I stood by my plan and went full .50cal patched round ball this season! I heard a lot of " Don't use that!" You'll wound it!" "That ball isn't made for big game" all the typical brain washed fubar where some think you need plastic, SS, scoped and high priced pretty shaped bullets in order to down game.
I am feeling really good after 9 days of hunting in southern Colorado. We saw plenty of elk, deer, including a real nice muley with a crown of antlers growing off one side of his rack! The weather was a little rainy in the afternoons for the first few days and then finally cleared out to where we were able to get out hunting in the evenings.
On day 1, I found the elk herd, 2 - 2.5miles away. To darn far for packing out in that range of the mountains. We did find a short cut that brought us to within 1 1.5miles, but due to the amount of downed black timber, swampy ground and clump grass, it was worse than trying to hike the regular route.
Day 2, found us watching the elk herd again. There was a real nice butt scratcher of a bull in there with 20+ cows/calves with him. I'd bugle and cow call, he'd look toward the mountain we were on and that was about it. He had his girls and that's all that mattered to him. He rounded up his cows and they went off to bed down in the shade.
On the hike back to the ATV's I mentioned how perfect a setting it would be for a doe to step out into.
15 minutes later, THREE doe stepped out of the aspens! The big lead doe took off, I whistled and it caused the other 2 doe to stop, and the lead doe stopped to look back at them.
I raised my Traditions St.Louis Hawken .50cal kit gun that I put together, took aim and squeezed the trigger. BOOM! I sent a .490" Round Ball, driven by 70gr 3fg Goex, .020" Patch lubed with Frontie's Anti-Rust & Patch Lube toward her. A huge white cloud of smoke hung low in the crisp morning air.
The doe dropped at the sound of the shot. I gave her time to expire while I reloaded. Afterward, I went up to her and bled her out and couldn't believe how they just walked out like that! We had crossed that area a couple hours before!
The shot was a high lung/ bottom of spine shock, shot. It killed her instantly. After she was bled out, We took some pictures and then proceeded to gut her out and drag her back to the ATV, parked at the top of the mountain.
I got her at around 40 yards. She packed the freezer with a little over 48lbs of meat for the winter!
Believe it or not, this year, I found out very clearly... Patched round balls, leave a BIG entrance hole and a 1/2" exit hole! I thought it would have been reversed, but it is not so.
The 6th day & One more tag in my pocket:
With having filled my doe tag, the ultimate tag left to fill was my Bull elk tag, which I felt would be impossible due to the bulls not reacting to the calls. They would speak very little and almost at dark when the temps dropped.
On day 4, we found a new hunting zone which the elk funneled into! This place is straight out a painting! The first thought that entered my mind was... A perfect spot for Rendezvous!
A nice small open meadow, a good strong creek running through the west side, heavy aspen growth also on the west side and the east side was a mixture of thick growing aspen and spruce trees. To the north, a heavily beaten elk train going between the gap of 2 mountains, framed by aspen and spruce. Just freakin picture perfect!
It was getting late, around 6:30, and we decided to set up behind a log and start cow calling. I did this for around 15 minutes and then told my nephew I was going to climb up the hill and take a looksee for a couple spikes I saw going over a bald hill. I got 50 yards into the open and all we heard up a loud CRACK! tripping, and more cracking. The area we set up in was on the side that was thickly covered. My nephew and brother were getting all excited, looking around into the thick stuff.
Minutes go by and finally, we hear a weird sound, like a cops bull horn. Apparently they could see the rack of a 4 point bull in all that nasty stuff! There was no way to tell where the body was at any time, so it was a good hunt, just nothing to see other than antlers here and there. The weird sound like the bark an elk makes when he spooks.
We hit this place early the next day and stayed until almost dark when we packed up. It was an amazing place to kick off your boots and just wait the day out.
On day 6, the alarm clock went off and I said to hell with it. After all this hiking, we know where they are, but it's time to just take the morning off. We all went back to sleep, got camp chores done, freshened ourselves up. I was pretty fed up and pooped out on elk hunting by then. All these elk and no way to get them out without killing ourselves.
