Caribou Gear

2021 Muzzleloader elk/bear hunts

utah400elk

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Joined
Feb 15, 2012
Messages
808
Location
Sterling, VA
While scouting we found a super cool bull on the same ridge. He was a smaller 6x7 tht had a drop antler. His left side dropped straight down and his first point of left blocked the vision in his left eye. His antler ended between his knee and ankle on his left side.

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utah400elk

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Joined
Feb 15, 2012
Messages
808
Location
Sterling, VA
First afternoon on opening day and we found a little mesa that was about 300 yards off the main road. It was surrounded on three sides by roads. It was probably 200 vertical feet and got us great glassing. We had seen a huge 5x6 in the area scouting so we were looking for him. It was so close I almost left the rifle in the truck but was afraid it might get stolen.

We got to a great spot and immediately glassed three shooter bulls. They were a ways off and would stare at every quad that drove by. They were hidden from the roads and the little Mesa got us the altitude to see them. Christian thought it was cool to watch all these people drive by the bulls. It was great to teach him what hiking can get you and how glassing works.

As were were moving to check a few other canyons a series of mistakes cost us an elk. We got up and moved about 100 yards to try and glass the small canyons and a flat where we had seen the huge 5x6.

I heard something to our south and saw an elk butt moving through the trees. I got onto the shorting sticks and a beautiful unbroken 6x6 that was nice (I would guess mid 320s-330s) stopped broadside at 150. I exhaled and did the slow trigger squeeze. It was about as perfect as you can get. Then I heard a very pound snap. I had been so sure we were just going to glass that I had forgotten to put a
Primer in the rifle. He know, total rookie mistake. The bull trotted of and I quickly put a cap in. Christian had the range finder and said 260. I dialed my scope into and did a quick cow called. The bull again turned broadside and I repeated the slow squeeze. Total miss. Christian then told me he panicked and didn’t get the range but guessed. The bull was at 350 yards.

Like a said, a series of bad mistakes cost is a nice bull. We had seen four shooter bulls and had taken a shot. Christian get bad and kept saying sorry. I laughed it off and told him that was elk hunting. We had a great plan for the morning and had a beautiful sunset. CB9242F0-E2D5-40F4-9269-2AC3C0EB3B7C.jpeg
 

utah400elk

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Joined
Feb 15, 2012
Messages
808
Location
Sterling, VA
The next morning was absolutely crazy. We started very early and got onto a large mesa where we had glasses the bulls the night before. We watched a bunch of quads and side by sides driving the roads after sunrise. As we moved to the spot we wanted to get to we found two other hunters already there. We had a quich chat and moved off. Christian was sure our morning was over and was a bit upset. I told him we were going to find elk on top and we started still hunting for the far side of the mesa which was about 3/4 of a mile and would allow us to glass the opposite direction of the other guys.

We made it about half way and I saw elk. We stopped and had a small 4x4 and a very nice 5x5 feeding. They were only about 120 yards away and the wind was perfect. Christian was shocked to see them and he had a total attitude change. Christian wanted to pass both bulls…we did after some pictures and teaching about elk behavior.

2nd day of the hunt sunrise and the smaller 4x4 we passed.
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utah400elk

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Joined
Feb 15, 2012
Messages
808
Location
Sterling, VA
We kept moving across the mesa and Christian spotted three great bulls. The biggest was a 330 class bull that was unbroken. We were moving in on them and had our morning turn south. We were about 600 yards away and we heard four shots within 30 seconds. The bulls started running. We found the hunters and they were over 500 yards away from the elk. They hit the last bull and the two others moved off. The bull bedded as the other two went over the top. The shooter emerged with a flintlock traditional rifle with open sights. There is simply no way he hit that bull with that rifle. They were in a side by side and had obviously used a rifle I. The muzzleloader hunt. Christian knew what he was seeing and asked why they would do that. It was one of throes serious talks about ethics and hunting. We had just passed a very nice 5x5 and then watched this bull get taken by a rifle hunter.

We were only about 600 yards away and watched a total shit show unfold. The guys got to the bull and were giving each other high-fives. They were about three feet from the bull. In the spotter we watched the bull get to its feet between the guys. The “shooter” grabbed the flintlock and actually said how the hell do I shoot this F-ing thing. The other guy was directly across the elk in a cross fire when the “shooter” fingered out how to shoot. The other guy was swearing like a sailor because he was almost shot.

Quickly the high-fives and photos resume. When the shooter grabbed the rack, the bull stood up again. He reloaded his flintlock and shot through the bull towards his friends again. He was using an old time powder horn and obviously loaded too much powder. We could hear him screaming across the canyon about the F-my recoil while his buddies were screaming about almost getting shot again. They were making so much noise several other elk scattered out of the area. Including the 5x6 we had seen.

