2014 Utah General Rifle Elk Hunt - A Bull Gets Away

Dallen sitting on cliff elk hunting with X-Bolt

Dallen on the lookout for elk. The RealTree Max-1 camo works so well in the rocks and many other western terrians.

 

Dallen sitting on cliff elk hunting with X-Bolt

Dallen hunting with my X-Bolt, 270 WSM with a  Vortex Viper HS LR 4-16x50 rifle scope and EGW 20 MOA picatinny rail.

 

Me and the boys elk hunting.

Selfie of me and the boys hunting for elk.

 

Vortex Razor HD 11-33x50 spotting scope

Using a Vortex Razor HD 11-33x50 spotting scope to glass for critters.

 

 

Elk hunting with a Pack Wheel game cart

Me hunting with a 26 XL Pack Wheel collapsed on my back.

 

Townsend's Solitaire

This Townsend's Solitaire landed next to me while hunting.

Rough Grouse Strutting in the Fall

This Rough Grouse was strutting in the fall. I guess they do strut outside of their spring breeding season.

Bull Elk on Trail Camera

This might be the bull we lost. I clearly saw a 5th point in my binos and Dallen thought it was a 4 point. The shape of the antlers could look like either. Anyhow this bull was in the area the day before he shot the bull. We have however had many 5, 4 and 4x5 bulls on trail camera in the area this year so who knows for sure.

This year Dallen had a rifle elk tag we both have cow elk tags so we decided to hunt the area that I have most of my trail cameras in watching for elk and where our cow elk permits were for. I was successful in taking a spike with my bow back in August, a spike in 2013 and Dallen's bull in 2013 from this area.

For opening weekend we decided to take the little brothers along with us to hunt. This was Dallen's younger brothers first time out big game hunting. They were super excited to go hunting with us. It's always fun to take young kids hunting and see their excitement.

The night before the opener we all headed up the mountain and and slept in a tent. Early the next morning we were hiking up the mounatin in the dark.

We have a spot that we like to sit and watch for elk. There's some cliffs overlooking a draw that has a couple of springs and a couple of my trail cameras. Not a lot of elk frequent the area however if they do the spot provides a great vantage point to get a good shot. This spot proved to be a good spot on Dallen's elk hunt last year.

After making the steep hike up to the cliffs we spent the rest of the day hanging out there watching for elk. We didn't see any elk. We did see a few does and fawn mule deer.

It was a fun day with the boys. I wish we could have seen some elk with the little boys being there. But we all had fun spending time together.

On the way out we pulled the SD cards from the trail cameras. They showed a few elk being in the area but not a lot. Just as I expected based on my experience with watching the area with the cameras the year before. It's cool how you can learn the general patterns of the game in an area with a few trail cameras.

The following weekend Dallen and I headed back up the mountain. Friday evening while hiking in we spotted some cow elk about a 1000 yards below us that headed into some thick cover. With not seeing a bull and the area they were in we decided to hope that something would come out in the draw we like to watch. Well nothing did that evening nor through most of the day on Saturday.

Around midday we decided to switch locations. We headed to the area we seen the elk the day before. As we got within 500 yards or so of this area we spotted a bull moving in and out of the oak brush. There were also several cows with the bull and they were working their way up the canyon.

The trick was that we were on a sidehill that was covered in trees. This presented a challenge to find a window through the limbs to get a clear shot across the canyon. We were able to find a window and setup for the shot. I ranged the bull, had Strelok Pro open on my Galaxy S4 phone. At the range and current weather conditions my X-Bolt 270 WSM with 150 Gr Accubond Long Range bullet needed 8.5 MOA. Dallen dialed the scope. The Bull stopped broadside in the clear and Dallen sent the shot. Whop!

The bull was hit hard. The cows all rapidly cleared the area. The bull very gingerly turned and slowly started walking directly towards us getting deeper and deeper into scrub oak brush. As it was moving in the brush Dallen sent a couple move shots his way. The target size was now much smaller and there was a lot of brush to try and get a bullet to pass through. His third shot hit the bull in a hind leg sending fur flying into the air. Then shortly after this the bull disappeared into the brush.

As sick as the bull looked I figured the bull would be dead within minutes and by the time would get across the canyon we would find him dead.

We slowing approached where we though he would be dead. As we approached the bull was about 30 yards off from where we though he would be and he jumped up and took off into the trees where Dallen couldn't see to get a shot. Dang it!

We started following the bull we ran into two other hunters, friends of my cousin and the bull had just ran into them and they had bumped the elk down a creek bottom. This could have been good if they were prepared to see an elk but may have just pushed the elk harder...

Well, to make a long story short we never found him. We spent the rest of that evening looking into the dark, most of the next day and went back another day searching for him, but no elk.

Dallen is pretty upset about the bull getting away. He made a good shot and sometimes elk just don't go down. I would really like to know exactly where the bullet hit, the amount of penetration and recover the bullet. This bullet should have performed very well at 550 yards. With the weather conditions Strelok Pro shows that the bullet was going 2400 fps and had 1900 ft lbs of energy, still plenty to kill an elk.

Some would argue that we shouldn't be shooting distances this far but Dallen has proven his marksmanship skills time and time again. He can shoot and this bullet should have done the job. Again, I would really like to know exactly where that bullet hit, the penetration and expansion...

As I write this we still plan on going back and looking for birds to help us locate him and at least recover the rack. Hopefully we will still be able to find him.

The boys sitting on a cliff elk hunting

A bull moose he saw elk hunting

The boys on the lookout for elk.

 

Here's a bull moose Dallen and I got within about 35 yards of.

 

KB smiling while elk hunting

Landen elk hunting

KB with some of our snacks around his lips.

 

Landen having fun elk hunting.

 

Moon on skyline

Beautiful fall colored quaking aspens

The last glimpse of the moon as it passes behind a ridge.

 

Some beautiful fall colored Quaking Aspens.

 

 

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