My Vortex Viper HS Scope Is Not Tracking Correct — Solved

Vortex Viper HS Scope - Burris Signature Zee Rings

Burris Signature Zee Rings pinching a Vortex rifle scope tube.

I purchased a 2.5-10x44 rifle scope for my CVA Accura V2 muzzleloader this year. I had my favorite scope (4-16x50 Viper HS LR) on the muzzleloader last year but I moved that scope over to my 28 Nosler X-Bolt. After many trips to the range, I had just found that 300 yards was the extended range my muzzleloader, bullets and my abilities to ethically shoot were. With that knowledge, I felt a smaller scope was in order so I went with this 2.5-10x44 HS scope.

My only hunt with a muzzleloader this year was for elk here in Utah. After a number of trips to the range in preparation for the hunt, I kept getting poor accuracy with 300 Gr Aerolite bullets that have always shot really accurately for me in the past. I also noticed that vertically an adjustment of 2.5 inches up would change the point of impact by 5-6 inches at 100 yards. What was up with that? Then on two occasions, I noticed that when I went back to the range my zero had been lost and I would have to adjust the scope again. What the heck?!? None of my other Vortex scopes had ever acted this way.

After a couple phone calls and emails with Vortex. They very nicely let me know that they felt I had over torqued my rings and I was convinced that this couldn't be the problem. I use a Wheeler torque driver and originally torqued the screws to 18 inch pounds. After talking with Vortex I cleaned the loctite off the screws and torqued them to 16 inch pounds and back to the range I went. And once again the scope was changing the point of impact by double the amount I was adjusting. Ha, I was right or was I???

So back I went to Vortex convinced as ever that there had to be a problem with the scope. I had lost all confidence in the scope and wanted another one. It was at this point that I was just about ready to send it in when I had a great conversation with Adam at Vortex. Adam explained how the scope worked and why overly tightened rings could cause issues exactly like I was experiencing. Thank you Adam! Being a DIY kind of guy I wanted to figure out what was going on myself to make extra sure that is was or wasn't the scope before going to the trouble of sending it back to Vortex.

In discussing how the scope operates with Adam I learned that when a scopes rings get torqued too high it creates extra tension that makes any adjustment change the point of impact by more than it is supposed to, that is until over time the scope settles back to where it was "really" adjusted too. As I thought about it this was exactly what was happening to me. Adjusting the scope would move the point of impact twice as far as it was supposed to change. When I would go back to the range another day my zero would be off by half of the distance from what I adjusted the time before. And because it was in the process of settling to the right position my groups would be less than stellar.

So what was causing the extra tension on the scope tube? I figured the first thing that I would do would be to try some different rings. Before I ordered some rings I decided to give the setup a really good inspection. Had I messed up placing the wrong corresponding MOA shims in my Burris Signature Zee rings or something else? So before I pulled the scope off I looked it all over closely and I found what I believed could be the problem.

Becuase this scope was on a slow shooting muzzleloader I wanted to tip the scope down 10 MOA in the front to keep the reticle centered closer to the center of adjustment. So, I set the front rings with a minus 10 MOA on the bottom and a plus 10 MOA plastic insert on the top and on the back ring just two "0" MOA plastic inserts. In this manner, I would tip the front of the scope down for a 10 MOA incline. What I couldn't see was because of the 10 MOA incline the self-aligning plastic insert on the bottom rear ring was sticking out from the ring just ever so slightly and it was putting pressure on the tapered incline of the rear of the scope tube. This happened because I had set the scope as far forward as possible. When mounting the scope originally I was looking down from the top and could see that I had clearance from the ring to the taper of the back of the scope tube but I didn't realize that the insert was sticking out on the bottom and was applying pressure to the taper of the scope tube scope.

So, was this the problem? Yes, it sure was. I mounted the scope an 1/8th of an inch further back giving it plenty of clearance and headed back to the range. The scope is now tracking perfectly and my accuracy has returned. Awesome! Confidence restored and I didn't have to look like a novice shooter to the Vortex team by sending it back to find nothing wrong with it. :)

Vortex, thank you for your patience, help and for making great products!

 

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.

