I got back from Raspberry Island a week ago and I am finally finding the time to type up an account of the hunt. Here is how it went.
Day 1: We left Anchorage Monday morning the 29th of Sept. I had the elk tag, and my Dad and a friend came up from MN after I made packing an elk sound like a lot of fun. The flight out was beautiful, but when our luggage came out I noticed my gun case had been crushed between Anchorage and Kodiak. I had removed my bolt when I cased the gun, and when I tried to put it back in it would not go. I have know idea how they did this, but somehow the case was hit hard enough to discharge the bolt. After some effort of manually recocking the bolt, the gun seemed to be in working order. We flew out to Raspberry with Seahawk Air, who did an all around excellent job. After unloading gear and finding a place to set up a base camp, we took to finding some deer. My buddy shot a nice black tail that first evening and we were able to see elk from a high ridge we went up, so things were off to a good start.
Day 2: We awoke to more sunny skies, and retrieved my friends deer from the night before. We had the meat in a tree, but apparently not high enough, as one quarter was missing. The spine was also gone from up the hill, so we were happy to get out of there without any added excitement. After hanging the deer by base camp, we took a few days food and the tent and headed up to a spike camp in a saddle 800ft above the bay to save us from starting on an uphill every morning. I also checked my rifle and somehow after the abuse it was still on. We glassed the elk that evening, a herd of around 15 and another herd with about 60 animals, and went to bed with high hopes for the morning.
Day 3: We left just before first light in the direction we had seen the elk the night before. As it got light enough to see, the herd of 15 was gone but there were two lone bulls on the hillside. Neither bull was big, but the top bull was definitley branched, and I wasn't planning on being too choosy. There was really only broken cover between us and the bulls, so we went right at them hoping to get a break in the alders, go on by, and then come back at them where there was cover to sneak on them. We passed by the close low bull at 530 yards, but as we went by he started feeding away in the opposite direction up the mountain. The higher bull was the bigger of the two and he continued to feed in the direction the smaller bull had went.
At this point the plan was to go around the mountain, and come over the top at the big bull. My dad stayed down to act as a spotter as we made our move. As we started up though, the bull fed over the top and out of sight, making a direct approach possible. In our last bit of cover before we broke out into open grass, I heard my dad whistle from down below. I looked at him in the binocs and he was pointing straight up. We turned and looked, and there were a couple of cows and at least one bull directly above us on the skyline, heading the direction the earlier bulls had went. They were only about 350 yards up at this point, but with the high grass and no rest I wasn't about to attempt a shot. The dissapeared over the top again, so we dropped our packs and headed up after them.
The trek up and across to where I figured I should top the ridgline used every bit of stamina I had. I would hike until I couldn't hike anymore, catch my breath, and repeat the process. What kept me going was the though of a bunch of elk over the top of the ridge. As I approached the crest, I saw the tops of a few cows to my right inside of a hundred yards. I belly crawled the last bit and looked over at a clump of higher grass. The wind was in my face, and there were at least 60 elk in front of me. The close cows were inside of a hundered, with the farthest bulls at around 250. I leveled the bipod over the clump of grass, and as I quickly looked the herd over one bull stood out from the rest at about 200. I found him in my scope as he mounted a cow, but she wasn't having any of it. He then crossed right to left and was clear for a second but was immediately in some other cows. After checking these he headed back to the right but there were other bulls behind him. He was walking to the right while the bulls in the background were walking away and left, and as he came into a gap between bulls I fired.
The whole herd spilled to the right over the top of the ridge, and I could see him limping behind. With all the other elk I could not get off another shot before he went over the top, but he was definitley going slower. I ran down the ridge to where they went over hoping to see him piled up, but as I crested it there was nothing. I headed over the ridge and he was walking about 25 yards below me, real slow. He was definitely hit hard, but as I tried to get broadside above him he took off running. I hit him again but high in the opposite shoulder, and he slowed to a stop and layed down. At this point me buddy had caught up with me, and we worked around above him to a point where we could only see his antler tips above the grass. We gave him a few minutes figuring he was done, but when my friend gave a cow call we could see the antlers turn our direction. I am not one to let an animal suffer, so I walked down in on him. At about 10 yards he got up running down the mountain, and a shot in the neck put him down for good. Thankfully the 200 yards he went from the first shot was down and towards camp. We went and checked him out to make sure he was done, and then retrieved the packs while my dad worked up from below and met us. The bull was down about 10:30. After quartering him, we found that my first shot took him high through both lungs, shattered the opposite shoulder and was lodged under the hide on the far side. My second shot did almost the same thing from the other side, but the last one definitley anchored him in place.
We spent the next day hiking him off the mountain and hanging him in a good tree, getting back to camp well after dark. We turned the GPS on as we left camp in the morning, which gave us a clear path around the alder patches in the dark, saving a lot of hassle.
Day 4 and 5: We spent two full days packing him out. We would take a load from the tree he was hanging in, break at spike camp, and then head down to base camp and rehang the meat, returning to spike camp to sleep.
Day 6: We spent the day looking for dear near where we shot the elk, as we had seen some good bucks on the elk sneak. The wind, however, was blowing hard on that whole mountain and we camp up empty handed. We moved back down to base camp that night with the cape and the head.
Day 7: We called for an early pickup and headed out. The weather was excellent the entire trip. We had full sun or broken clouds every day, minus one evening of drizzle and snow. It rained twice during the night, but the entire trip our only need for rainwear was going through wet grass and brush. We checked a pile of bags and boxes on Alaska Air, and sent the head and rifles back with air cargo. The only downside of the trip was people shooting the herd and not checking for blood or following up on wounded animals. Fish and Game said they had three unclaimed bulls that they had found. All in all, the trip was great and went off quite smoothly. Here is a pic of my elk the three of us at the spike camp which saved us from a lot of extra hiking.