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Elk Anatomy

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Old 09-06-2006, 05:12 PM
Bronze Member
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 61
Re: Elk Anatomy

Thanks, all, for the info. I guess I didn't ask my question correctly. Let me try again. I have a range finder and will use it to determine the range. At a known range, I know my bullet drop (distance from point of aim to point of impact.) If I know how "tall" my target is, then I know where to aim on the target to make the bullet impact at the desired point, for example: up to 200 yards, aim 1/4 up from the bottom; at 300 yards, aim just below midline; at 350 yards, aim 2/3 up from the bottom; at 400 yards, aim a couple inches below the shoulders, etc. That's easier for me than trying to adjust scope clicks as I watch my target walk away.
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Old 09-06-2006, 05:57 PM
Platinum Member
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Blackfoot, Idaho
Posts: 8,064
Re: Elk Anatomy


The clarification helps.

However, that'll getcha close but may not get you the seegar....

I would consider aiming for a specific point on the animal rather than a general vicinity...

See this thread and Shawn's and ss7mm's comments:

LRH Thread
I may be the slowest guy on the mountain . . . . but . . . . I'm on the mountain!
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Old 09-06-2006, 07:06 PM
Bronze Member
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 61
Re: Elk Anatomy


I do aim for a specific spot, or at least try to, if I can control my excitement. I am also a bowhunter and know the value of trying to focus down to a single hair for an aiming point. The objective of the example I cited would be to place the bullet right behind the front leg, into the heart/lung area. I read through the thread you furnished several times. As a deer hunter, I always try for a heart/lung shot, but the consensus of the thread seems to say make a shoulder or even spine shot on an elk. I have read different opinions on best shot placement. So what is it... heart or shoulder?
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Old 09-06-2006, 11:21 PM
Platinum Member
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Blackfoot, Idaho
Posts: 8,064
Re: Elk Anatomy

I've shot a bunch of deer. Always the heart/lung shot, behind the point of the shoulder as you say, when excitement allows.

Regarding elk there are two important conditions one when completely relaxed the other completely the opposite.

An elk has maybe 5 gallons of blood. I think they can go pretty well on maybe 2 or less. If relaxed they don't go far. If excited they can get into some unmanageable places.

More and more people are being converted to the high shoulder shot. But you have to have enough of a cartridge/bullet to get the job done. This may be the reason that most of the good elk hunters I know and know of use 338/358/375 calibers. But a lot of meat is brought home with 30s/7s/27s and even smaller but they sometimes have lots of holes and there was quite a bit of trailing.

Note that Shawn said to use an expanding bullet if there is a chance of getting into the lung area when the high shoulder shot goes a bit astray. I think he may use 300gr SMKs for much of his elk harvesting.
I may be the slowest guy on the mountain . . . . but . . . . I'm on the mountain!
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Old 09-07-2006, 03:10 AM
Silver Member
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Armagh, PA
Posts: 290
Re: Elk Anatomy

Over the past weekend I was able to shoot seven whitetail deer on a crop damage hunt. The style of hunting allowed us to use bagged guns and super precise shot placement.

Thinking back to a thread where Mr. Carlock mentioned the benefits of a high shoulder hit, I thought this would be a good scenario to test it. All kills were video taped for review.

Of the seven deer taken...

one heart shot at 377yds (7mm WSM w/ 162gr A-Max--ran 50yds)
one neck shot at 377yds (7mm WSM w/ 162gr A-Max--dropped but the neck shot does not provide much room for error, thus not a high percentage kill area)
one Texas Heart Shot at 278yds (300RUM w/ 180gr TSX dropped this deer in its tracks but NOT a recommended shot)
Two were spine shots (300RUM w/ 180gr TSX---these were supposed to be high shoulder shot but the shooter used the wrong mil dot and hit high...instant death but incurred some flopping around)
The last two were the "Carlock High shoulder Shot" at 277 and 365yds (7mmWSM w/ 162gr A-Max---death was instant) At the shot on these two deer, they simply folded...no flopping on the ground...nothing! When hit, the ears would lay down and legs crumpled...amazing!

I know it does not relate well to elk but wanted to confirm the effectiveness of the shot placement that Roy in ID was explaining. I gues I'd call this shot placement the "DE Smack Down."
Dan B.
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Old 09-07-2006, 07:04 AM
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: North Idaho
Posts: 1,822
Re: Elk Anatomy

The results will be the same with an elk reguardless of it state (relaxed etc), so long as a setup is used with enough penetration at the target distance. I had a friend loose a whitetail last year with this shot using a 130 gr btip in 270 WSM failed to break the shoulder/spine or penetrate the chest cavity, he was using a borrowed rifle instead of the 338 Lapua/225 Accubond rifle I built him. This same rifle with different bullet selection would have been great, but the shot requires more bullet construction than a heart lung shot. Lets face it in the heart lung world even contacting a rib on both sides we are only talking 3-4" of solid material to penetrate to have a pass through with most of the chest cavity being air. You can perform that shot with almost anything, but going to the high shoulder just requires more. I really like the 300 gr SMK from the 338 EDGE or something similar in performance (Lapua, 338-378 etc) when taking this shot even at long distance it takes an "ass whippin with it". I have also taken this shot on elk with 338 Win / 250 Partition, 300 Ultra / 200 gr Accubond, 338 Edge / 300 gr SMK, and 7 mm rem mag / 160 gr Accubond at distances over 300 yards the results were exactly the same on all... instant ass whippin. Drop at the shot, no trailing, no second shots and no doubt about the hit. The people that usually turn a nose up at the shot location site meat damage as the reason. I cut and wrap my own as do alot of other people and I will gladly scrap a double hand full of meat for the effect of the shot, meat loss is minimal and 100 times better than a lost animal.
Shawn Carlock

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Old 10-13-2009, 10:06 PM
Junior Member
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Williams, Arizona
Posts: 1
Re: Elk Anatomy

In the years that we have hunted Elk here in Arizona, we have used a number of calibers succesfully and the shot placement varied with many of them. We have found that with lesser powerful weapons and lead bullets, that the heart/lung shot was pretty effective. That being said, I have shot Deer, Antelope and a lot of Elk with one shot, high shoulder shots. As premium non-lead bullets evolved we started shooting Barnes and Berger bullets exclusively. We loaded 175/180gr for Elk and 168gr for Deer and swtched excusively to 175/180gr the last 8 yrs in high perf 30 cal weapons with little shift in PBZ for 300 WSM, or 168 gr for 7MM Mag. If you invest in good optics and loads and practice to become proficient, the high shoulder shot will break both shoulders and do fatal damage to lungs and sometime the heart. More than that , the shock applied in a high shoulder shot will put the animal down at the impact and be nearly immediately fatal. This will be my 52nd year in the Elk and Deer woods in the Fall, there is no substitute for a quick ethical kill.
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