Long range hunting advice

Jonathontheiss

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I’m new to long range hunting, and I’m wanting to get into a new rifle for a elk hunt next year. I live in Texas and hunt primarily white tail deer, hogs, coyotes but I’m going elk hunting next year. So I want a rifle that would be good for taking big game at long ranges and also be a good deer rifle. I have been considering a 300 win mag, but was wondering what other option would be ideal for my needs?
 

chevy_man

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    I use my 25-06 with 115 Nosler partition.

    However, I'm only driving 20 minutes to whack an elk and I'm not antler hunting.

    My Dad and BIL both use 6.5's. 129 interlock and 130 Sierra's. My Dad has a trophy bull he whacked with a 25wsm, 110 accubond.


    Don't try and shoot them at 1000 yards and put one in their lungs and you don't need nearly the energy a lot of guys recommend.
     

    LongRangeJunky

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    I’m new to long range hunting, and I’m wanting to get into a new rifle for a elk hunt next year. I live in Texas and hunt primarily white tail deer, hogs, coyotes but I’m going elk hunting next year. So I want a rifle that would be good for taking big game at long ranges and also be a good deer rifle. I have been considering a 300 win mag, but was wondering what other option would be ideal for my needs?
    I have hunted elk with my 7SAUM and 6.5SAUM. Didn't see one either time but I would have been confident to shoot em with either! Lots of people are dropping elk with smaller cartridges than the 300wm.
     

    mkollman74

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    Lots of good choices. Reload -yes/no? Custom rifle or off the shelf? How often will you want the extra poop for elk?

    Take a look at 6.5 PRC.
     

    Howa4AU

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    I killed a bull elk with a 300 WM. Did a great job. Turned out to only be a 70 yard shot though. Much overkill for smaller animals IMO
     

    Long Range 338

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    If you are traveling for hunting (shit happens) I would go with a well established caliber that you can find in the back woods where ever you may end up and need a box of ammo...
     
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    magtech

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    Killed bull elk at 50 and 500 yards with my 270. Its taken countless whitetails. coyotes and others. Its not the shiny new new.... But it just works... and I can find ammo for it anywhere, if im in a pinch...

    Someone mentioned 300 WM on yotes.... I wad trying to tan the hide, but maybe i'll try it on one... Kaboom,lol.
     

    Healy

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    300 wm push 110s to 3750fps for coyotes then when it’s time for elk load it up with a heavy accubond LR or whatever your favorite bullet is
     
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    Healy

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    3750...I better get a couple barrels lined up for that,lol.

    I load some a little hot once and a while, loaded a couple 200 grain eldm for the 308 that chronoed 2680-2710 yesterday.
     

    Brux

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    I've used a 30-06 for everything from coyotes to elk. I just change bullets for what I'm hunting.
     
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    bulldog911

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    We kill elk every year here in Montana. 300wm works great but we switched to the 6.5cm and never looked back. Killed many bulls from 400-1040 with the 6.5. All shot placement and knowing your equipment.
     
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    wade2big

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    We kill elk every year here in Montana. 300wm works great but we switched to the 6.5cm and never looked back. Killed many bulls from 400-1040 with the 6.5. All shot placement and knowing your equipment.
    Which bullet for the 6.5?
     

    bulldog911

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    Usually the 143eldx. The mushroom out pretty good at distance on impact. Suck at close ranges. Had a bunch pin hole game and then gone. I recently switched to the 139 lapua scenars and so far I'm very impressed. I'm a firm believer in the HPBT when it comes to hunting. They are like mini grenades once they hit inside the cavity. Here is a doe I shot at 300 yards with the 139 lap scenars. I could literally stick my fist in the exit cavity.
     

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    LongRangeJunky

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    Usually the 143eldx. The mushroom out pretty good at distance on impact. Suck at close ranges. Had a bunch pin hole game and then gone. I recently switched to the 139 lapua scenars and so far I'm very impressed. I'm a firm believer in the HPBT when it comes to hunting. They are like mini grenades once they hit inside the cavity. Here is a doe I shot at 300 yards with the 139 lap scenars. I could literally stick my fist in the exit cavity.

