Re: The BEST way to kill Elk
Thanks for sharing your story as well. My caliber of choice is also the 8mm Rem. Mag. What an awesome cartridge that is very under-appreciated! (a whole other thread).
To everyone else:
I learned how to shoot elk from an old-timer, and he gave me the same bit of advice as Nonya's father. Break the shoulders down....bones, not blood.
As I have led into with some of my other posts I have watched alot of elk die in my young years (and had a chance to kill quite a few myself), and I have witnessed some terribly executed shots, and have also witnessed elk go places and do things that NO ANIMAL should be able to do, but they did. Things like run miles on two punctured lungs, broken necks, and jaw / head pieces hanging from tendons, and other ghastly wounds. Bottom line is if you think an elk cannot cover some serious ground with very major tissue destruction you are in for a very rude awakening. This is an animal that has a lung and heart structure ripe for alpine living with a very heavy bone structure. They were made to take some punishment, and have a huge blood volume compared to other cervids. The heart and lungs stop working when they run out of blood....plain and simple science. If you're lucky, it will be quick, but if you don't hit an artery inside the lung, even those gaping wounds can get sealed by major clotting, allowing your animal to go and go and go. Hit one lung "in the boiler", and the other farther back, you have a beast with one functioning lung, which is a problem.
Someone in the "elk mistake" thread mentioned something about adrenaline charged elk being way more prone to covering ground when hit in the boiler room as opposed to elk shot from extreme ranges. My longest range kill was 787 on an elk, however the shot is very audible, and all the elk can hear the report, and there is a tremendous amount of public pressure (even in the wilderness where we hunt). The elk were in a hurry to get to H#LL and gone. I can't say I have ever seen an elk that wasn't in a hurry to get away after it had been shot, many times covering enough ground to make it a challenge to track, allowing another hunter to shoot it, or let it bleed out several hundred yards later in the nastiest terrain possible for retrieval, and I have killed elk in 5 states....they all behave the same to my observation.
Before I was a shoulder shooter I made plenty of the "boiler room shots". They work fantastic. Using the proper bullet, you blow a nice fist sized hole through both lungs, and the elk runs until it bleeds to death (this can be from yards to fractions of a mile). It also wastes a bunch of meat because there is a bunch of edible muscle meat connecting up to the spine across the boiler room, and many times an area within a foot of the hole is bruised "ruined" meat anyway (a look at the muscle schematic of the earlier illustration will show you this). Hit a rib on the way in with something like an SST, Ballistic Tip, Scirocco, or soft lead partition bullet, and you've just shotgunned lead and bone into the off shoulder area, and ruined 10 more pounds of meat (I know because I've done it). The only way you won't be doing this is if you're shooting the back of the lungs, which is less deadly than the gut shot many times.
This is WHY I shoulder shoot elk (and everything else). You hit the shoulder blade in the upper shoulder with a barnes X, Hornady GMX, E-tip, etc, you go through maybe an inch of very sinewy meat at the terminus of the blade, you push the blade into the SPINE, and exit the opposite shoulders with a wound channel that never really exceeds the size of a quarter. This does two things. First is most obvious...you've disabled both front legs. Second is that you have put tons of force on a huge bone paddle (the shoulder blade) that has smashed directly into the spine of your animal, breaking it and paralyzing the animal instantly. An animal shot high in the shoulder as described is INCAPABLE of going anywhere but straight down. It is as instant of a death as you could deal the animal, with very little meat wasted, and what meat that is wasted is considered less than choice. If you shoot high from this position you will hit spine and kill the animal instantly or miss, you hit lower, you ruin some meat, but still double lung, hit even lower and hit the heart.
IMO, its a very simple deal. The animal dies instantly and in less agony from my observations. Put yourself in the animals shoes. You wanna go down choking on your own blood, or get knocked off your feet before you even hear the gunshot and not know what happened? If anything you could say that a boiler room shot even ruins more meat because the animal is allowed to survive longer with its system choked full of chemicals due to the flight reflex and stress it endures after being hit. I don't know about anyone else, but the animals that seem to get chased the longest, and die the toughest also seem to have the worst eating meat out of any of them as well. I know I can think of atleast a dozen examples of this myself from recent memory.
Like everything else I'm sure It has its minuses ie: to people that insist upon shooting shoulder bone with a frangible bullet (yup, done that too). Ever since I've started doing shoulder shots I have logged 1 kill per 1 hit, and had the luxury of not chasing a single animal, and generally felt pretty damned good about doing what I thought was the most humane for the animal (which IMO is what being a true hunter is all about). I'm not saying that this is the best way to kill an elk, but I have yet to find a better way.