On April 6th, this past spring, my brother and I attended the Northern Alberta Chapters' SCI supper & auction at the Italian Cultural center in Edmonton Alberta.. an event we've been supporting numerous years now. 2013's auction in-particular held one hunt I was eyeing up from the time I read their Donation-List for the year... that-one being a Montana Elk Hunt near Yellowstone Park.
Our dad's 60th was right around the corner and we had been talking of doing a Caribou hunt (or something of the sort) for some time (all three of us together.) So considering "60" is a big-one, we decided this Elk Hunt might be the way to go... The hunt was to take place the 10th through 14th of November, and if our stars aligned and harvest & the cattle-drive off the pastures all went well for us (forward thinking) we figured we could possibly pull this hunt off-- ...and as the bids came & went the night of that supper, it WAS my hand that ended up holding the reciept at the end of the night, Dad's hunt was bought* He was speechless when he opened the envelope the day of his birthday to see he had that-hunt booked for Elk!
My brother & I in turn, later-on booked a spot each for ourselves, and November 8th the three of us were south-bound and down, en'route to Montana. Considering all our hunting to-date had been DIY hunts, on (mostly) our own farm with exception to a handful of special draws we'd pulled over the years, this Outfitted hunt would be a completely new experience... and it turned out very well, for all three of us!
We arrived in camp the day before our hunt was to start to hear a somber-sad story of a tough previous week of hunting.. there had only been one Bull killed for the week, and the weather wasn't sounding to be of any help for ours coming up. The outlook seemed grimm, to say the least. Opening morning we were greeted with coffee and a slice of toast, by our guides for the week, and a good hard frost on the ground.. 6:00am we left for the trailhead... headlamps, bearspray, and Sam & Daniel pointing us in direction. In the Valley, we sat about 5500ft.. and our climb to come would lead us to 8000' before the fur settled! We left the truck on an overnight Grizzly print.. in the dark. Perfect.
Shortly after light, and probably 800ft of climbing and zig-zagging across the mountain, we found two sets of Elk tracks and two fresh beds.. those of which belonged to our bulls-to-be. The tracks led us off a clearing on a North slope, down into a drainage and up near a rock outcrop and saddle in the range. Ol' Sam was convinced these bulls were between the rock and where we were, so... the plan was for Daniel & I to get into position on the rocks for a shot at these bulls when Sam & my brother push them our-way. However, upon reaching the rock vantage point, we already had the bulls staked-down.. one anyway, bedded 701 yards up above us, across the saddle and on-top a bench barely 40 yards wide in-between the timber! To me, it looked like a picture*
Daniel was absolutely ecstatic that-we-had such a bull located, and asked whether I was going to shoot..! (we had climbed another 500' or so by this time) And obviously, I said you bet I am!! His next question was, "can you shoot that far, how far is that?" ...I said, damn rights I can-- (my rangefinder read 701 (665 shoot-to) for angle and trajectory difference* I spent months and literally melted the rifling out of (a rifle at home) practicing for a chance like this!) We settled in as I directed him to call my shots. I made my wind call, and fired for broke.. we had light-gusts on our perch runnin' from 2.5 to 7mph, but considering the extra draft I figured was blowing above that saddle across the valley, I held for 10mph and let the first round loose.. (still bedded) the bull flinched, looked like a good hit* I re-chambered and again held for 10 to let the second one fly.. (still bedded) he flinched again, another hit... only now he struggled to his feet and attempted a step-- then one more round... Daniel hollered "solid hit, he hunched right up and stumbled, man that was perfect!" ...from there the bull walked 10 yards toward the timber and stopped behind a bushy pine. I knew he was hit hard, I knew multiple times, and I was confident he was toast.. BUT, considering the hike, the terrain, how tough an elk can be, AND how badly drained (we all were from the climb up that last three hours) I didn't want to risk that bull wandering farther than necessary, (so) tried threading one between the limbs to dump him right there... but, wasn't able to. Was merely bark flying when I touched off #4. Seconds later, the bull had bedded down.. for what would be the last time.
It took us 3/4 an hour to hike with-in distance of getting a visual on that bull again after we left the rocky perch I made the shot from.. and considering the lay of the hill & the timber between the bull and where we shot, we ALL quickly realized that any-sorta chance of closing the distance on that bull would have been impossible.. we were 40 yards away and ON the bench he had been bedded before we could finally see him! ...there'da been zero chance of getting there for a close-shot. He'da definitely winded us, seen us OR heard us and long-been gone before we knew he left.
