Finding Information

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It seems to me that those involved in the wonderful, addicting sports of shooting and hunting are now living in the Golden Age of Information. Almost all of us have access to a personal computer and that opens a nearly limitless amount of technical information, innovations and new technology to all who have a desire to learn.
Years ago, one learned all he or she needed to know about deer calibers at the knee of Uncle Joe, who got himself a buck 'most every season. Joe knew everything about what was the best gun for any situation, as he owned both a .30-30 and .30-06! He claimed nothing worked any better than a peep-sighted .30-30 for hunting deer and black bear in the woods.
He did admit that his Cousin Ted's .32 Win. Special and Brother Bill's .35 Remington also seemed pretty capable, but he was stickin' to the .30-30 because there were more ammo choices for it. He also claimed to be able to shoot the eye out of a gnat at 275 yards with his '06 and its Lyman All American 4X scope.
With those two calibers, we could hunt everything we needed under all conditions using just two rifles and we built our battery accordingly. Truth be known, even today a serious hunter could feel comfortable owning that two gun battery for hunting all CXP2 and CXP3 game. However, some shooters want to investigate alternatives and may prefer more specialized calibers, or need additional rifles for special circumstances.
The benefit of visiting a web site such as "Big Game Hunt" (.net) and pulling up articles, charts, lists and such on a computer, or simply studying the performance of one individual cartridge/load until we have a firm understanding of its ballistics, opens new possibilities and increases our understanding of the cartridge's potential. If we feel we need a rifle capable of taking an elk at 300 yards, we can pour over ballistics tables, read what calibers experienced elk hunters recommend and make an educated decision based on research we were able to do in our own home.
We can decide whether the .267 or .305 Wizbang Magnum is best for our purposes by researching typical loads and bullet weights, checking remaining energy and estimated killing power at expected ranges, and comparing the recoil energy and velocity of our selected calibers. These comparisons are exactly what a serious hunter should do before deciding on a new rifle, cartridge, or before embarking on a hunt for an unfamiliar species of game animal.
A serious student of hunting and shooting has a leg up on the enthusiast who simply relies on the word of those who may, or may not, be experienced enough to be helpful. That said, there is also nothing wrong with questions and campfire discussions, as they provide a way for a neophyte to hear some new ideas and compare the opinions of other hunters. However, it is then up to the individual to study, learn and decide who actually knew what they were talking about around that campfire.
Sadly, hunters offer many common misconceptions as advice. Certainly, some rifles and calibers are more suited for a specific purpose than others, but beware of generalizations. For example, the .243 Win. is a recognized long range (open country) cartridge and the .308 Win. is known as an "all-around" hunting cartridge that is particularly suitable for the woods and brush country hunter.
The truth be known, when using appropriate bullets for hunting the same game, these two calibers are more similar in trajectory than most people realize. The .243 shooting a 100 grain bullet at the typical 2960 fps muzzle velocity has a maximum point blank range (MPBR) +/- 3" of 283 yards, while the .308 shooting a 150 grain bullet at its normal 2800 fps has a MPBR of 275 yards. That is an eight yard difference in favor of the .243, but eight yards is unlikely to be a game changer.
This simple example is not meant to slight either caliber or it's fans. It was made merely to show how some common misconceptions have nearly become gospel. The solution is for the new shooter and hunter to ask questions, listen to the answers and then check the information through their own research before making important decisions regarding calibers and their uses.
The same holds true for the rifle intended to shoot that new cartridge. Many shooters are overwhelmed (I can't blame them) by the selection of different rifles and even action types that are suitable for their hunting purposes. I wish I had a dollar for every time I have read that a serious hunter should purchase a bolt action rifle, because they are more accurate. Instead of accepting that at face value, do some research and see how well the new Marlin and Browning lever action rifles (for some examples) actually shoot.
There are many documented articles showing that these fine lever guns are capable of delivering MOA accuracy. This is comparable to the best bolt guns. Any hunter wanting a new rifle would be wise to look at all action types, from single shot to semi-auto, before making a decision based on, perhaps, outmoded opinions and questionable advice.
While you are at it, you might analyze how much accuracy you actually need, or can use, in the field. Is 1.0 minute of angle (MOA) actually a critical difference in intrinsic accuracy? Does it even matter? In some cases one MOA might matter, but in many others it will be insignificant. It all depends on the shooter, the situation and the game being hunted, so you need to be realistic in selecting your criteria.
Lastly, a few thoughts about telescopic sights. If we live in a "Golden Age" of anything, it has to be riflescopes. There are scopes available today for about $200 that could not have been equaled at any price only 25 years ago. If you think I'm full of horse dukey, grab a new Burris, Weaver, Sightron, Leupold, or Bushnell selling in that price range at your local sporting goods store and look through it. Note the ¼ MOA click adjustments, fully multi-coated optics and so forth that your old scope probably lacks.
Need a new scope? Read some articles about what type of scope might best fit your shooting or hunting needs. (See the Optics forum) Then, look for comparisons and reviews of the scopes you can afford and that interest you the most. (See the Product Reviews page.) One bad review does not a bad scope make, but consistent comments about performance and quality may give you some important insights.
We have a ton of quality information available to us right here on "Big Game Hunt"  Use it, study it, and try your best to digest and understand it. No, you needn't be a "gun nut" just to enjoy some shooting and hunting, but I promise you will have a better all-around experience if you do some research. It really is just that easy.


