826 mule deer and 850 elk, CO.


Well-Known Member
Jan 30, 2005
My hunting partner Matt Salm, wrote up this story for another site so I copied and pasted to save some one finger dancing.

"Well I'm going to add my elk story for the year here as it has something to do with the discussion.... I headed out to CO this year with my father-in-law along with two other friends of mine, one being another custom gunsmith Jim See at CenterShotRifles of Pittsville, WI. He's another rifle fanatic and long-range shooter. We each went out with two rifles, a hunting gun, and a long range rig. His light gun was a custom Mod 7 7mm WSM, and mine was a Montana Rifleman action in 300WSM. His long gun was a 7mm RUM on a Surgeon RLR action with a Brux barrel (I forget the length) and mine a 300 RUM in a Nesika single shot action with a 30" Rock Creek barrel.

Opening morning found us looking over a mountainside looking for a good mule deer buck as Jim had a tag. I had seen some real dandies in this spot the last several years and we thought someone should really have a tag for one. After daylight we spotted a real decent 4X4 feeding with a few other does, but didn't see any other bucks which really suprised me. In past years I'd glass 4-6 bucks from that spot most every morning. Anyway, the more we looked him over, the better he became, and since conditions were perfect Jim decided to take the shot. Lasered distance was 826 yards slightly uphill with a light 5mph wind coming down the draw. I watched though my scope as he shot and saw the bullet arc across and connect on the point of his shoulder. The buck jumped, then hobbled about 20 yards and stood like a statue. I could tell he was done, but at that distance we don't like chances, so I called 1/2 MOA up and left for a correction and his second shot dropped him dead right there. He rolled about 100 yards downslope and came to a rest against a quakie in the middle of a rockslide. He was shooting the 180gr Berger VLD hunting bullet and I'm not a huge fan after seeing the mess it made on that deer. It worked though, and I guess that does count.

On to Monday morning. We headed down to the spot I shot my bull last year and set up on a small clearing that allowed us the only view of the other side which is a very steep, rocky bitch of a place covered in scrub oak. There's elk in there most every year as it's a real bugger to hunt in, but from that one spot on the other side you can see into it pretty well. About 9:30 we spotted a small herd of elk including one legal bull come into the draw across from us. He was just a 4X3 with only one eye guard on the left side, but I'm rather fond of elk meat and don't let too many opportunities get away. We both ranged him at an even 850 yards and I adjusted my scope to compensate. My 300 Rum was sighted dead on at 300 yards and i dialed in 11 1/2 minutes of elevation and used the reticle to hold 2 minutes into the wind. The 200gr Accubonds were leaving the muzzle at 3225fps and it was more than adequate. I did over-compensate for the wind by a small margin, but the bullet struck the bull through both lungs, about 9" back of the shoulder. He made a quick jump and ran about 40 yards before piling up. No meat damage and a quick kill. It took us about an hour to work our way down and back up the other side to get to him and begin the chores of boning and packing him out. I did that job in the same location last year with only two people and this year the extra two guys to share the load was a welcome relief.

We ended the week with my father in law collecting a small fork mule deer to fill his tag (100 yards).

It was a hard week of hunting. We found areas just littered with elk sign from two weeks ago and they were just up and gone."

Matt made a great shot on his elk. He had an audience, with his father-in-law and Greg spotting as well. It was a great trip and we had a good time, and lots of laughs.
Looks like you guys had a great time. Enjoyed reading the story, thanks for posting. Some pictures would have been great:D
Thanks guys,
The pics are on a crappy throw away camera that has not been developed yet, I will have them put on a disc and get them up in a couple weeks. After a 10 day trip, I have lots to catch up with and this is my busy time of year.
BH, Matt was quite vocal as we turned this deer into table fare. His impression was not good. And after his elk kill he even pointed out the pass thru with the AB.

The comparison was not even close.

I on the other hand have seen deer shot in the scapula nuckle, and have had the misfortune of hitting a couple in that spot as well. I must say there are bullets that can make it thru but not many. Failsafe with it's steel cup, Yes. Barnes coper bullets, most. Many lead core bonded bullets may-be a few. Thin jacketed bullets, if there lucky. (unless were talking mass, large cal. ect)
Now I'm not talking about 100 lb animals but those deer that are double that size. The bone is very heavy and the 180 grain berger at 826 yards absolutly detonated on that bone, I have had a-maxes do the same thing and even witnessed this on a whitail with a 180 corlok out of a 30-06. All of these deer were sucsessfully harvested, and part of that is the resulting bone fragments that get punched into the chest cavity. But of the 3 I disected, bullet frags were in the 5 grains or less range.

I can not falt the bullet for coming apart, I'm the one who put it there and I am fully aware of the results. I would have expected nearly the same from a 160 AB. Some may not agree with that but when you see the mass of that nuckle and the complete destruction of it from a centered hit they may think different.

When looking at the performance of the second berger I put on that deer, it acted completly different, why? only because it didn't encounter a bone that was as dense or thick. That 2nd bullet actually penetrated the exact same bone but went thru the upper third. It penciled thru the "fan" and expanded thru the spinal colum and did leave a bit of jacket frags in the offside shoulder. Yet it's mass continued on and exited. That bullet on it's own would have made one proclaim "near Perfect" performance.

Am I selling all my bergers? no, this is why we carry more than one cartrige into the field.
Nice summary of the bullet performance Jim.

I'm only on my second mule deer buck with the Berger VLD bullets. Am using the 115 VLD from a .25-06 and have had two very quick kills. No complaints so far. My kills were at much shorter range, about 240 yards last season, and about 175 yards this year.

Again, congrats of a very successful hunt!

Regards, Guy
I have to ditto what Jim said about the AMAX, I shoot a 300 Rummy and like the BC of the 30 cal 208gr AMAX. However, the stew pot 2x3 buck was well prepared for his destination.
I am real curious about the 200gr AB and how it proves out.
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