So to the guys investing time and efforts to practice and learn long-range shooting for that one-chance that (for insurance) you might have-to make a long shot.. THIS was one time it paid big-time!!!
My bull laid there as we approached, literally on his last breath in the bed, and I did finish him off (maybe wasn't necessary, 5minutes and he'da been done) but I figured may as well. Upon caping and de-boning (not counting the finisher) we found one very-big entrance & exit AND a smaller entrance (without an exit) where was found one of my Barnes LRX and peices of pedal.. all buried in the offside skin, mixed up in a bunch of rib-bone it broke thru with its entry... I figure, two of my shots (2 while bedded) had to have impacted within an inch of one another, causing that one big entrance and exit.. and the third, once he stood, coincidentally hit rib-bone on both sides, then stuck in the skin just-shy of an exit (about 4-5" further back of my first 2 shots) The entry/exits were lung shots, but only clipped one-lung because of the angle (hence the 3/4 an hour being bedded before bleeding out) and the (entry without exit shot) being a touch back of the lungs and obliterating the liver-- all obviously kill shots, just not one shot drops. The wind coincidentally was a touch harder than the 10 I held for. But damn close! ...I don't feel I did too bad!!
If you can zoom and look close enough, that hill-side behind us in the group pic shows the blood spray in the snow along the trail he walked after the three shots, before he bedded by the trees behind and to our right..) That big exit gave us an easy blood trail (had we needed it)
My rifle is a customized/re-barreled TRG-S Sako, chambered to Lazzeroni 7.21 Firebird.. I shoot 168 Barnes LRX at 3200fps and figure my bullets on that elk should have been in the 2050/2075fps range, carrying close to 1600ft.lbs upon impact. The gristle and rib-bone on an elk like-that is unbelievably tough.. and the hide just-as-tough it seems! ...cutting through that skin on his back when caping was literally like cutting thru wood! So seeing the pedals tore off of that bullet we found doesn't surprise me considering what it went thru!!! All things considered, I'm pretty happy with what those LRX did.. you "could" say the Bull only went about 40 yards. In my opinion, not bad at all considering it was 700 yards to target.. three consecutive hits... and ultimately, one dead bull!
The story of my brothers bull, and dads bull aren't exactly mine to tell.. but in a nut-shell, dad's didn't come til the last half hour of the last day, (was a smaller, hard earned 5x5) --and brothers, ironically, as we were shaking hands celebrating MY bull! haha.. there WAS a second one with-mine. He popped out of the timber just as mine fell to that finishing shot* My brothers was shot 40 yards from us, as he tried his escape.. just plain lucky it happened for us with that one!!!
It took two days, 5 horses, and four cramped-up stiff legged guys (myself, brother, Daniel and Sam) to pack those Elk off that mountain. We killed 'em at 8000ft elevation, literally where goats should have been living.. and it was a hunt none of us will forget! Big thanks to Sam for putting us on those animals, Daniel for the help packing (and the laughs,) and to Shawn & his extra horses on day 2 to help get everything down!
My bull scored out at 341 6/8" and Brothers at 336 & 4/8" ...at the time, they were #2 & #3 for the area (on the year so far*) ..I figure we did awful good, had some luck with us, and certainly some damn good guys behind us showing the way. Took a fair dose of sweat and effort to pull off, but all came together real well, and was much appreciated by us all!
Enjoy the write up
Last edited by rooster721; 11-23-2013 at 01:19 AM.
Reason: Spelling/proof reading touch up
You made me miss my late Dad and my late brother (11-22 birthday).
I would have loved to have a similar experience but neither of them hunted (but I tried to get them into it). Had to settle for fishing adventures instead.
Thanks for sharing.
I voted for my "FREEDOM", "GUNS", and "MONEY" - keep the change - UNK.
"I am always proud of my country!"
"Leadership Rule #2: Don't be an edited." - Maj Gen Burton Field.
Congrats. It ain't elk hunting if it weren't hard work. Sounds like your brother's bull was taken more in the range of most of my elk. But I sure do admire the time and effort you long range shooters put into your craft. Enjoy the bounty and memories of your hunt.
We pray our sights be straight
and our aim be true
We pray for no pain
to the game we pursue
We thank you Lord
for this land
We thank you for the sights
from our stands
We pray for safety, one and all
We pray we may return next fall