Snake River Elk Hunting – Oregon

Hunting the Snake River Canyon in N.E. Oregon is for those than can shoot!

I almost lost one of horses on the pack-out and had Czar #1 Horse go down in the timber while trying to get to the elk for pack-out!

Years ago I loved to hunt for elk in the Snake River Canyon.   I had a couple of horses that were for great riding and as pack horses.   It was nothing to see bulls at long range during the season and try to find a way to get to them or shot long range shots.

The picture in this post, was one of those long range shots.  I wish that I had more pictures, but can’t find them.   I had hunted the year before and missed a big bull as I hastily taken the shot without getting setup properly.

I had trade hunting spots with a fellow named Randy Krupe.  He wanted a place to hunt in the Steens Mountains and I wanted I wanted one of his elk the hot-spots.  So I got the hot-spot near Tee-Pee Springs in the lower part of the Snake River.

I had found a great observation spot to glass for elk.  This spot I had found the year before and I knew I would have to hustle to get this shooting rock and got there about an hour before first light.

As usual when dawn is breaking and your sitting there waiting, you have tendency to fall asleep as the temperature drops.  Kinda weird how this happens!  I had spotted a couple elk prior to this, but they were cows on the move.  I told myself as I slapped myself that I could not fall asleep and not get the first lick in.   Well this did payoff, but barely.

About a 1000 yards off, or three ridges off in the distance, I see the flash of horn.  I quickly use the spotting scope and could see a branched bull.   He is broadside in a down timber patch.   I said to myself what the heck, I can’t kill him if you don’t take the shot.  After the first shot, the bull turns and heads uphill and stops standing straight away from me.   I figure at this time I need to aim between the horns and hold about 48 high or so.   There was no wind and I had a great rest.  I also know that my 340 Weatherby with the 210gr. Nosler would get there.   I love this caliber for long range shots on elk.  The Snake River Canyon is known for having to shoot cross canyon! At the sound of the shot, the bull was no longer standing.   As the distance was great and I did lose sight of the bull.  I felt that I had hit him and I would need to work my way over there.  It took about 40 minutes to hit a game trail that would allow me to get into the patch.   As I approached the area and was about 150 yards away I could see the bull bedded on the steep hillside in the down timber.

This was my first branch bull, that formed the path to bigger bull!

The bull’s head was up, but he could clearly see me, but wasn’t getting up.  I was able to get a clear shot and put him down the rest of the way.  Under inspection, I found my original bull hole in the neck.  It had touched the just about everything in the neck.

Getting the bull out is another story about working my old horse Czar and almost losing my other horse on the pack-out.

P.S. There were 13 of us in an Elk Pool, with 20 bucks a head!  It was based on points and not B & C Scoring.  It was my lucky day!


3 thoughts on “Snake River Elk Hunting – Oregon”

  1. There are many factors to the decline of big game across the country and I would not put bad hits at the top of the list. Lets put the human encroachment as Number 1. Then I would put poaching in many states as Number 2. Wolves are now playing a major role in many states, along with automobiles. Someone once told me in Pennsylvania that automobiles kill more deer than hunters.
    As for taking long range shots, I would not say it is luck at all for many that will take the shot. Modern day optics lead the way for more accuracy. Many of my hunters have told me that they won’t take shot pass 250 yards, yet we know most rifle calibers for big game can handle that with open sights, little alone with optics. As for myself, I find shooting long range shots to be a mind set for me and a challenge to get it done.
    Many time skilled shooters will miss the easy shot at 50 yards, yet make the difficult shots at longer range. It for many taking the game and not going home empty handed. It has been said, if you feel you have a good shot and comfortable about it, take it. THOSE THAT TELL ME THEY SAW 6 BRANCH BULLS OR A NUMBER OF 4 X 4 BUCKS (MULIES) AT 150 YARDS FOR SO, ARE THE ONE’S I WORRY ABOUT AS THEY HAD TIME TO COUNT AND BAG IN THE MIND, YET FAILED TO TAKE TO THE MOMENT IN LIFE THAT THEY HAD…

  2. Low numbers of deer and elk everywhere are from unethical shots by rifle and bow hunters as much as predators, bad winters, poachers, and human encroachment of wintering areas. Bad shots happen, but much less when you only shoot when you are certain you will hit. That long shot was not a good shot, it was a lucky shot. People, please stop taking less than certain shots. We owe the animals we hunt at least this amount of respect don’t we?

  3. Bro, I was with you on that hunt and remembering running down the canyon wall chasing that other damn horse of yours. She was hell bent on going to the bottom with the rack and other stuff for sure. I also remember that you ran from the bottom of Teepee Springs to the top of the ridge to get your Czar and then back down. It was a good thing that you had one horse that was a smart hill climber… It was a hell of a shot that you made three ridges over at what I figured was 1000 yards plus… You and the 340 did the job… Great hunting with you for all of those years in the past…. BO

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