Cow Elk with Sako

Discussion in 'General Sako Discussions' started by stonecreek, Sep 16, 2020.

  1. stonecreek

    stonecreek SCC Secretary Forum Owner SCC Board Member

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    My son drew an early season tag for Colorado cow elk this year. We went to a friend's place near the NM line this last weekend to see if he could bring home the venison. There had been an unseasonable early and heavy snow in the area which was melting when we got there, but conditions were much more "wintery" compared to most September hunts.

    My son is now 45 and has been hunting with his L61R Deluxe .30-06 since he was 15 years old. Having traveled all around the U.S. and even to Africa, his Sako shows a ding or three, but is still a pretty gun - and a pretty accurate gun, too. His load for heavy game is a 180 Nosler Partition traveling about 2775 fps at the muzzle. For lighter game like whitetails he uses a 150 grain Ballistic Tip at 3,000.

    We saw lots of animals, including elk calves, mule deer bucks and does, and even a pronghorn and a bear cub. On the second morning of the hunt he finally had a mature cow elk slip out of the thick aspens into a meadow about 200 yards away. Once she presented a broadside he aimed for the forward rib cage just aft of the shoulder and let one fly. The elk hardly reacted and just turned to face the other direction. My son wondered if he had missed, so sent another to the same point of aim, but from the other side of the elk. Still little in the way of reaction, so he sent a third and a fourth Partition her way, at which point the elk finally fell and rolled a few feet downhill, stone cold dead.

    When we skinned and quartered the elk we found that all four shots were within inches of one another (just going in different directions in the case of the first shot and the next three). In other words, there were wounds on both sides that were both entrances and exits:confused:. Any of them would have been fatal within moments, but as anyone who has hunted elk knows, those big hulks are hard to put down and don't seem to know they're dead for a minute or two. Fortunately, the four shots only damaged a portion of each rib cage about the diameter of an orange, so virtually no meat was lost.

    Anyway, it was a great hunt in the snow with lots of animals stirring and resulted in several hundred pounds of fine meat brought home to the hearth. Here's a photo after gutting the elk and putting away the Sako.

    2020 elk (1500x953).jpg

    And here's what the Colorado landscape at 10,000 feet looked like after two sunny days melting the snow.

    DSC00838 (1500x804).jpg

     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2020

  2. wombat

    wombat Well-Known Member

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    Hi Stone, that would have been great experience, seeing that varied game.
    Yep, plenty of delicious venison there, great scenery.
    All the best, Jay
     
  3. paulsonconstruction

    paulsonconstruction Sako-addicted

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    Thanks for sharing the pics! Looks like some nice table-fare!!!!
     
  4. icebear

    icebear Sako-addicted

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    Sounds like a great hunt and some excellent eating. Elk sausage is a treat fit for the gods.
     
