Originally Posted by roninflag
a muzzle brake could help.
I'm not even 40 and I already have hearing aids from shooting without hearing protection as a kid. I would hate to be in a situation where I missed out on a close shot because I was digging out ear plugs.
Speaking of ear plugs, I had to use them the other day. Monday morning I got up and it was raining pretty hard at camp. Because of the weather forecast I was expecting tuesday to be may day anyway so I took my time getting ready. My plan for the day was to just find the easiest path through the timber and the hit it hard the next day. The wind was blowing hard, it was snowing, and the visibility was about 100 feet. I was slowly making my way up the mountain when I came across very fresh elk tracks heading in a direction that had me hopeful they were bedded down close. I could tell that I had not pushed them as they were strolling along and stopping to munch on there way to bed for the day. Judging by the lack of snow in their prints I would have to say that I had been in range of them but just couldn't see them. The wind was swirling a little in that area and with such short visibility I decided the best thing to do was back off until the clouds lifted.
When the clouds finally cleared I went back up and started following there tracks and saw that they had turned back and went into the timber and likely back to the area where I had named "8 f**k gulch" due to me shooting 8 times and not getting an elk. Instead of tracking them I decided to go the other direction and get on top of a knob that would let me look part way into the gulch. All I had to see was one elk and that would tell me that the rest were there. When I got to my perch on top of the knob, I noticed a white spot in the same place I had shot at the elk on friday. I looked through my binos and even at 1600 yards I could tell it was an elk, but something looked funny. I was left my ridiculously heavy spotting scope back at camp, but my new rifle scope has 20x magnification so I put it to use. What I saw made me sick. In what looked to be the exact spot that I took the first four shots lay a dead elk. My stomach was turning. It just couldn't be. the elk I shot at moved a couple hundred yards between the first four shots and the second four shots. I few minutes and a lot of anxiety later the seemingly dead elk got up and started walking. That was quite a relief. The I saw a couple more elk out grazing. It was 3:30 so I had plenty of time. The wind was in my favor as well. I had been that direction enough now to know when I could just charge on through and when I had to move quietly.
When I got around 700 yards away from the elk I was able to slip behind a ridge to move along, popping up to the top every so often to range them and see what direction they were moving. 600 yards away and moving to the west and down hill. One of them was the spike I previously shot at. Perfect. I kept easing towards the end of the ridge. 500 yards and heading exactly where I wanted them to. I took off my backpack and radioed my father in law the situation and told him I would be turning the radio off. He commented that he should be hearing a shot reasonably soon. I told him that I had an hour and a half until sunset and I would use every minute of that if I needed it.
I eased around the end of the ridge as low as I could go without getting into the noisy think brush. 405 yards. I looked around for a place to set up and quickly found one. I was able to get prone and use the small bipod attached to the gun. I dug out my ear plugs, ranged him again, and adjusted my scope 5.25 MOA according to the cheat sheet I printed out and taped to my range finder. Wind was negligible. Shooting angle was down, but not enough to make much difference. I was surprisingly calm. There was no "buck fever" that I usually get. I was focused. I took deep breaths and took all the time I needed to make sure I was comfortable and solid. The elk was standing still for me and giving me a perfect broadside shot. I put the reticle behind his shoulder and slowly squeezed. As it should, the shot surprised my and I was certain I had made a good shot. I looked up and he was still standing there, looking around. My heart sunk. I was done. I'm giving up elk hunting. I started to pullout my binos when he slowly fell over and started rolling down the hill. I turned the radio back and told my father in law that I got him, and the the elk started moving. It looked like he was trying to stand up. I put the binos on him and he was in fact standing up facing straight down the steep slope. His front legs were spread out wide and his head was low. He looked a little shaky but I wanted to make sure he didn't get away. Because of the angle I was shooting down at and the angle of the hill he was on, I had to aim for a spot on his back the get the bullet into his vitals. When I fired, he dropped.
I took my an hour to get to him due to the super thick brush. I took a couple pics with my cell phone and radioed dad. He asked what he should do. There was nothing he could do. He gave it everything he had to get to the ridge he was on. There was no way he could get over to help me. I told him to go start breaking camp and I would see him in the morning. I spent until 1:30am skinning and boning out what has to be the smallest elk I have ever seen with antlers. Even though he was small for an elk, he was still and elk and we were on a very steep slope. He was propped up against scrub oak that was way too thick for me to be able to roll him to the bottom so I was stuck dealing with him there. When I got done, all I wanted was a flat piece of ground where I wasn't constantly sliding down hill. I found a place about 50 yards away that would suffice, and I built a lean to with a tarp I had with me. I scrounged for around for scarce firewood and went to work building a fire. I gathered up a lot if tinder but everything was covered in frost and felt damp. I cheated by putting a drop of hand sanitizer on some toilet paper and tried out my waterproof matches. They were useless. I went to my trusty flint and steel and got my fire going. The ground was getting pretty cold so I put Mr. Spike's hide down to lay on. It worked pretty well.
When it got daylight I assessed the situation and determined that there was no way I could got this elk out the way i came in. I stuffed one of the game bags with the backstrap and loins into my backpack (which was already heavy to begin with) and spent the next two hours hiking the three miles down to a road. I had radio contact with dad so he was waiting for me. On the way out I began to chafe horribly. The rest of the day was gong to be painful. I went home, showered, slathered on a healthy dose of A & D cream and went back to get the rest of my elk. There was no one that could help me so I had to do it myself. I got the rest of him out in two painfully heavy loads.
I earned this elk.