Well my dreams finally came true this year with a really good bull elk tag draw and the general mule deer tag open at the same time. Once I found out my best friend and I drew together the planning and extra practicing began as much as life would allow. At the dismay of my wife and neighbors I was shooting every chance I could get between playing mechanic on old vehicles, tearing down half of the barn and restructuring the other half, and everything else that could happen; basically same story as everyone else just a different flavor. While all the extra shooting was great practice and a ton of fun I ran out of my supply of my first run of 225 ELD-M which I had worked my loads up for with the new ADG brass that I was testing for Rich. I remember reading that some had experienced different base to ogive measurements on one run of ELD bullets to the next but didnt think much of it. Well, this came into play now that I was a week before my hunt started and the new supply with the solid colored tips (not the translucent tip) were a visibly different design. The baring surface was shorter and boat tail longer which was basically like starting over on load development this close to my hunt. Luckily I am not gun poor and had a my 270SS tuned up with a 165 Matrix spitting out at 3000 fps. I also planned on having my 338 Edge ready to go also but ran into a problem this time with starting over on virgin brass which was a new start again. I put the most time in behind the Swarovski X5 on my 300 SS so it ended up being the rifle I packed. Fast forward to a few days before the hunt I made the 9 hour drive South to spend a little time with family on the way. From there I went to drop off gear at my hunting partner's parents house close to our hunt area. That first night went turned into a little deer hunting while scouting for elk. Since living in North Idaho for the last few years I have basically turned into a flatlander and when combined with a sedentary job and too much work at home found me disgustingly out of shape at 6000+ feet elevation. This was to change very quick with some brutal hikes. The scouting was useful with 3 bulls being spotted and a handful of mule deer with a couple small bucks. The next morning I found myself with another friend who lives in the area who agreed to take me to his honey hole that he usually pulls 180"+ mule deer out of. This turned into another hike in some beautiful country that I use to run around in while fighting fires; however, it only turned up a few mule deer does. That same evening I went back to the same general area as the first night and turned up another bull but he was a couple miles off. Once back in cell service a call from another friend, hunting the same unit my elk tag was for, told me of a bunch of elk in that area. That call turned into my plan for the next day which meant getting up extra early... or so I thought... then tragedy almost ended my hunt before it started. A text from my brother, who was supposed to show up the next day to help me, said I needed to call my wife. This can't be good!!! The call was answered by sobbing and hysteria to the point I couldn't understand what was happening. Luckily my mother-in-law was there and took the phone to eventually give me the reason for the emotions. My wife had taken her dad on a horseback ride and he ended up getting bucked off a mile from the house and was having trouble moving. It ended up that he was taken to the local hospital where he was diagnosed with a broken pelvis and internal bleeding. This warranted a helicopter ride to Spokane for surgery. After my wife calmed down a bit she told me to stay and finish my hunt since there was nothing I could do up there and she knew how much I had worked to get time off from work and home to make this happen. The next morning when the alarm went off my brain and body said Nooooooo!!!! The morning scouting was delayed but eventually I made my way to the area my friend told me to check out. After checking out access areas a little glassing was in order. I pulled out the binoculars and said to myself "that looks like there should be deer under that knob". Sure enough there were deer under that knob that warranted pulling out the spotter. Instantly there were antlers on all three of those deer and they looked good to me from a mile and a half away. The scramble ensued to get all my gear together and make a hunt on them. I hadn't planned on really hunting since I was expecting to meet my brother and hunting partner that night in town. As fast as I could cover the ground and make it to the adjacent ridge from the deer it wasn't fast enough for the deer to not stray. After setting up, three does crossed that saddle under the knob and the other side of the knob turned up two very small bucks sparring. Still the group of big bucks was nowhere to be seen. The small bucks started looking below them and wandering down into a small bowl which happened to be right to the group of big bucks. Now the heart started racing!!! The 300 SS was set on the best available "shooting platform" and ready to go. I ranged the deer I had chosen a few times and came up with 1103 yards. It was a calm morning in regards to wind luckily or I would not have taken the shot. With everything set up and the confidence from all the practice I lined up on the chosen buck and squeezed off a round that called for 25 MOA elevation. A second and a half or so later I was able to see the buck jump and run straight down the hill 60 or so yards then crash. This called for a small celebration but I was the only one to enjoy my success as is the case for a lot of people out there and not always a bad thing. Now that everything had come together the work began starting with the hike down the valley and back up the other side. Once to the deer I was very happy as he may be my biggest mule deer to date. He ended up being a decent 4 point and was my personal trophy as far as a shot and size. The shot landed just