Landen's Second Buck — 2017 Rifle Deer Hunting in Northern Utah

Backcountry Mule Deer Hunting - Rogue 36 Pack Wheel

Coming off a rifle elk hunt for my boys where we didn't see any elk, we were hoping to have some success chasing the mule deer with rifles.

This year I actually had a rifle deer tag and was excited to get out and hunt with Landen and KB. Unfortunately for KB is still eleven for a couple more months so he couldn’t hunt deer but he does have a cow elk tag that coming up when he turns twelve in December.

Landen, KB and I were thinking of packing in the night before the opener but it was raining and we didn’t care to be hiking in the rain, mud and in the dark so we got up extra early the morning of the opener to hike in.

We were going to be hunting some great public ground but unfortunately some very heavily hunted public ground. I wanted to hunt the same area Dallen took his muzzleloader buck earlier this fall. Knowing where the deer were tending to hang around and the sea of orange that would be in the area I picked out a couple draws I wanted to focus on that were away from where I felt the bulk of orange was going to be located.

It was around 2 1/2 miles in and my young boys did great hiking in really early in the dark to get to where I wanted to get to just at shooting light. I let them set the pace and they pushed it pretty hard knowing how many vehicles were already packed in the parking lot and they didn’t want to get beat to the deer. I had to slow them down a bit so we didn’t puke as they were going a little too fast for the shape we were all in. LOL. They were excited and it was fun.

I wheeled a Rogue 36 Pack Wheel with us everywhere we went. The Rogue 36 Pack Wheel has become my favorite Pack Wheel size to use as it rolls so nice. When we were on the trail I placed my day back on it but once we got off-trail and in hunting mode, I put the pack on my back and wheeled it around empty as we hunted.

Right at first light, we were in the right spot to see deer but the ten or so deer in the draw we were watching were all does. We sat there for a while then decided to move around to the next ridgeline to glass from. As we got near the ridgeline there was a lot of shooting in the next draw we were about to look over into. As we looked over into the draw the shooting had stopped and we could see a couple hunters across the draw. They made some hand signals and when I finally looked through the binos and figured out where they were pointing we bailed back over the ridge and looked down the next draw. Sure enough, there were two bucks moving down in the draw.

Landen dropped to the ground and got all set up on shooting sticks all by himself as I pulled out the rangefinder and ranges 238 yards. Perfect, on the 270 WSM X-Bolt Landen was hunting with I keep the Vortex HS LR scope dialed up one MOA so that the max point blank range on a 7-inch target is out to around 300 yards with the 150 SST hand loads I have for this rifle.

In the process of getting out my rangefinder the larger of the two bucks bailed into the bottom of the draw and out of sight. Landen quickly got set up and I mean quickly. I was proud of how composed and quick he set up on his own. Anyhow, within seconds I had the buck ranged and told him to shot knowing we had very little time before it followed the other buck out of sight. Landen quickly fired and we were greeted with a whopping sound. Nice! The buck ran about a 100 yards and tipped over. Way to go Landen!

Landen had two goals for the buck he wanted this year. One was to be larger than Dallen’s buck and the second was that it was larger than the buck he got he got the year before. He accomplished both with a nice two-year-old 2x3 buck. We were all so excited.

Shortly after we shot the buck Ryan the other hunter that had been hand signaling us met up with us and we talked for a bit. I might have gone into sales mode explaining the Pack Wheel I was wheeling around to him. LOL. But thank you, Ryan, for pointing out where the bucks were at.

After some photos and of course an Instagram post by proud dad, we worked on boning out the deer and loading it up on the Pack Wheel.

On the trip out I wheeled the Pack Wheel up some of the steep off-trail terrain and the boys took turns wheeling out the deer the rest of the way on the trail for an ultra-easy 2 plus mile pack out back to the Montero.

It was cute to see Landen so proud to wheel his deer back into the packed parking lot with other hunters admiring his buck. Another fun proud dad moment for the books.

Now that Landen had his deer tag filled it was time for me to get a little deeper into the backcountry to try and find a shooter for myself.

Mule Deer Pack Out Backcountry Hunting - Rogue 36 Pack Wheel

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