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elk rifle help

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Unread 11-16-2012, 09:47 AM
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Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 805
Re: elk rifle help

I apologize. Yes, looking back at my post, I overstated my case. Elk are LARGE animals. 500-600 yard shots ON ELK are fairly easy IF YOU PRACTICE and both you and your equipment are capable. I carried neither a weather station nor a ballistics program on either of my last two elk hunts because shots over 600 yards were VERY unlikely and because I got there a day early & did quite a bit of practicing in my hunting conditions.

Weather stations and ballistics software is important to account for changes from how you practiced. Being in a 15 mph crosswind at 7,000 feet, 34 and 16% relative humidity can make a huge difference if you have been practicing in still air at 1,100 feet, 60 and 75% relative humidity. That may not be critical inside 500 or 600 yards, but stretching shots to 700 or more and it can make a large difference even on something the size of an elk.

The problem I have on "misses" when hunting elk is that they may not be misses. Elk will often stand without showing any reaction after being shot. A poorly placed bullet can easily be chalked up to being a miss because the animal showed no signs of being hit & wandered off with the herd only to die 6 days later. For that reason I "aim small to miss small" and encourage others to do the same.

Originally Posted by aspenbugle View Post
Good stuff. Buano and Elk Hunter I agree whole heartedly with 95% of what you say. I wouldn't nit-pick with the other 5% if you hadn't said it so adamantly: weather station, weather conditions..."you can not shoot accurately past 500 without knowing them period". Come on - I have to waive the BS flag on that one...a little evangistic there. I've killed bull elk 4 of the last 5 years at 500+ yards - one shot kills, public land Colorado with no weather station and no ballistic software - just a rangefinder and dropchart. If you keep your shells in a pocket and somewhat temperature stable, 40+ degree temp swings and 3000ft alt density changes only affect a bullet path by an in or two at 600 yds.

1000yds is a bit different, but you guys make it sound like hitting an elk at 500 or 600 takes every bit of science and vodoo that a mile takes. Come on. Agree--get an accurate gun, accurate load, good bullet, practice and all that, but all you need is ONE drop chart for your approximate elevation, temp etc, and you can kill em all day long very accurately at 500-700 or 800 - if you have a high BC bullet at good speeds. I'm expanding to 800 and beyond and know I need the weather info, calculator and more, but don't tell all those dead bulls I needed it under 700. Nice to have - sure, if it doesn't take 10 minutes to work it all, but absolutely necessary - no way! I had the shooter app on my droid this year, but after playing several what ifs and knowing I'd likely be 800 or less...I didn't see the real value added - I just left it in camp and used the old tried and true drop chart - got my bull - 622 yards.

I do agree on the gun weight thread like all the others. I have a 16# gun, for a purpose, walk (hopefully a short way) to a ridge and sit/shoot. If I'm hiking miles, and doing more of a general purpose hunt (not just sitting a ridge) - I'd never use that gun in a million years. I have an 11-12# gun I use for that - to cover 800yd and under long shots and still be able to carry. Even then, as I've stated elsewhere, it's darn hard to hit well on a quick, unbraced shot (for me) at that weight...it's a compromise. This year when I went walkabout for elk (almost no chance of a long shot) I took my daughters 7# gun...sweet. Gotta decide if its dedicated real long range, or long range and carryable, or how you plan to hunt. If no other elk rifle yet, probably don't want a 16lb 1200yd beast as only horse in the stable.
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Unread 11-16-2012, 12:42 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Pocatello Idaho
Posts: 557
Re: elk rifle help

I see were i was totally wrong, i thought he wanted opinions on a 1000 yard elk rifle not a 5-600 yard rifle, my bad. I do agree most rifle combos when zeroed at 2-300 yards with an "ELK bullet not a target bullet" are totaly capable of just using a drop chart, but still there will be a margine of error up to 10" either way depending caliber, bullet selection etc. never mind the wind drift of up to 16" either way with a 10 mph cross wind, and also you have incline or decline, that throws another curve ball in there, Now dont get me wrong i think i can judge wind with the best of them but that so called "evangistic" weather station in my pocket that doubles as a wind meter ( yep you heard right folks they come in a complete set and now in an even smaller convenient size) that i have at my finger tips will tell me the speed at my location wich gives me an edge at judging it at the animal. And the whole ( keep the shells in your pocket to keep them temp stable) comment Really!!!! When i set up a long range hunting load or any load for that matter i do it with temp stable powders period, (weather they give me tons of speed or not) im in it for the accuracy and if that comes with a little velocity loss over an unstable powder so be it. And i actually do test them to see that they dont very with temp swings either freezing or blistering hot, 99.9% of us long range hunters/shooters do this we are not out to just hit the elk and call it good, we want to drop them in there tracks wich means precision, and knowing your rifle, optics, load combo like the back of your hand, and knowing that at 600 yards when i fire this rifle i am going to hit within an inch or two of were im aiming not just hit them period. Now you may be able to tell yourself that the old drop chart and nothin else is good enough, and to "HIT" an elk at 622 yards it probably is, but in my mind if i can do everything in my power to make that hit a precision shot, and if that takes me doing all the load work up to find the best temp stable load I can and using a weather station and ballistic program to make me even more precise well so be it, and i urge every "long range" hunter-shooter to do the same. Add every advantage to your system that you possibly can, use them and get use to useing them and they will become second nature, in the end you will happy you did.
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Unread 11-18-2012, 01:02 PM
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Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Colorado
Posts: 69
Re: elk rifle help

