Deer Hunting with Ashbury, Hornady & Leupold
by Cameron Burke, age 18, Junior Shooters Magazine
Reprinted with Permission
Fall signifies the beginning of school, football season, and most importantly deer hunting season. My deer hunting experiences in the past have been typically limited to getting a shot within two hundred yards, using my Tikka .243. At the time, I was only confident out to that distance. Now, with the accuracy of the Ashbury Precision Ordnance 6.5 Creedmoor rifle and the Hornady 140 ELD or ELD X rounds I have had the opportunity to use, I am confident out to at least three times that distance!
This year’s deer season was a very special one. My grandpa took all of us grandkids hunting. This was the first year all five of us were old enough to hunt deer, with my youngest cousin Brenett finally coming of age. Throughout the season each kid got to go out at different times to an area where the deer were plentiful. The youngest kids, my brother Jack and my cousin Brenett shot their first bucks this season, and my grandpa was there to share in the adventure and their excitement! My other two cousins, Bryce and Brianna also shot nice bucks, with my grandpa there to guide and support them. With the workload of my Senior year, where missing a school day can leave me drowning in homework, I didn’t go out until the last day of the season. It was a family affair, with my grandpa, my cousin Bryce, his dad (my uncle Gary), and one of my best friends, Garrett. Garrett had already shot his deer but volunteered to go to help pack out if needed, and I definitely needed it.
It was a cool, crisp day, and we had been driving and hiking around all morning. By the time we got into deer, it was around two o’clock in the afternoon. Bryce and his dad were on one side of a ridge glassing down at some does, so my grandpa and I drove up the trail in our UTV to check the other side. Sure enough, there was a little buck standing on the next hillside, which was approximately five hundred yards away. I hopped out of the UTV with my Ashbury and gear and hiked to a spot where I had a clear line of sight to all of his exit points. I quietly positioned myself down on the ground in a prone position, with my Atlas bipod extended and my Rifles Only sling around my shoulders in a sturdy hold. All my long-range training kicked in, thanks to my coaches Brian and Travis, it gave me confidence and pride as I prepared to take the shot. Previously, I had checked all of my atmospherics and calculated my DOPE. I checked the range with my Sig Kilo rangefinder and found the deer to be about four hundred and fifty yards away.
After confirming my data, I DOPEd up my Leupold VX6, racked a 140-grain ELD into the chamber and put the reticle right behind his shoulder. Once I took my breaths and found that perfect lull of nothing between breaths, I squeezed the trigger to the point of the break and sent a round. I hit him behind the shoulder, but just a little far back from the heart. He jumped and made his way to the bottom of the ravine. While on his way down I gave him another round, striking him behind the shoulder once more. He stopped in his tracks. As he stood slightly hunched over, I sent a final round to his neck to put him down. I was grateful for this animal, the quick kill, and the opportunity to be on the mountain that day.
Once I got to the bottom of the ravine, I confirmed the buck was dead and then checked my shots. The two shots behind the shoulder were practically one hole, I had never shot such a good group on an animal before! Even though the Hornady ELD is not their official hunting round, it still made light work of the mule deer. The rifle ran smoothly, and I was able to stay on target for every shot. The Leupold glass on the rifle was very crisp and clear, and I could see every feature of the deer, as well as where my shots were impacting. After this exciting minute or so, then came the real work, gutting and dragging that hog of a deer UP the ravine.
My grandpa was very proud of me, and it was exciting to have him there, but then he gave me another great hunting lesson…what goes down in the ravine must be packed back out of the ravine. This is where my good friend Garrett came into play. We ended up dragging it by the antlers all the way up the hill. It took us less than two hours, but I was definitely ready for a nap afterward. As we finally came to the top of the ravine, covered in blood and sweat, I could see my grandpa smiling at me with pride and excitement.
This deer season was a very special one because my grandpa got to take all of his grandkids out and every one of us got a buck, 5 in all. The only girl out of the grandkids, my cousin Brianna, shot the biggest buck of all, and she was sure to let us know about it!
This season was definitely the best deer season for our whole family, and I would like to thank Ashbury Precision Ordnance for letting me use such an amazing rifle, Leupold for the scope, and Hornady for the ammo to get the job done. Thank you to Junior Shooters as well, who has given me the opportunity to use and have access to all of our wonderful sponsors. Junior Shooters has taught me shooting skills that are not only great and effective for competition, but skills I can use enjoying an amazing hobby.
Last but not least, a big thank you to my Grandpa for taking me hunting all of these years, it is truly one of the things I look forward to every year.