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Allen Sparks writes about his Elk Hunt in Colorado.

I started writing this while in the truck on the way back from Colorado. I have quite a bit of feedback to share so I'll just keep poking away on this little laptop for an hour or so while my father relieves me for a few hours in this 30-hour road trip.

Rufus Sparks, Allen's dad, with the catch for the first evenings' meal on the hunt.

Well I have to admit I received some serious criticism regarding the use of a 130-grain bullet on elk-sized game. One critic in particular shook his finger at me while stating "I would never have brought an "experimental" bullet on a $5000 hunt! I just can't believe you are willing to risk the loss of a bull by using a bullet you've never killed anything with". The funny thing is that this same gentleman was proud to proclaim that he called customer service at a bullet manufacturer and, after a discussion over the best bullets for this trip in his BAR 300 Winchester Magnum, he said, as a man who did his homework, "I am shooting 180-grain bonded core bullet". What a shocker it was to him when I complemented him on his choice and said that he is probably shooting 130 grains of copper too. I still think he is in total denial about any benefits of copper, but it was fun playing with him anyway.

We had a party of 12 hunters and 5 guides. Several of whom were fairly interested in your technology. Gerard, I ended up killing the largest animal, a very respectable 5 by 6 that weighed around 800 lbs on the hoof. I am not a big game hunter, but more of a small game hunter that shoots deer every now and then, so I am just trying to understand this technology and compare the results of just one hunt to the many kills (of smaller animals) all with traditional bullets. Just a reminder, I was using a stainless Weatherby in 7mm STW with your 130-grain bullets in front of 83.5 grains of IMR7828 with CCI Magnum primers ( 3700 fps at the muzzle).


Hanging out at the end of the day.

 

I was walking up a hill on the last day of our hunt and asking God to allow dad and me to return home with some meat. The brush to my right was so dense that I could not see any further than 20 yards or so. The guide just contacted me on the 2-way that he was going to pick up the hunter at the bottom and then swing up and get me. I was smiling inside wondering how God was going to answer my request. I made my way up the hill and began to look for the pack I left up there. I did not end up finding it with a glance, so I figured I would take a jaunt around the brush oaks and view the field for the last time in two and a half days. As I looked up, there was my answer. With 5 minutes until the truck was to arrive and pick me up, there stood the bull about 140 yards away totally broadside. I raised my rifle, verified that he was in fact a legal bull, and shot as he saw me and quartered towards me. Well, at the sound of the shot the animal fell. He lay motionless for about 10 15 seconds and then began to try to escape without the use of his back legs. I did not understand how I hit him in the spine, but I did not want any more suffering so at about 100 yards I placed the crosshairs on his neck and fired again. He did not even flinch. Instead of filling him full of holes I decided to walk up to him to evaluate his condition. As I looked from about 5 feet, the only wound I could see was a gaping hole squirting blood out of his neck. He moved his last about 4 minutes from the final shot. OK, now to the meat and potatoes of the matter. I did not find any exit wound from the first shot that lamed him. Fortunately while we were skinning him, we found the slug just under the skin on the other side of the animal. The total penetration was about 20 inches. The bullet weighed 102 grains and the flat front section of the shaft had expanded to .445".

The path of the 130gr HV bullet: It entered on the right, impacted the spine penetrating about seven inches of vertebrae and without deviating from it's line of flight, came to a stop more than a foot further, under the skin.

As I looked from about 5 feet, the only wound I could see was a gaping hole squirting blood out of his neck. He moved his last about 4 minutes from the final shot. OK, now to the meat and potatoes of the matter. I did not find any exit wound from the first shot that lamed him. Fortunately while we were skinning him, we found the slug just under the skin on the other side of the animal. The total penetration was about 20 inches. The bullet weighed 102 grains and the flat front section of the shaft had expanded to .445".

The entrance side with bone fragment damage.


The exit side just ahead of the left back leg.
 

The entrance side of the neck shot.

Now on to the neck wound. This bullet entered the right side of his neck, traveled through the jugular then trachea (nice holes by that time), then damaged both the carotid and jugular on the way out, leaving a hole large enough to stick two of my fingers in on the exit side. The neck shot did not hit any bone.


The exit side of the neck shot. The HV bullet expanded fully within a couple of inches of impact and caused a substantial primary wound channel with massive bleeding.


It was a great contrast. One bullet penetrated 20 inches (at least 7 inches of large vertebrae) and the other blew right through 15 inches or so of soft tissue in the lower neck. As I pulled out his trachea (which was perfectly centered by the HV) the clean cut hole was already large enough to slide my finger through.

I am not sure how to judge meat damage, but there was some massive hemorrhaging as a result of the neck wound and all I could find is a tiny piece of copper half the size of the top of a pencil eraser within this wound channel.

Two days later I have now confirmed feedback that the butcher was impressed with the lack of meat damage with the spine shot, despite losing 6 inches of loin. I probably cut away 4 pounds of meat around the neck. If I had time to be more careful I may have been able to save a pound or so more of meat around the neck wound.

The more I think about the performance of these HV bullets, the more I am impressed. Something that took me a little time to get used to was the difference between a 200 pound deer and a 800+ pound elk. The size of the vertebrae on an elk alone is enough to force many bullets to fail (especially at such a high velocity). What I still need to focus on is the fact that I could have taken that same bull much further out, easier than with conventional bullets, due to the reduced compensation in wind drift and gravity.

Overall, I am thrilled with the animal that I was blessed to collect. I did not have enough time to "fine-tune" these loads, but I would have loved to take a long shot on a mule deer too. The accuracy I found inherent in your bullets was incredible. Well, next week is deer season in Pennsylvania. Maybe I'll have some more to share with you in a week or two.

From left to right: my father (Rufus Sparks), Travis (owner of Big Rack Outfitters in Ridgeway, Colorado), me (Allen Sparks), Reggie (a wonderful guide that was with me the day of the kill), and Jeff (another excellent guide). I would recommend anyone interested in hunting elk or mule deer in South Western Colorado to get in touch with Big Rack Outfitters if they want a successful and wonderful hunting experience.

Travis was not a very talkative fellow, but I did notice a raised brow when the bull was skinned and the penetration of the spine shot was evident. I think that it impressed him. By the way, I have caught my father (a much more avid large game hunter) several times adding the HV concept into his stories. He was definitely impressed with both the penetration on the spine shot and the wound channel characteristics on the neck shot. Another success for the HV! This one is going on the wall with your bullet hanging underneath it. Thanks for helping me add another trophy to our collection!

Respectfully,
Allen Sparks

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GS Custom Bullets,situated in Port Elizabeth on the East Coast of South Africa, manufactures solid copper, turned, monolithic bullets for hunting and sport shooting. These bullets are used by hunters on several continents, hunting from the smallest of antelope to the largest of dangerous game, using the smooth HP bullet, as well as the more popular HV, FN and SP bullets with the patented drive band concept. GSC bullets are configured for the highest possible ballistic coefficients. SP bullets are mainly used for sport shooting. All GS Custom Bullets are moly coated.