2017 Solo Muzzleloader Elk Hunt — e-Pack Wheeling into the Backcountry

Alps Chaos Tent Elk Camp

CVA Accura V2 with Vortex Viper Scope Elk Hunting

e-Pack Wheel panniers at sunset elk hunting

Ruffed Grouse Elk Hunting

Mule Deer Buck and Doe

Mule Deer Buck

With a very rewarding rifle deer season hunting with my boys and harvesting a nice buck myself, I was excited to go out after elk with my muzzleloader. I was also really excited to use my prototype e-Pack Wheel to get me as far into the backcountry as I needed to hunt. The e-Pack Wheel was amazing on Dallen's muzzleloader deer hunt and on my rifle deer hunt allowing me to carry crazy amounts of gear and water with ease. I made a couple of changes to the design of this prototype for trying on this backcountry hunt and the design is getting really close to having my confidence in the design to take it to market.

I haven’t been having a lot of success the last couple of years with my muzzleloader. I was hopeful that would change this year.

With not having a lot of saved up vacation I was only able to take the last three days of the hunt off to pack into the backcountry. I loaded up the e-Pack Wheel and up the mountain, I cruised. 

I glassed and glassed on the way in but was unable to locate any elk. I did see a number of decent mule deer buck. Hmm…. I might have to put in for the general limited entry late season muzzleloader tag next year. 

There was a little snow when I got about four miles in but not much. I really needed a good amount of snow to really push the elk into this location but you never know what might be in there until you go look. One of the things I did like not seeing was any other hunters. Last year in the general area there were 10 horse hunters the spooked the six-point bull back onto the private ground before I could get into position for a shot.

As I got ready to crawl into my Alps Chaos tent I heard the distinct sound of antlers sparring and lots of elk mewing within a couple hundred yards of my tent. Awesome!

Talk about one dang cold night. I should have grabbed my really extra heavyweight sleeping bag. It’s not like it would have been any harder for the e-Pack Wheel to carrying it up the mountain. I'll be having the e-Pack Wheel carry a much heavier sleeping bag out the next November hunt I do that's for sure.

So at first light the next morning as I was crawling out of my tent I heard the antlers and mewing again. This time even closer to my tent on the opposite side of the ridge. So I set out slowly going over the ridge looking into the distance when all of the sudden I realized they were right in front of me, a 5x6 and 5x5 bull elk. The 5x5 was quartering away from me and the 5x6 was broadside behind a little scrub brush. I have never taken a 6 point so I opted to wait out the 5x6 to offer a better shot. As the bull walked forward around the brush all of the sudden he stopped and stared right at me. Well, the gig was up so I centered the crosshairs on the front edge of his shoulder and sent a 300 Gr Aerolite his way.

As the smoke cleared both bulls ran off around the ridge and out of sight. I calmly reloaded my muzzleloader and started following the path the 5x6 had taken. And I followed and I followed but there was no elk to be found. Nor was there even a drop of blood. What the heck just happened? It was a 45 yard shot The angle wasn’t perfect but I was shooting a 300-grain bullet. Well, long story short I hiked all over looking for him that day with no sign at all. The thought of hitting a bull and it getting away just made me sick.

To try and find closer I hiked all the way back in there a week later and hiked all over the place looking for birds and still nothing to be found.

So what happened? I would like to hope that I missed but that just likely isn't the case. Here’s what I think happened and what I am going to do about it for the future. Using 120 Grains of loose FFG Triple Seven powder I believe the 300 Gr Aerolite bullet just blew up in his shoulder. The 300 Gr Aerolite bullets shoot so very accurate in both Dallen’s and my CVA muzzleloaders but I’m finding out that although they are 300 Grains they come apart rather easily at high velocities. 

When I went back and reviewed what happened with the young mule deer that Dallen shot this year with his muzzleloader at 80 yards I found that the bullet made it to the opposite side of the deer but it didn’t exit and it was just a pile of small lead fragments. My elk was much closer and I was shooting into the front edge of the shoulder of a large bull elk. I think the bullet didn’t penetrate and just exploded on the shoulder. I can only pray that he survived and maybe waiting for me next year.