It was the low point of the hunt for us. The area had been ruined. We saw 11 bulls that morning but the area was ruined.
 

utah400elk

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Joined
Feb 15, 2012
Messages
808
Location
Sterling, VA
That night we moved back to where we had been opening morning. As we were moving up the ridge to a saddle we could smell elk very string. I told Christian we were going to bust elk and about the time I said it, the biggest bull of the trip jumped up in front of us. He was 350 class and I had him in the scope for about 5 seconds. I could not get a clean shot but he was huge. That was all we saw that afternoon. We were close to elk all afternoon and found several beds were there was still wet pee apots. We could smell them but didn’t see any more. We hadn’t spoke Ike’s any on the ridge but we’re just behind them.
 

utah400elk

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Joined
Feb 15, 2012
Messages
808
Location
Sterling, VA
The third day was slow. We saw 6-8 cows and a spike in the third day. The opening morn in g ridge had been ruined by a guy. He had never hunted elk and got to the ridge top about 11:00 AM. It was a dedding area and he stayed there until 2:00 PM. He was very happy that he had just moved several bulls from there bed and had taken three shots but had missed all of them.
 

utah400elk

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Joined
Feb 15, 2012
Messages
808
Location
Sterling, VA
The forth day was great and terrible all in one. In the morning we found a large 6x6 and lost him in the trees as we were stalking in. We saw three additional bulls in the area but they were not huge. That afternoon we hiked to the top of a mesa again. It was crazy steep and again surrounded on three sides by roads.

On the north side we found two big bulls. One was a 330 class. We ended up bumping them but followed them into a canyon. Christian could them in the trees and we watched as night approached. We found several small groups in the same canyon and waited for an opportunity. Right at dark they stepped out in range.

I ranged to spot several times and got the correct range. I can shoot that far, the only real concern was wind. It was cold and almost dark but we had an up canyon wind. I held for a 5-10 MPH wind and took a very stable shot. The shot get good but we had a few issues.

At the shot I lost the bulls in the scope and the smoke obscured the tripod for Christian. We heard crashing but could not find the bulls after the shot. They had taken off but we didn’t know which direction.

This was again a series of decisions/mistakes that I still question. It had been dry all week and I thought we would have a very hard time finding the exact spot in the dark. It had been cold at night.


We decided to back out and come back in the morning to look for a dead elk. 65CF2973-2AEF-4082-9CB6-34ABFF04F198.jpeg
 
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utah400elk

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Joined
Feb 15, 2012
Messages
808
Location
Sterling, VA
On the way back to the cabin we got a flat. We had to do an emergency tire repair with pugs and fix a flat so that we could drive back to check the shot. The first time of the hunt we got weather. It drizzled for about 10 minutes while we changed the tire. It stopped drizzling and there were no clouds so we thought the weather was over. We finished up around midnight and were beat when we got to bed.

Things went from bad to worse overnight. When Christian went out to start the car, he told me it had rained at night. We didn’t hear it at all. The roads were terrible heading back to the area and we actually got another flat in the rental truck on the way there.

We got to the area about first light and l found not only had it rained, there was two inches of fresh wet heavy snow. It had not been forecasted but we had significant weather.

We did over 5 hours of grid searches and didn’t find the bull. We did have shooting opportunities at three other bulls but we both felt I had hit the bull.

We considered my tag filled and stopped hunting. This is exactly where the bull had been standing. This was as we were leaving after the grid search and about 5 hours after the wet snow melted and light dusting of new snow was left. We had searched four different canyons and couldn’t find any fresh sign. it had been lightly snowing all morning.
 

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utah400elk

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Joined
Feb 15, 2012
Messages
808
Location
Sterling, VA
It was an awesome hunt and a special thanks to Mike for all the help. Christian had a blast and loved the hunt. We saw a total of 35 branchantlered bulls during the hunt not including the scouting. We hiked over 60 miles in 5 days and had climbed over 400 flights of stairs. These numbers don’t include the time spent scouting.

A couple random pics from the hunt… 94B586BD-8C6C-4946-A172-9B32B2F5F9AA.jpeg FC0B7006-75A3-4B58-B56A-D31B26E96D18.jpeg F30287D7-741F-4C5D-AA89-DBB07F575036.jpeg 3A22D2D9-0295-4338-B339-3882FA930EAA.jpeg A473E93B-6929-45A5-AB00-63B07D206E47.jpeg 73134F7C-242F-48C1-9BA6-82D96D915261.jpeg FF9A7940-3CA5-43B4-91B2-258EDB4E7B1E.jpeg
 

Bearmagnet

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Joined
Mar 7, 2022
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2
I have been having fun posting semi-live hunts the last few years. For me, this has been a very fun way to keep a running summary of the hunts. First year was father son elk hunt in Colorado, then a semi-live TX draw hunt for whitetail and last year was my son’s Utah youth draw elk hunt. While those were fun, I feel they missed some of the best parts. I am going to start early this year and try and document our hunts a bit better to show a bigger picture.

