My latest Idaho Elk Hunt

Discussion in 'Long Range Hunting & Shooting' started by MEV, Nov 8, 2011.

  1. MEV

    MEV Active Member

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    For the 19th year, I hunted Idaho for elk and mule deer. Since 1996, I have hunted with a pre-64 Winchester Model 70, .264 Win. Mag. I have taken bulls out to 300 yards several times. When I purchased the rifle, I had in mind ranges out to 600 yards, just in case. This turned out to be the year where circumstances conspired and made the only shot on the only bull I saw for the trip, be at 512 yards. I hand load 120 grain Barnes Tipped TSX boat tails, with a muzzle velocity of 3485 fps. Barnes gives a ballistic coefficient of .443, which I know to be a low number by shooting the load.

    I use a Leupold 2.5 to 8 VX3 with the Boone and Crockett system. I choose this scope for a few very good reasons. While it may not be the best long range scope, it is good enough for what my intentions are on the top end of the power. I do not hunt for long range shots, I never shoot long distance, when I can close the distance and take the animal. The country we hunt has densely timbered in some areas, the elk like getting into this timber, therefore sometimes I have had to take quick close shots and 2.5 power does nicely. My average shot distance for the 16 bulls I have taken is 140 yards, one at 20 yards and this one at 512 yards.

    In this event I faced several issues. The herd was gazing away from the location I spotted them from at 875 yards. The best avenue to flank the herd to cut the distance was of no value due to lack of concealment and the breeze would have been in the elk's favor, making detection imminent.
    I had to flank the herd on the other side of the canyon to close the distance. The herd was still grazing down the canyon with the lead cow being 620 yards away. The bull was bringing up the end at 512 yards, facing away from me about 20 yards from entering a group of trees, of which the lead cow was on the other side of. I felt this would be the best opportunity I was going to get.

    I found a tree which had grown horizontal due to snow loads over the years. I slid under the tree using it for a rest and got both knees up under me and braced my elbows. I was reasonably comfortable with the 512 yard range, not however with the 620 yards where the cow was. I waited a couple of minutes for the bull to turn broad side. The breeze was steady at 3 miles per hour from my left to right.

    Next issue I dealt with, (my fault) my load is out shooting the yardage marks on my scope, at 500 yards it is striking 10" high at my range at home, elevation there is 700 above sea level. At the location of this shot I was 9800 feet. My fault was not getting on this issue sooner before this trip and getting the load to strike closer to the markings by adjusting the sight in range.

    I put my 500 yard mark at the base of the bull's chest and the vertical bar just behind his right shoulder in allowance for the breeze. I launched the first round a clean miss over the bull; I did not see it strike and had no spotter, but I was confident it was just high. I bolted in number two and re-adjusted the hold to my 400 yard mark just touching the top of the bulls back with the same vertical hold just behind his shoulder and let number two go. I heard the report back of a solid hit and saw the bull turn to his right without using his right front leg.

    I lost sight of the herd and bull quickly due to trees, they were moving to my right and down into the canyon. I waited 2 hours, while my daughter worked her way down to where I had engaged the bull. She found a blood trail and began tracking the bull. I went down and across the canyon and met up with her at a point where the bull had broken away from the herd.

    I sent my daughter down canyon on the side the herd had been on to cover some opening just in case. I began tracking the bull and tracked him for 3 hours side hill up and through a swale, side hill around to a point above where I had shot from, where he went back down in to the original canyon. While tracking the bull, I could tell his front right leg was of no use to him and that the round had struck him too low to have caused severe damage to any vitals. During the track, the bull had layed down once, I no doubt moved him without being able to see him. I found two dead falls he had difficulty getting over. I surmised the bull was getting tired. At the point where the bull re-entered the canyon, I was only minutes behind him, however it was dusk. I decided it would be best to break off of the track at this point and take it up again in the morning with good light. I figured the bull would go to ground and stay put for the night.

    I was not happy with myself for wounding this bull, but this did not diminish my will to do everything in my power to locate and dispatch this bull.

