I’m raising my hand and admitting that I put a curse on my entire hunting season! The phrase is don’t count your chickens before the eggs hatch. I did just that and lost nearly all my chickens.
I arrived at my local hardware store and picked out the perfect freezer that would house at least four animals. While setting up the freezer I can imagine all the steaks, venison roast, back straps, summer sausage, links and all the trappings of a successful hunting season. However, that wasn't to be because the last three weeks of my hunting season seemed to be a short decline from start to finish.
I set out hunting outside of Ennis, Montana and three weeks later ended the hunting journey at the Thumbtack Ranch in Batesville, Texas. News flash: There’s some hard truths up ahead.
You know, life lessons are typically found in hard times. That was the case at the Jumping Horse Ranch when I set up on a bull elk at what I thought was a 360-yard shot. It turns out the following day the shot was much closer to 420 yards. I was hampered with a 30-mph crosswind as well, but the shot seemed great. I anchored the elk and shifted my attention to a buddies shot on another stellar bull.
Once his shot broke, I began searching for my bull. He was nowhere to be found except about a hundred yards up the mountainside bedded. We all knew he was in bad shape and would soon expire. The saying goes, “when in doubt, back out.” The guides and I both agree that we should back out and that is precisely what we did.
A restless night later, we set out to locate the bull and exhausted the search to no avail. We found three small pools of blood and zero elk. I believe we collectively hiked 15 plus miles up and down the mountainside to locate the wounded elk. I would have sworn we would have found the elk, but it wasn't meant to be on this trip.
The best lesson I learned is to stay on your critter. I saw the elk drop in his tracks and moved to provide support for my buddy. I should have stayed right in the new EOTECH Vudu optic, which has the hunter in mind. I would’ve had the perfect opportunity to follow up the shot if I had stayed glued into the optic.
An observation I had on the hunt was don’t discount a good light-capturing optic. The new Vudu scope hoards light like Scrooge McDuck collects gold coins. When out of the optic I could barely see, but there was enough light in the EOTECH to gather all the data that I need to break a clean shot.
The other observation I had was don’t discount multiple rests in the field. I had a big Harris bipod and a tripod with pig saddle to cradle the buttstock of the rifle. This combination eliminated any movement the I had. I might as well be shooting from a bench. With temperatures dropping, and my heart elevated from the approaching elk if I didn’t have a solid rest there was no way I could make a shot like that.
I anticipated longer shots, so I prepared accordingly with the Seekins Precision Havak Element rifle, chambered in 7mm PRC. I love the round and handloaded the 160gr. Nosler Accubond bullet. If you know anything about the Accubond bullet, then you understand how well it performs at any distance.
So, why did I choose to shoot the 7mm PRC? The 7mm PRC (Precision Rifle Cartridge) is a relatively new entrant in the world of magnum rifle cartridges, offering a blend of long-range accuracy and ballistic efficiency. Designed with modern shooting trends in mind, it caters to precision rifle shooters and hunters alike. When comparing it to other magnum rifle cartridges, several factors come into play.
The 7mm PRC boasts a high-ballistic coefficient and a fast twist rate, which is essential for stabilizing long, heavy bullets. This characteristic gives it an edge in long-range shooting, allowing the bullet to maintain velocity and resist wind drift more effectively than many traditional magnum cartridges. It's designed to bridge the gap between the venerable 7mm Rem Mag and the more recent 6.5 PRC, providing a sweet spot in terms of recoil, velocity, and energy.
In terms of recoil, the 7mm PRC is more manageable than larger magnum cartridges like the .300 Winchester Magnum or the .338 Lapua Magnum. This reduced recoil not only makes for a more pleasant shooting experience but also allows for quicker follow-up shots, which can be crucial in both competitive shooting and hunting scenarios.
Another point of comparison is the barrel life. Magnum cartridges are often criticized for their accelerated barrel wear, but the 7mm PRC, with its efficient case design and moderate powder charges, offers a longer barrel life than many of its magnum counterparts. This translates to less frequent need for barrel replacement, which is a significant consideration for high-volume shooters.
The 7mm PRC also stands out in terms of ammunition availability and variety. While it may not yet have the widespread adoption of cartridges like the .308 Winchester or the .300 Winchester Magnum, several major ammunition manufacturers have already started producing a range of options for the 7mm PRC, from match-grade to hunting loads. This growing support from the ammunition industry indicates a bright future for the cartridge.
I worked my tail off on the preparation for this hunt, both mentally and physically. Things happen, but that shouldn’t matter. I owe it to the animal to make a clean ethical shot and to recover the animal.
This was only the beginning to a frustrating fall. I was able to harvest a bucket-list mule deer buck that capped off an epic swing up to Montana. I shot that buck on a steep angle at 150 yards. Luckily for me, I was able to fill a portion of the new freezer. ~ KJ
Kevin Jarnagin (KJ) hails from Oklahoma but quickly established Louisiana roots after joining the Gun Talk team. KJ grew up as a big game hunter and often finds himself in a different venture often. His early career had him working with one of the finest PR agencies in the outdoor industry – Blue Heron Communications. Before that, KJ molded the minds of business school students at the University of Oklahoma. Quickly learning he had to grow up sometime, KJ dedicated himself to the outdoors no matter what it took.
Sporting his flat-brimmed cap, KJ traverses the country in pursuit of the greatest game and best adventures. Whether it’s making his way to British Columbia for elk or training with pistols, KJ always seems to find a gun in his hands and adventure on his mind. KJ is a skilled communicator and connector in an industry that he has loved since a child.