Elk with Specialty handguns in SW Colorado


Jun 18, 2007
NE Wyoming
This was an unusual hunt to be sure. First ran into some bumps on Friday when we went East of Peublo to to shoot at extended ranges checking actual shooting against Exbal. Steve (sscoyote) ran into some problems with inconsistency only to discover that he had his forend contacting the barrel. Also a change in powder lots was likley a culprit. After going back and getting some ammo loaded with the older powder that was set-up for ITRC and doing some light sanding in the barrel channel, the 6.5-284 put 2 shots within 3-4 inches at 600 yards. Not bad for a novice shooter, eh?
My problems are not fully solved yet. My trajectory did not match up with Exbal (first time this has ever happened). Have several possibilities that will not be known for sure until I do some more in depth checking. None the less, since we did actual field shooting I knew where my Zero, 425 & 525 yard zero's were on my ballistic plex reticle. Because of running into these problems we didn't leave Pueblo until early Saturday moring (Yes, the season opened on Saturday morning). Because of some very hectic work schedules we decided to get some good rest and miss the morning hunt (Something that neither of us had ever done before). We get up on the mountain around noon and set-up camp. By 1:00 we are heading up the mountain ready for elk. We make it up to the main ridge and head south along another ridge line that takes us to our favorite spotting ridge which is also away from any other hunters. Getting there takes some time and effort as Marc can attest. We don't see anything except a buck from our main spotting ridge, so we began heading farther in, on up to the place where Marc and I shot our elk last year. Right before we went over the top of the last ridge I looked back one more time and spotted two elk over a mile away in a small L-shaped meadow. It was way down and was going to be a race against time trying to get there before before we lost light or before the elk moved into cover. We walked fast and yes at times were running (XP's unloaded). We finally made it to the top of a ridge that put us 385 yards from the elk (I was sighted in @ 379 yards with my 7.82 Patriot). We were in a lot of scrub oak and had a very difficult time trying to get a clear shot thru the scrub. The two cows were unaware of our presence but there was a real concern they would simply walk into the cover and be forever lost. The problem was two-fold. One I couldn't get as steady of a rest as I wanted and second, there was a glare which made it difficult to see clearly. Steve was spotting for me and I was sitting and had his pack on my lap for a rest. this was a first ever position for me and one that I will probably not use in the future for shots over 300 yards. Simply said, my first shot was a miss. The benefit with a spotter shooter set-up is I am reloading automatically while Steve is giving me information about the animal. Because of the distance and the wind being in our favor the cow was not real sppoked and the second shot was set free with the welcome meat report and the animal going down immeaditley. At this point the second cow finally makes her presence known and now we switch roles and I am now spotting for Steve. Steve is shooting his trusty 6.5-284 XP sighted max point blank range of 350 yds. at the shot I don't hear a meat report (we are also both wearing hearing protection). but the cow moves down and a little to the right into cover. I kept waiting for her to move further right, back into the open for Steve to make a second shot. But she didn't. At this point we are unsure if Steve has hit the elk or what. We have to go down a ridge and top a second one and we are still 150 yards away with a steep ridge to still go down to get the elk. After we top the ridge we now see Steve's cow. Steve is now able to go prone and makes a shot. Not hearing a meat report and seeing the bullet impact behind her I tell Steve to make another shot. Steve's third shot put her down on the spot. What we later learned is the first shot @ 150 yards was a perfect lung, but that is the way with elk. You can make a lethal shot and they don't act as if they have been hit at all. His 1st shot was slightly low into the rocks, as in the excitement of it all he aimed dead center @ 385 for a 350 MPBR-- A LITTLE TOO LOW.
Now it is about a half hour before sunset and we have two elk down a long ways from camp less than 50 yards apart on our first afternoon--Now The Work Begins! We decide to quarter both animals that night. We get back into camp around 10:30 PM. We also carreid the backstraps with us. To say we are tired is an understatement. The following morning we get up and make the decision to take the two elk out intwo trips. If you have ever packed elk quarters, you realize you don't often take out two elk with two men on only two trips. We think this is possible because Steve's elk is a smaller cow. Mine is one of the larger ones we have ever seen. We de-boned what we would carry out to limit the weight. I carried out Steve's elk myself while Steve took one of my cow's hind-quarter. A lot of bicycling this summer had prepared me for this. Since I was not having feet problems as I did last year I was able to carry weight easily. We sure did miss Marc & Mitch this year though. We usually have three guys to take out one elk in one trip. The second trip I carried my hind-quarter out and Steve carried the front shoulders of my elk. We got done about 4:30 Sunday afternoon. We had a celebration supper in Bayfiled with John Dustin who is a writer for Precision Shooting and then went to Pagosa Springs for some relaxation in the hot springs. We had a lot of fun and put a lot of effort in a short period of time.
Realizing this may not be considered LR for some, anything over 350 with specialty handguns can get pretty challenging.

Great hunt and story.

You are correct, until you actually try to harvest a big game animal with a specialty handgun you have no idea the special problem that come up at the worst time.

Rifle hunting tends to make you take for granted solid shooting postitions. With teh handguns even teh best rest is a little shaky at times.

And yes that sun setting low is great fun to deal with when trying to get a shot off at an animal.

Great job on your and SS's part. I am still looking for my first elk with a handgun. Probably will not happen this season as the shop is really hooping and its 65 degrees up here in Montana.

I did take a mule deer doe at 332 yards with the 6.5mm WSM. held dead on and took both shoulders out cleanly an dfully exited.

Once things slow down a bit I will be testing the 140 gr A-Max and the 142 gr Wildcat ULD and see how they perform. I will keep you posted.

Again, congrats on a fine hunt and I'm glad you both lived to tell the story. Packing elk is not for the faint of heart, its for horses I believe

Good Shooting!!

Kirby Allen(50)
Congratulations on the elk. That 7.82 Patriot is a awesome long range handgun.
Crow Mag
Kirby & Eric,
Check out the "would be interested in" post in either AR's singleshot pistol or in Specialty Pistol's forum. I hope both of you guys can come. It will be a great time.

I would love to come down and shoot around with the guys, only problem is it will depend on whats going on in the shop. The Varmint season will be rolling then and hopefully there will be alot of rifles and handguns to be built.

Here is a little XP I shipped out just a while ago, shot very well with the 15" Lilja and 50 gr Blitzking. Averaged in the .4's for three, 5 shot groups before I shipped it. Classy looking little rig.



Good Shooting, keep up posted on it this will happen!

Kirby Allen(50)

[ 11-11-2004: Message edited by: Fiftydriver ]
Its a 223 Rem by the way.

Was it big enough for you, ****, need to reduce the size of my original uploads appearently.

Good Shooting!!

Kirby Allen(50)
Excellent narrative, and Congratulations on your successful hunt! Good Shootin'Bro!
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