Long range elk hunting surprise.


Jan 30, 2004
Opening day of Idaho elk season 2002 I was hiking down a ridge 2,000 vertical feet to get into position at the end of a ridge from where I could set up to watch the opposite ridge for elk. This opposite ridge was a large basin which had been partially burned a few years earlier and a place where I had glassed several large bulls the year previously on opening day.

During scouting in the summer I had determined that the elk I had seen in that basin would be at ranges of 400 to 800 yards from the point I was hiking down to this opening morning of elk season.

My plan was to sit on that knob as daylight arrived and was hoping to see one of the large bulls out in the basin and get a good shot off.

I had spent the summer getting a good elk load worked up for my .300 win mag and shooting out to 800 yards. Well we all know how plans can work out sometimes

So I leave my camp at 4:00 in the morning and I am hiking the 4 miles out to where I start my descent down to the knob. As I am hiking out the old closed logging road there is a slight dusting of snow which has been falling all night on the road and I am seeing deer and elk tracks as well as two sets of fresh wolf tracks.

As I near the ridge I will descend I start blowing my cow call and throwing in a spike bugle every couple minutes.
Hoping I will get an answer on my side of the canyon as I know there are elk in the area.

Right on time I hit the top of the ridge just as the first promise of light is beginning to brighten the horizon.
Starting down the ridge I have yet to hear any answers to my cow calls and bugles.
I jump a group of three deer on the way down the ridge I can barely make out in the predawn dark and really get the heart pumping.
As I near my glassing position, just 200 more yards, I stop to do a few cow calls and throw another spike bugle. Whats that! I get an agressive response bugle from the right side of the ridge about 500 yards down in the canyon by the creek.
I cow call back aggressively. He bugles back again, and immediately he is challenged back by another bull from the left side of my ridge.
Holy *&&%! I am in it now!

I sat on the ridge and cow called a couple times over the next 15 minutes as the two bulls threw aggressive bugles back and forth to each other as they both worked their way closer to my position. It was driving my crazy thinking, "that one is getting closer, no that one", finally I had to decide which side of the ridge to move to. I chose the one on the left side of the ridge which sounded closer and had the wind in a better angle, even though the one on the right side was a growler and I figured to be the bigger bull.

I moved into position behind a burned out log staring straight into the sun which had just burst over the horizon. The bull sounded a couple hundred yards away but I could not see him as there were a couple hills along the ridge. I could see some of his cows at 500 yards and could barely hear them excitely mewing.
The bull stood out there bugling at his maximum volume for what seemed like 15 minutes. I just could not see him.
Then I was shocked to see his antlers coming into sight right in front of me as he was coming closer up the steep slope. As he stepped in front of the sun and he was haloed by the early morning suns rays he was an awesome sight as I steadied the rifle over the old log for the shot. And then it was over (as you are probably glad this very long story is about over).
Anyway after all that planning the shot I finally got on this magnificent Idaho elk was exactly 18 paces.
What a morning!!
I will try to post a picture but not sure how to do it.

[ 04-12-2004: Message edited by: longone ]
I had almost the same experience in '95 on a huge whitetail. Bought a .300 Win Mag, prepped for weeks, hunted in northern Missouri where the shots can stretch out a bit.

45 minutes into opening day, shot a big, beautiful 10 pointer with 6 additional nontypical points at a whopping distance of 18 yards.

Of course he ran to the bottom of a clearcut and jumped into the thickest possible snarl before he expired.

My first long-range hunt!
Nice bull friend, and I enjoyed your story. A few years ago I was sneaking over a ridge at shooting light, after a nice bull defending his cows on the opposite hillside. All of a sudden a bull bugled in front of me and, like you, I saw antlers coming over the hill. He was only a satelite bull, an average 5 point, but at 20 paces he was steak for the winter. I had to spend the rest of my hunt sleeping late and fishing. I think my horses actually gained weight on that trip. Being a bit of a gear nut, I am always interested in the hunting rifles we find capable at long range. Can you describe yours? Congrats!
Longone, what a story. I could feel the hair on the back of the neck raise as you talked about the antlers appearing over the ridge. I felt like I was there with you. That is one heck of a bull you took. I love hearing good hunting tales as I get to live it for a fleeting moment. Thanks for sharing that hunt with us.
Wow, that's an awsomem story. I got cought flat footed in the Bitter Roots here in Idaho. Standing in the middle of a trail, I just went down on one knee and watched as the antlers aproched out of the timber. there was a small creek at the edge of the timber. He came at a trot and cleared that stream, about 15ft., and landed right in front of me! I was folling him the whole time with the rifle, was going to heart/lung him as he went by. But as he landed, he stoped right there, black dirt went flying foward over the snow from his hoves, and he looked right at me. Thats when I squezed the trigger, neck shot, laid where he stood. That was 11 paces. When I shot all the cows took off right at me! I had to stand and wave my arm's and holler "HAW", some of the cows went high some went low, came within a few feet of me, now that was a heart thumper. Sometimes there is a big surprize waiting for us out there in the hunting fields.

appreciate the responses.
That was quite a morning. Thanks for relaying some of your experiences as well.
Always fun to read others hunting stories.
Anybody else have some good ones?

I was shooting my H-S Precision .300 Win Mag with 180gr Nosler Partitions.
I killed the bull with the first shot, but he trotted off about 10 yards and stopped again right at the top of an extreme drop off so I shot again throught the top of the shoulders to finish him on the spot.
One more step and he would have rolled hundreds of feet back down into the canyon.
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