Around 3:30 PM, I suggested we check out our old hunting grounds, which is a real nasty ATV trail up into the high mountains. This trail had my white knuckling. If I was white knuckling then, I had white hair by the time I got down that same mountain trail later that night, with probably close to 300+ lbs of meat strapped to the ATV.
We got to our old area and took a walk down into a valley where there is a huge meadow and thick aspens. A good deer and elk area. My dad had a deer tag and I wanted him to get one bad.
All we found was that the rancher bordering the Ntl forest, turned his cattle loose in that area. I was pretty upset over that
Hiking back up to the ATV, I said, let's go up the main trail and look down into the little fields/openings along the way. We always see deer when riding along it, so we may as well walk it and see if we can get another doe.
We hike and hike and hike. Finally, we make it to a bowl where its a good sized open area and NOTHING! We were just blown away at how little deer we were seeing over the past few days. Deer should be everywhere, and the were, just the wrong genitals!
We walked down a little ways to a log off in the trees and sat down to rest and and were talking aloud about the area and how crazy it was with the deer. My brother asked if we were ready and of course, nahhh, just a little longer.
We were talking normally about the area again when my brothers eyes pop out of his head.. . HEY! he says in a harsh whisper. ELK!
I turned my head to the right a little and saw the elk turn and start to run back into the trees. I whistled a couple times and I was bringing my rifle up and cocking the hammer. The elk stopped with his neck area behind a tree, peering at us from behind that same tree. I took note of his antlers, placed my sight right in the crease of his shoulder, halfway in the middle and squeezed the trigger.
Huge cloud of smoke, blinded us until it cleared out in the faint breeze.
My dad and brother start talking and I hushed them up so I could listen for the direction the elk was going.
After, I heard nothing, I pushed the ball down the bore, seated it, capped and slowly started in the direction the elk was standing when I shot. I couldn't see blood, but I did not expect any that close to the scene.
Losing light fast ( dark timber ) I gave up on the blood trail and started to go up when I heard some thumping going up towards the north east and then nothing. SHOOT! I spooked it! my mind screamed.
Getting lower, I tried to pick up a blood trail but it was just to dark to see in that timber with fading light. I called my dad and brother up and we spread out. My brother looking low, me in the middle and my dad high. I got into the thick timber and it opened up greatly.
My eyes searched the downed logs and I couldn't see anything so I turned to the right and slowly made my way to my dad when he yelled out... Holy #####! You got him, he's right here!
I go running up to my dad and sure enough. My dad broke into the edge of the thick stuff and was scanning the area below where I was and he just happened to glance down and to his left and the bull was not more than 12 feet away from him!
We all went nuts, hugging and just in total disbelief that this elk literally, fell into our lap!
There was NO reason for that elk to cross right then and there. No reason for that bull to have stopped when I whistled while aiming and cocking the hammer. No reason whatsoever! It was one of those hunts where you worked your butt off and just as I gave up, we were gifted this elk as a reward for all of our previous hard work.
Again, I used the same rifle for this bull as I did for the deer. My Traditions St.Louis Hawken kit gun in .50 caliber, shooting a home cast .490" round ball, .020" patch, 70gr 3fg Goex and a CCI #11 Percussion cap.
The shot in the pictures looks high lung. Its not, its perfectly center, right behind the shoulder. We couldn't get the bull spread out good enough to show it properly due to the mountain side he was on. Plus hes just freaking heavy!
The bull was only 25 to 30 yards MAX when I took aim and sent that little piece of lead through his lungs. The ball destroyed both lungs and exited!
The bull was just drop dead gorgeous. A beautiful tan and dark brown hide, not one imperfection on him. You just have to take a moment and stand back and look at him. A beautiful animal.
No exit hole picture. We skinned one side at a time and by the second side, I had blood running down me after carrying the 1/4's back down towards the trail.
Right to left: Entrance - Exit