Spike Elk - 2022

NorthIdahoDude

Active member
Joined
Aug 24, 2022
Messages
32
Location
Bonner County Idaho
So, after shooting a moose on my Once in a Lifetime Idaho Moose hunt, you'd think I would call that a season and settle down to cut up moose meat and relax, right? Wrong.

To be fair, I probably would not have gone out elk hunting just for myself, I was still sore and tired from the moose adventure. However, I have a couple of friends I introduced to hunting last year, who were interested in seeing what elk hunting was all about. And I've got another friend who just moved to Idaho about 9 months ago who also wants to go chase some elk. So, sure, why not. I've hunted elk for about 18 years now, and if I do say so myself, I suck at it. I'm a deer killing machine, but elk, not so much. 18 years of elk hunting, and between my wife and I, we've only ever brought home 3 elk, and we hunted an absolutely stupid number of hours/days for those 3 elk. So what's the harm in taking these guys all for a long brutal hike in the wilderness mountains so they can see what elk hunting is like? It's not like we're going to get an elk and have to haul him out or anything on just a silly 1-day hunt, right? Wrong again.

So 3AM Saturday morning, we headed out into the dark in my hillbilly Cadillac (aka: Dodge diesel mega-cab) for a nearly 3 hour drive back to the middle-of-bleeping-nowhere. Still dark as we bailed out of the truck, and with headlamps on, we started the 3 mile hike through blowdown and elevation changes (about 600 vertical feet) to get back to "The Spot(tm)". About an hour into the hike, we heard some elk crunching away from us down in a ravine, so we got setup. We finally saw them working their way up the steep stuff on the other side of the ravine. They were just cows, but it's any-elk Sat/Sun/Mon this week, so they are fair game. I managed to get crosshairs on them a time or two, but they were moving too fast through thick tree cover, and they were 250+ yards out by this point, and I just could not put together a good shot opportunity. Damnit. Oh well, at least we had some excitement for the newbies.

We carried on our hike in, and eventually wound up where we were going. Damnit, it's been a few years since I came to this spot, trees have gotten too tall, and we can't see the hillside I wanted to sit and watch. After some hiking around, we eventually found a spot on the opposing hillside we could get setup on, and have a reasonable view of the right area. I know from past experience scouting and hunting down in here, that it's not that uncommon for a cow/calf group to come through this area on the way to water in the mid-day, and it's actually fairly common to have a herd come through here in the evening on their way down to the creek in the valley bottom below us. At the spot we were setup, shooting lanes ranged from 160 to 220 yards - overall pretty good. 220 yards is a bit farther than I had wanted to setup newbie hunters for a possible shot, but there was only a few lanes that long, and even that was still close enough nobody would have to worry with hold-over or wind or anything.

The hillside was very sandy, nothing was likely to happen for a few hours, so I found a nice spot, smoothed out the sand, dropped my pack up near my head, and laid down for a nap. I told the newbies to keep glassing the far hillside and wake me up with a gunshot if they saw any elk. I napped pretty solid till about 10:30, and after that I shook myself awake enough so that I just dozed for 5 or so minutes at a time in between glassing the far hillside. It was a bright clear day, the Sun was warm and luxurious, which told me that our odds of seeing anything before the sun started going over the mountain were slim. It also made for a very pleasant day, no freezing, no wet, it was great - might as well have been on a lovely picnic on a warm fall day, other than the 2 hour ugly hike to get in there.

Eventually, the last hour of light came, and sun started going over the mountains. As the shadows worked their way up the hillside across from us, I un-relaxed a bit and told everyone to keep their eyes peeled, if something was going to happen, it was going to happen now. We saw a couple of deer make their way up the hill across from us, but otherwise nothing. I honked the Hoochie-Mamma call twice, and then went silent and glassed. Right at official sundown, with 30 minutes of legal shooting light left, as I was swinging my binoculars back to the left hand side, I though I saw a stump that wasn't there before. Hrmmm.... look harder at stump. Damn, that stump remarkably like a spike bull elk. I mean, looks so much like a spike bull elk, IT IS A SPIKE BULL ELK! He is standing in between two trees, staring right at me, not moving at all. I'm guessing he heard my call about 15 minutes earlier, and has come to investigate. I looked over at my hunting companions, and realized that none of them could see the elk from their angle due to tree cover. Well, never let it be said I was afraid to shoot an elk myself!

