yards.
We packed the meat down to the trail in the bottom of the canyon and then went back up to where the elk had been originally just to make sure that there weren't two different spikes on the hill. Nope, just the one I killed.
I am grateful that I had this opportunity to kill a bull and I am especially thankful for my other friend who gave up a day off to bring horses in to carry my elk to the truck. I owe that trusty steed a bucket of oats.
The next day was spent butchering the meat for the freezer. I had to work for two more days and then I would be back after the wiley Muley buck. Friday didn't provide a decent buck and so Saturday was the day.
A different friend of mine who had also drawn the tag, and I decided to hunt for the "trophy" buck we both had hoped to find. My brother and his buddy decided to tag along a hope for an opportunity to fill their cow elk tags. At first light, we were 350 yards for a small herd of elk containing 6 cows/calves and two spike elk. We stalked a little closer and my buddy filled his bull tag on his first ever Bull and small spike. My brother then proceeded to take his cow. So much for hunting bucks this year. Instead I played the role of butcher and packer on the mountain. Maybe next year.
I finished out the year with a 195 yard shot on a doe with my 7mm-08 and a 140 Ballistic Tip. Best part of that hunt was the fact that my oldest son, 8 year old Mark, was able to accompany me for the first time. He stayed right by my side as we stalked closer to the deer and watched intently through his 8x30 binos. He saw the whole thing and loved it. I loved having him there with me.
I also killed my cow elk with one shot at about 215 yards. Not much of a long range shot, but it was perfect and she didn't go more than a few yards before it was over.
All in all, I was prepared for the long shots, and lucked out by being in the right place for some closer shots. So...that is how my hunting season went. How about all of you?
Last edited by Firehawk; 12-31-2007 at 12:06 AM.