    In the morning I arrived at the point below and side hill from the track I left. I had decided to move in from side hill, believing the bull would not have travelled much before lying down. I also believed the bull would be watching his back trail and by coming in from the side, I would have a better chance of spotting him and finishing him, without it being a further chase in the timber and rough country. I side hilled approx. 150 yards, which was about 150 yards short of where I left his track. I stopped and looked into the patches of trees, spotting the bull laying down about 300 yards below from where I left his track the evening before. The bull was watching his back trail up the hill. I sat down and placed one shot just below his left ear, breaking his neck at 120 yards. I found the bull was hit by the 512 yard shot in the right front leg, 3" above his knee. This meant the round was 6" low of striking into the right front shoulder and the vital lower chest.

    Lesson learned; get the load and scope tuned to each other so there is no guessing!

    This could have turned out much worse. It was bad enough wounding an animal, track it out and finish the job.

    I attached two photo's, 1st is me with one of my horses "Rimfire", overlooking some of the country we hunt. The 2nd is me with the bull.

    Good luck all. Get out and enjoy the hunt. MEV
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Nov 8, 2011
  2. lazylabs

    lazylabs Well-Known Member

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    Way to finish the job. I think there are many many more stories like this that people are just not posting. I know I have done it. That view in the first picture does NOT suck.
     
  3. MEV

    MEV Active Member

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    Lazylabs, you are very kind. I believe you might be correct. Take care. MEV
     
  4. the shotty

    the shotty Well-Known Member

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    That is beautiful country! Thanks for sharing.
     
  5. WildRose

    WildRose Well-Known Member

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    Good story, beautiful pictures and my had is off to you for closing the deal in spite of the effort involved.

    I have to ask though why would you use 120gr bullets when that caliber excels with the 140's? Do you not have a fast enough twist for the heavier bullets?

    As for your scope, if you moved to a 140gr load your yardages I think would be much closer than you are getting with the 120's.

    While you are working on new loads for the future I'd highly encourage you to look at the Hornady interlock and interbonds, as well as the Swift Scirocco II's.
     
  6. MEV

    MEV Active Member

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    WildRose, thank you. I use the 120 Barnes, due to several factors. I found the bullet that would expand well at the longest of my operational hunting ranges, while not blowing up at the closer hunting ranges. It penetrates very well at all ranges. It shoots 3" groups at 500 yards and it has good ballistic coefficient. I started using Barnes bullets in 1992, the original X bullet. I was very impressed with the penetration and no blowing appart a close ranges.

    I mentioned the listed ballistic coefficient being low. Based on accual shooting of the bullet, it appears the coefficient is about 10 points higher. I will of course continue to work with the load and sight in.

    Take care. MEV
     
  7. WildRose

    WildRose Well-Known Member

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    We started shooting Barnes bullets back in the seventies looking for something that wouldn't come apart in flight when we pushed our .17 Rem.

    I have a buddy that was utterly convinced that the Barnes X and Nosler Partitions were the best bullets on the planet till I convinced him to try the hornady's.

    Take a look here:
    Hornady Manufacturing Company :: Bullets :: Rifle :: Choose by Caliber :: .264 6.5mm :: 6.5mm .264 129 gr InterBondĀ®

    6.5 129gr

    Details
    Item Number26209
    Ballistic Coefficient.485

    Sectional Density.264

    Item Number2630
    Ballistic Coefficient 0.465
    Sectional Density0.287

    Hornady Manufacturing Company :: Bullets :: Rifle :: Choose by Caliber :: .264 6.5mm :: 6.5mm .264 140gr InterLockĀ® SP

    Swift Scirocco

    Caliber 6.5mm/.264

    Sectional Density .265

    Ballistic Coefficient .571

    I've got limited experience with the Sciroccos but I have found over the years and hundreds of Deer and Big Hogs, that the Hornady's provide great performance, consistent expansion across the range of velocities and even on the biggest boars never had one break up. I think the worst I've seen was a loss of perhaps 30% of the bullet mass and that was going through both shields and both shoulders.

    In my Rum though I'm getting right at .6 MOA at 1080 with the sciroccos however and I expect they'll perform similarly in the .260. I sure hope so.

    I'll be shooting the 6.5 siroccos for the next few months and I'll be more than willing to share the results with you.

    Good luck on the future endeavors.
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2011
  8. FEENIX

    FEENIX Well-Known Member

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    Excellent story and thanks for sharing!

    Ed