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Serious question about caliber and elk potential

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Unread 07-22-2009, 11:37 AM
Bronze Member
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: South central, Oregon
Posts: 81
Re: Serious question about caliber and elk potential

I believe the main reason a long range hunter would want a large caliber for elk is to eliminate as many enviromental factors as possible while delivering as heavy a blow as possible. Wind velocity and direction is a constant changeing factor in the places elk live. With a large caliber, high B.C. bullet, you get better retained energy, and more down range velocity which in turn helps that bullet to open and deliver that energy inside the animal, and hopefully exit, leaving a good blood trail. In long range hunting, it may take quite a bit of time to get to where the animal was when you hit it, and the more damage done, the easier it will be to recover that animal.
You can't kill what you don't hit. If someone can shoot long range succesfully with a smaller caliber, and can't take the recoil of a larger caliber, then choose the best bullet for the range and animal being hunted, and go huntin'.
My wife shoots a 270 win. and is deadly out to 900 yds... She can also shoot my 338 Edge better than I do. But she only shoots at game with her 270 cause that is what she is more confident with. And confidence and abillity with any caliber leads to meat in the freezer at any range.
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Unread 07-22-2009, 12:56 PM
Silver Member
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: washington utah
Posts: 230
Re: Serious question about caliber and elk potential

I use a large caliber because I hunt for cows a lot. Very seldom do you find a cow alone and with a 338 and larger bullet you can usually tell when an elk is hit so as not to accidentaly kill too many elk.
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Unread 07-22-2009, 01:00 PM
Platinum Member
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Michigan
Posts: 2,232
Re: Serious question about caliber and elk potential

You guys can claim all the excuses you want for using a large rifle.

My wife says I hunt with a 338 Allen Mag because I'm compensating.

If some is good and more is better, then too much is just right.

My mind is a raging torrent, flooded with rivulets of thought, cascading into a waterfall of creative alternatives
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Unread 07-22-2009, 06:59 PM
Silver Member
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Missoula, MT USA
Posts: 278
Re: Serious question about caliber and elk potential

Originally Posted by Kevin View Post
My dad grew up shooting deer and elk with a 22mag. Not really because he believed that was the best option, but because it is what he had. His farthest shot on a bull elk was 400 yards. Most all his animals were killed with one shot.
Yeah, my dad used to take elk at over 500 with a 22 mag revolver with open sights.
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Unread 07-22-2009, 11:28 PM
Platinum Member
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 1,132
Re: Serious question about caliber and elk potential

If I was compensating for something, and my wife probably agree's, I would need a 30mm cannon.
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Unread 07-23-2009, 03:36 PM
Silver Member
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Olympia Washington
Posts: 103
Re: Serious question about caliber and elk potential

This has been an interesting topic that has been covered many times. To me the obvious answer is the bigger the better but the most accurate shot is the top priority. I have pondered this question and asked many elk hunters here in Washington. The answer is allways "you gotta use a super mag" but when I asked why, I get a surprising answer. "If you don't drop them in there tracks someone else will have their tag on it before you get to it" No surprise to me is that most of these guy's are only seen at the rifle range when its time to check their zero the week before hunting season. I'm equally not surprised when they shoot three rounds at a twelve inch target and call that good if they all hit paper at two hundred yards. IMHO we are preaching to the chior here because we are talking to people that understand what the word accuracy means, and strive for it. I admire people that can shoot big magnums well. I have a 338 Win mag but while shooting it I began to develop a bad flinch so I went back to the 30-06 and had to work at eliminating my flinch with alot of 22lr practice. I'm getting a 280AI done now and also have a 6.5/270 that shoots extremley tight groups. These are the guns I am confident with, and will just modify my range accordingly. Best of luck to you all.

Last edited by dewiseman; 07-23-2009 at 03:40 PM. Reason: gramer
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Unread 07-23-2009, 05:18 PM
Silver Member
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Sparks, Nevada
Posts: 163
Re: Serious question about caliber and elk potential

Dewise I agree 100% were preaching to the choir here. But then again if you cant vent to the people you trust and know understand where your coming from then whats the point. The people that Im worried about (the ones that check there zero 3 days before the season on a 12" target and are happy with three hits on paper) we probably couldnt make to understand anyway. It seems that most of the guys here get as frustrated as me about this subject. Confidence, shot placement and caliber are all equally important.

I had a client come deer hunting one year with a wby 338-378. I made him check his zero upon arrival as I do all my clients. He brought out his rifle and 2 rounds. He shot once and missed a milk jug at 100yds. I asked what happened and he said he flinched. So he loaded his second round and missed again. He said "I must just be tired from the drive and cant shake this flinch. I said no big deal go ahead and let her go again.. He said well, If you wouldnt mind I would like you to give it a try.. Not thinking I went ahead and did. I hit the jug and was satisfied his rifle was capable. The next morning we found a nice 26" 4x4 buck accross a canyon. We snuck as close as we could (well as close as I was comfortable taking a man who couldnt get on his knees and crawl) I got him set up on my back pack prone with a nice dead set rest.) He argued with me for 5 min about the range saying it was much farther than 400 yds. (NE oregon has some wide open crp fields and thats what we were hunting.) I finally handed him the range finder for a second time to prove to him. He kept telling me he had to hold over the bucks back. I told him to hold just high on his shoulder and let it go.. He shot..... And I called the hit about 2 feet high.. His answer was wow thats right where I held. So he chambered another round. The buck was still standing broadside unaware what was going on. He let the second round go and hit the buck right through the hams. not hitting any bone the buck hobbled about 75 yds farther away. he took his third shot and missed... I told him to calm down and just relax. He told me he was out of ammo. I said no problem we have lots of time now just reload.. He said "No I mean I dont have any more ammo on me. Thats all I brought.." Now I am getting pissed. I pulled my model 700 22-250 out of my back scabbard and dialed in the hold. I told him to hold dead tight and let it go..
Well now he argued with me that the "little pea shooter" couldnt kill the buck from this range.. He finally just told me to do it myself. I laid down held tight on the neck and dropped the buck with one shot.. (I understand its not legal and not right but I was pissed and just wanted the hunt over with.) After the hunt he was appologetic however I told him to not bother trying to book again next year..

Well he booked with a neighbor guide the next year. Guess what he showed up with for a rifle.. No not a 22-250 but a 250-3000.. I guess one shot proved to him that confidence, shot placement make a huge difference.. He was a nice guy but had just been educated wrong.. Before he left we had a talk about trusting his guide (who lives and works in the area and knows whats going on) and the fact that being proficient with the gun you carry is very very important.. This story just cracks me up every time I think about it.. Now that its history anyway..
again sorry for the long post
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