Went Ugly Early - Bergers did fine

Discussion in 'Elk Hunting' started by aspenbugle, Nov 20, 2012.

  1. aspenbugle

    aspenbugle Well-Known Member

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    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.
     

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  2. T3-OleMan

    T3-OleMan Well-Known Member

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    Great story. Good shooting. Congrats. Keep after'um. gun)
     

  3. Mike 338

    Mike 338 Well-Known Member

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    Great story & shooting.
     
  4. mtnwrunner

    mtnwrunner Well-Known Member

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    There is absolutely nothing wrong with that bull. Great shooting and I love the photos.
    And yes, he was dead on his feet with the first one.

    Randy
     
  5. jmden

    jmden Well-Known Member

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    Great job! Hey...that's a trophy in my book! Thanks for the story and pix. Jon
     
  6. MachV

    MachV Well-Known Member

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    Your shooting aint bad and neither was that bull, besides my hats off to ya for hauling him out by yourself!
    Your not alone in the shoot one as far from the truck as possible only to find a bigger one right next to the truck. This is the first year I have loaded a critter into the truck in one peice....Kinda felt wierd:D
     
  7. aspenbugle

    aspenbugle Well-Known Member

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    Thanks guys. The angle of the horns in the boning out pic make them look bigger than they are...they are closer to what you see in the first pic. The whole family had him (as sausage) in our breakfast burritos this morning...yum. Always a cool feeling to know you shot and lugged that meal out on your own back a couple weeks prior.

    Mach V - I used the wife and child labor last year (pics below...he wasn't much bigger at all; 10-year old daughter carrying horns). In fact, my wife helped haul out two elk last year (a cow for my 12-year old daughter too). However, I was informed I should get one of those "friend things" this year if I wanted help :) She would help, but wanted to make sure I wasn't thinking she was signing a long-term contract as my hunting mule. I'll have to share the cow elk haul-out story sometime...what a nightmare! The wife was a trooper...and WAY beyond...lucky I'm still married. I got em out in bigger pieces last year - wife helped stear sled on hills, around trees, over logs etc. I think I got the "bait and switch" last year though. He looked very big going into a section of trees, when he walked out, I did a double-take thinking that bull didn't look near as big as what went in, had limited time to shoot, so I did. I'm still wondering if there were two and I didn't wait long enough (?).
     

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  8. Bravo 4

    Bravo 4 Well-Known Member

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    Good story all the way around. I like that your wife helps, she's a keeper.

    You mentioned his eye, could have been like that, maybe he got his butt kicked prior. Looks like another hole in his snout. The bull I took home a few years back had a bullet hole through his horn near the base. Some of these elk/deer have seen worse gun battles then most of the Iraq/Afghanistan vets I know. HA!I know the bull my buddy spooked off first morning ran by some guys and it sounded like going through Fallujah.
     
  9. jackem

    jackem Well-Known Member

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    Good story, thanks for posting. Good bull and nice set up/shot and all but that is overshadowed by knowing the huge amount of effort you put into quartering and packing out solo -you are one tough hombre in my opinion!

    Jack
     
  10. orion2000

    orion2000 Well-Known Member

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    Congrats ! Good story and good bull. I know a whole flock of guys eating tag soup this year that would have loved to have had a chance at that one.
     
  11. gapfriz

    gapfriz Well-Known Member

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    Nothing ugly about a bull getting a ride back to town! Great story
     
  12. aspenbugle

    aspenbugle Well-Known Member

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    Oh - I guess I should clarify. I'm flat tickled to have a bull. I went MANY years, especially with often only 2-3 days to hunt while Active Duty, with no Bull. Figuring out a good ridge and long-range hunting some, made the biggest difference. It's one thing to bump them in the woods and see them, getting a good shot is a whole 'nother thing. (I did have good luck with Archery, and need to start that again maybe). Like I said, the success rate in my unit is only about 7% so there is a whole lot of "tag soup" going around. I'm grateful for the elk, and we love to eat it. The dogs also love when I butcher it, because they get tons of scraps and bones (rationed over months).

    I only said that because there have been some exceptional 300+, 350+ bulls posted recently (KUDOS) AND...after finally consistently getting a bull, I was beginning to think of getting pickier and holding out (and still plan to). I just wasn't sure with conditions like they are, this was the year to try.

    Yeh, Bravo the wife's a keeper for sure. I agree the bull's eye wound coulda been old, but it was obvious it was VERY fresh (fresh blood) - nothing old wound looking...but you are right...it happens more than we think when they fight.

    By the way, gutting and cutting up an elk is a great biology lesson for the kids. I cut legs at the knee last year when quarting the bull in the woods and the girls thought it was pretty cool seeing what a tendon and ligament was and how they worked when moving the hoof - could also explain ACLs/MCLs etc, like when sport stars wreck a knee. Way better than a book.

    Jackem...thanks, but I think others might use the word "dumb". Might be a fine line there. I don't know about you guys, but many things sound good in the arm chair in the Spring that don't sound so good in the woods. "Heck, if I get a nice one, I'll spend 3 days getting him outta there by myself if I have to"; "I'll just camp up there remotely by myself all week, aint no big deal"; "I'm gonna head in, in the dark by myself 90 minutes before sun up". I've done most of 'em, but I usually have to wonder, "What was I thinking?" Sometimes wisdom fades with time and distance from the woods.
     
  13. Bravo 4

    Bravo 4 Well-Known Member

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    I know what you mean. I was prepared to pack in by myself, sleep in my one man tent and eat MRE's for the week. Might not have been a bad idea because after tagging out opening morning and spending the rest of the day packing that dude out by myself, I would have got a good night's sleep and been headed home day two.
     
  14. 429421Cowboy

    429421Cowboy Well-Known Member

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    I never even got a look at a bull this year, or even look at a cow through my scope all season! In my books, the first legal bull is the best one on the mountain because you never know what happens after he walks out of sight. And you get an extra man card for taking him out yourself! Good shooting and insurance shots are worth more than a one shot kill to me, you never know if you'll get another chance to put them down and nothing is worse than losing one. Enjoy the steaks!