numbnutz's picture

Great tip. I really like to

Great tip. I really like to share info and help my fellow hunter and outdoorsman/women out, I wont give up my honey holes but will lead people inthe right direction, Also will help out with gun/bow recomendations. It make us all better people and hunters. I just wish more people out there were willing to help others out.

ManOfTheFall's picture

Great tip again. You are like

Great tip again. You are like an encyclopedia of information. Do you do all of your tips by memory? Or, are you reading them out of some type of manual or something and relaying the information. Either way you seem to be doing a great job of it.

groovy mike's picture

we are in a golden age of information thanks to the internet


First – you have hit the campfire discussion with Uncle Joe and his 30-30 right on the nail head.  How did you know I had a great uncle Joe?  That conversation has to happen practically verbatim in every deer camp nationwide every year for the past 100 years and it goes exactly like that!


Without a doubt, the internet second only to the mobile telephone is the life changing technology with the greatest impact on day to day life in the past fifty years.  It might not be as big a deal as the electric light bulb or radio, but it is pretty darned big.  It simply changes the way we do things – lots of things including make buying decisions.   There is just no other way that we as private citizens can interact with so many other people across the world and glean information form so many sources so quickly and easily.  Can you imagine what would be involved gathering the information that is involved in making on what hunting outfitter to book if you had to do it all by postal mail?

I am old enough to remember doing it. I made a dozen phone calls and got dozens of brochures back, then called dozens of references – but I still didn’t have as complete a picture as going online to look at the outfitters web page and price lists and references, then searching for their customers’ reviews that were NOT distributed by the outfitter.  That’s just one example – the same thing holds true for any number of research projects – like the cartridge or rifle selections that Ed wrote about.

I know that I research reloading recipes online long before I purchase the projectiles and powder  - let alone SHOPPING for the reloading components without having to mail order multiple catalogs to find the best deal.

Yes, without a doubt we are in a golden age of information thanks to the internet – and I haven’t even touched on the technological magic of Google Earth!


hunter25's picture

Forums like this one and the

Forums like this one and the internet itself have opened up a whole world of information for me. It was from reading storeies and then research that finally fired me up to go places and do things instead of just talking about it.

Without all the knowledge I gained and the in depth information I found I doubt I would have had the confidence to take off and try these new places.

I was able to take the information I gathered off the internet and drive 14 hours to Arizona with locations marked in my gps. Pulled right in to where I wanted to camp on BLM land and killed my first javelina 2 days later.

I have stayed away from certain brands of items or bought others because of the many reviews I was able to read.

Studies of ballistics have swayed my decision away from some highly recommended calibers and caused me to buy others.

The information we have now is an infinite gold mine that was not available to the generations before us. Make good use of it.

jim boyd's picture

Man, you hit the nail on the

Man, you hit the nail on the head here.

I had / have two dilemmas recently.

First I needed a shotgun for a midwest hunt and really - you can argue that the new slug guns are more rifle than shotgun.

I did a lot of research and there were a ton of options... I finally settled on a bolt action slug gun with high end optics that has the (reported) accuracy to rival a lot of centerfires.

I have not yet been able to wring that out of it yet... but intend to.

Now - to the present... and I am back with Uncle Joe now - I want to get a rifle that will be appropriate for elk hunting out west and have largely settled on the 30-06... an old timer to be sure - but a PROVEN old timer.

Sometimes, it seems the more things change - the more they stay the same... and the -06 is a great example of this.

Now, on to more of Ed's points... I am researching loads, MV, FPS, lbs ft of recoil... you name it... then throw in the research on optics...

Overpowering to say the least - but I am more educated than ever!

OK, it boils down to this... a 30-06 with a 3-9 scope on top of it.

Hmmm - the more they change, the more they stay the same (ever heard that before!)

Great work Ed!