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Barnes MRX on the Tillard 55 Ranch

Barnes MRX on the Tillard 55 Ranch
By Dave Scoville

This article appeared in the January 2006 Rifle, and is reprinted here with the author’s permission.


Casey Tillard and Dave teamed up to take this
exceptional pronghorn on the
Tillard 55 Ranch.

In the last issue of Rifle (No. 222), I introduced the latest design from Barnes, the MR-X with a tungsten rear core, polymer tip and grooves cut around the shank. At the time there was a limited number of preproduction bullets available, but I managed to purloin a couple of dozen to develop a load for the Kimber Model 8400 .300 WSM with a Swarovski 3-9x scope on board.

Knowing the MR-X was coming online, I scheduled a pronghorn hunt with Casey Tillard (Tillard 55 Ranch, PO Box 2285, Glenrock WY 82637; e-mail: caseytillard@ direcway.com) a couple of months earlier. The Tillards control most of Unit 26 and 28, just north of Glenrock, and there are always a good number of pronghorn tags left over after the drawing. Just book the hunt with Casey, and it’s a “slam dunk” to apply directly to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department website (http://gf. state.wy.us/) for leftover tags, get the paperwork, forward the money, then wait a week or so for the license and tag to show up.

While Units 26 and 28 are not particularly known for producing “book” heads, I was mostly interested in testing the new MR-X bullet, and with a little luck, we might take a trophy animal in the process.

As per usual, I checked in at the Higgins Hotel in Glenrock and walked across the street to visit with Stan Taylor (Wildlife Creations, 112 S. 4th Street, Glenrock WY 82637), who mounted the last pronghorn I took off the Tillard place.

At the crack of dawn the next morning, Casey picked me up at the Four Aces Restaurant, down the street from the hotel, and we headed north. It didn’t take long to locate a super buck with prongs that appeared to approach 7 inches! Since the morning was young, however, we decided to give the area a good look, just in case we might find something a little better.

Within the next two hours we found a couple of great bucks and one misfit that must have had 16-inch horns, but the prongs were busted off. In all, not counting the first buck with the huge prongs, we spotted at least three bucks that would push 76 points, possibly closer to 78, since Casey tends to downgrade the horns just a bit – to avoid ground shrinkage?

Around noon we worked back to where we had seen the first buck, abandoned the truck and set out on foot. The buck was holed up with a few does in a shallow draw. We topped a knoll downwind and heard one of the does whistle/snort. They had us.

While Casey glassed in the direction where we had last seen the buck, I concentrated on the only escape route we could see, pretty much due west. Within a few seconds two does ran across to our right, then another doe and buck.

Who knows why animals behave the way they do, but the buck stopped broadside at little more than 80 yards, 90 tops. A quick kneeling shot with the Kimber put the buck on the ground where he stood.

Casey ran the rough numbers and pegged the buck with nearly 7-inch prongs and 14+ inch length. Rough measurements added up to just under 80 points (Boone & Crockett).

The postscript is that we have no idea what happened to the MR-X bullet, save for it made a mess of the lungs before exiting. Then too, that was the point of the hunt, to see if the relatively tough Barnes MR-X would open up on lightweight, soft-skinned animals, like pronghorn. Judging from the results, it did.

Printed with permission from Wolfe Publishing Company, www.riflemagazine.com