“I Missed” Big Time!
Well …. “It Happens” No that’s not good enough! I recall last fall and the track record on elk and one moose we set with my 30 Nosler “The Executive Order”. They fell to one Berger 215 at a variety of long range shots. Let’s see if I can recall the shot distances. 585, 760, 785, 835, 850, mine at 1064 and my wife’s at 937 are the ones that come to mind to the best of my memory. But there were more, and I should add my AK. Yukon moose at 1033 yards in Sept was taken with the same rifle. Needless to say, by season end the confidence in the ole Executive Order was strong. Fast forward to Spring and our annual spring bear extravaganza hosted by one of my best friends Ryan Avery of Rokslide and Avery Adventurers. It happens in May and it is simply the best of times. A week long camp filled with good food, friends and a ton of laughs. Oh and yes a lot of bear hunting and an occasional wolf to two.
I recall the first year when along side 6 of my friends all on spotters, after we hiked in to get as close as possible, I set up in light rain for the longest shot in my hunting history. A cold bore heart shot on a black bear across a huge canyon at 1702 yards. That was a great day. Read that story here
1702 shot location and Spotters:
Well I better get to the intended story here. I will try to be quick about it. It was last spring, late May at Bear camp. My good friend Billy George and I had made a few long range bear bait sets. We are not pro’s at this. But in a few days we had a couple bears hitting one. For some reason that I don’t recall, I was alone on this bait one evening. Rifle bagged up pointed at the bait, cameras ready to maybe get a good kill video on a bear. Then it happened. Here he comes. I slowly turned the camera on, got solid and was dialed in for the 626 yard “Chip Shot” I waited for the perfect behind the shoulder slightly angled away shot. The trigger broke smooth and I watched the bullet all the way. But it went high and right. Above the bear and in front of him. I watched him as he ran off and could see he was fine. I checked my dial up and went over everything. It was all good. I re-watched that video at least a dozen times. Clean miss high and right. I even went and checked for blood incase what I was seeing was a bullet fragment hitting dirt. Nothing. I then went back to camp and set up on a rock at 400 yards. I proceeded to put 4 of them dead center. WTF!!! I was beside myself. Friends were supportive. “It Happens” “We all Miss” “Buck Fever” I was at a total loss, disappointed and a little ashamed at the same time. A day or two later Billy and I, checking other baits, decided to make a few test shots. Close to the same distance, about 650 yards, we both put cold bore lead marks on another small rock. I put two to be sure. I believe it was the next morning, but I could be getting days mixed up, ha ha. We went early to set on the bait where I had missed. We parked and took the short walk to our sitting / shooting spot. Crap! “There is a color phased bear on the bait.” It was Billy’s turn to shoot. But he had left something at the camp or something. I can’t remember the reason but he told me to shoot. I set up as the bear munched on cashews, nuts bacon grease, and gummy worms. Billy had ran back to the truck for a spotter. I was all set and dialed in as the bear was getting ready to leave. One broadside shot was presented. I took it. The bear leaped and as he made his first big bound I hear him expel a big deep groan. Knowing he was hit we watched as he ran down the very steep grade and out of sight. Again I had a very bad feeling. He should have rolled. The sight picture and shot replayed in my mind. It was all good. He will be dead over there. Billy and I went over and started searching. Maybe one tiny spot of blood, some possible grass he may have coughed up. We searched for a long time and nothing. I said to Billy. Lets get help and search some more. Back to camp we went and returned with Shane, Eric, Ryan and Kelly. The six of us searched that entire area for at least a couple hours I think. Nothing. I was sick to say the least. My favorite hunt of the year had just turned into one of the worst hunting experiences I could think of. I can imagine most probably felt I was just screwing up. Hell I had to consider that myself. But now I had wounded a bear and he was out there suffering. We also have a good friend that has bear hounds. I told him about this bear and later that day we took him back to the spot where I hit the bear. Now we did not have the proper licensing for him to allow me to shoot that bear. But he could run it and shoot it himself legally. So we were after it. The hounds soon struck the track. They bayed for a few minutes. Was the bear there dead? Or did they have a wounded bear on the ground? We had to get there fast. Then all at once the hounds were moving and the chase was on. They ran this bear like clockwork for at least two miles. Then bayed up. The Houndsman raced to the scene and dispatched the bear with a couple shots at the base of a tree with his lever action rifle. I believe in 45-70.
I felt a huge relief, but was still upset. A few days later it was time to go home. I had closure, but was very disappointed in my shooting performance. But, the bear, that I had obviously only grazed with a poor point of impact, was put down and tagged. Not good memories for me personally, but I had to get past them. I never shot the Executive order 30 Nosler all summer. I had all these new rifles to work with. And I shot them all well. Then yesterday. Two days before Montana Elk rifle season. I decided to get that rifle out and set zero as I had changed scopes. A few shots and I was close. So I did my normal thing and left the rifle to cool about 30 minutes in the 45 degree weather to check final zero. When I returned and fired the next shot, there it was!!! Three moa high and right. I fired two more and it was back on. I let it cool and it tossed another foul ball. I started shooting groups and it would shoot a few tight then toss one. It seems that my barrel has died at a pretty young age of only 600 to 700 rounds. It is damaging bullet jackets resulting in stray bullet impacts. I talked with Ryan Furman another friend and he told me that was where his first 30 Nosler barrel burned out. Well now I know. It seems timing for the bear hunt was perfectly timed with the first few shots of a dead barrel. I ordered a bore scope yesterday. The lesson I learned is, I remember hearing over the years of shooters who say, “My barrel is on its way out, but still shoots decent” From now on I will be better and be sure my skills and rifle are the best they can be every single hunt.
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