Good. We are on the same page I think. Yes, definitely, if I didn't make it clear I wasn't discounting the need to know the wind and adjust - even at 500-600, especially if it is doing much. I was just talking about a 30 degree temp swing or changing elevation by a few thousand feet. Elk Hunter - you are right, units are getting smaller, and you can have all-in-one fairly easily - why not use em then. I agree. I was just pointing out, if you didn't have the equip yet, you shouldn't feel "scared into" getting it for just 700 yd and less shots (although you still need to know wind, no matter what). I also agree 100% if you are into the long range game, why not use them at even the "shorter" distances and practice, practice, practice...it is all good training, helping you be smoother with the process and even more ready for the longer stuff when you do need it. I agree. Only a newbie just getting going with an elk rifle, talking shorter ranges should't be told you "gotta have it" or you'll miss your elk at 575 yds. I agree, if you got it, and you feel better about the shot using it - by all means use it. Again, it just came across as "you gotta have this stuff or any small weather changes will make you miss or maim the elk" - not true. "you don't have to have all this gear for 500-600 stuff, but it doesn't hurt to have it, it's good practice, and you'll want it for further out stuff eventually anyway (and some of the other pros you list)" - that just seems a little more accurate way of saying it.

I also agree on the powder statement. I was just trying to account for the extreme - if someone was using a temp sensitive powder, it could definitely affect drop and thus the need for a weather station. Keeping them warm is a way to mitigate that, especially if your gun really shoots well with it. I agree...better to just get a temp stable powder and verify how it performs under diff. temps.

Don't make it sound like if you JUST use a drop chart - a person must just be flinging them out there with a factory rifle and no practice. Here is my "drop chart" bull (I went ugly early - he wasn't big, but it was hot, dry, and I said, what the heck the second morning). I had an impromtu rest on the mountainside, but I wasn't just "aiming for elk". The first shot was a bit further back than ideal, so as he was standing around deciding if he was dead or not, I sent another one to make the decision easier. This is my 300 yard group with my custom rifle - 1" not bad - and that's consistent, not just a "hero"group. I'm just switching to the 1000 yard stuff, and need to practice with the software and weather stations and stuff...I was just more comfortable (until more practice) with just using my drop chart - plus I often only get short amounts of time to shoot before they go into trees, so I needed to keep it simple. I'll go shoot 100 rocks this summer and get practiced up good with using all the gear - so I can do it quick and efficiently maybe at 1000 yds next season.

Buano - you are totally right. Like this bull, the first shot was gonna kill him, but he still stood there for 15 secs. I didn't want to take the chance, so shot again. If that shot was in the guts, a person could definitely mistake it for a miss as he ran off. I agree...you shouldn't be shooting if you don't feel comfortable you can hit small spots in the vital area at that range.
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Unread 11-18-2012, 11:31 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Western Colorado
Posts: 943
Re: elk rifle help

You're right, that first shot was a good one, as was the second, and it looks like the one that took out his eye might have worked too. (grin)
I shot with charts and anemometer out as far as 750 yards for many years before getting more sophisticated "tools". I entered my data for the elevation I tested at, usually around 6000', then changed the elevation and temperature to match the elevations and temp for the time of year and places I would be hunting. I got tired of missing the marmots I commonly shoot at, by inches. If I had been shooting elk, I was usually right in there.
The best tool I have ever used is the G7 rangefinder I have been using this summer. It reads all the atmospherics and incline, then gives me a ballistic solution expressed in MOA.
The scopes I am using have MOA reticles, and accurate turrets as well.
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Unread 11-19-2012, 12:36 AM
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Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Colorado
Posts: 69
Re: elk rifle help

CO Brad - yeah that was funny with the eye - I guess he jabbed it out as he tumbled down and thrashed around a bit. Shoulda said I shot him there on purpose the second time - ha That would be good shootin! Oh yeh, I definitely measure incline as well. I was just playing with Shooter and changing up elevation and temp - only to see that it was only making about 1" difference at 600-700. At that point, I said what the heck, that's in the "noise" at that range and that size animal. Better to practice my hold and follow through, improve my rest or at least make sure it is like I practiced with and triple check my range, wind, incline etc. rather than fussing whether the temp rose 10 degrees. But now that I plan to shoot further, I agree I need to learn ALL the toys, practice them and next year I'll use them even at the shorter range, just for consistency and practice like Elk Hunter 338 said.

Marmot practice this summer sounds like good practice...

Rsess32 - sorry, not trying to get us too far off topic, and getting you lined up with a rifle. I think you've gotten some good advice...I guess let us know if you still have unanswered questions.
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