    SMK's and ELDMs do wonders on critters!!
     

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    Fig

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    I killed a whitetail yesterday morning (hanging in the barn) with a .300WM. 272 yard shot, right in the boiler room, and it still ran 30 yds... The heart, lungs, and one side of ribs were the only parts pulverized. I don’t eat any of that. To me .300WM Is far and away the best North American hunting cartridge, and if you travel to hunt the fact that you can buy ammo for it anywhere that sells ammo is a massive advantage over some wild cat where you’re fucked is something happens to you handloads. I hardly ever buy ammo, but it’s important to me to know I can if I had to when I’m a 16 hour drive from my reloading bench. If I can see it with my naked eye I can kill it With the Hospitaler.
    383825A7-ED87-42A6-83A7-52ADDAE97BD8.jpeg
     

    Jonathontheiss

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    Thank you everyone for the help. I’ve talked to a few guys that have hunted with a 6.5 Creedmoor, and both of them said they shot deer right in the vitals and didn’t drop them. That makes me nervous to go with a smaller round than a 300 win mag for elk. I could be wrong, I’m not expert by any means. I just want a round I can be confident in taking down a elk even if I don’t get that perfect heart shot.
     

    JMGlasgow

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    Define long range. Are you capable of making a shot that will put the animal down effectively at long distances? The animal has a head start on you if you just wound it and have to track it. Elk can be in some very tough terrain.

    My personal limit is 500 yards if I have time to prepare. A quick snap shot is 300. I shoot a Berger 185 VLD hunting bullet out of a 30-06.
     

    XTREM HTR16

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    Someone once said “bullets matter more than headstamps”.

    I took that advice and ran with it. 139 scenar is now my hunting bullet for about everything.
     
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    wade2big

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    Thank you everyone for the help. I’ve talked to a few guys that have hunted with a 6.5 Creedmoor, and both of them said they shot deer right in the vitals and didn’t drop them. That makes me nervous to go with a smaller round than a 300 win mag for elk. I could be wrong, I’m not expert by any means. I just want a round I can be confident in taking down a elk even if I don’t get that perfect heart shot.
    Very few deer will fall when shot behind the shoulder. Shooting there is not a DRT shot regardless of cartridge. They will run.
     
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    niteshooter

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    Find a 300wm you like and run it. It’s been getting it done in the game fields for decades.
    215 bergers really gets it out there.
    Check out the stuff from broz at long range hunting forum.
     
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    hlee

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    People expect rifles to blow deer off their feet and anchor them into the dirt on the spot. The truth is that the reaction of a deer to being shot is nearly as varied as the people shooting them. Head shots will anchor them, unless they don't. Blow a bullet through the nose or mouth of a deer (profile) and you'll likely never see them again. Neck shots will anchor them, unless they don't. Miss the spine and they'll run, even if they start by falling down. Put a bullet behind the shoulder and they'll run, or drop DRT, or they'll not even react, or maybe they'll react but not how you'd expect. I've seen all of the above (at least secondarily). Those that say "more bullet gives you margin for a marginal shot" don't know what they're talking about- for the most part. Animals die from traumatic damage to the CNS, rapid loss of blood pressure, and exsanguination. If someone lost a deer, it is due to a lack of understanding of the above and/or poor shot placement. Full Stop. Knock down power has been thoroughly debunked. A bow shooting an arrow with less kinetic energy than a 22lr will kill a deer, dead. A 300 win mag is not too much for a coyote. A 6.5 creedmoor is not too little for an elk. Know your limitations. They're substantially more expansive than those of your gear.
     

