2016 Utah Rifle Elk Season — Landen's First Big Game Hunt

Coming just off my exciting muzzleloader mule deer hunt I was looking forward at taking Landen on his first big game hunt.

Landen will be starting his hunting career out with my Browning A-Bolt Stainless Hunter in 243 WWSM. In this rifle I have 80 Gr Tipped Triple Shock bullet going 3,550 FPS. These bullets are awesome on deer and elk out to around 300 yards. This bullet going this fast just crushes through bone and penetrates like no other.

Dallen was itching to shoot something with his new X-Bolt Gray Laminate Long Range Hunter in 300 WSM. He just purchased it... well I purchased it for him for helping me with building Pack Wheels. In the two or so weeks we had this rifle before the season we tried some HSM 185 GR Bergers that just shot horrible groups. I ordered some 200 Gr Hornady ELD-X bullets and loaded them up and Holy Cow. My first three completely different powder charges all shot right at 1/2 inch or better. (check out the groups shown below) Holy Cow!!! I have never seen anything shoot this good with the very first loads I ever tried. Holy Cow!!! Did I say that already? Anyhow Dallen was liking his new rifle and so was Dad. 

The night before the opener all of us boys headed up the mountain and setup my Browning Greystone four man tent to spend the night. That night we discussed the nice six point bull that we captured a bunch of images and video of on my Browning trail cameras, he was our #1. We also discussed a goofy little 7x4 bull as the bull the boys hoped to find as their number two bull on the hit list.

Early the next morning we were up and hiking up the mountain. Dallen being a veteran hunter with a view season under his belt chose to hunt by himself for the morning looking out over a oak brush filled canyon.

KB, Landen and I headed up to where several of my trail cameras are located to hunt for the morning. Things were really quite all morning until just after 10 when we had a calf, cow and bull come over a ridge and into the canyon we were watching. They were only around 200 yards away however they where in some quaking aspens and not clearly visible to take a clear shot. They appeared to be headed towards a clearing that Landen was setup on shooting sticks all ready to take the bull. Then something happened and the bull made a cough like sound and they all turned around and headed right back where they came from. What the heck just happened? They couldn't smell us... then a couple minutes after they left I found the answer — a black bear. Stinking bears! Right where we had just watched the elk I watched a black bear follow the path the elk had taken over the ridge and out of the canyon.

Dallen didn't see anything that morning so he came up to hang out with us for the afternoon and evening. Unfortunately we didn't find any elk that evening. Before we left we pulled the SD cards from my cameras to see what had been in the area. 

That next week Dallen went up on the mountain by himself and hunted for a couple days. I was proud of him going on his first hunt by himself and sleeping in a tent all by himself. Dallen returned form the mountain with stories of an elk sneaking in silently and spooking. And stories of a bull that answered his cow call just before dark. He was pretty excited but again no elk again.

The following weekend the four of us boys were out again looking for some elk. The little boys were troopers hiking up and down the mountain. We learned on this trip that a little five point was out in the open the day before Dallen went hunting during the week. If Dallen had been there the day before he could have easily seen this bull with several cows. This is also the bull that evaded Landen on the opener thanks to the help of the black bear.

The last couple days of the hunt the boys had school off so I took off work and headed back up with them in hopes of finding a bull especially for Landen. This trip we decided to hunt and area that gets more hunting pressure but also has a lot more elk. I tend to shy away from this location just to stay away from other hunters. 

The first night we hiked way over and down into the canyon. I packed a Pack Wheel along just in case so we would be all ready to haul an elk out of the canyon should we get one. That evening we did see a cow elk way out across the canyon on a CWMU. We setup in more of a thick bow hunting area and called hoping to get a bull to sneak in. At one point we were pretty sure a bull came in behind us as it sounded like antlers hitting the maple trees but we never saw what it was. I also called in a hunter right to where we wanted the elk to show up but again no elk.

On the last day we did a lot more hiking around exploring but just weren't in the right place at the right time. We later found out that a five point was shot in the spot we had been the night before. 

Sorry your Dad failed you on getting an elk your first year Landen. I still had a lot of fun spending time with all three of my boys on the mountain. I wish I had more time to spend with them doing things like this.

Just one day to rest and the opener of deer season. I'll get you on a buck Landen, don't worry, we'll find you a buck.

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