Kirk Stovall is a lifelong Montana hunter. His hunting and shooting skills are exceptional. Kirk, aka “Shrapnel” can handle a variety of vintage and modern weapons with ease. He prides himself with being an accurate and ethical sportsman.
This year’s Bull is another in a lifetime of filled tags. Rarely does Kirk not fill his Big Game tags. His success is never about one shot, luck, or premier hunting spots. His success is a result of lots of trigger time, time spent afield, and confidence in his time well spent.
He may be a great Bull hunter, but he can also really “Shoot the Bull!” His stories and conversations are what great BS is made of. Whether talking about Custer’s Last Stand, guns, or Johnny Cash, Kirk is a great storyteller. Maybe this is how he got the name “Shrapnel”. He just spreads it far and wide.
Anyway, Kirk and his son Reid went out for their opening day elk hunt. They had access near the Bighole area of Montana. Shrapnel had been there before. The elk seem to love getting into the middle of the wide-open spaces, and only great stalking and shooting seem to make a difference.
A herd of elk was soon spotted, and the hunt was on. In a sage brush field, there are few places to hide. After a couple knee surgeries, Shrapnel is not as flexible as he once was. They hoped that the herd would wander down toward the river at some point.
Their patience paid off and the herd gave them a chance. They were able to cut down a willow tree lined fence line and get under the fence. A long slow stalk allowed them to get within 300 yards. Kirk set up his tripod aside a willow bush and waited for a bull to present a clear shot. The elk were milling around together and there was a risk of hitting more than one elk. Finally, a bull stepped to the side and was alone.
Shrapnel took the shot. He prefers a shoulder shot to make sure the critter always dropped. Elk are tough animals and even a perfect shot can be absorbed without a response. The bull just wandered back into the herd. It became hard to tell which bull was the target. After 30 minutes, the herd moved off and one bull was laying down.
They stalked close and thought the bull was dead. It wasn’t! The wounded bull jumped up and was on the move. Shrapnel was on him in a heartbeat and 2 more shots put the Bull down for the count. Reid also tagged out later with a fat cow elk. The Stovall freezers are filling up again this season.
Hunting Big Game is unpredictable. The best shots need to be accurate, know when to shoot, and when to stop shooting. Rarely does a perfect plan or shot happen. As we age, our eyes and bodies make hunting and shooting harder. Being a Marksman is a perishable skill. Without practice and lots of trigger time, accuracy declines. Optics, learned skills, and support are helpful but eventually Old Hunters will come up short of their goals. Celebrate every season and be the best hunter and sportsman that you can be.
“Aim small Miss small” and keep shooting!