Well, I can narrow your hunt area down a bit. You are going to have to stay to the SW area of that unit that butts up against unit 15 and the Arizona/NM state line. That unit has a lot of private property north of where I just mentioned which you wont be able to access. Only 30 tags where you are so it shouldnt be too crowded for you.
Oh yea, If I had my choice, I would take the 338 WM. Will both do the job? Most definitely but the 338 will be more forgiving if your shot placement is a little off.
I understand that there is a lot of private. I actually put in through the guide pool to help my chances of drawing. My outfitter has a large lease of private, but is very excited to be able to hunt the public land as well.
As far as the rifle, I know which I would normally take. After all, I bought the 338 for elk and moose. Just looking for an excuse/reason to bring my new 6.5x284. I'm a little leery of it. That's why I asked the question in the first place. Not saying it won't work...just looking for opinions as I have never shot anything smaller than a 300 win mag since I was 12.
300-400 quartering away? Shoot! With the 6.5! Use a decent hunting bullet, I like Accubonds or something along those lines. The 140 AB has an identical sectional density to the 225 gr. 338 AB. Not the weight or momentum, but it will still penetrate and do the job.
Rhetorical question; at what point is enough gun enough gun?
I've been wildly fortunate to live right in the middle of the best elk country in the best elk state, Colorado, for 48 of my 53 years. Shot a lot of elk, and guided a few hundred clients over the past 34 years to a good pile of elk. My experience has been that virtually every shot a client took with a magnum could have been taken just as well with an old '06 or 270.
Most of the time those highly questionable quartering away can you shoot through him end to end shots presented themselves they were gone before a decision could be made, and those that were hastily taken usually resulted in a miss or a wounded animal because the killer magnum was not shot accurately enough in those circumstances to be effective anyway.
A few more observations; most of the hunters I've been out with, including most of the locals, have not mastered the recoil and blast of a magnum and do not shoot as well as they would with an old standard.
Most of the old boys I grew up around, now dead and gone, shot things like the 30-30 and .300 Savage up to the '06 and 270. They were plenty adequate to kill elk and didn't kick too bad.
I've seen way to many elk shot to $H!t with magnums. I want to eat the elk, not shoot the entire front half to blood-shot hamburger!
That said I've used more magnums that standards myself, but after enough years and observations, my guns have gotten smaller and more pleasant to shoot. The .300's and larger have been replaced by 7mm and 270 magnums. Not for short to medium range killing power, but because I can still reach out to 1k with less recoil and enough power to do the job.
Okay, this was fun, but I gotta work tomorrow.
Shoot well, shoot often, shoot what you like.
You drew a premium elk tag and now you wonder if you should carry an elk rifle or a deer rifle. Think logically and carry the 338 winchester elk rifle. You may get one chance at a monster and you want the best elk rifle in your hands. This is a no brainer.
Another vote for the .338 Win Mag!
Had to borrow this from Tikkamike's sig line ...
" Real elk guns start with the number 3 or bigger and blow two holes, one in and one out." - My Dad
I voted for my "FREEDOM", "GUNS", and "MONEY" - keep the change - UNK.
"I am always proud of my country!"
"Leadership Rule #2: Don't be an edited." - Maj Gen Burton Field.
Not to knock the 6.5, but I witnessed a nightmare hunt with one 2 years ago. My buddy had 2 shots go through the lungs without hitting bone- pencil holes from the 140 accubond. Then one in the neck (again no bones & little to no expansion), one in the shoulder (could have stopped there, but he was paranoid now), and one in the ticker that put her down. This was the last weekend for an out of state tag in a full blizzard & -50 wind chill... Bad day all around & lots of pressure. I'll never again try to field dress an elk when it's that cold! We had to come back the next day with a snowmobile & drag her out whole (and solid).
On the flip side, I've seen 2 elk shot with a 338win mag.... Both dropped within 10 yards with no follow up shots necessary.
Again, I'm in no way saying that the 6.5 can't or even won't get it done! I just won't be pointing one at an elk anytime soon. I think they're outstanding for deer. And I think 338's are outstanding for once in a lifetime bulls...
Boy it sure is nice not having to chase a blood trail when that 225gr. Branes TSX out of the ol trusty. 338 wm. Smokes that trophy of a life time bull.
Oh and id say the 338 wm has "a set" for distance for those of you who say different. 700 yards one shot elk down is a decent distance id say. Maybe not as flat as your 6.5x284 but definitely gets the job done.
My dear boy if 5 miles away they don't sit up in their beds and ask what the HELL was that, the gun is not big enough!