That night I got almost no sleep due to the wind gusting and rattling the tent every ten minutes. About 4:00 in the morning the wind shifted direction by about 180 degree and became pretty steady. I got me an early breakfast and headed out before sunup for the Oregon Trail which is the boundary for Unit 70. About 7:30, I spotted a herd of antelope on what I believed to be public land but the does were trying to cross the road over into the unit I did not have a tag for and the buck was trying to keep them on my side of the road. It took about 20-30 minutes to find a suitable shooting point and get set up; however, the does had won the contest of wills and had crossed the Trail into the adjacent unit so I had no legal shot. I packed back up and drove along the Oregon Trail and turned off onto a two track that went along the edge of a rim overlooking several square miles of public land. Using the Swaro SLC’s I found a herd of about a dozen antelope approximately 2500 yards away and on the public land. The fleeting thought crossed my mind that in my truck I had an elk rifle capable of that shot; but, I was not yet ready to try for 2K. Perhaps with a few more years of practice it would be doable. Last year I made shots of 686 yards, 860 yards and even out to 968 yards but the 1K mark had eluded me.
I checked the map for roads into that area and headed back down the Oregon Trail and turned onto a small track. I had only gone about 300 yards when I saw two does up in front of me headed toward the end of a box canyon. There was a small knoll in front of me so I stopped the truck and got all of my gear and headed for the knoll to set up. I found a nice spot and put the Roy C bipod on the rifle. Roy had milled it from a single block of aluminum. He built it to fit the Remington 40X forestock dimension and I had tested it versus the Harris and found no change in point of impact and no loss of accuracy and perhaps some improvement. I had crafted an insert for the bipod so it would fit snug on the Joel Russo stock of the 240Wby. The Bushnell 1500 said the antelope were at 980 yards so I figured if I waited a minute they would move on along a little more. I then noticed that there was a sage bush showing up in the bottom of my scope as a blur so I looked along the barrel and sure enough about 20 yards away was a bush in the line of fire. I gathered up all of my gear and moved to a better spot with no bushes in the way and the mean time the antelope had started slowly moving up the canyon slope. I ranged them again and they were now at 1080 yard and two were bedded down so I figured they all would bed down on the hillside. I got out my new PDA and ran through Exbal the data then compared that to my drop chart and they were within 0.25 MOA agreement so I dialed up the scope. All my playing around with the PDA had taken a lot of time. The wind had totally died away so I did not need any windage. I got back down behind the rifle and looked and the antelope were all going over the rim. Two does were lagging back behind and one was limping so I decided I would shoot her when she stopped. I ranged the top of the rim and dialed in for twenty yards short of the top. (Just as a note- what I do with the Bushnell is to range a flat spot near where I want to shoot and then estimate plus or minus yards to the animal. On good days it will range well past 1500 yards and bad days you can’t get 800 out of it.) Unfortunately the doe never stopped until she was skylighted on the very top; but, I had seen a ranch about two miles away when I had been up on the rim and I did not want to fire knowing that there was somebody’s home in the general line of fire. They finally dropped out of sight so I sat up and looked around and lo and behold but there are two does on a hill 200 yards behind me. They spooked and run back over the hill and I figured they would circle and go the same way the last antelope went so I set up for them to go up the box canyon and over the rim. I got my binoculars and went over to the hill they were on so I could hurry them along and not have to wait forever on them to get on up the canyon. Well, there were no antelope in sight and it is plain they did not go up the canyon as I had expected. I began glassing the open plains and spotted a coyote walking down a fence line about 700 yards away. This promised to be more fun than shooting antelope so I hurried back and get all of my shooting gear and get set up. Of course this took about ten minutes and the coyote was long gone.
