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Would you take this shot?

Over the years I have read with interest various opinions on what is the maximum distance to take a big game shot. I am interested to hear what people would do in this recent hunting scenario and WHY:

I just returned from a individually guided Bob Marshall Wilderness 9 day hunt. On the third day my guide spotted a herd of elk at about the 7100 foot elevation at least 2 mountain ridges over with his spotting scope and we began our hunt. The first 2 hours or so was on horseback through the typical rugged wilderness country until we were on the upside of the ridge one over from the herd. Now we hiked up the mountain with several inches of fresh snow mostly in the cover of conifers. Towards the top of the ridge we were literally crawling to the edge of the trees on our ridge with a treeless ravine below us and the herd on the upslope of the next ridge grazing and moving slowly up the ridge relatively soon to cross over into the next bank of ridges where we would lose them for the day. Light snow and fog moving in and out. Several bulls with at least one very nice one but hard to know exactly how big given weather and range at 510 yards. He is standing still head to my left broadside with slight quartering away. I used a Swarovski range finder so know we are fairly accurate. I shoot a Cooper Custom 30-06 with a 4-12 Swarovski 50mm scope. I have it ranged out to 500 yards back in the midwest on my ranch and use the new Federal Trophy copper 180 gram ammo which is extraordinarily accurate in my rife compared to some others I have tried even out to 600 yards. Data suggest the penetration and knockdown power of copper ammo at longer distances is very good. Lots of practice back home in multiple shooting positions. No way to approach any further without being seen. If I shoot it would be from prone position with my 2 guides both glassing. Fog moving in now quickly and have to decide----I have made this shot numerous times in the "kill zone" back home but----I decide to take the shot with right to left crosswind of around 5 mph and slight upgrade incline to the bull. The shot "felt good" but I don't see him go down and now fog moves in and herd is moving over the ridge. I initially think I missed him but in my mind's eye it felt really good. One guide thinks he kneeled but couldn't see more. We start walking up our ridge and then up a connecting ridge in the fog. I don't see much for quite awhile but as we get closer I see something wedged against a down log that turns out to be my bull. He had moved up the hill for a short distance and then rolled/slid down the mountain for a 75 yards before wedging against the log. A nontypical 5X6 about 6-7 years old. Bullet entered just behind front shoulder and exited just in front of opposite shoulder at base of neck with massive blood loss in snow as he rolled down the hill. I felt good about what I had done to prepare for this trip with the best equipment available and confidence with 2 experienced guides glassing for me. Still I know some would criticize my decision to take the shot.
We hiked down into the woods and about 2 hours later I got a beautiful 5x4 mule deer as well. Great hunt. Memorable. Meat in the freezer. Racks being mounted. Elk ivory tooth ring made in Missoula just arrived today and gorgeous with memories secured for a lifetime.

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I wouldn't take that shot,

I wouldn't take that shot, but I don't practice shooting at those distances either.  My personal comfort range is 300 yards or less.  Where we typically hunt, most of our shots are well under 100 yards on elk too, so longer distances really aren't necessary.  

Given that you have prepared yourself and equipment to take 500+ yard shots, I don't see too many ethical issues with you taking that shot.  The obvious complicating factor is the limited visibility.  In the end, it appears you made a clean and quick kill.  Congrats on making a great shot and harvesting a great trophy with memories to last a lifetime.

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Ditto!

Ditto what CoMeatHunter replied with. I wouldn't have taken the shot as it is beyond my comfort distance. However, congrats on your long shot and your harvests. Now I would have a problem if you had not looked for the animal due to weather that came in immediately afterwards as that should have determined to shoot or not to shoot. YouTube has some video on guys taking 1000 yard shots at some antelope. As long as you are able to make kill-shots consistently at those distance then my hats off to you.

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Would you take this shot?

Congrats on your long shot, and especially for following up on it with the incoming bad weather. I think too many guys would take a shot like that, and if they don't immediately see the animal go down they assume a miss and return to a warm camp. At least you had practiced at that range.

I would not take that shot. Our range has target stands and gongs out to 450 yds, and I occasionally shoot the 450 yd gong, but not enough to be comfortable at that range or beyond.

Almost every time I watch a TV hunting show and see some guy take a 600 yd plus shot at an animal, I think to myself "A good hunter could cut that distance in half, or less, I know I could." I pride myself in getting as close as I can and know that my shot killed the animal.

I've hunted big game animals for almost 50 years and have killed almost 200 big game animals on two continents. In all that hunting, I have only shot at one animal over 350 yds. I was a 20 yr old novice on my first elk hunt and on my first shot, the front bead of my borrowed, open sighted, .30-40 Krag completely covered that 5x5 bull. A couple hours of tracking/chasing and 13 shots later I finally had my first elk.

I recently mounted a Nikon 4-12x scope with their BDC reticle on my 7mm Rem mag that I plan to shoot it enough to at least constantly ring the 450 yd gong. Who knows, maybe someday I won't be able to get closer and I'll have to take a long shot.

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"Good hunter"

buffybr wrote:

Congrats on your long shot, and especially for following up on it with the incoming bad weather. I think too many guys would take a shot like that, and if they don't immediately see the animal go down they assume a miss and return to a warm camp. At least you had practiced at that range.