    Long Range 338

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    I grew up hunting deer and elk out west with a 6mm Remington. It always did the job as long as I did my part. I currently prefer to hunt with a 7 Rem Mag. Lots of schools of thought on how much energy is required to get the job done. Yes you can dispatch an animal with the smaller calibers but it is reassuring to have the extra energy on target. You can have the biggest fastest bullet an if you can't put it where it needs to go its all a moot point. For an expensive trophy hunt I would want all the odds stacked in my favor. Many will say you can kill with a 22 others will tell you you have to use a 50 cal (ok I'm using hyperbole but you get the point). The truth is in the middle depending on a whole bunch of factors. A little too much gun isn't going to hurt you as long as you can shoot it accurately.
     

    magtech

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    I've shot deer with everything from a 223 to 300wm. On my 300 I use 210 vlds..... I don't shoulder shoot deer to save meat... And I have never had a DRT deer with any caliber. The only deer I've had drop in place were spine shots from a compund bow, but that always needed a followup arrow. Thinking that every vital shot is an automatic DRT-gun is a fallacy.
     

    stello1001

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    Thinking that every vital shot is an automatic DRT-gun is a fallacy.

    I couldn't agree more...

    I've been hunting forever, with rifle that is, and I can sincerely say that I only remember having one DRT deer kill in forever. These are strong animals, and when shot, will literally run for their lives regardless of whether you hit heart or you hit lungs...
     

    308pirate

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    The only time I had a deer drop DRT it was a spine shot. And even then I don't think that's a 100% guarantee.

    Hit them with a bullet that will reach the vitals, that will inflict mortal damage there, and that will leak blood on the other side. Because sooner or later you'll need that blood trail.
     

    wrightjr

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    Something people never speak on during the DRT conversation is what the deer's body language/situational awareness. Meaning if the deer is not spooked and does not sense any danger a well placed shot with anything reasonable will normally drop them without much fuss. If his ears are up and he's constantly jerking his head up looking around scanning regularly shooting him with a 50 BMG won't keep him from running off adrenaline. I've spooked deer by bumping my rifle against the stand or my clothing made noise as I raised my rifle and had the deer look straight at me. As I took the shot I went into it knowing that the deer would probably run until he was out of steam because the deer sensed danger or that something was not right. I've always been amazed at what deer could do when you examine them while skinning and see the destroyed lungs or heart and think about how they ran 30 or 40 yards like that. As stated earlier only a CNS shot will prevent them from running for obvious reasons. Long winded way of saying that there is no magic caliber to guarantee DRT shots every time, too many variables.
     

    chevy_man

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    Thank you everyone for the help. I’ve talked to a few guys that have hunted with a 6.5 Creedmoor, and both of them said they shot deer right in the vitals and didn’t drop them. That makes me nervous to go with a smaller round than a 300 win mag for elk. I could be wrong, I’m not expert by any means. I just want a round I can be confident in taking down a elk even if I don’t get that perfect heart shot.


    They were full of it.

    My buddy splashed a match bullet off an elk shoulder with a 6.5-06. His reaction was to buy a 300 RUM because 6.5's won't kill. My reaction? 6.5 match bullets at stupid speed don't penetrate, they explode on bone.

    I knocked down 2 whitetails with the 25-06 last weekend. One was facing me at 80 yards and a front center chest shot turned his chest cavity to jelly. He dropped like he got an anvil dropped on him. Dead by the time we walked up to him.
    Second one was a doe. 200 yard shot broadside through both lungs. Never touched spine, heart, shoulder. She fell on her side and was done before we walked up.


    Bullet construction and placement is 99% of the equation.

    I'm a big believer in partitions. They're not sexy but that base always leaves an exit.
     

    KAIFS

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    I hunt with 6.5x55. I have harvested number for whitetail deer with this caliber here in WI. while I am accurate out to 800m (longest I have tried to date) - my longest deer shot was at 478m. 140gr Lapua Naturalis bullet. DRT. Benefit of shooting from far - if you have a family of 3, they just keep standing there and looking at the fallen comrades - you just reload and send. Had a 3-pack dispatched with 3 shoots in 40seconds opening day 3 years ago in such manner - just under 400m... for hunting you need: accuracy, expansion, bullet retention. Naturalis projectile offers all 3 criteria. Prior to Naturalis, hunted with SST in both 123gr and 129gr. While long shots were sufficient - close shots (under 80m) did not have reliable 100% expansion... so I ended up going a different route/bullet for hunting now
     

    sea2summit

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    Check out longrangehunting.com there is a ton of knowledge over there for the A to Z of long range hunting of all kinds.
     

