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280Rem VS bull elk

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  • 280Rem VS bull elk

    I did not give near enough thought to this elk hunt in Craig, Colorado, before I booked it in September. The hunt was scheduled for Dec. 12 through the 16th. As we began losing light on the second full day of the hunt, I was realizing more and more that I had bitten off more than I could chew. First was the five hour ride through the mountain passes, going NW out of Denver. Most of the time we were in long lines of others trying to make it through on snow and ice covered roads up the mountain sides and down the other side. We had to traverse two great mountains to get to Craig. I had thought that we'd arrive well before dark but the rented Chrysler 200 was doing the best that it could. Thankfully, we met the outfitter on a fairly clear road, at a taxidermist shop. We bought the elk license and did other paperwork. Two full days of hunting in 10 to 12 inches of snow, at 8000 ft. elevation, blowing snow and cold, really cold, I was about done in. We were losing light when we glassed a bull elk and several cows going over a saddle in the ridge, about 1/2 mile away. "Can you climb that ridge?" the guide asked. "If I want that bull, I have to." Climbing was like going up a staircase covered in a foot of snow, much of it hiding rocks that easily turned my ankle and sent me tumbling down. About half way up, the guide (28 years old, so 46 years younger than I), said, "I will go up and see if I can glass him from the saddle. You take your time." Wheezing like an overworked old steam engine, I forged ahead, until finally I gained the saddle. I waited, trying to catch my breath and allow my heart to get back to normal beating. I could feel the blood, pumping in my neck and at my temples. The guide appeared from the opposite direction that I had anticipated and waved me to follow. We hiked some more through the snow, until we came to a knob. We glassed the valley below and spotted the bull with several cows. I ranged him at 280 yards, walking slowly behind the cows, going away from right to left. Try as I might to steady my rifle, as I stood behind the shooting sticks, the crosshairs were swinging back and forth across the entire length of the bull. "Shoot! Shoot!" Whispered the guide, "before he walks out of range." My breath was still very raged and my heart had not come down to any normal beat, but I shot when I thought the crosshairs were on his shoulder. My hit was too far back and clipped the top of his stomach, which did slow him down a bit, but still he walked, trying to keep up with the cows. If you have ever tried to hit a target off shooting sticks when you are totally winded, then you have an idea of what I was facing.
    I had hand loaded 160gr. Barnes TSX for my 280Rem chambered Browning Stalker. I had worked the load up to 2840 fps at the muzzle, feeling confident that my cartridge would break a bull's shoulders, if I did my job.
    "You gut shot him, whispered the guide. Shoot again!" I am not proud of the next few seconds, but will tell it like it happened. I was so excited that I was trying to catch my cartridge cases, instead of allowing them to fly and slamming home the next round quickly. The crosshairs were swinging wildly and I was unable to settle them, missing the next three rounds. Finally, I steadied somewhat and my fifth round shattered the bull's heart. He staggered badly and before I got off another round he fell out of sight. We waited, scoping the shallow fold in the valley that he'd fallen into.
    When I first got out there, I was all macho man, telling myself that even if I had to wait until the fifth day, I was going to hunt for a big trophy! As we waited and watch to see if the bull would try to get up, all that I could think of was that I hoped he was dead down there, so I would not have to come out here tomorrow. Even if I had not made a kill at the end of the end of the second day, I would have taken off the third day and would have stayed in the lodge and rested up.
    The climb down was easier, even though I had to be very careful not to slide and fall again. We got to the little, natural trough and walked along the lip. The guide just in front of me, raised his thumb, turned and gave me a big high five and congratulated me on not totally screwing up. The bull lay dead, just were we saw him go down. As we field dressed him, I saw how the heart had been shattered by my bullet, which exited the far side. He was carrying five by five antlers and weighed roughly 600 lbs. on the hoof. Not a great trophy, but would not have passed on him that evening for anything.
    I began to feel better and sat with my bull, while the guide hiked out the get the Ranger ATV. My bull was very warm and made me feel better. I said my prayers, thanking God for blessing me to still be able to go on these hunts. I also thanked the bull for being such a magnificent animal and for his being able to get through the winters in the Rockies.
    Everyone in the lodge scored on filling their license. Five bull elk and seven really fine bucks.
    The lodge was very clean and cozy and great food was served. We took the bull to the processor and had it cut, wrapped and frozen. I split up 160 pds. of meat between four checked bags and my carry on duffle.
    I have no idea if I will attempt another hunt for elk, or not. My mind says, "Heck yes!" but my body says, "Uh, I don't think so." Well next year, who knows.
    I will try to answer any questions that you may have about my hunt.
    Steven L. Ashe
    DeLand, FL

  • #2

    GREAT story! Well done hunt, congrats.
    -Remote locations are cheap insurance.
    -There are two kinds of ships: Submarines and targets


    • #3

      Love the story. I do not think you have any reason to hang your head. Shivering in early evening in the snow is enough to throw off most shots, much less the amount of hiking, pressure from the guide to shoot, and your years of wisdom to boot.

      Congratulations on the successful hunt.
      Friends don't let friends shoot factory ammo.

      Continuous effort - not strength or intelligence - is the key to unlocking our potential.
      -Winston Churchill


      • #4

        I concur! Thanks for sharing and congrats on your hunt!
        Not as Lean, Not as Mean, but still a Marine!

        If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace. -- Thomas Paine


        • #5

          Thank you for sharing; gives us "Oldtimers" hope.
          It's not that Democrats are so damned ignorant. Their problem is that everything they know is wrong.

          Wimachtendienk, Wingolauchsik, Witahemui

          He who knows not and knows not that he knows not, is a fool.
          He who knows not and knows he knows not, is wise.


          • #6

            Sounds familiar to me. Congratulations.

            With a lot of self discipline, some pain....these old bodies still work. Shot my elk last year; this year was a rest year..just antelope! Flat, warm places LOL


            • #7

              Great story and show of determination! RD
              Every once in a while in life we need a policeman, a lawyer, a doctor and a preacher. We need a farmer three times a day, every day.

              Et Canis Manducare Canis Mundi


              • #8

                Congrats any bulls a good bull. Well done.
                Mtman714; A man can do no better then to leave a good garden patch. Thomas Jefferson