Making memories

BucksnDucks

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Joined
Aug 27, 2015
Messages
755
Location
Northern CA
My son, Logan and I headed out to Wyoming last Friday for a long-anticipated elk hunt. After several years of buying points and missing draws he pulled a bull tag, his first ever. He should be very busy in the next couple years as he starts a new career. This was the year to make it happen. We arrived the morning before the opener to get the lay of the land and find a spot on BLM to camp. I had packed food and gear for around seven days of hunting. Looking back, I believe I had enough food for a helluva lot longer than that. My son is in his early twenties, strong, enthusiastic and always hungry.
Finding a somewhat flat area not covered in rocks was more challenging than I expected. I had several possibilities marked on OnX that followed what appeared to be a drivable open road. I followed the two track for several rock filled miles until it completely disappeared at a dry creek bed. Okay, time to change plans. We back tracked until we found a more traveled road heading into the mountains. We found a low elevation, workable camp spot close to an area of the unit I planned on hunting after the opening day. We decided to switch plan A for B and hunt from the westside first, then explore to the east if it didn't work out. This was one of the first good decisions of the trip.
The second good decision came after dinner. Heading out from the camp the main road on the map forked and dropped into a fairly steep creek bottom before gaining elevation. After driving the two track earlier I wanted to get a quick look at the road conditions and where the other fork lead. Let's go for a drive. We got to the junction and found the road to be pretty rough and rocky but not too much for the trusty Tundra. Still wondering about the other fork, we drove a short distance before that road ended. Good spot to stop and check things out. As I opened the door, two bulls. Two young bulls just over spike status, barely raghorns showed themselves in a small drainage. Cool, live animals. I forgot to mention a couple doe Muleys and one Pronghorn was all we witnessed in the hours of driving earlier in the day. The small drainage was separated by a low ridge and huge granite boulder with a larger bowl on the opposite side. At the top of the bowl we caught a look at a much better bull, maybe a 5x5 maybe more maybe less but definitely not a raghorn. We headed back to camp with high expectations and a plan for the morning. We saw three bulls the first place we looked, they must be everywhere, right?
Opening morning came and we headed out to the spot. Parked the truck about a half mile from where we saw the bulls and hiked in. We found a good location and glassed for the next couple hours, nothing. We spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon hiking multiple glassing knobs and searching for a shooter. We had a close encounter with the two small bulls that morning. We were crossing a small drainage with a few trees when I heard a whispered "Dad, Elk!" The two young bulls in the dark timber about 40 yards away froze. Apparently, my son froze as well. I looked at the elk then back at him with the rifle still over his shoulder. He eventually got ready as the two young bulls trotted out into the open. He let them pass looking for the bigger bull from last night. No dice.
After some food we got back to the truck and decided to move several miles east to explore an area to walk in the next morning. It was pretty warm, very dry and we saw more hunters and side by sides than hooved animals. The earlier excitement was a little tempered by the very rough roads, number of ATVs moving around and the inability to glass up anything even on the hillsides miles away.
We talked about plans for the next day or two and what the next step would be. I decided to drive back and watch the spot we hunted that morning. A good decision.
With an hour or so before sunset we hiked back into a spot with a good view of the area within shooting distance. I began ranging, 450 to the end of the steep drainage to the left. 385 yards to the top of the bowl 285 at base of trees in the drainage to the right.
Time passed uneventfully. With about 15 minutes of shoot time left, not feeling very optimistic I sarcastically whispered, "any minute now". Well, in a couple minutes it happened. At the top of the bowl a mature bull walked into view, sky lined like a movie surveying his kingdom. Get ready.
Now, my son's versions of events may differ, but I saw multiple broadside shooting opportunities before the bull disappeared, blocked by the granite outcropping. I was ranging and giving shot adjustments and saying other encouraging Dad stuff like "if your gonna kill him, you better do it now."
There's still hope. We scrambled to move positions hoping he would appear in the adjacent drainage. Logan found a good rest on a small rock and we were fixed on the granite. After what felt like hours the bull reappeared from some trees higher up the drainage but still in a good spot, broadside. I ranged 285 yards, easy day. No, my son likes to see me sweat. From my spot a few yards to the left of Logan, I again saw multiple opportunities until my heart sank as the bull disappeared from my view. My view, not his. As my head dropped in disappointment from missed opportunity, the crack of my 280 AI snapped me up. The sound of impact was unmistakable. "you hit him" I moved to my right and from that angle saw the bull was down.
I told Logan to stay on the elk and shoot again if he stood up while I hustled back to grab our packs. The bull, hit high on the shoulder raised up on his front legs and a shot through the heart put him down for good. Holy crap, the excitement was surreal. The icing on the cake was unlike the ever-present ground shrinkage the Bull was far better than either of us expected. What a day!
We did the quick photo shoot then got to work. I did the knife work and Logan did the packing. I'm still hurting from a knee injury and walking downhill with even a light pack was pushing my limits already. Logan moved the first quarter down the hill and retrieved the truck, moving it to what was a pretty short pack out. Back at camp exhausted, well after midnight. One cut finger from the Havalon, one very sore knee, and one extremely happy son.
Thanks to the hunt talker that assisted with some contact info on this unit, even though I kept calling him the wrong name and thanks to those of you that took the time to read my proud Dad story.
20221009_235809.jpg What a day!
l2DP6EPF-97786511.jpeg
 

BucksnDucks

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 27, 2015
Messages
755
Location
Northern CA
I wanted to add I'm super impressed with Hammer bullets performance. Seemed to hit hard with not a lot of meat damage.
For anyone interested in load data:

143 Hammer hunters
62 gr RL 23
Peterson Brass
2.684 BTO
Clocked an average of 3256 FPS
I tinkered with the rifle and load this summer getting very consistent groups at varying ranges
 

cahunter805

Well-known member
Joined
May 27, 2014
Messages
2,312
Awesome write up and huge congrats to you both on the successful hunt. Nice bull!
 
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