Jack stopped over last night

Discussion in 'tales of the hunt' started by grumpyvette, Oct 17, 2013.

  1. grumpyvette

    grumpyvette Administrator Staff Member

    Jack stopped over last night, and we got to discussing several old trips out west we made and he reminded me of one hunt I thought you guys might want to read about.
    It was a trip we made back in the early 1990s time frame, we drove out to the area north of GYPSUM Colorado

    and we had both deer and elk tags,that year, there was 6 guys on that trip that year, we were sharing travel expenses ,as it was both cheaper and allowed us to carry a bit more gear in two trucks, making the drive from Florida to Colorado.
    we used both my 1989 F350 crew cab,dually truck
    MY truck looked similar to this but I had a 3" lift kit bigger tires and snow chains
    and franks 1980 bronco, we had driven strait thru from florida in 4-5 hour shifts driving around the clock, and made the trip in about 45 hours (its roughly 2350 miles, one way, from the location of my then current house to the area we camp.
    We arrived at about 4PM, the night before opening day, we parked both trucks about a couple hundred yards back into a group of conifers off a limited use logging road, and were dead tired so we just pitched the main 6 man tent we had, threw out the majority of the camping gear either inside the pass seats or back of franks truck and two guys decided to sleep in the truck bed of my f350 (which had a topper shell)
    we woke up with the wind-up alarm clock at about 6 AM only to find we had about 1-too-2 feet of snow on the ground and in,under,around and over everything,it was deepest mostly in drifts where the wind had packed it, the two trucks looked like bumps in the land scape, the trucks were so totally covered that you could not tell it was a truck or just a large rock, due to the fact of drifted snow.

    the snow was deep enough that it seemed to have limited traffic up the logging road we had used, which was rather unusually for an opening day elk hunt.
    there had been a few 4x4 trucks with chains up the logging road but not near the traffic most opening days seem to bring to the remote area we hunt1.
    with conditions like that you very quickly learn to appreciate a good sleeping bag and insulated pad under it to make staying warm far less difficult and you also find out that getting out of the bag in the middle of the night , in a snow storm, to take a quick leak, due to aging bladder is a P.I.T.A. but mandatory.
    one of the first things I learned during out of state elk hunts was the value of a good sleeping bag rated at -10 degrees and an insulated pad, to keep your butt off the cold ground.
    being obsessed with hunting ELK and this being opening day we fixed a quick cold breakfast of pop-tarts and either gator aid we kept in the cabin of the ford dually truck, or beer (the water was almost all solid ice ,in the canteens and the temperature gauge said it was about 25F-27F degrees, and having gotten a rather late start we didn,t want to start the coleman stove to make coffee..
    we got our selves set up, packed and decided to look over the area,on foot, it was still dark, and the wind made things feel much colder than it actually was.
    we decided to put the equipment and maps, we needed in day/packs and hunt in two three man groups in the area near the trucks which were parked a few hundred yards off the main logging road access to the area, the scenery was impressive , mostly snow covered conifers , with leafless aspen, in rolling meadows that dropped off into deep side canyons.
    that first day we saw a great deal of tracks in the snow in many areas mostly indicating the ELK and mule deer were headed down slope into several of the smaller canyons, but until the snow melted off we decided too stay put, rather than risk travel.
    many guys would have felt trapped or panicked but having been thru this, upper elevation snow pack deal, several times before, seeing early snows, we were fairly sure that the majority of the snow would melt over the next few days so we decided to use the snow to help locate game.
    it might be surprising but in two days the snow had mostly melted leaving 6"-10" in many areas , a bit more in shaded areas,and north facing slopes and far less in many areas.
    we eventually located the elk because tracks and animals were very easy to see, and it became obvious that one particular canyon held a good population.
    we decided to hunt as a group on the 4th day , each of us walking out, or having franks 4x4 bronco drop us off along the logging road that followed the upper edge of the canyon., to points about 1/4 mile apart.
    JACK and I were going to concentrate on a steeper section of the canyons upper drainage while the other four guys would by choice hunt the lower and less steep areas lower in the drainage where travel on slippery slopes was a bit easier, we got started out before dawn and by the time it was barely light enough to see your hands in the limited lighting and light snow fall, we found our self's about 3/4 miles from the trucks parked on the upper logging road access and down in a rather thick patch of conifers. Jack had his 458 win caliber Ruger #1 single shot ,that he purchased dirt cheap, barely used, mostly due to its designed ability to use cast bullets and the great deal he got on it because the previous owner had sold it, after a few shots he had tried. due to a badly bruised shoulder.
    use of a properly employed sling and a good shoulder pad sewn into a shooting vest helped a great deal.