a little further behind the shoulder than desired but the results did not disappoint as far as bullet performance. Here is the offside exit which impacted with 1843 ft lbs and 1900 fps (started at 2889 fps) blew clear through him and caused a lot of trauma. Since my brother and hunting partner were still on their way down this was going to be a single trip out no matter what due to where the deer was located. Being a rushed hunt I forgot gamebags and did not have a shirt I was willing to donate so I ended up having to take the deer out "bone in". I guess what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Here is a knife my brother made for me for this season Finally, the deathmarch ended and the truck appeared which meant a drive back to my hunting partners parents house to meet up with everyone that came to hunt. I opened the front door to the house and found everyone all clean and chipper wondering what I had been doing to have the look of exhaustion on my face that must have been very obvious. The stories started flowing and plans for the next day made. The next morning the three of us were back at the same area and headed south this time to get a vantage of the other side of the valley to look for some of the bulls I was told about. We were on a mission to get to a lookout which meant I was on the move but my brother hissed at me to stop. He saw something in a small opening in the trees on the same side of the valley as we were. Upon closer inspection it was a 7 point bull standing in an opening barely bigger than him. The kicker was he only had one side. This would have been one of the easiest pack outs ever but the bull disappeared and neither myself or friend had decided whether we would shoot him on opening morning. The rest of the morning turned up 3 more bull elk, a few deer and a couple moose. One of the bulls we spotted was Huge but no way to get to him. When the morning activity was over we hiked back to the truck and tried to figure out a plan all would be happy with. This proved difficult because both my friend and brother showed up with colds. My friend decided to do some scouting of different areas for the rest of the day and I talked my brother into going to the top of the tallest ridge on the skyline to see what was on the other side. We posted up on this ridge watching a giant valley a half mile from where I had shot my deer the day before. Around 530 the animals started making their appearance for the evening. We ended up counting around 50 head of mule deer and not a single one with antlers. Then the elk started coming out. We watched as different groups of elk came out of every draw that had trees on its north face. Eventually we had spotted around 100 head of elk that included a few spikes, couple raghorns, a small 6 point, and a really nice 5 point. We were in disbelief as there were no Big Boys out yet and dark was drawing near. As I was scanning the same area the largest herd came from a new elk appeared on the small saddle and was standing there majestically with his antlers catching the last of the sunlight. I knew right away this was a shooter for me and had my brother swing the spotter on him and get the camera rolling. There was a little more wind than I wanted for the range of 1115 yards but again I felt confident. I got lined up and sent a 225 ELD-M which must have sailed over him as he looked to is left and there was no dirt kick up anywhere visible. I sent another just to make sure for some reason I did not have something that possibly had thrown my shot such as piece of debris or something in the barrel. Again the elk looked over to his left which meant I was high. I held low and to the front of the bull to see where i was hitting. This time I saw dirt kick up and knew where to go from there. The last shot landed just a couple inches behind the dark brown hair and the shoulder. Perfect elevation and again the similar impacts speed and energy as the deer. The bull soaked up the 225 grains and ran a few yards then stood there for what seemed like eternity before he toppled over. This was a very special hunt for me to have my brother there to film, spot, and pack for me. We made the hike down and up again to the bull in the dark and it was a dream come true to have all of this come together. Again the work started and a late night was to ensue. As I was gutting him out I thought I was grabbing a rib that the bullet had shattered but when we shined a light inside him there was a surprise inside that showed how tough this bull was. There was an arrow shaft going through the bottom of his spine and was stuck inside him. I'm sure some archer was thinking to himself he just slivered a really nice bull and he would be down in a few yards but this was that no-mans-land area that nothing vital was hit and the elk persevered until the 225 ELD-M smashed through his lungs and made soup out of them. Here is a picture of the impact side of the elk I believe the really thick hide of the elk opens up most bullets pretty rapidly which accounts for the large entrance. Here is the offside between the elbow and ribs We recovered a small chunk of the bullet core under the hide on the offside which is probably around 50 grains worth. The jacket and rest of the core was not recovered. That night my brother and I were able to take out a hind quarter and front shoulder leaving the rest for the following day when reinforcements were available. The recovery was a very sweet trip in some beautiful country and was set under blue skies and perfect temperatures. This fall has been epic for me and I can not be more grateful for the success I have had. I will not be forgetting this fall. I'm lucky to have family and friends that are so supportive and willing to help and especially my wife for putting up with my obsession and constant shooting from the deck. I have not had time to score the bull yet but he is going to be just over 300" and is a very nice 6 point which is by far my biggest elk.