I would not take that shot. Our range has target stands and gongs out to 450 yds, and I occasionally shoot the 450 yd gong, but not enough to be comfortable at that range or beyond.

Almost every time I watch a TV hunting show and see some guy take a 600 yd plus shot at an animal, I think to myself "A good hunter could cut that distance in half, or less, I know I could." I pride myself in getting as close as I can and know that my shot killed the animal.

I've hunted big game animals for almost 50 years and have killed almost 200 big game animals on two continents. In all that hunting, I have only shot at one animal over 350 yds. I was a 20 yr old novice on my first elk hunt and on my first shot, the front bead of my borrowed, open sighted, .30-40 Krag completely covered that 5x5 bull. A couple hours of tracking/chasing and 13 shots later I finally had my first elk.

I recently mounted a Nikon 4-12x scope with their BDC reticle on my 7mm Rem mag that I plan to shoot it enough to at least constantly ring the 450 yd gong. Who knows, maybe someday I won't be able to get closer and I'll have to take a long shot.

Buffy I totally agree that a long shot is not preferable--hence the discussion. I would say that it may be a bit presumptuous to label anyone who takes a long shot as something less than a "good" hunter. I certainly haven't hunted as extensively as you but in this situation the option was not to take the shot knowing that after hours of stalking the herd with it being early to mid-afternoon and foul weather moving in with open territory between us and the herd who were moving over the next ridge and our horses now well down behind us that this would be our only opportunity for the day on this bull regardless of how good of a hunter one considers themselves. Also I had 2 Montana guides (one who is a 45 y/o son of a 3rd generation family operation who breeds horses just for these hunts, was a former Forest Service "jumper" fire fighter having jumped and hiked out in nearly every western state including Alaska with unparalleled knowledge of the "Bob") who told me this was as good as it was going to get in this particular situation. Not ideal but certainly not related to lack of hunter accumen. Nevertheless in general I totally agree with your comments. Thanks for the input.

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Thorn - That would be a very

Thorn - That would be a very long shot for me, and any cross wind would dramatically effect drift. It worked out that you got a good buck and I enjoyed the story.

Buff - I have the same scope set-up on a Rem. CDL in a 7mm mag, and I had some issues with a pinch point on the stock, but for a $200 scope I'm amazed at the accuracy at 200-300 yards. I've never tried the BDC and just have the scope sighted about 3" high at 200.

 

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7mm RM/Nikon BDL

pnelson wrote:

Thorn - That would be a very long shot for me, and any cross wind would dramatically effect drift. It worked out that you got a good buck and I enjoyed the story.

Buff - I have the same scope set-up on a Rem. CDL in a 7mm mag, and I had some issues with a pinch point on the stock, but for a $200 scope I'm amazed at the accuracy at 200-300 yards. I've never tried the BDC and just have the scope sighted about 3" high at 200.

 

pnelson, your stock issue is one reason that I either re-stock or re-bed all of my rifles. I just picked up my Nikon Prostaff scope after Thanksgiving and I haven't shot it yet. I thought I'd give it a try because they advertize aiming circles out to 600 yds.

I debated which rifle to put it on. My .300 Weatherby is my favorite hunting rifle, but my 168 gr Barnes TTSX handloads sighted in 2" high at 100 yds only drop 2.5" at 300 and -12" at 400 yds which is farther than I've ever shot a critter. So far, a Leupold 4-12x with their duplex has worked fine on this rifle.

So the old Weaver 3-9x duplex came off my Rem 700 BDL 7mm RM (which has worked well for many years and hunts), and I put the Nikon BDC on it. It will be fun trying it.

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I would have

Congrats on the Bull.

I practise out to 500 yards, and as long as i had a decent rest, i would take the shot.

But only because i practise out to that range.

Kevin

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Thorn: Congrats on the hunt.

Thorn: Congrats on the hunt. Not a thing wrong with that situation because of your preperation and practice beforehand. That said, there are a lot of people who should not shoot in situations like that. 

Can you post pictures of the ring you had made? I am very interested in getting one done myself. While you're at it... let's see some pics of your buck and bull!

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I would

Congrats on a great hunt !  Thumbs up Very glad to see you guys followed up on the shot.

I would have know problem taking that shot as I practice at extremely long ranges. I do the same with my bow as it makes the closer shots that much easier.

Quinton

 

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Long shot

I wouldn't for the same reason mentioned by others. I don't practice out to that range. That takes a lot of practice and discipline. I've seen several people lose animals at that range. To me it's not worth the risk unless your dam good and practice a bunch. That being said, a buddy of mine got a 350 bull in Idaho this year at 800 yrds. He did have to track it after the first shot and ended up shooting it 2 or 3 more times. What really annoys me are the undisciplined hunters that haven't practiced taking those shots and end up losing animals or they shoot for the neck instead of the vitals at 350 yards. Had that happen once. I cussed the guy out and ended up tracking the elk for a while after the hunter gave up. I'm sure it died somewhere on the mountain or that winter. That being said everyone loses an animal in his hunting career but I like to minimize the number I lose, thus I won't take that shot. I don't like feeding the wolves.

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