Looks like I better find a tougher bullet for elk hunting in the future. I have a number of new bullets to try including Triple Shocks, 338 Platinum and 348 Copper bullets.

I did see a few bucks during this hunt. I'll include a few photos in this blog entry of some bucks I saw while out on this hunt.

This hunt really upset me, so much so that I have sat on publishing this article for many months now. I don't like having animals get away. This was also a great opportunity to test my prototype e-Pack Wheel out by packing out a nice sized bull elk. And to top it off this would have been my very first six-point bull elk. I'll be better prepared with a better bullet next time. Maybe next year I'll find a six point.

e-Pack Wheel loaded with elk camp headed up the mountain

e-Pack Wheel loaded with elk camp

Solo Backcountry Mule Deer Hunting with an e-Pack Wheel

DIY Hunter Solo Backcountry Mule Deer Hunting - The DIY Hunter Electric Pack Wheel

With Landen notching his deer tag it was time for me to get a little deeper into the backcountry to try and find a shooter buck for myself.

Tuesday morning rolled around and I was headed straight up 4,000 vertical feet with my electric powered Pack Wheel. I have been tweaking a new electric system on the Pack Wheel this year and had a different throttle and bar ends on the Pack Wheel to try out for this trip up the mountain. This e-Pack Wheel worked amazingly. I had somewhere around 100 pounds (I didn't weigh the load but I had an 8.5 lb mattress, 3 man tent, water for 4 days, 3-pound lithium camp battery, laptop computer etc...) loaded on the e-Pack Wheel and it climbed right up a very steep trail climbing 4,000 vertical feet in less than two miles. And I didn’t have to carry, pull or push any of that weight, the high torque motorized system was amazing at climbing right up the mountain. The bar ends and modified twist throttle really made the ergonomics of this climbing machine very nice.

After making it to the top of the mountain the 418 Watt-Hour 36v battery was still showing somewhere in the 25% of power was left. Just amazing. The next time I go into this area I will get a second battery unless I can figure out how to recharge a 36v battery with a solar panel. A second battery might be best anyway for quick extra power. However, from my muzzleloader deer hunting trip with Dallen I used the battery four days and went probably a combined 12 miles and still showed within the 50% level of battery after the hunt.

That evening I didn’t see any deer but the next morning I was finding plenty just nothing of any age past two. Midday I moved to watch another canyon but there wasn’t anything in it that I could find so for the evening I headed back to the area I watched the bunch of bucks that morning. Sure enough, I was finding lots of small bucks again but nothing of any size darn. Given where I was hunting and that two other guys were in the area as well when I got back to camp that night I loaded up the Pack Wheel and down the mountain, I went. I wanted to see what might have moved into the area Landen shot his buck a few days earlier.

Back at home I recharged the battery and the next morning I was heading into the area Landen and Dallen killed their bucks this year. With my 28 Nosler, I felt really confident with my longer shots and this property has some really wide open canyons where I could glass for long distances.

A couple of miles in I had in mind of a couple of good points where I wanted to set up and watch for the evening hunt. If it looked promising I would set up the tent and hunt the area in the morning as well, if not I would move further in and camp for the evening.

On the way in I watched a good number of does and one small buck out moving around in mid-day. By afternoon I had set up the spotting scope on a good vantage point to glass from, pulled out the binoculars and watched the show.

I found a number of does and then way down and across the canyon, I spotted a buck moving up to a small ridgeline. It was the first 4 point I had seen all year. His body looked pretty mature but not the size of his antlers. Hmm... I hadn’t seen anything of any size this year and I also hadn’t killed a buck since 2011 and I kind of wanted to break in the new rifle. 

I ranged the buck and he was within my zone of confidence (see shooting at 28 Nosler at Spirit Ridge). I could try to get closer but it would probably take me over an hour to drop to the bottom of the canyon then climb up the other side to get to where I would need to be to see him. Well to do that I would have to hope that the horse hunters that were riding a trail headed in his direction didn’t continue on that trail because even though they were much farther away. There would be no way that I could cross the canyon and be in position before the horse hunters passed within a couple hundred yards of this buck. Hmm... I decided to take the shot.