Moving slowly, I grabbed my shooting sticks and rifle and got it facing the right direction. Safety off. Estimate range at 220 yards based on earlier efforts with the range finder. Take a couple of deep breaths. Settle the 200 yard hash on my reticle on that front shoulder. Breath in. Breath out. Both eyes open so I can see how he reacts at the shot. Breath in. Breath about half way out. Hold still... not quite there... hold still... there it is... Ka-POW!!!!! the gunshot echoed down the valley. The elk started to wheel around, staggered, and then lurched forward into the trees. Whole E... what did I just do... I JUST SHOT A MOTHER LOVING ELK, THAT'S WHAT!!! Shot him about 30 minutes before full dark... 3 very ugly miles from the truck... with 2 newbie hunters and a guy I've never hunted with before... uh-oh... Am I going to live to regret this? Too late to worry about that now!!!

In the fading light, it took about 15-20 minutes to locate where he was standing when I pulled the trigger, but once we found the spot, there was a blood trail a blind man could follow in the dark, that ended about 30 feet away in a dead elk. I said a prayer of thanks as I walked up to him. Yep, that's a dead elk, first one I've put down in over a decade. We celebrated for a few minutes, took some obligatory pictures, and then got down to business. This was going to be a VERY long night.

It was past 2AM when we were finally all loaded up and ready to roll. I'm proud and happy to report that everyone in the party pulled not only their own weight, but their share of elk weight as well. I have definitely not lived to regret my decision to drop the hammer, though it will be another week or two before I can walk normally again, I am sure. With all the moose meat I've got, probably 90% of the elk will go to my hunting companions, which is fine. Hopefully I've given them the bug, and we have 2 more hunters for life (the 3rd guy was already a hunter for life, just new to Idaho).

And yes, yes, I know, pics or it didn't happen. Here they are:

Nice spot for nap!
PXL_20221015_202728262.jpg


Can you see the "Whole E, what have I done?!?!?!" look in my eyes?

PXL_20221016_015452887.jpg
 

NorthIdahoDude

Active member
Joined
Aug 24, 2022
Messages
32
Location
Bonner County Idaho
Technical notes:

Despite being developed in the late 1800's, the 7x57/7mm Mauser/284 Rigby is not dead yet (though it is still making other things dead!). I shot him with a 140 grain Nosler Accubound at approx 2800 FPS muzzle velocity, and it went through him like a hot knife through butter; jello'd his lungs, disconnected his pump-station, and shattered ribs both coming and going.

My rifle is living proof that a "precision hunting rifle" does not have to be expensive. It's an ancient Savage I picked up for $175 (with scope!) a few years ago, sold the scope and wood stock it came with for $150 total, bought a synthetic stock from a Stevens off of fleeBay for $25 shipped, leaving total investment in the action/stock at $50. The barrel it came with was hot garbage, so I made a tomato stake out of that, and screwed a pre-fit $350-ish (at the time) Shillen match barrel in 7x57 into the action. I used some Talley one-piece rings to mount up a 4-16 Bushnell Trophy Xtreme on it ($99 on close-out sale on fleeBay some years ago). Total investment in the complete shooting package, including the Talley rings, approx $530. After some load development, it will shoot just under 1/2 MOA, all-day, and that's with my dumb old redneck a** behind the trigger - I'm confident a match-class shooter could improve on that. With the 140 AccuBond's at 2800 FPS at the muzzle, it's a legit 600-ish yard hunting rifle.

Probably some more stuff I'll remember in a bit to post up.
 

kansasdad

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 30, 2011
Messages
6,174
Location
Wichita
@NorthIdahoDude Still cracking me up with the trademark (TM)!

Did you blindfold your buddies on the road, and confiscate all of their tracking devices prior to taking them into your honeyhole?

What a hunting season you are having
 

NorthIdahoDude

Active member
Joined
Aug 24, 2022
Messages
32
Location
Bonner County Idaho
@NorthIdahoDude Still cracking me up with the trademark (TM)!

Did you blindfold your buddies on the road, and confiscate all of their tracking devices prior to taking them into your honeyhole?

What a hunting season you are having

Yeah, this has been a wild year!

No blindfolds, this area isn't any big secret, and the whole area crawls with hunters every year. There were at least 3 other shots within a mile of our location that day, and there were trucks at every single turn out on the way in, probably 50 hunters within a 5-10 mile radius. I ain't giving out GPS coordinates on the Internet or nothing, mind you, but this is not the worlds best kept secret spot to hunt elk, LOL.
 

EastTNHunter

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 13, 2018
Messages
1,399
Congrats. I’d love to elk hunt again soon, but I’d be happy with a spike or cow just for the adventure and meat. Those are the trophies
 

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