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by James Swidryk a.k.a. jamesfromjersey Last updated: 2008-12-21 00:21:12
Buffalo Creek is a ten mile by five mile ranch 100 miles northwest of San Antonio in the hill country of Leaky, Texas (the Texans call them hills while I consider them small mountains). Yes, there is a high fence around the whole ranch but that's about it. The dirt roads cover about 10%% of the operation while the rest has to covered by foot. The elk herd that inhabits the ranch has been there for sixteen years giving rise to good quality bulls of which I only saw two. On the first day we spotted a nice bull at sundown as he drank from a pond near the lodge; he was gone within 10 seconds. The 2nd day of my 3 day hunt had us working a spectacular bull accompanied by a cow, making the guide to stop the 6 wheeled vehicle about 200 yards away. I closed the distance on foot and ranged my position at 149yds. which was much too far for a shot from my Freedom Arms 454. The gun was loaded with Winchester 260 grain partition ammo and topped with a Leupold 2.5-8X. This ammo consistently shoots 3" to 4" groups at 100 yards which would be smaller if I was a little younger.
We'll Never See Him Again!
As I made my way to the elk I tried keeping the trees between us, but as you elk hunters know the cow had us spotted the second we pulled up in the all-terrain 6-wheeler.
When I finally popped up at around 60 yards I put the crosshair on the elk's shoulder from the kneeling position. I slowly let the hammer down as there was just to much movement with the scope and I did not want to risk wounding such a magnificent animal. The cow started to make her way uphill and I tried to intersect the bull as he followed her but he moved off to the right and I never caught sight of him as he made his way over the hill (mountain). The guide added to my disappointment by saying that, "we will never see him again".
The Last Day
The third and final day had us glassing the hills when a cow elk made her way out from one of the canyons. The distance was far enough that I was able to range a few trees that surrounded me with the one on the far right being exactly 90 yards. I`ve always known that women can get you into trouble so I was more relived than surprised as the bull elk, who was licking his chops, followed his lady friend with caution to the wind. I figured the rut was over so I had my doubts as they would start and stop their movement often heading back in the direction of that all consuming canyon. But wait... whats this! Their new direction was taking them to a tree to my far right which would put the bull in range of my 454 at an even 90 yards.
It`s been said that all good things will come in time but my wait for the bull to present a shot was bordering on eternity. Since I was shooting a 260 grain bullet, and the largest animal I`d ever used it on was a good size Alaskan black bear, I had my doubts in taking a quarter-toward shot on an animal of this size and weight. I whispered to the guide that I will only take a broadside shot to which he was in full agreement as he never had a hunter try and take an elk with a handgun. Saint`s be praised as the bull finally came to a stop giving me a rested, broadside shot.
A Bull Down
BOOM.....my 454 went off with a surprise after a slow, deliberate trigger squeeze only to be rewarded with what I thought was a miss as the bull, showing no signs of a hit,
looked around to see where the noise was coming from. My second shot was fired with even more concentration only to have the elk repeat what he did at the first shot. Knowing the gun was dead on at 100 yards, I then realized that I had hit the bull with those first 2 shots and his huge body size absorbed the power of the 260gr bullets. I then caught a slight stagger in his walk when the guide said to keep shooting until he was down. Two more shots emptied the gun with the elk still standing. After reloading and firing two more shots he finally went down. In all honesty I have to say that after the first 2, my final 4 shots were not placed with the greatest precision with one of the bullets striking the back leg, but the damage was done as he crashed down among some fallen trees. A shot from my 22 finished off a most beautiful elk the likes of which I thought I would never hunt again...
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