  5. douglastwo

    douglastwo Well-Known Member

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    Stone, Very nice elk, and I love your son's story about his shooting. Brought back memories of a small 4x5 elk I tagged in 1988 on the public part of the famous Vermejo Park in New Mexico. A buddy and I put in for the "once in a lifetime" drawing for about 5 years and finally got drawn in 88. Once drawn you can never apply again. Even though we had heard stories for years about the fantastic hunting, I told my buddy that I was going to tag the first bull I saw. On opening day, riding our horses up a ridge where we could keep an eye on the draw on both sides of the ridge, I spotted my bull and tagged out by mid morning. I was somewhat regretting my decision to shoot the first bull I saw. We hunted the rest of the day and my buddy passed on a few bulls like mine. That night we enjoyed a few Bourbons and planned our hunt for his bull the next day. That night a blizzard with white out conditions and bad fog moved in and did not move out or lessen intensity until the day our hunt ended 4 days later. With a visibility of 20 to 30 yards most of the time, we saw lots of running rumps and legs and he never got a shot. I was once again proud I shot the first elk I saw. Back to my elk, we spotted him broadside about 200 yards to our right standing on the ridge parallel to the ridge we were on. We got off our horses and I saw a large log about 10 yards away I could use to rest my 7mm Sako Golden Anniversary on. I quietly walked to the log and laying down so I could rest my rifle across the log, I aimed for the heart/lung area. I was shooting a favorite handload of 68 grs. of IMR 4831 pushing a 162 gr Hornady BTSP at 3170 fps. Before you guys jump all over me about my load, I used this load for only a couple years and finally stopped loading my 7 mag so hot to quieten my hunting buddies. To finish my story, I sent the first shot on it's way. I didn't see any reaction from the elk and my buddy whispered you missed. I quickly loaded number 2 and sent it to the same area with no reaction from the elk. As I continued aiming at the elk, my buddy whispered you missed. I replied, I'm watching a red spot where I'm aiming. He said shoot again. I sent the third and last round in my rifle on it's way and got the same result as shot 1 and 2. As I was loading more rounds in my rifle, my buddy whispered, he's slowly walking away from us, and he's slowly going downhill. In a hurry so he wouldn't get away while I was reloading, I only loaded 2 rounds and quickly aimed just as his head disappeared from sight. I could still see his horns and the elk was still moving because his horns were disappearing. And then just before the horns disappeared, the elk stopped and all I could see was about 8" of the tip of his horns. Looking around to see the quickest way to get to the elk, I noticed if I walked about 200 yards uphill but tried to stay at the same elevation, I could cross the draw separating me from my elk and then walk about 200 yards back toward the elk. I took off and immediately lost sight of the horns. It didn't take but a short time to get to a point that I thought would put me within 30 or so yards of the elk. Slowly walking toward where I thought the elk was, I spotted the tips of the horns. I eased forward until I could see the elk's head. He was struggling to breathe but oblivious to me, so I slowly walked toward him until I could see the blood on the forward part of his ribs. From about 30 yards, and still broadside, I placed the 4th shot in the same area and he immediately walked about 20' and fell down. As you say "stone dead". All 4 shots went through, and by a couple inches they barely missed the heart. The lungs were messed up bad.
     
  6. stonecreek

    stonecreek SCC Secretary Forum Owner SCC Board Member

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    Douglastwo: The only elk I've ever seen fall at the shot were hit directly in the spine. Shots to the heart/lungs are certain killers, but it takes a while for such a shot to have its full effect on such a large animal. I've taken a number of African game of similar size, and although African game has a reputation of being "tough", I've found none tougher than our Rocky Mountain Wapiti.

    A few years ago I did take a cow elk with a single shot from my Sako .300 H&H with a Nosler Accubond 180 grain. It was a heart/lung shot at about 200 yards. She trotted in a small circle and there were other elk with her, so I did not shoot a second time for fear of hitting the wrong one. But within about 30 seconds she dropped, kicked, and then was still.

    A friend took a medium size bull with his Sako .300 Win using 180 Nosler Partitions. As happens so often, the first shot into the chest cavity brought little reaction, so he put a second round into the bull. The range was close so there was no doubt about bullet placement. He said it looked as if the bull were about to give it up, so he held off on a third shot. However, the bull continued to stumble forward and was able to get itself into a small ravine before collapsing. We had to cut a bit of brush away to retrieve it from its final resting spot.
     
  7. Backfencer

    Backfencer Member

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    Stoney, congrats to your son on a great hunt and great table fare!

    I too have a cow tag, but for Nov-Dec 31 here around the house in Central Wa. It's a draw tag, that seems to produce a tag for us (the boy and I) every 5-6 years. The shooting can be stretched out a bit, as the terrain is pretty open so I'm not sure which gun will go with me this time. Shots past 500yards are common.