    brianf

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    I killed a whitetail yesterday morning (hanging in the barn) with a .300WM. 272 yard shot, right in the boiler room, and it still ran 30 yds... The heart, lungs, and one side of ribs were the only parts pulverized. I don’t eat any of that. To me .300WM Is far and away the best North American hunting cartridge, and if you travel to hunt the fact that you can buy ammo for it anywhere that sells ammo is a massive advantage over some wild cat where you’re fucked is something happens to you handloads. I hardly ever buy ammo, but it’s important to me to know I can if I had to when I’m a 16 hour drive from my reloading bench. If I can see it with my naked eye I can kill it With the Hospitaler.
    View attachment 7189390

    X1000

    hunting is always a journey for me...yes i have forgotten ammo
     

    tlsmith22

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    I built a 300wm last yr with the sole purpose of shooting 215 Bergers as fast as possible. I am shooting them right at 3100 FPS out of a 26” Proof barrel. It should kill anything in North America.
    398FB8AB-D51D-4503-9D3C-2C3E84D86691.png
     
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    tlsmith22

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    I was at the range a few weeks ago and testing some new brass for this load as the brass and pressure is all over the place for the 300wm. My gunsmith and several long range guys were there and one of them had his LabRadar setup when i shot my first round. It read 3008, one fo the guys was like I thought you were shooting 215 Bergers and I said I am. He had this look on his face and said that it was faster than his 300 PRC. My son liked it so well and I had already bought the reamer that he built him one almost identical. FYI, without a brake, the recoil is significant. My son put the Gen 3 Lil Bastard brake on his and its like shooting a 22 rifle, its crazy good! Here is a pic of his. You wil notice the dedicated to DCS on the barrel. He built it off of my Dads old rifle, my dad passed away 5 yrs ago and we wanted to do it in memory of him.

    3A3E0DD9-9AD4-4FCA-87F7-B9017910D417.jpeg
     
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    Fig

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    I like big bullets too, but I don't run them nearly that fast. The current 210 VLDs I'm shooting have a huge flat spot on either side of 2750fps. I shot a twenty five shot, sub MOA group when I found what I think is the optimal load. My vertical dispersion doesn't disperse. It's one of the most precise rifles I own, and may even shoot better than my comp gunseven though .300WM isn’t considered a ”percision” cartridge...

    I have that Badger brake on it, and the recoil isn't punishing, but it isn't like a comp rifle where you keep your sight picture shot to shot. I need to re-zero it with a can, but I just never seem to get around to doing it. I usually bring it when hunting medium to large game just in case I get a spot where I can take long shots, but otherwise it isn't worth lugging around.

    The majority of deer I’ve killed over 30+ years is with a .30-06, which is still my go to. I’ve used other calibers from time to time, but the first rifle I bought myself was a SS A-Bolt, that I still use primarily.
     

    Greg Langelius *

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    I like the .30-'06; its recoil is more tolerable for longer shooting sessions, and that's mandatory for my first mantra, know your gun. I make up 125gr loads for extended practice.

    Some heavier weight loads closely approach the terminal performance of the 300WM. Which one is a matter of choice. As a meat hunter, I'm conscious of meat damage; and I prefer the .30-'06 180gr load for longer, and the 165gr loads for shorter distances.

    Bonded bullets all the way. My ammo choice is Hornady American Whitetail, with Remington Core-Lokt when the very best is better than I actually need. They are both effective meat gatherers.

    My belief is that the .30-'06 should be clearly adequate for North American Big Game; and that when the '06 is beyond its capacity, usually, the shooter is as well. It's one chambering that should always be available on the road.

    If I'm shooting Big Game beyond 300yd, I'm generally out of my usual woodland element. My bedded 30-'06 M70 Featherweight and 168gr FGMM brought me a 4th in the NJ State Sniper Championships in 1997, a 300yd match. Lightweight guns can often shoot a lot better than most credit them, but that combination in 300WM would not work for me. The Featherweight has been heirloomed down to my SIL, who has already harvested 3 deer with it this year in Central NY..., so far...

