The DIY Hunter

Sitting in Cliffs Elk Hunting

Dallen watching for elk from some cliffs.


X-Bolt Stainless Stalker with Vortex Viper HSLR Scope

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


Browning Powerhouse Ground Blind

We packed in a Browning Powerhouse ground blind so that we could crawl into it during rain storms. Actually there is no need to crawl into this ground blind it's extra tall allowing for you to easily get in it, stand in it and move around. Just what I like.


Big Black Bear

Here's the first big black bear that we spotted  while elk hunting. Looks like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, very big bear.


Black Bear

This black bear was smaller than the first bear that we saw but this bear by all means wasn't tiny. I think this bear is one of the bears that messes with my trail cameras. See video below.


Hiking in cliffs while elk hunting.

Dallen hiking in cliffs while elk hunting.


Hunting with clouds in background.

Dallen watching for elk and bears with some cool looking clouds in the background as the sun sets.


Dallen and I with his 2013 bull elk - Charlie One Horn

Dallen and I with his 2013 bull elk — Big Ol' Charlie One Horn.


Dallen Walking up to his 2013 bull elk.

Dallen walking up to Charlie One Horn. Later we found that Charlie One Horn walked past one of my trail cameras minutes before Dallen takes him. You can see the footage in one of the videos on this page.


Dallen packing elk head

Dallen carrying out the 40 pound head of his 2013 bull elk.

After I successfully took a spike elk with my bow we were hopeful that Dallen would be able to harvest one of the larger 5x6 bulls that we had been seeing in the area on my Browning trail cameras. However that last time any of my trail cameras had captured one of the 5x6 bulls was the day before the archery elk opener.

The week before Dallen's opener in rained almost every day. When it rains on the mountain we are hunting the roads get really greasy... So the night before the opener we chained up all four wheels and crawled our way up the greasy mud. We made it but the wheel wells were packed in with the muddy mess.

Opening morning we crawled out of our sleeping bags and started up the mountain. We took a steeper route than normal trying to avoid spooking elk and deer on the way in. Once we got to our first location to hunt we sat for an hour or so with no activity. We decided to move to our second location and sat until mid-day without seeing any elk.

At mid-day we headed back to the area where I shot my spike with a bow two weeks prior. We hadn't been there long when Dallen spots a bull elk working it's way up the canyon. Dallen was excited however once we got our optics on the bull we could see that it was a 4x4 bull. Basically the same size as the bull he shot in 2012. He decided to pass on it. I did my best to try and encourage him to take the bull but Dallen wanted something better and kudos for him not giving in under the pressure I was putting on him. Dallen knew that there were better bulls in the area.

You know the good thing about trail cameras is that you know what is in the area and the bad thing about trail cameras is that you know what is in the area. Trail cameras sure help in the decision making of where to hunt and what to shoot. Dallen was holding out for at least a 5 point. We knew from the trail cameras that there are several five point bulls in the area and a couple 5x6 bulls. Dallen wanted one at least that big.

Later in the evening after seeing the 4x4 bull we watched two different Black Bears come out of the quaking aspens just a 100 yards to our right. It was kind of funny as I spotted the first bear I told Dallen not to move because there was a bear to his right. After I watched the bear a little more I looked back at Dallen and he was froze solid still looking to his left. I guess I should have explained myself better. I think he thought the bear was right next to him. I just didn't want to scare the bear away. Pretty funny.

Three minutes after the bear came through Dallen spotted another bear coming out and down the same trail that the first one went down. Very cool!

We were good boys and came home Saturday evening so that we could attend church on Sunday.

Monday I picked Dallen up a little early from school and we flew up the mountain. We made it into position about 4:30 to watch the canyon we watched the bears in on Saturday evening. At around 5:30 I spotted a good bull sneaking around the quaking aspens out about 300 yards. It walked through an opening and disappeared. I told Dallen not to fear. I pulled out a cow call and mewed and quickly he bugled back, awesome! I then laided into two of my favorite Primos calls with some aggressive hot cow calls. The bull was hooked. He cut out of the trees and into a clearing and that is when we noticed that he was missing an antler. He crossed the canyon and popped up on a ridge line 150 yards across from us and then turned broadside walking along the hillside. Dallen and I went back and forth. Dallen would say, "he's only got one antler"... I then would respond "but he's big", "he's only got one antler"... "do you want him or not?" Ok dad, I'll take him. Hold on, I'll stop him. Mew, BANG!

In typical Dallen fashion shortly after putting down the bull Dallen had him named. Charlie One Horn.

We then boned out the elk to haul it off the mountain. While boning one of the front shoulders we found the second bullet that was fired from 189 yards. I really wanted to open up the chest cavity and find the other bullet but by the time we finished boning out the elk it was three in the morning. I didn't want to spend another hour looking for that bullet. I can say that there was no sign that it traveled anywhere near to the opposite side of the rib cage.

