Written by Sierra Bullets Customer R.J.O.
I have been an avid highpower rifle hunter for many years. I started reloading my own bullets nearly twenty years ago for accuracy and to make sure I had dependable performance that I could control. The green Sierra bullet boxes soon began taking up most of my shelf space on my reloading bench.
The chances of pulling a bull elk tag in South Dakota are very low, but increase with each year you gain a preference point in a failed draw attempt. I hit the jackpot in 2016 as my fourteen years of preference finally tilted the odds in my favor. I believe the old saying “Even a blind squirrel finds a nut every once in a while” definitely applied here.
I own several high power rifles, but decided that my go-to rifle in the .270 WIN caliber would sadly become a backup rifle in this hunt. The ghost of Jack O’Connor will haunt me forever on my future hunts. The bull elk in the Black Hills can be very large, so I grabbed my .300 Winchester Magnum as my primary rifle.
The next part is where Sierra contributed to the hunt. What bullet do I use? That answer came easy. I have shot more deer along the open Missouri River breaks in South Dakota with my .270 WIN and the best performing bullet was always the Spitzer boat tail GameKings. The 30 caliber 180 grain Spitzer boat tail GameKing #2160 was my choice.
I hunted a total of four days with two days in the beginning of October and two days later in October. The last two days were challenging to say the least. There were plenty of stories over the years that shooting a bull elk in the Black Hills was easy, but 2015 statistics from the South Dakota Game Fish & Parks website indicated the average days hunted to bag a bruiser was six days. The second two-day hunting trip we walked thirteen miles on the the first day and nearly five miles on the second day. Finally, we found an ornery bull elk in a sizeable herd near the Jasper Burn area. There were several spikes, rag horns, a four point and a five point bull in the same herd, but they did not go near this fella. He was a fighter as evidenced by a few points that were broken off on his right side that I could not see prior to my shot. Although there have been many bulls shot in the Black Hills whose antlers dwarf this elk, this elk was special because he was my first elk.
The bull finally cleared from a small group of adult cows and I had a narrow shot corridor between a few trees with a range estimated to be 150 to 200 yards. My shot came quick and he was quartering away. My bullet entered a few ribs back, went through the lungs and anchored itself in the off shoulder. My guess is the length of travel through the elk was nearly thirty six inches. This bull humped up after the shot and decided to take a short stroll in the woods one last time. He tipped over within twenty yards of being hit and a follow up shot was unnecessary. I have no idea how he absorbed all of that energy and did not even stumble.
Butchering your own game is another aspect of the hunt that is gratifying as well as educational. If you pay attention during the process you can perform a mini-autopsy to see how your projectile functioned. The Sierra Bullets projectile functioned reliably and as advertised. I was not surprised, but was very impressed with what I found. Below are several photos of your bullet that I believe is a nearly perfect mushroom. It weighed 112 grains, so it maintained 62% of its original weight.
The back quarter of this bull had a surprise. I found a razor sharp broad-head buried in the center of his bottom round. It did not slow him up in the least. A word of advice to all hunters, “If you find a small hole in any part of your game while in the field, keep your fingers out of the hole!” The natural instinct is to jam your finger in the hole and investigate.
Finally, below is a picture of the nastiest predator in the Black Hills. We were constantly on our guard while hunting. I doubt Sierra has any projectile that could anchor one of these monsters!