    One main thing to consider about reaching way out and touching has to about how one is going to go about retrieving one's kill. At 73, that's a crucial one for me, and 300yd is actually becoming LR for hunting.

    People are starting to say, "S'OK Greg, we'll get that...", and I'm about ready to agree...

    Greg
     
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    RTH1800

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    Compared to deer elk are large and tough. Wounded they can cover miles instead of going off and laying down like a deer will often do.
    The answer is not a larger cartridge. It is correct bullet, correct bullet placement and shooting at reasonable ranges.

    A correctly placed, well constructed 100 grain 6MM bullet at 250 yards will be more effective than a marginally placed .338 bullet at the same or longer range. If you look at TOF for any cartridge you will see than an elk can take a step while the bullet is in route to 700 or more yards and all is ruined.
     

    Steel head

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    If you look at TOF for any cartridge you will see than an elk can take a step while the bullet is in route to 700 or more yards and all is ruined.
    This is my big issue with the long range hunting fad.
    lob a shot and hope animal doesn’t move or wind changes instead of getting to a sporting distance for a for a sure shot on an animal that’s loosing its life to satisfy a hobby, not a need.
     

    dontbelievethisnonsense

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    Compared to deer elk are large and tough. Wounded they can cover miles instead of going off and laying down like a deer will often do.
    The answer is not a larger cartridge. It is correct bullet, correct bullet placement and shooting at reasonable ranges.

    A correctly placed, well constructed 100 grain 6MM bullet at 250 yards will be more effective than a marginally placed .338 bullet at the same or longer range. If you look at TOF for any cartridge you will see than an elk can take a step while the bullet is in route to 700 or more yards and all is ruined.
    I think to make the discussion any way reasonable, the assumption should be that the bullet will hit the lungs. It's largest vital organ and if we're talking about longest ethical distances, that should be the target as well. Now bad shots happen and maybe it's bit high and only one lung penetrated. Death is certain but the difference of impact energy, assuming proper bullet, is again significant. After opening the bullet, heavier caliber has larger surface area and more energy to disperse to tissue, resulting in larger wound and faster bleeding.

    Personally I think the animal I'm about to kill deserves to be taken with reasonable certainity of succesful hit, quick death and harvesting most of the meat.
     

    RTH1800

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    A one lung hit elk will run for a very long distance. I have tracked them in the snow and would have lost them had the ground been dry. (Shot by others)
    Regarding caliber, my experience is simply different than yours. I have shot 22 bull elk and seen about that many others shot. I have also visited with a lot of elk guides who have seen dozens or even hundreds of kills. They mostly say the same thing. Not a huge number but I never could tell any difference in caliber and reaction. Good hits kill.
     

    dontbelievethisnonsense

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    A one lung hit elk will run for a very long distance. I have tracked them in the snow and would have lost them had the ground been dry. (Shot by others)
    Regarding caliber, my experience is simply different than yours. I have shot 22 bull elk and seen about that many others shot. I have also visited with a lot of elk guides who have seen dozens or even hundreds of kills. They mostly say the same thing. Not a huge number but I never could tell any difference in caliber and reaction. Good hits kill.
    I didn't mean visible reaction. I meant that more energy would make more damage to lung resulting in faster bleeding and death. Obviously such comparison is pretty hard to make as no two shots are exactly the same in reality.

    My point was it's pointless to say 6xc in neck is better than .300WM through gut because it's obviously true. What I'm interested in is that somewhere there is a line where bullet does enough damage so the animal dies before it runs too far to be found.
     

    RTH1800

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    Don't know if you are being obtuse but my point is that it is not the cartridge that draws the line. One works about as well as the next. I have 22 one shot kills on mature bulls with 7MM Mag. .270 Winchester and .250 Savage. I could not tell the difference. Others of much more experience on elk say the same thing. My experience on other similar and larger tells the same story. I have seen elephant killed with a single shot from a solid bullet and lung shots from an AK 47 and FN FAL. Not due to energy, but simply putting a bullet in the right place.

    I think the story will be lost on you due to your wanting to attribute energy to killing.