    I was carrying my 358 win BLR loaded with 250 grain speer bullets and 44 grains of IMR 4064 with a 215 federal primer as we felt the ranges would be short.
    we both had Leopold 4x scopes.
    at about 9 AM we found a large rock outcrop on our side of the canyon with several large fallen trees on a steep slope ,near a abrupt drop-off , where a minor stream had cut a deep side mini groove , several hundred yards long and over a 100 feet deep along most of its length in the main canyon walls slope, making the area totally impossible for any thing to travel directly down the main canyon slope on our side from our location without either a long detour up or down slope to avoid the cliff face we were located above.
    thus we had located and were watching over a natural funnel in the areas travel options for any game ,to force any game in the area to travel past us in a rather predictable route.
    after sitting on what was an almost ideal location for about 2 hours both JACK and I had seen several dozen mule deer and a few cow elk, travel past us, in the snow covered slope below or location, but saw nothing worth shooting.
    At about 11:45 AM, were were getting both hungry and bored so I suggested we eat a few pop-tarts while we waited and continued to scan the area, and at that point I guess we were not paying full attention because did not see several elk until they were at least 30 yards out from some conifers down the slope at about 300 yards out, from our location.
    Jack said he thought the last elk , in the group, was a good legal four point bull, but 300 plus yards was a bit longer range than he was hoping too shoot at, game from and the 20-30 degree down,slope angle,also might be a problem, we watched intently and luckily the small group of elk ,traveled in an angled diagonally up slope , path,slowly lowering the range, but if they continued on their course they would enter a second grove of conifers at about 200 yards from our location, which would allow them to pass out of sight.
    jack was loaded with a hard cast bullet from nei molds,we had selected to hopefully flatten his trajectory,it was pushed to about 2000fps with his hand loaded ammo. hand loads that we had purchased the components for, and loaded months before the hunt, and Jack had sighted in to hit 3.5' high at 100 yards ,the cast slugs were loaded over a stiff load of 60 grains of reloader 7 powder, and a 215 federal primer, this would place his 200 yard point of impact at near 200 yards , or dead on the cross hairs on level ground at near sea level where we sighted the rifle in, , but require he hold a bit low shooting down slope at that angle, and at the current 10,000 feet altitude.
    jack used his back-pack frame as a rifle rest , sitting in front of him a bit down slope from his sitting position,and as the bull got to the edge of the conifers , nearer too us,and just before he would go into cover once more, jack squeezed off a shot, it hit a bit high,with an audible WHACK! and instantly dropped the bull with a impact point on the elk , a bit higher than intended but instantly effective, spine shattering shot, jack also cussed , at the shot as he had gotten a bad cut over his eye brow, from getting too close to the scope during the rifles recoil, because he was not holding the rifle correctly and was thinking more about the elk and his rifles shot placement than the shots, resulting recoil,and where his forehead was, which caused the resulting damage, inflicted on jacks eye brow. It took us a bit of time too stop bleeding, but I had a few band aids and some super glue in a small first aid kit in my back pack, so after making sure Jack was not seriously, hurt,by the scopes impact with his eye brow,and making the mandatory jokes about having no harm done to his hard head, and the most likely only damage to the scope, being hurt we walked down slope too look at Jack,s second ever ELK.
    it took use several trips with everyone in camp helping to process and get Jacks elk back into the coolers in the back of the trucks , and that year that was the only ELK anyone got, but we did get several more mule deer in the next several days.
    if you think about this hunt and several others, I written about in the past, you'll quickly realize that having experience, locating, and recognizing a good area with fairly abundant game, and having located a natural terrain feature that funneled game movement and limited the games choices of routes they could use, too travel, and having the experience recognizing those features in the terrain, when they are located, helped provide a great opportunity to be successful.
    yes theres some luck involved , but theres a good deal of logic and experience , think about a larger area where elk live, is a bit like looking over a large shopping complex, if you goal was to be looking to take pictures of shoppers ,vs hunting game, if that was your goal,you would set up near a food court or mall entrance, to increase your chances of seeing increased foot traffic, and your far more likely to have opportunities in those locations than if you set up out on the far edge of the parking lot or near some perimeter store.
    yes think about it! about 80% of any mall is parking lot surface, area, vs food court or mall entrance points , and while you would realize that instantly in a mall you won,t see the correlation in a vast open hunting area without having some experience, and that experience allows you to locate the more heavily traveled areas and know what your looking for, and what features in the landscape tend to funnel game travel routes , or draw game to a specific area..
    its the ability to recognize these terrain feature that limit and funnel game travel that increases your odds.

