I took this bull @ 787 yards with out of box mod. 70 in 300 WM using Berger VLD 210's @ 2920 fps, RL22. We were in Central Idaho for 6 days. This was the biggest bull out of the eleven we saw. It took us 30 hours to get to the bull and pack it to camp. What a night that was, but worth every plug nickel after waiting 39 years to bag one like this.
Len wanted more story, so....
OK Len, here is the story just for you guys. I wrote this to possibly publish, but I haven't had time to really pursue it, so I'll give it to you long range friends to enjoy. Oh ya, the bullet hit him about 7 inches off the back bone right at the crease behind his shoulder. It just missed the shoulder and went through both lungs. My friend Tom who was spotting for me said he just dropped in his tracks. I never got to see it because of the recoil. I wish I had taken the time to set up the camera, but you live and learn. The bullet left an exit hole the size of a silver dollar. I'll try and put a picture of that on later.
39 Years and Counting
By Chris Graves
As we rode a little early toward camp, I thought I saw something move across the saddle in front of us. Old Smoky would not stand still long enough for me to glass knowing that some good feed and a rest awaited him at camp, so I told my son, Kyle, to jump down and see if he could identify what I saw moving near the timber line. Kyle said, “Well, I see a mule deer doe.” Then, more than a little excited he blurted out, “There’s a great big bull!” I said, “No way.” He said, “Dad, I am not kidding.” I said, “Range him” as I jumped off old smoky like a buckaroo losing his ride. “How far” I whispered? “714 yards” came the reply. “You’re kidding” I said. This bull was huge, but that was just too far for me to shoot. “What do you think he would go” I asked. Kyle said, “I’m not really sure, but at least 350 B & C.” “ What a bummer!” He was wide with long main beams, and his sword tines were over 24 inches long. He had awesome whale tails. “Oh man, what a great bull, maybe we can inch closer” I thought. But as it always seems to be, the bull was not interested in seeing us get any closer and wandered off into the timber. Most of the time, the bulls I see never qualify as a trophy. This bull, however, was of a different caliber. He became a true instrument of inspiration for me to get serious about hunting for such a trophy before my ability to do so was gone.
Like many, hunting has always been a part of my life. My dad began taking me deer hunting with him when I was 3. I can remember those early days as if they were yesterday: the camp’s, the cold hands and feet, and Dad’s awful sugared coffee. But I loved it. I loved being out in the mountains. I loved the excitement of Dad making the shot on a nice buck and bragging to my friends that my dad was the best hunter in town. But mostly I loved just being with my dad and his friends sitting around camp always telling the same old stories. Year after year we would meet at hunting camp. We all loved it. Many memories and a foundational love for hunting were laid in those early years. That heritage has been passed down through my family and has been a focal point for my own children throughout the years. However, 39 years after I was old enough to purchase my first tag I still had not taken a trophy bull. Many of those years I just did not wait long enough to connect on a big bull, instead taking the first legal bull that crossed my path. Sometimes, the few trophies I did manage to see, like the one I started this story with, seemed to know that if they remained at a certain distance they were safe around me.
So, not long after passing on that 350 class bull, I decided that the next time, I was going to hunt my heart out and hold out for a really good bull. Of course, I had to draw a tag in a good area again. Year after year I put in only to get the unsuccessful notice each time. Finally in 2009 I drew a bull tag for the same Idaho unit I had seen the big bull in. I was so excited. I also knew a little more about the area having hunted there before, and I knew I needed several things upgraded. I settled on a new Leupold VX-3 LR scope. Next I began working on a new load that would get me the range that I would need to have in that country. It’s big, open country! I bought competition dies and every type of measuring instrument available to make my Winchester model 70 300 mag. really bark. I ordered 400 Berger 210 grain VLD hunting bullets and I read over 100 articles on reloading for long distance. I went to numerous web sites to gain as much understanding on all the variables as I possibly could. Finally after 5 months of load development I ordered my turrets from Kenton Industries. After almost 250 rounds of practice, I felt completely ready. At last, the day I had been looking forward to for the past five years arrived.
I had two friends, Micah Olson and Tom Raichart come along with me. What a blessing that ended up being. Tom also brought his daughter Janessa and I took along my daughter Erin. We arrived and set camp in order and began plotting our first day’s hunt. We set out the next morning buzzing with anticipation. Only someone who has hunted can identify with that type of anticipation. It’s huge. It keeps grown men awake at night when they should be sleeping. After glassing all day opening morning, we were unable to locate even a deer. Slightly let down, we retreated back to camp to see how the crew was doing. The next day we decided to actually head down into a canyon we had been glassing. Once there we found an awesome rock outcrop that gave us an unbelievable glassing position. We could see for miles in nearly every direction. We called it “The Rock.” Around 9:30a.m., a nice forked-horn bull walked out in front of us at about 300 yards. I have always lived by, “Don’t pass up a gifted bull,” but I’ve come to see that many who have killed big bulls live by another rule, “You can’t kill a big one if you won’t let the little ones pass.” So for the first time in my 39 years of elk hunting I let this boy go on by. Of course the memory of that 350 class bull helped motivate me. That night we crawled back up the 1000 vertical feet we had descended exhausted. Camp never looked so good. I went to sleep dreaming of a big bull without a single regret of passing on the youngster that morning.