Oh, how I love my 28 Nosler X-Bolt. Down he went like a ton of bricks. As I was headed over to get him the horses ended up riding within 200 yards of him and easily beat me there by a half hour. I was glad I took the long shot and really glad I moved to a different mountain. 

The buck was missing one eye from what looks to be pink eye. I hate it when deer get that in their eyes, poor things. He didn’t have very big of antlers but he had one heck of a cool roman nose and should make for a great European skull mount.

After my quick photo shoot as the sun dropped behind the mountains, I was cutting away, getting the meat all boned out and into the Pack Wheel panniers ready for the trip off the mountain.

I was hoping to get some video of me hauling both the deer and all of my gear off the mountain on my e-Pack Wheel but given I was hunting solo I had no way to illuminate myself in the dark with a flashlight and set up a camera to film at the same time. I debated spending the night and hiking out in the morning just so I could get some footage but decided to just pack out in the dark and take a few night photos of the load.

The trip off the mountain was nice. Even with all the hiking, I had done in the last couple days the pack out with all of my gear and a boned out mule deer was a dream. This is the kind of stuff that fuels me to continue to develop the Pack Wheel that I formally started working on over eleven years ago. I may never make a dime off selling them (they are really expensive to build on a handcrafted level that I do and make a profit) but at least I continue to help myself and others extend the distance and years we are able to continue to hunt solo in the backcountry.

It was nice to get a buck on the ground after a long dry spell going back to 2011 when I used an aluminum prototype Pack Wheel to pack a buck off the mountain. And the highlight of my hunt mule deer hunt this year was getting out with my two youngest boys and watching Landen get his buck

Next up my muzzleloader elk hunt.

2017 Mule Deer Solo Backcountry Mule Deer - Electric Pack Wheel

Solo Backcountry Mule Deer  Pack Out - Electric Pack Wheel

300 WSM Handloads and Ballistics

 

 

Below are my personal favorite loads for my 300 WSM Hell's Canyon Speed X-Bolt rifle and Dallen's X-Bolt Long Range Laminate rifle. To view the loads you will need to read the warning near the bottom of the page, then accept the warning by checking the box inside the warning.

So far the only bullet I have been playing with in our 300 WSM X-Bolt's is the 200 Gr Hornady ELD-X. I've been really liking the ELD-X bullets from Hornady and have been moving more and more of my rifles over to these bullets.

If you are needing printable targets for sighting in your rifle you can get them here.

WARNING: The load information on this page is for my personal use in my personal firearms and is posted for entertainment purposes only. If you chose to reload the 300 WSM use only data contained in current manufacturer's reloading manuals. Incorrectly reloaded ammunition can cause serious personal injury and damage to the firearm due to excessive pressure. Reload only after proper instruction and in strict compliance with instruction and data contained in current manufacturer's reloading manuals. If you choose to use the load data on theDIYhunter.com • 243wssm.com you are doing so at your own risk. theDIYhunter.com • 243wssm.com is not responsible for injury and/or death resulting from data posted or referred to on this Website. Improper reloading is dangerous. Users assume all risk, responsibility, and liability for any and all injuries (including death), losses or damages to persons or property (including consequential damages), arising from the use of any data posted on this site. If you have read and accept this warning check this box to view my 300 WSM load data.

Subcategories

  • Big Game Hunting

    Journal entries from hunting mule deer, elk and whitetail deer.  You'll find hunts with 243 WSSM and 270 WSM rifles to muzzleloader and archery hunts.

  • General Hunting and Shooting

    Journal entries covering general information related to hunting and shooting. Many of these journal entries are from shooting on the rifle or archery range. There are also entries related to my experiences with the 243 WSSM, rifles, optics and other equipment and products I use.

  • Varmint Hunting

    Journal entries from hunting coyotes, rock chucks, prairie dogs and the like with 243 WSSM and 223 Rem. rifles.

  • Backpacking and Camping

    Backpacking, Pack Wheel camping and other camping adventures.

Additional information