This year the draws have been very good to us. First, I drew a NM unit 15 muzzleloader bull tag for Nov hunt. This could turn out to be a very fun hunt and my son is going with me. However, my son (Christian) was also able to draw a Colorado unit 201 muzzleloader cow hunt and a unit 201 muzzleloader bear tag. Mama Bear has already agreed to let my son do both hunts so this is going to be a very fun year. He is a straight “A” student and has made the academic honor roll for the last two years.

During Christian’s Utah hunt, the elk were not supper vocal. He even asked about all my archery stories of calling elk in. He had grand visions of huge bulls running into our calls and quickly learned that is not always the way it works out, I did call a few elk into him…including a cow and calf to about 10 feet. However, he didn’t get to see great rutting action. I believe a rut hunt in 201 will be different and we will have a blast

Christian took his big game animal ever (a Florida whitetail) with a muzzleloader but we really need to get him ready for a muzzleloader elk hunt. He has grown about a foot since last year and all his swim training Is getting him stronger. I am sure most parents will agree that it is amazing just how quick they grow.

We have set up a training regimen for the muzzleloader and he is shooting his bow a lot more. His goal is to archery elk hunt but I have told him he can’t archery hunt until he can shoot comfortably to 50 yard and I really want him shooting 60lbs. He currently shooting 55 labs and can shoot to 30 yards really well. We are shooting every two weeks with the muzzleloader and twice a week with his bow.

A Muzzleloader range day…
View attachment 187490 View attachment 187491

Christian is almost 5’10” now and he is shooting 3inch groups at 50 yards now. He is going to be shooting a Knight Disk Extreme .50 caliber with 56 grn (by weight) BH209 and 460 grn No Excuse conicals.

For NM…new toy for me…
View attachment 187492


I got a Knight Ultra-Lite .45 caliber in a Nitride finish. I have been working on load development and… View attachment 187493


The bottom is a 3 shot hundred yard group shooting 300 grn Arrowhead XLD bullet over 82 grns (by weight) BlackHorn 209 with CCI Mag 209 primers. I am using a Leupold VX5 2-10 scope. The top group is after a quick scope adjustment and is a 9 shot 100 yard group.

I think that gets us caught up for the season so far…

Christian and I are having a blast getting ready for the season. He is really liking the range days and I think the time with him is awesome. He keeps trying to talk me into stops at Coldstone on the way home from the range and it works about once a month. I really feel the prep and excitement for the hunt is a huge part. Just want to try and capture the whole process.

More to come..
I was reading about your experiences with your son on muzzleloader hunts and video of the hunts. It is wonderful you are sharing the experiences only a father/son hunt can produce, and you will have lifelong memories about those hunts. I have hunted with a group of fellas on muzzleloader hunts to Manitoba Canada for whitetails, and most of us have used smokeless Savage ML 10 muzzleloaders. We have had no problems with accuracy, and have taken three deer at distances of 200 to 210 yards. At first we tried various loads, powders and bullets, until Savage told us what other hunters were using with great success. A high success rate followed on our annual hunts to Manitoba, even with wide temperature swings of from minus 20 to a high of 70 degrees. In our preparation, we discovered the Hornady SSt 250 grain bullets, which we used were not penetrating more than 1 inch into 2 inch wooden planks at 250 yards, so we restricted any shot distance on a deer to 210 yards or less. We used Accurate #5744 powder and we got the bullet plastic sabots for 50 cal muzzleloaders from Muzzleload Magnum Products in Arkansas. The reason I am telling you this is the wonderful view you will have of your shots to video, without having to deal with the blackpowder smoke screen. I know these guns are no longer in production, and there are many stories reported of dangers of this type/kind of muzzleloader for various reasons, however we have not had any problems and have had these guns for almost 15 years, have shot hundreds of rounds, and have taken buck in the 150 to 165 class, with very few cripples, which were not recovered. On one trip about 10 years ago, my eldest son flew into Winnipeg, and out of 10 hunters on the plane, 7 had the Savage ML10. I hope this info is helpful for you and son using muzzleloaders for big game hunts, and wish you many years of success in the field with your son. Bearmagnet
 

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