On the third day we noticed there was a note on my truck telling me I had an emergency back at home and to call as soon as I could. I ended up having to go home for two days on business while the crew did some scouting. I felt pretty disillusioned as I drove home. The evening that I returned to camp, Tom and I went out on the edge of the canyon and began glassing. Two ridges over, I spotted a bull with two cows. Then another bull came out. Now I was getting excited again. Maybe there was still hope I could find a big bull.
The next morning I was coming down with the flu. However, feeling encouraged by the evening before I said “I’m going down to ‘The Rock’ and kill a bull, flu or no flu.” Tom and I made our way around the ridge and then dropped down nearly 1000 feet to “The Rock.” Around 8:00 am I thought, “I wonder if those bulls are still over on the ridge we saw them on last night?” Sure enough, I found a bull not 300 yards above the big burn up in the timber standing in a little clearing. I was watching him when I saw movement in the spotting scope further down in the burn. Elk began spewing into the burn one after another. I could make out at least 4 bulls. I said, “Lord, could you please send those elk over here?”
We watched them for about three or four minutes, when, just as fast as they came into the burn, they wheeled and took off in the direction they had come from. I looked at Tom in complete disbelief. We watched in amazement as they lined out single file and ran straight off that massive ridge in our direction. I once again looked over at Tom and said, “Tom, watch the ridge directly in front of us, they’re coming over the top.” Twenty minutes later Tom said, “There’s your bull.” I took one look and grabbed up my pack and rifle and began the descent down the ridge. I had to close the gap and close it fast. Tom later said I looked like an old goat cruising over those rocks. I do have to say I wasted no time. I would stop and range. “Too far!” Go another 150 yards. Range, “Still too far.” If he kept coming around in the direction he was heading, he would enter the burn directly across from me in less than 5 minutes. I had to get closer. I ranged where I thought he would come out and it was 856 yards. “Still too far.” There was only one rock left before the little ridge I was on plunged nearly straight down for the next 400 yards, and I hoped it would be close enough. As I stopped at this last rock, I saw him come around the little ridge line and into the burn directly across from me. What an awesome sight that was. As the sunlight hit him, all I saw was antler. It literally took my breath away. I will never forget that for the rest of my life.
As I fought to control my racing heart, I dropped my pack and rifle down and ranged it. 787 yards. I ranged it again. 785. One more time. 787. “Yes! That’s within my range.” It was then I noticed the rock beside me was like a shooting bench. “ Perfect,” I thought. I dialed my elevation and put the cross- hairs on his shoulder. As I recovered from the recoil, I noticed he was still standing there. I couldn’t believe it! It wasn’t supposed to be like this. I had been drilling targets and rocks at 800 yards just days before. How could I miss now with a dream bull in my sights? I loaded another round and let her fly with the same result. I loaded yet a third round and began to feel the panic rising in my chest. I thought, “What is going on?” I let the third shot go, and he was still standing there looking just like a tourist. I stopped and said, “OK, remember what you have learned. He doesn’t know you’re here. Now go through your progression.” I ranged it yet again - 787 yards. I looked at my elevation turret, 785. I looked down at the windage. “ 2 moa left. What? There is no wind. It’s as still as can be. That’s my problem.” I set the windage back to 0 and chambered number 4. I set the cross hair high on his shoulder and squeezed. The shot had hardly gone off when I heard Tom on the radio saying, “You rolled him. He’s down!” I could hardly believe it. I immediately went to my knees and said, “Oh Lord, thank you, thank you, thank you.”
Now the work began. Thirty hours after I pulled the trigger Tom, my daughter Erin, and I were pulling into camp with the bull of a life time. These do it yourself hunts are a lot of work. No one is there to do anything for you. It’s all about your preparation, your conditioning, and your ability to find the elk. Was it worth it? Absolutely! This time, my dream had finally come true. This story would not be complete without thanking my wonderful wife, Wendy. Without her support and encouragement I would not have been able to continue the heritage my dad began so many years ago. Now I can just enjoy helping others get their dream. I’ve got the bull of my life and the precious memories to go along with him.
Last edited by carpetman2; 06-27-2010 at 11:36 PM.
Reason: Story was more appropriate on first page.
Congratulations, great looking bull. Almost 800 yards with a 300wm...very nice, where'd you hit the bull and did it go down right away, run or what? You look pretty excited in the pic and rightfully so.