Recovered from elk 150 Gr. Accubond LR

Recovered 150 Gr. Accubond Long Range bullet. With a muzzle velocity of 3034 FPS from my X-Bolt this 150 Gr. Bullet is reduced to 29 grains of bare copper after a 189 yard shot into Dallen's elk.  Isn't the lead supposed to be bonded to the copper? Are these really Accubonds? Looks like just an extremely fragile Ballistic Tip.

For this hunt Dallen was using my Browning X-Bolt 20 MOA Picatinny Rail and Vortex Viper HS LR Rifle Scope. We are using a new bullet this year. Nosler's new Accubond LR in the 150 Gr. .277 diameter variety. I really like the EGW rail and Vortex rifle scope setup on this rifle. The "Accubond" LR bullets I'm a little disappointed with. Yes, Dallen shot his elk at closer range (154 and 189 Yards) but the bullet I recovered went from 150 grains down to 29 grains in about 10 inches of penetration along the shoulder. What concerned me the most was that there is absolutely no sign that this bullet has the lead bonded to the copper.

I love bullets that penetrate enough to make it across the elk but fragment like crazy. The 140 Accubond has been a great bullet for me over the years and performs very well. The "Accubond" LR I know is designed to open at slower velocities that you have at extreme long range however it shows no signs of bonding that help maintain bullet weight and penetration.

Although I have not tried the 150 Gr Berger VLD, I would bet that it penetrates further than the 150 Gr. Accubond LR. Is the Accubond LR really an Accubond or just a super fragile Ballistic Tip? I'd bet that ballistic tips are tougher and penetrate better. I started getting a little nervous about the strength of the bullet when I found that I could not load compressed powder loads, as seating the bullet would crush a ring into the ogive of the bullet.

Now with all this said about the Accubond LR I am not completely disappointed. It did a fine job of putting Dallen's elk on the ground with a 154 yard shot through the shoulder and a quick follow-up shot across the other shoulder at 189 yards as a precaution. However, he was dead on the first shot.

Dallen's first shot was at 154 yards and went directly through the shoulder and into the chest cavity. It penetrated through the four inches or so of muscle of the shoulder and made a 1 1/2" hole through the ribs and into the chest cavity. The elk was really sick and slowly turned and walked back the way he came. My rule on elk is to keep shooting until they fall over, so Dallen slid another bullet just to the side of his rear and into the opposite shoulder as it was walking directly away from us. This shot was at 189 yards and the bullet penetrated from the back of the shoulder to near the front of the shoulder crushing the scapula in the process. This bullet penetrated around 10 inches and was recovered weighing only 29 Grains and showing absolutely no lead bonded to the copper.

Using trail cameras has made all the difference this elk hunting season. We are hunting such a small piece of property that gets very limited elk traffic. Yes, elk are there but not every day. Using the trail cameras throughout the summer and fall has really helped us narrow down general patterns that the elk have. Generally they like to move from here to here in the evening and in the morning they generally might move in this location etc. Armed with this kind of information Dallen and I were both able to be successful in bringing home meat for the family from a very tough area to hunt. The key has been the use of multiple trail cameras and moving them around the mountain until I found the key locations where I see the most activity. I was a little surprised where the elk were and especially where the elk weren't. I thought for sure they would be in one particular area but there was no sign of them there.

Dallen's bull really has some mass in it's antler. I think I will send some of it's teeth off to to find out how old it is.

Dallen also pointed out how cool a European Skull mount this bull will make. The pedicle looks like it was broke years ago and it grows out the side of it's head.

Cliffs at sunset wihle Elk Hunting

View of some cliffs at sunset while out elk hunting.


Elk Antler at Sunset

Elk Antler at sunset.


X-Bolt Stailnless Stalk with Bull Elk

X-Bolt 270 WSM with Dallen's 2013 bull elk.

Minutes before Dallen shoots this bull elk it walks past a Browning Range Ops trail camera (shown directly below). Unfortunately for whatever reason the camera didn't pick him up until he was almost all the way past the camera. The camera usually does better, I'm guessing the bull was walking directly towards the camera then turned? They detect the IR signature change and motion better when the animals pass directly broadside.


Here's some video of bears on the trail cameras over the past couple of weeks. They seem to like to try and take out my cameras lately. Starting to be a regular theme by the stinkers.


Here's some video of a five point bull elk on the trail cameras that was hanging around the past couple of weeks.

European Skull Mount of Charlie One Horn Elk

European Skull mount of Charlie One Horn. Because the one antler is so heavy we have not been able to find a way to mount him on the wall. So for now he makes for a great desktop mount.


Elk Antler at Sunset

At some point in his life he broke the pedicel off his skull right off exposing his brain. Lots of arthritis has grown around his eye socket.


European Skull Mount of Charlie One Horn Elk

Bone grew back over his brain except one small half inch sized spot.