The DIY Hunter

Dallen with his 2012 4x5 bull elk and X-Bolt Stainless Stalker 270 WSM rifle.

Dallen with his 2012 Utah public land elk. Good job Dallen!

Dallen glassing for elk carrying an Alps Commander pack

Dallen glassing for elk in the basin below. Where are the elk? At first light we were looking around trying to find them from this ridge line.

Dallen looking for elk as the sun is rising.

Dallen holding an X-Bolt Stainless Stalker in 270 WSM.

Dallen taking the 150 yard shot with an X-Bolt Stainless Stalker in 270 WSM

Dallen showing the position he was in when talking the shot.

Walking up to the 4x5 bull elk taken with an X-Bolt 270 WSM

All smiles walking up to his 2012 trophy public land elk.

Dallen's 2012 bull elk with a X-Bolt 270 WSM and Alps Commander frame pack.

Getting ready to start boning out the elk. Shown here is my X-Bolt and an Alps Outdoorz Commander frame pack. This pack worked great for hauling out the boned out meat.

270 WSM 140 gr Accubond exit hole

A quarter sized exit hole from the 140 gr Accubond handload that chronographs at 3300 fps from my X-Bolt.

Fist sized entry hole made with 270 WSM and 140 gr Accubond on bull elk.

This is a fist-sized entry hole through the rib cage. The 270 WSM 140 gr Accubond handload  (see: 270 WSM Handloads ) made a small hole through the hide that we couldn't find until we skinned it. Then the bullet went though the back edge of the shoulder blade then through the rib cage. You can also see my workhorse knife I just love. A custom semi-skinner fixed blade that Russ Kommer made for me.

Alps Outdoorz Commander frame pack with bull elk

This is a fun picture showning the Alps Outdoorz logo on my Commander frame pack.

Alps Outdoorz Commander frame pack and Caribou Gear's Camp Meat game bags with bull elk

The Alps Outdoors Commander frame pack loaded with elk meat and the rack skinned out ready to work on doing a European Skull mount. We used Caribou Gear's Camp Meat game bags to store the boned out meat. These bags worked great. They are just the right size to place about 30 lbs of meat into each bag.

Dallen and I with his 2012 4x5 bull elk

Dallen and I with his 2012 Utah public land elk. Nice shooting Dallen!

After my dismal Limited Entry Archery Elk hunt and my muzzleloader deer hunt this year I was ready to hopefully see Dallen take a bull this year.

For the opener Dallen really wanted to go back into the rough high country we hunted on the last day of his elk hunt in 2011. In 2011 we bumped the elk in the dark after working so hard to get into the area to hunt. For the past year we have played this mistake out over and over in our heads and were ready to make up for our mistake.

Dallen turned fifteen this year and was ready to move on to a little more horsepower in the rifle he uses. I am a firm believer that the right bullet from a 243 WSSM works great at taking down deer and elk as Dallen has proved taking three elk and three deer with. The 243 WSSM was perfect for him as a young hunter to learn to shoot correctly without being afraid of the rifle. And Dallen has become an excellent marksman. His mule deer last year was taken with a 619 yard shot and I credit the low recoil high horsepower for bore diameter 243 WSSM for getting him so comfortable with shooting. Dallen was now ready to make the transition to using my 270 WSM with 140 gr Accubond handloads and he was excited to be hunting with my X-Bolt this year.

The night before the opener we made the 50-mile drive to get to the area we wanted to hunt. It was late when we got there so we slept in the front seats of the Montero. Not the most comfortable but we were able it get a little rest before heading out in the morning. This year we made sure it was light before we made our way slipping up to the ridge to view the basin the elk like to feed in.

Once we crested the ridge and started glassing the basin appeared to be devoid of elk. I could tell Dallen was a little disappointed but there were a few pockets I knew the elk like to hang out in that I wanted to check out. As we worked our way around the ridge we spotted two spikes feeding below us at 300 yards. I tried to tempt Dallen to take one but he was determined that we wanted something larger than a spike as the first elk he took in 2009 was a spike.