    Elk can flat out pack lead, as can the smallest of our North American Moose, the Shiras. When I killed my first Shiras moose (WA), my story was very similar to your son's current cow (and D2'a bull). I laid (4) shots from my Tikka .270 WSM with 140gr Accubonds. You could cover all (4) entrance holes with a handball at 200 yards, right behind the front shoulder and he never reacted! He then looked my direction and started walking directly away down a trail, almost out of sight. I was frantically reloading (and I was REALLY starting to lose my shiat then!) as my cousin was cow calling, trying to stop him. He'd been with a cow, as it was the middle of the rut but he knew the jig was up. I'd never had "buck fever" before, but my knees started knocking together like I had hypothermia. Once I slammed the bolt home I knew I had maybe 2 seconds before the bull was down the trail in the "deep dark woods" and we were then on a recovery mission in some very thick timber. The bull was straight away, leaving the clearing and his horns were just brushing through spruce trees and my only shot was to bury a bullet deep into his spine. Off-hand, deep breath, knees stopped KNOCKING (jezuz, FINALLY!) and I focused at the top of the tail and cranked one off...he stumbled...then piled up!! The 140gr Accubond destroyed the back 2+' of the spine. By the time we got around the little swamp, he'd expired. I lost around 4# of meat with the spine shot, so I was fortunate. The bullets performed fabulous, as there were 3 broken ribs and both lungs had 4 holes in them, but the heart lays so deep/low in a moose I was shooting over it because of the willows. The bull was dead, he just didn't know it yet.

    Here in the NW all the states that have moose hunting are OIL tags, so I then applied for Idaho, and happend to get drawn. I shot the next one in the throat with a 338 Ultra Mag after calling him within 40 yards (overkill, but he hit the ground hard).
     
  8. stonecreek

    stonecreek SCC Secretary Forum Owner SCC Board Member

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    I've never hunted moose, which can be as much as twice the weight of an elk, as I understand it. I'm sure they can pack a lot of lead when it is primarily just perforating the lungs. However, most of the anecdotes about moose vs. elk hunting indicate that elk are generally "tougher". But maybe that has to do with many more people hunting elk and experiencing them being difficult to bring down. Personally, I can't say.

    I have observed on a couple of African hunts (and others' experience seems to match) that the Kudu, which is near the size of an elk, is a "soft" animal which is easy to bring down compared to other antelope of similar size like oryx and wildebeest. It's difficult to say what makes animals of similar size seem harder or easier to bring down. Of course, shots to the central nervous system usually result in an instant drop -- and the loss of some premium meat.
     
  9. South Pender

    South Pender Well-Known Member

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    That's been my experience in hunting both species. Moose, while very large (particularly the Canadian and Yukon/Alaskan subspecies), are not commensurately hardy and seem to lack the stamina of elk.
     
  10. Backfencer

    Backfencer Member

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    Both of my Shiras's were 4.5yo's, and I'd compare them (weight/body size) to a mature Rocky Mtn bull elk, albeit with longer legs and somewhat heavier bone structure (just an assumption). I do agree with your statement Stoney, "...that elk are generally "tougher". Could also be that when folks go moose hunting, they may upsize their rifles significantly, as I did on my Idaho moose (#2)? I do know several folks who have taken Canadian/AK moose with .270's, and thus why I felt adequalty equiped with my .270WSM on moose #1 (per South Pender's last comment as well).

    Like most of us, I had my choice of multiple rifles/calibers for my initial moose hunt (.338RUM, (2)-300H&H, (3)-'06) but the Tikka in .270WSM has been my chosen caliber the last 15 years for almost all of my 4-legged hunting excursions. I love the Accubonds in this rifle as they're very accurate, gun is lighweight and has a slick action, etc. Moose #2; I had hunted with my cousin the season before in the same unit as he had been drawn for his ID moose tag, plus we'd seen some big bulls. The country was more open, and the possibility of a longer shot was there. Therefore, I decided to upsize the rifle accordingly and have a heavier bullet with more energy. Unbeknowst to me, I could have killed him with a .17 as he ended up being so close when I dropped the hammer. LOL
     
  11. stonecreek

    stonecreek SCC Secretary Forum Owner SCC Board Member

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    I've seen a Shiras bull when hunting elk, but didn't have a tag for one, unfortunately. As you say, the Shiras is probably very similar in size to a mature bull elk; however the Alaska/Yukon variety tends to grow much larger. "Twice" the size of an elk is probably stretching it, but 1000+ lbs isn't uncommon they tell me. Haven't hunted Roosevelt elk, which I understand don't typically match the Rocky Mountain variety for antlers but usually have larger bodies. The extinct Merriam's and Eastern varieties were smaller, with the Tule of California being the smallest.
     
