I got into elk camp this year a couple days before the season (Oregon / coast elk / 1st season). Within hours I started hearing of a 5 point bull being spotted in a nearby canyon. It didnít seem like there was anyone within several miles that didnít know about the bull, and I figured every one of them had plans to go after him on opening morning. Since I wasnít the one who spotted him, and I was sure there would be lots of competition there, I opted for a different location opening day.
Sure enough there was lots of pressure on that area opening day, and some the next day. I hadnít heard of anyone finding the bull and it seemed like some people were hitting other canyons to glass. Three days of the four day season came and went and I still opted for one of my usual spots on the morning of closing day. About 30 minutes after sunrise another member of my party who didnít have a tag got ahold of me on the radio. He spotted the 5 point (from about two miles away), right in the same spot several people saw it five days before. We knew right where to go to set up a shot on him, which was about a ten mile drive on logging roads, and then a quarter mile or so walk in.
The bull was literally standing in the wide open of a hillside shining in the morning sun. We figured it was only a matter of time before more people spotted him and tried to put a hunt on him. We drove (rather quickly) the ten miles or so to the skid road which accessed the adjacent ridge. I threw on my drag bag which holds my Sako TRG42 and all accompanying gear (LRF, kestrel
, ammo, rear bags, etc), and started the walk in. As we got around to the other side of the ridge I looked between some trees to where we last saw the bull. He was still out and going nowhere fast!
The best semi clear opening to shoot from was on about a 45 degree hillside. I found a stump which looked like it would provide a solid rest and began to set up for the shot. Lased the bull: 560 yards. Measured the angle with my iPhone & Shooter app: 15 degrees. I set my rifle up and got the bull all lined up (and was really pleased with what I saw). The stump with my bipod and rear bag was rock solid. Shooter gave me 2.9 mils (300 grain SMK @ 2800 FPS) which I dialed into my scope. No wind. Since the bull was really just hanging out I took the time to double and triple check all my inputs. I was glad to not be in too much of a hurry. I had another member of my party over my left shoulder with a spotting scope and a backup shooter just a little ways away with his 300 RUM, just in case.
I got on the scope and waited for a good clean shot. The bull was facing away from me and uphill. I considered putting a shot right between his shoulder blades but decided to wait. About a minute later he turned semi-broadside facing left, at about a 30 degree angle away from me. I was very comfortable with this shot, and aimed just a touch back from where I normally would to angle through the vitals and take out the off-side shoulder. Feeling extremely confident and relaxed I squeezed off the shot. The recoil came and took me off target and I jacked a new round in. On 22 power I couldnít find the bull again right away so I looked up over my scope for reference. When I did I saw the elk fall over and start tumbling limply down the hill. There was no doubt in my mind the elk was down hard. The spotter told me he took about two steps after the shot, hunched up, and then fell back and started to tumble.
One guy stayed with the spotting scope set right where the bull rolled into the trees. Two of us walked around to the other ridge (through some very steep country!) and he guided us in. We found the bull dead a couple of hundred feet down the hill caught in a tree. I was thrilled as this is only my second elk and my personal best!
PANORAMA LOOKING BACK AT SHOOTING LOCATION FROM WHERE BULL WAS:
THE BULL, AS WE FOUND HIM IN THE TREE:
We got him gutted and rolled him down the hill to the creek bottom. We ended up a little under a half mile from the road (via the creek bottom).
BULL AT THE BOTTOM OF THE CANYON:
We decided to quarter him out there and made several trips in and out over pretty rough terrain. It was a hard recovery effort but well worth it!
BACK AT CAMP:
Heís not the biggest in the world by any means but is my personal best, and a pretty respectable Roosevelt in my opinion. It felt nice to come back to town with a successful hunt, and elk in the truck!