Picked up another plains tag after killing my 5x5 bull in Oct. I decided this tag if I was fortunate enough to fill it would either be a real nice mature representative bull 300 class or better, which would be a treal trophy for me. Or, it would be filled with a good eating cow yearling or calf. Been making the long drive to my area every day off I can afford it and also using this time to see if the muleys are rutting hard in this area yet for my bow tag. Also, in the meantime I had gotten out and sighted in my Howa 7mm Rem Mag, after getting some glass back on it, with one of my handloads. Headed out at 4:00 am Friday morning got to my area about 6:35 parked, put on my gear, and started moving down the trail.
I get about 300 yards down the trail and to my left towards the rim of a small canyon I think I see shapes, but due to the clouds it was still pretty dark, and I think to my self I'm seeing rock shapes not game. Well, something tells me throw your glass out there and confirm what your looking at before dismissing it and I take heed. Well, I get my glass up and sure enough I feel like I'm hit with the 7mm Mag when I realize it's a ton of elk I'm looking at coming out of the trees on the rim of that small canyon. They were about 250 yards out and looking right at me. It was too dark to the west where they were to distinguish any horns only that it was elk and lots of em.
They start getting skittish and moving east to my right in front of me and I'm still looking trying to see if I can find horn in the hopes that a big 6x6 might still be hanging with em. Also, I didn't want to shoot as they were moving in a mass and I'm not about to start spraying and praying. I few had stopped right in front of me, again at about 250 yds, and I could make out they were likely cows but I still held my fire and they finally moved.
The herd was moving but not in all out turning on the afterburners mode at this point. There was a line of pinon and cedar just to my right which they cut across to the open plains to the east a few hundred yards in front of me. As the last one went out of sight I dashed about 150 yards thru the line of timber feeling pretty confident I'd catch them on the flat on the other side and have a shot opportunity. I get thru it come to the edge and I'm scanning not seeing anything when out on the horizan with the sun coming up in the east the herd is skylined about 300 or more yards out on the flat jumping an old fence. I get down on a knee and deploy my shooting sticks and scan the herd for horn. Seeing no horn which is now easy to distiniguish with the sun silouhetting them I start looking for a clear cow hopefully a young one. I get on a clear one but my heart is thumping from the excitement and dash thru the trees and I take too long to get settled and she starts moving. I think I might have blown it as the herd is slowly moving but I spy another few standing still and a second later one is clear no other elk behind it. I am able to settle my breathing get the crosshairs steady on the boiler room and let it fly.
Boom!!! A second after I hear the muzzle report and feel the recoil I hear that unmistakable and lovely WHOMP echo back to me and though I lost the elk in the recoil as soon as I get eyes back on the target area I see nothing there and feel good it's down but don't know for sure. The herd is running off the to the plains and I start to walk towards the shot and after a bit of a walk find my calf poleaxed where it stood dead. My load for this was a Hornday 175gr Interlock pushed by 62.5 grs of RL-22 with CCI Mag primers and Fed brass chronoed at 2750 fps. I sighted in at 2.5 inches high at 100 and after ranging the back to the tree I shot from found the range to be 335 yards the bullet dropping about 6 to 7 inches from my point of aim. The calf was about the size of a mature muley buck and I'm sure will be good eating in fact I'm frying up some tenderloin and backstrap this evening!
Saw one 3 point buck during my evening deer hunt I contemplated putting a stalk on to get into bowrange but decided to stick with my plan to hold out for a rutting bigboy to try and get on.