  12. Backfencer

    Backfencer Member

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    We're fortunate that here in Wa St we have both RM elk and Roosevelt Elk (West Side of the State). Unfortunately, we have to choose which species to hunt prior to applying for the special permit drawings. I live on the "East" side of the state where the RM elk are, so I predominately purchase the RM tag. I have hunted Rosies a few times on the "West" side of the state, (unsuccessfully though..only saw cows) but a bull was taken each year in the camp I was in. Generally, the Rosie hunting units are 3-pt or better in Wa.

    Both bulls that I helped pack out were small horned 3-pts, but the bodies were similar to a rag 4-5pt RM elk. The terrain seems to be either large clear cuts, or VERY thick coastal timber with shots less than 80 yards. The latter is the country where I/we hunt, near Mt. Adams (one of several "extinct" volcanoes in the area, St. Helens is nearby also). Totally different terrain than I'm used to hunting, definately challenging, but enjoyable nontheless. I have a standing invitation every year from my cousin/friends, but it's also nice to hunt locally right out my back door too..stinks I have to choose "East side or West side" elk tag, as I'd love to do both hunts. Sorry for getting off topic.
     
  13. South Pender

    South Pender Well-Known Member

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    The Canadian (sometimes called the Western) moose averages around 1000 lbs. (mature males), whereas male Yukon/Alaskan moose average close to 1500 lbs. Several of the latter have weighed in at over 2200 lbs. The Shiras subspecies is the smallest, averaging around 600 - 700 lbs. for a mature male, or about the size of a mature male Rocky Mountain elk. All the moose I've shot (Canadian subspecies) have been with a 7mm. Mag., several with a 7x61 S&H, with 160-gr. or 175-gr. Nosler Partition bullets. I never felt I needed anything bigger. On elk, however, I've gone with a 300 Mag., with 200-gr. Nosler Partitions, since the shots in subalpine territory where I've hunted can be long, and the species is more robust.

    Moose are found in many northern countries—Scandinavia (with the most in Sweden), the Baltic states, Russia and Belarus, eastern Siberia, and even as far south as the Caucasus. Interestingly, the European name for the species is elk, the name we brought over here for Rocky Mountain elk or wapiti. The words moose and wapiti come from the Algonquian language.

    As for table fare, I’d rate moose as a little less-desirable than the meat of other deer species, often with a strong taste, even when cooled rapidly and not shot during the rut. I'd rate elk as the best of the deer species for taste.
     
  14. stonecreek

    stonecreek SCC Secretary Forum Owner SCC Board Member

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    I agree with the genesis of the name. But to show how influential English, especially as used in North America, has become, my European hunting friends now routinely refer to what they once might have called alg (elk) as "moose", and refer to the North American Wapiti as "elk".
     
  15. Backfencer

    Backfencer Member

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    Very interesting conversation.

    I haven't experienced the "strong" flavor with the Shiras bulls, which includes (3) mature ones taken during the rut (VERY actice). Actually quite the opposite, as they were quite bland tasting, IMO. I refer to the flavor as "veal-like", meaning, depends on the spices used during the cooking process.

    I have no doubt South Pender has experienced this "strong flavor though"; it could be from a difference in location, feed, species, or a multitude of other reasons. Our animals were promptly gutted, skinned, and quartered/hung, until pack-out. Thankfully, on each occasion, we had mild/cool weather, even a cold rain during one kill (rare in Eastern WA / Western ID during that time). Overall, I prefer whitetail or grass/grain fed mule deer (pre-rut), then cow/spike elk for table fare. Everyone has their own preferences though :)
     
  16. stonecreek

    stonecreek SCC Secretary Forum Owner SCC Board Member

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    I think the forage has a lot to do with the ultimate flavor of the meat.