    the absurdity in owning a 458 win or 458 LOTT, here in the lower 48 states, would be related to shooting dozens of full power loads that cost $6-$12 each, once you that the effort to reload too a much more comfortable recoil level and find a very accurate load matching your rifle, and reduce the cost to well under 70 cents a shot (easily done) using cast bullets that can be every bit as accurate as the factory ammo,many people see the ownership of a big bore rifle differently, it puts owning and using a 458 win or 458 LOTT, rifle in a whole lot more user and wallet friendly role, in your list of rifles, you grab going to the range or out hunting. yes the rifles do tend to be a bit heavy , but two of my friends have used 458 win rifles with reduced cast bullet loads successfully on Elk and one guy prefers a mild load with a 355 grain cast bullet at about 1400 fps for hogs and deer here in Florida.
    while I'd agree that few people would want to use full power factory ammo all that often, the 458 win and 458 Lott can rather easily be used at reduced power levels

    http://www.handloads.com/loaddata/defau ... le&Source=


    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 9, 2018
  2. Grumpy

    Grumpy The Grumpy Grease Monkey Staff Member

    I was talking with JACK, last night on the phone and we were discussing old hunting trips.
    he reminded me of one hunt we had made, where he and I had looked over the topo maps ,
    of a canyon in colorado, that was virtually un-reachable from easily accessed roads.
    we looked over the area carefully and noticed that your access was blocked on the lower end by a large private ranch,
    the two upper sides of the canyon for several miles had no logging roads ,
    and the topo map indicated almost vertical cliff faces on the canyon, dropping down to steep slopes that gradually transformed into a canyon floor,
    less than 300 yards wide in some areas, but some ares spread out to 500-700 yards wide, in others.
    and the map indicated a large creek and intermittent areas of heavy timber and shale rock slides
    or other access and only about 4-5 miles up from the private property, a steep rather narrow side canyon, now this was obviously potential elk country.
    below is a picture of a similar, but more easily accessed, canyon, that was not as large or long, we hunted for years, but even that canyon took 2 hours minimum to climb out of.
    well since Jack and I saw nothing wrong with having a serious masochistic streak in our personalities ,we decided to walk into the upper canyon, to hunt elk.
    we would obviously need to travel fairly light and getting any elk out of that canyon would take several trips even if we boned the elk out and packed it out in several trips.
    I took my 358 win blr
    (using a 250 grain speer over a 215 fed primer and 44 grains of IMR4064)
    a very well proven load in our elk hunt club
    Jack took his browning A-bolt 375 H&H
    both Jack and I took our back packs and the minimal equipment we would need to spent 1-2 days down in that canyon hunting.
    well at about 10 am,on opening day, that year, we reached the valley floor and sat near the creak in heavy timber, the trip down was much more difficult than we had anticipated.
    as we sat whispering in the shaded area under a large conifer, near the creak bank to catch out breath and admiring the scenery, Jack and I discussed the obvious reason that this canyon was seldom hunted.
    by about 4 pm, Jack and I had seen several dozen mule deer and a couple cow elk, but nothing in a legal bull elk worth the effort to shoot and drag out of the canyon , we joked about the option of climbing out of the canyon or sleeping where we were.
    at about 4.15 pm Jack spotted a nice legal 4x4 elk, that elk was facing Jack at an angle, and his 375 H&H, (loaded with the no longer available , original design, 300 grain nosler partitions)
    youll need too use these now for similar loads (a 215 fed primer and a 75 grain load of WW760)
    http://www.handloads.com/loaddata/default.asp?Caliber=375 HqqqH&Weight=All&type=Rifle&Source=
    dropped that elk at a range of under 80 yards, as it walked through the heavy conifer timber on the valley floor, very convincingly, with a single hit in the upper front near side, shoulder and angling back and exiting about mid off side ribs and a bit lower in the chest than the bullets, entrance impact point.
    I congratulated Jack and ask him how we were ever going to dress out, bone and pack out that elk before dark?
    well we had the elk hung with my block & tackle and we loaded about 70 lbs of meat into each of our back packs, and started out just before dark, the temp was down to the low 40F to high 30F range and we had hoisted the remaining elk carcass, wrapped in a large canvass game bag, up about 9 feet off the ground so at least in theory it should be fine until we returned the next day.
    after walking up the steep canyon walls with a 70-80 lb back pack for several hours on our way back to the truck we had parked I was leaning on a tree trying just too breath at about 8000-9000 ft altitude and I looked at Jack and said..... "we drove 2000 miles and paid how much to do this?" for some reason that struck both of us as absurdly hilarious , neither of us could walk another step for 6-7 minutes as we tried to breath and laugh at the same time!
    yes we made two more trips, and retrieved all the edible meat, but we decided that hunting that particular canyon, was not the smartest idea we had ever had!

    we did not get back to the truck until about 9 pm, we were exhausted, we drove into a local town and bought 25 lbs of dry ice, just before the grocery store closed for the evening, and placed that and the meat in 1 and 2 gallon zip-loc bags in a 180 quart cooler in the truck bed....by 7 am we were walking back into the canyon, carrying only what we needed to pack out meat and a large caliber revolver (I had a 44 mag Jack had a 45LC) in case we had to discuss the elk carcass ownership, with one of the local bears or cougars.
    (and just for your info we had lots of coyote tracks but nothing else under the carcass, and all the guts were long gone, the next morning)
    It took two more trips ......never think elk hunting does not entail a great deal of physical work!
    we were lucky in that the temps rarely got above 30F for the next couple days, so we had no issues with meat wastage.
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2017

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