Nonetheless, I spot the two does out at 1140 yards. I am on public land and they are on public land but there is a corner of private land sticking in between. I don’t mind shooting over private land so I dial in the drops and check the wind which has come back up and is running 4.4 mph at 9:00 so I crank in 2.0 MOA and ease a round into the chamber. The doe is standing there broad side and as I begin to ease back on the trigger the wind dies so I back off the trigger and consider taking the 2.0 MOA out or waiting for the wind to come back. The wind begins to come back and I wait until I think it is close to the original value and start the trigger pull all over. With the extra two pounds of lead I put in the butt of the Joel Russo stock, the 240 Wby with the 115 Berger doesn’t hardly even twitch when I fired. Time of travel is considerable at that distance and finally the doe reacts and then runs about 20 yards in a half circle and stops. Ten more antelope appear out of nowhere and all cluster up around the doe. She is clearly hit hard and there was not dust from the bullet impacting beyond her so I am sure the bullet has expanded all the way. The doe will not move and the other animals keep milling around her so I cannot risk firing again. After a few minutes her head begins to get lower and I am thinking she is going to fall but she doesn’t and the others will not leave her so I cannot get a clear second shot.
I lay there waiting for the second shot and finally understand that the wind is no longer from 9:00 but is now from 7:00 even though I had the correct wind speed dialed in most likely I had not noticed a shift in direction before I fired. The lack of full force had caused the bullet not to drift into the rib cage. Still the doe is hit hard and is going to just stand there until she dies unless I can get the other antelope to move so I can get a second shot. I considered firing a round close to them but do not want to get the doe spooked so I think maybe if I walk back and get the truck and drive it up so they can see if they will just drift on off and leave her. All plans are good plans until you try them out and this plan was just as bad as many others. The sight of the truck even at 1140+ yards scared all of them over the top of the rise and there was not a single animal in sight. There was no road that went over to the antelope except by going on private land and opening and closing gates and I did not want to be caught going through private land with a shot animal over on public land so I just grabbed my shooting gear and began the walk. The little 240 Wby weighs about 18- 19 pounds with the lead in the stock, so it is really not so little. I got over to where I had shot the doe and there was a tremendous pool of blood on the ground so I could hardly believe she managed to move from the spot. Over the hill I went and there she was down in the sage and still able to raise her head so I put the second round into her and that finished it. Being as I couldn’t get my truck to her, I deboned her on the spot and put the meat and head into my back pack and hiked it all back to the truck which was about a mile being as I had to work around the corner of private land.
The bullet had struck about four inches back from the rib cage and halfway up. The exit wound was about four inches in diameter. That is about 1.0 MOA error in wind at that range. The 115 Berger continues to impress me with its ability to penetrate and expand at long range.
A person can drive along and jump out of the truck and shoot maybe 10 or more antelope in one day at ranges under 300 yards. Getting the right wind conditions, the right terrain, and managing to actually get set up for the shot at a distance past 1000 yards is a very time consuming effort. The interesting thing is how spooky and jittery antelope are when you begin setting up your gear 1000 yards away.
If anybody gets interested in shooting an antelope past a mile or 2K, I can give you a grid for the rim and the public land below it.
For those of you who are getting on up there in years and would like Roy to make you a nice comfy drag bag to lay over the cactus and rocks try to remember that he doesn’t pad the last two feet and when you plop you butt down make sure you hit the padded section or else you will have a badly bruised butt from the large rock. You can still shoot pretty well with a bruised butt however sitting and sleeping are uncomfortable.
I shot Roy’s bipod in F-class twice and won a mantle trinket one time with it. It requires less skill to shoot than the Harris and is more forgiving in many ways. It is designed to slide with recoil and is perfect for shooting as you see me set up for the antelope where the feet are on the drag bag and will slide with the action of the recoil and counteraction of the brake. It stays on target with the rifles I shoot (which tend to be a little heavier than what the wimpy people tote around) and allows one to spot hits even at close ranges. The best I can say is that it was good for a fatal first round hit on a small animal at extreme range under some rapidly varying wind conditions.
I stored the meat on ice and the next day I went over to unit 71 to scout it out for the second doe tag and found a really excellent shooting spot with lots of antelope but the wind was back up and about 14 mph so I went on in to Casper and paid my $70 to the butcher so he would process the meat and give it to Hunters for the Hungry.