    I know that many years ago when I hunted around Jackson, WY that the locals who hosted me somewhat discouraged me from shooting a mule deer since they didn't want the meat, regarding it as rather unpalatable. I think perhaps that opinion was due to mule deer foraging largely on sage in that area; and it was completely opposite to my experience with a young desert mule deer buck from the Texas Trans-Pecos which was some of the best venison I've ever experienced.

    I am surprised that you find either deer preferable to elk. Most places elk are grass eaters and deer are browsers, thus the elk tends to be more palatable and more like beef. However, local conditions may be the difference here, also.

    I can tell you one thing, however: So far as my experience goes every African antelope is fine fare and superior to nearly any venison. I've had oryx, springbok, kudu, wildebeest, and maybe a couple of others and one seems as good as another (although springbok seems to be the favorite with the locals, at least in Namibia.)
     
  17. icebear

    icebear Sako-addicted

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    I absolutely agree that the flavor of game meat depends on what the animal has been eating. Bear meat in particular is highly variable according to the season. The meatier the diet, the skunkier the meat. The meat of any carnivore tends to be somewhere between gamey and inedible.

    In Finland, I found moose meat to be delicious - lean, sweet, and tender, at least in the best cuts. There was one stall in the market hall in Helsinki where you could often buy moose meat. Choice moose steaks can be grilled outdoors like the finest rib steaks. Do not cook past medium rare - moose meat is like bison, so lean that it dries out easily. Reindeer is raised for meat in Finland and can be quite tasty, but can also be kind of dry and off-taste. European reindeer is the same animal we call caribou.

    I definitely agree with Stone's comment about African antelope meat. He's obviously talking about southern Africa; my African experience is in Kenya, where I lived for a couple of years. The best tasting meat was impala, but Thompson's gazelle was a close second and any of the larger antelope (eland, waterbuck, topi) are good eating. Zebra can also be delicious, but tends to harbor parasites. I don't know that I ever got parasites from eating zebra meat, but I do consider myself a connoisseur of Flagyl (a common and very powerful drug used against African parasites. Do not drink alcohol while on Flagyl!)
     
  18. Backfencer

    Backfencer Member

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    Such great opinions/information on the subject of animals and taste of such, especially "exotics"! I've never been to the African continent(and I doubt that it will change in the future) but the sharing of first-hand experiences is quite interesting to me. A good friend I work with lives in New Mexico and guides part-time. He swears that Oryx is the best tasting NA game that he's ever eaten/taken. He just killed a nice bull right after Labor Day, before taking 3 weeks off to guide archery elk. He's encouraging me to apply for tags next spring. I never realized how gorgeous they are, until he sent me some up-close pictures...quite the handsome devils they are.

    As to my preference of venison vs elk meat? It not because our local elk has anything negative associated with them, on the contrary, I feel it's because WE prefer a meat that's is more bold or game(y) flavored. The elk is mild (like elk normally is, that's why non hunters normally "like" the flavor of elk or moose, but don't like deer I've found). Not "gamey" as in rutting mule deer flavor, but the venison flavor overall is what we just prefer. As some folks prefer a stiff bourbon vs a Canadien Blended whisky I guess (white vs red wine?). But...we eat the heck out of all it, don't get me wrong either!. there's no correct answer!!
     
  19. stonecreek

    stonecreek SCC Secretary Forum Owner SCC Board Member

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    Yes, an individual's taste preference has quite a lot to do with it. Just as I prefer the less-gamey meat, I'm a Canadian drinker and not a Bourbon enthusiasts (and couldn't choke down a peaty Scotch if you held a gun -- even a Sako -- on me). Just as one of us might value a particular Sako at $750 and a different Sako enthusiast might say $1,500, opinions vary based on personal preference and experience. Whether, say, moose is better than, say, whitetail is "on the tongue" of the beholder.
     
  20. Rogan Kinnear

    Rogan Kinnear Well-Known Member

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    Sounds like a great getaway. Any pics of the partitions after expansion?
     

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