Well, I haven't been in the habit of posting hunt pics or anything, and this bull is totally lame compared to the really sweet ones others have been posting, but oh well. It's always fun to get a bull, and make a good shot - even if he is the smallest I've shot in 5 years. I haven't shot monsters and there aren't really a lot of those in my unit, but they do go a bit bigger than this.
As many know, everything has been hot and dry, even third season, plus that moon was so bright, I kept waking up in my tent at night thinking my alarm didn't go off and I'd overslept. So when this guy walked out the second morning (or more accurately I got him walking back in to bed down from his morning feed and water) I initially passed him up since I wasn't sure he was legal and he went behind some trees. I was scanning looking for more and bigger, but when it looked like I'd have one small opportunity for a shot at him when we fed into a small clearing I set up for just in case. When he started walking out, I could see he was legal (4 pt or better, or 5" brow tine) and with the weather, moon, and camping alone somewhat remotely (did it last year also for 6+ days - and it's fine, but not a lot of fun) I decided to take the proverbial "bird in the hand". It's hard to find/shoot the big guy, if you shoot the little one early, but I hunted the same ridge the previous season with my daughter, and we didn't see a lot then.
In any case, I only had about a 20-30 second window to get the shot off (small clearing), so fortunately I was set up, already ranged it, checked my drop from a plain ol paper chart, put in my clicks and was ready. As soon as he stepped into the clear, I sent it (190 gr Berger from my 300 Dakota, at about 3120). He stepped back a few quick steps and just stood there. He was either dead and didn't know it yet, or I didn't have the quality hit that I wanted. Also, he was just a few paces from a lot of trees, so there was no guarantee of another shot later, so I sent another one just in case. At that, he stumbled, fell, thrashed around a bit, and it was over. He was at 622 yards. Didn't go more than 10 yards from where I first shot him.
The other non-bonus of hunting alone is packing out alone, and these are big beast (fortunately he wasn't huge). As anyone who's done it knows, just getting them gutted or boned out is enough to wear you out, even before you've hauled a single load.
Turns out, the first shot was a wee-bit back, but not bad. He was gonna die quickly, and if I'd waited another 5-10 secs he probably would have been on the ground, but nothing wrong with a little insurance.
I've gotten 4 bulls in the area the last 5 years (and the normal success is about 7% I think - it's not a great unit)...all have been in that 550-700 yard range (one shot kills, even though this was technically more like 1.5). There are some I've seen in the 800+ range, but that is what I've had my 338 Big Baer built for (and will probably use next year). I know the 600 yard shots are easy compared to the 1000 yard ones, but I can honestly say I've got this range down pretty decent, so I'll up my game and practice to handle the longer ones.
I originally was using accubonds, and they seemed to work fine, but the accuracy and BC wasn't stupendous. I tried the Bergers and they were definitely very accurate. I'm still not 100% sold - maybe after I get one or two more with them or I get to see what happens when I hit a shoulder or something trickier than a heart/lung shot. I used Berger last year on my bull and it killed him, but I was a little concerned with the small exit hole. However, it was probably just part of the bullet and the rest blew up inside. I had good exit wounds this year. We'll see...I guess I'd say I'm cautiously optomistic about them. Wish I could say I made the "eye shot" below, but he must have jabbed it into a tree branch when he flailed around (that would be real sweet shootin at 600+)
As mentioned, gun is 300 Dakota on Nesika action, Krieger barrel, Mc Millan stock, NF scope, smithed by John Geiges when he was still around/in business. She shoots great, 1/3 MOA with good rest and the bergers.
Pics are 1) exit holes 2) exit holes close 3) Bull location from my shot location (see black arrow) 4) pic of gun 5) the fun part :(
Oh yeh, almost forgot, why does this always happen to me? The surest way for me to see big bulls close, is to be hauling one out. Happened with archery hunting AZ, happened here. I just got the last load back to the truck (parked at the end of a Forest Service road at the bottom of the canyon), and hear a banging and popping 80 yards behind me. Look up, a big bull (much bigger than this) has run right on top of me (coming from the same direction I just came). He was freaked out to see me right there and bolted off stage right. I just need to leave my gun behind and strap on an elk quarter, and I have elk running me over.