Small elk herd at around 600 yards taken with my FujiFilm FinePix HS10 camera being handheld.
Dallen was the only lucky one in our family to draw a cow elk tag for 2010. The number of permits for the area we like to hunt had been drastically reduced. Dallen now had the pressure to provide meat for the family this year.
For whatever reason, the public land that we like to hunt has been seeing very few wintering elk. Prior to the hard winter of 2007-08 we would often see hundreds of elk on this public land. I personally watched the deer just get hammered that winter but the larger elk made it through pretty well so I know the elk are somewhere... with that hard winter they just changed their habits and must be wintering off some other side of the mountain.
Early Tuesday morning the 28th of December we pulled into the parking lot of the trail-head to access the public land we hunt for cow elk. As we started our way up the canyon we watched many mule deer browsing around in the oak brush. Dallen got pretty excited about a couple of the bucks we saw. "Dad can we come back here deer hunt next year" was a common remark from him throughout the day. Unfortunately, the deer that are here now are not the deer that are here during the hunting season I tried to explain... I'm still not sure that he believed me.
After Dallen shot I found his ejected 243 WSSM shell in the snow.
There was a good foot of snow covering the ground so I had my Meat Saucer Sleds strapped to the back of my backpack ready to pull a boned out elk out of the canyon.
As we hiked in we would periodically pause and glass the canyon for elk... all of the favorite ridgelines the elk like to frequent were devoid of elk. At about a mile up the canyon, we spotted two cows above us feeding over a saddle into a large sub-canyon above us. We doubled back and started climbing up a steep slope. From the location of the two cows and the direction, it looked like they were heading my hope was that we could slip up around and behind the elk, then drop over the ridge hopefully right above where I thought the elk might be... if we could just get there in time.
We had roughly 700 vertical feet to hike up in a foot of snow to get to the location I wanted to get too in hopes that we could ambush the elk from above. I later teased Dallen that we were doing a pretty good job of acting like he was dying as we climbed our way up the mountain pushing our way through the snow. I teased him that I knew, that he knew, that the only way he could get his dad to turn around was if he was dying. I was just teasing him but I do think in the back of his head he thought we would never be able to catch up to the elk in time. I'm pretty sure it won't be too many years from now and I will be huffing and puffing pretending to die trying to get him to slow down and or turn around. :)
Dallen hiking down to his cow elk taken with a 243 WSSM using 80g Barnes Tipped Triple Shock handload.
As we climbed up near the top we were able to get a good view of the area and glassed for other elk. The area was just devoid of elk that once littered the ridges pre-2008. We did find a cow and a calf at just off 800 yards away but that was it.
We pushed on a little further to get to the ridge of the sub-canyon the elk had disappeared into. As we started to crest the ridge we spotted a small bull and two cows across the canyon in the 400-yard range. We continued to sneak our way over so that we could see into the oak brush below us... and there they were, seven cows and calves in the 100- 150 yard range right below us.
Because of the oak brush that we were in we could not sit down to take the shot, Dallen was going to have to stand to take the shot. I asked Dallen if and when he felt comfortable to take the large cow that was standing broadside at about 110 yards. He nodded that he was ok with taking a standing shot and braced his left elbow against his chest to steady the rifle. After a quick confirmation that it was indeed a cow, as it's head was behind some brush, he took the shot. The cows all bolted away and we both paid real close attention to the one he shot at. After running about 20 yards, the cow he shot at stopped and turned around to look up at us. She paused there for a few seconds then up she reared on her hind legs and over she fell. I was again impressed with Dallen's shot placement and that he had already worked the action and was ready for a follow-up shot if necessary. Good Job Dallen!
Dallen with his cow elk taken in 2010 with a Browning A-Bolt Stainless Hunter Laminate 243 WSSM using an 80g Barnes Tipped Triple Shock handload.
Dallen has now taken three elk each with only a single shot using a 243 WSSM and my 80g Barnes Tipped Triple Shock handload. He took a spike and a cow in 2009 using this same rifle 243 WSSM rifle and 80g Barnes Tipped Triple Shock handload.
Here are some related journal entries.
- 2009 Cow Elk Hunt with a 243 WSSM
- Dallen's First Elk, Taken with a 243 WSSM
- The Meat Saucer — Sled System for Hauling Deer & Elk in Snow
The 243 WSSM 80g Barnes Tipped Triple Shock bullet entered the cow just behind the shoulder through the lungs and exited the cow through the offside shoulder right below and behind the edge of the shoulder blade. Another pass-through for a 80-grain bullet and a very large animal.
Strangely the Whitetail deer he took 243 WSSM 80g Barnes Tipped Triple Shock bullet appeared to not pass through. Maybe it really did and I just didn't find the exit hole... I spent forever trying to find and recover the bullet in the mess of guts and stomach contents and could never find it. The exit holes are pretty darn small... I must have just not found the exit hole.
Here are a few photos I took with my FujiFilm FinePix HS10 during the trip.
Dallen with A-Bolt Stainless Hunter Laminate 243 WSSM and his 2010 cow elk.
Dallen and Dad with A-Bolt Stainless Hunter Laminate 243 WSSM and his 2010 cow elk.
With one half of the elk boned out we flip her over and find the 243 WSSM 80g Barnes Tipped Triple Shock exit hole. Pictured also is my favorite knife — a custom Russ Kommer knife designed for my Do-It-Yourself hunting needs.
|Dallen's reaction after taken his cow elk in 2010 with a 243 WSSM.
|Dallen pulling a Meat Saucer Sled filled with his boned out cow elk meat.
|Meat Saucer Sleds filled with Dallen's boned out cow elk ready to be hauled off the mountain.