With the spikes in the area, I knew there had to be a herd of elk nearby. We hiked a little further around the ridge and set up on a rock outcrop above a great looking pine and quaking aspen draw. I started cow calling and was immediately answered by a bull. We had the wind to our advantage and had a pretty good vantage point to shoot from so I started working the Primos cow calls to try and pull the bull out into the open for a shot. Dallen just loved hearing that bull screaming back at us. It was fun.

The bull's bugles generally sounded like he was getting closer however it was obvious that he was a herd bull that had cows with him. Convincing a bull like this to leave all the cows he has to come to a couple other cows can be difficult and often the cows are the most difficult problem as they do their best to keep the bull to themselves. However, it did appear that the bull was generally coming our way so I kept up the calling. After 15 minutes or so Dallen spotted a spike coming out of the quakies below us followed by a cow and another bull we couldn't see very well. Boy was Dallen excited now!

The elk were coming to us and looking around trying to find us. After a minute or so the other bull followed behind the cow and headed towards an opening. We could tell he wasn't huge but a nice looking 4 or 5 point. We knew he wasn't the herd bull that was bugling at us but we also knew that we may never see that bull. It didn't take long for Dallen to decide he wanted to take this bull.

Once the bull got into the open Dallen quickly dropped the hammer which was responded by a loud whop on impact. The bull was still standing and Dallen instinctively worked the action on my X-Bolt 270 WSM and fired a second-round right into the top of his spine as the bull had now turned facing directly away from us. This dropped him in his tracks.

We spent the next hour working on photos for the website and for possible use by Browning. In fact, the Oct. 2012 wallpaper on is a photo I took of Dallen walking up to his elk. After the photos out came my favorite Russ Kommer semi-skinner knife for the next four hours boning out the elk and placing the meat in meat bags.

Unfortunately for my knees and back, in the location we were hunting the only way to get the meat off the mountain was on our backs. For this trip we brought an Alps Outdoorz Commander frame and Pathfinder packs to haul our gear and boned out meat with. We also used some Caribou Gear Camp Meat game bags to place the meat in. I really like these game bags. They are strong, lightweight, breathable and as we found out, they have reflective tabs making them easy to spot with a flashlight in the dark. These bags are marketed as a bag to use to haul small amounts of meat back to camp to eat. Filled with about 25 lbs of meat each I think they are the perfect size to haul all your meat off the mountain with. With these smaller more manageable sized bags of meat, I can adjust how much I haul from one trip to the next based on how difficult the terrain is or how tired I am.

With how difficult the terrain was that we had to haul the elk out and the extreme amount of weight (190 lbs of boned out meat) we had to haul we decided to take short trips. We knew that we would be exhausted one way or the other and if we did one long hike all the way out it would be very difficult to be motivated to go all the way back for another trip. With this in mind, we would take one load a couple of hundred yards, unload the packs and then hike back and load up the rest of the meat and gear and haul it. We did this back and forth for the next eight hours straight. It was tough and one really has to put on a strong mental game to tuff it out. Taking the shorter mini trips was also helpful for us to take breaks. Every time we dropped a load and went back we were taking a rest on the legs and back. I also really am a believer in Hammer Nutrition's Endurolytes Electrolyte Replacement Supplement pills. I take a couple or these pills every couple hours of extreme exertion like this to keep my legs going and cramp-free.

What a cool experience to share with Dallen. He was so pumped to get this bull. Excellent work Dallen!

Interestingly with all the time I spent a few weeks earlier archery hunting on the Wasatch Limited Entry unit I was only able to call in one elk. The first group of elk we came across in this general public land I was able to call in. The Wasatch unit during the archery season has far more people on it educating the elk than general public land... something I wish I knew before I put in for a LE archery tag.