Benchracer, I also think alot of hunters progress into the sport and go from deer to elk or larger game. I started with lesser caliber like the 243 because I was a kid and that is good size to start with,and was not to large to begin with.Elk where hard to come by and you had to want it , and I went to 7mm,then 340 WBY.The country was big and started to want to stretch it out.When I was a kid at elk camp the rack had rifles like 7mm,300wn,308 Norma mag,340 wby.Some one would shot a bear and slob some good old bear grease on your boots with a paint brush,I loved those days.I am in the bigger is better but have shot large mags for 25+, I have also taken many a pope animal,I arrowed 21 animals one year,so fully understand shot placement
That explanation makes a lot of sense. I know what you mean about big country. I lived in Montana for about two years. Pure bliss! I have always wished that I could arrange my circumstances to allow me to return. Sounds like you have had some great times. I envy you!
I'm in each of your camps both at the same time..... but only part way. Shot placement is king. True. But how much of this "shot placement" do we really own? For the purposes of long range hunting or even target shooting at that matter one can only predict Mother Nature and the required ballistics corrections to certain degrees. One doesn't have to look too far to find some facts behind this statement. Take a look at the post by Clayne B and the cold bore challenge. Do you think he is not doing everything he can to send his shots to hit his intended target….every time? Is he hitting his target every time? One can only control shot placement so much…Mother Nature is the king here. To varying degrees it’s up to her in the long range game.
This is where go big comes into camp. When Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate with your firing solution a well intended “shot placement” shot connects fur in an unwanted location. Going big tends to help alleviate problems associated with the unfortunate but realistic “bad fur shot placement.”
I will leave with this. I assisted new long range hunters last year harvesting three elk and three deer with an average range over 800 yards. There were varying degrees of wind on all the shots. Only two of the six animals were shot with “king of shot placement.” The other four were hit on the edge of the vitals. All animals were recovered only 10s of yards from where each was shot. I don’t choose to coach shooters to select a large magnum such as one pushing the 300gr 338 because its Go Big or Go Home……It’s because you have a better chance of recovering an animal when “king of shot placement” turns out to not even be in the castle.
Ironically enough, my thinking regarding this is a hybrid of the two camps as well. I am, by habit, picky about my shot angles. However, though I love my lighter rifles (I am a 6.5 nut), no way would I carry one in pursuit of elk. Especially at long range. Of the rifles that I own, the first one I would reach for would be my .375 H&H. It's a bit on the heavy side, but I don't own much between it and my 6.5's in power level.
I think your point about uncertainty of shot placement at long range is a good one. Frankly, that's what really scares me. I am still developing as a long range shooter. I simply don't trust myself enough to take a shot at any big game animal at long range yet. If one has an experienced person with them who is reading the conditions and making the wind calls, that's a different story. I have confidence in my shooting mechanics. It's the ability to adjust for changing conditions that gives me fits.
Under the right conditions, and using a rifle of an appropriate power level, I would be willing to take a shot out to about 600 yards, but that is my MAX under PERFECT conditions: little or no mirage, little or no wind, with a steady rest.
I know people do it successfully, but I wouldn't have the cojones to take on an elk with a 6mm/85g bullet.
I guess I'm not exactly a "bigger is better" guy, but my grandfather once advised me to go with the most powerful chambering that I could still shoot well. I always thought that was pretty good advice.
You might want to read post #9 its also mention taking two cow elk with 243.
I started hunting Co in 1977 with 7mag and first 22yrs I only hunted bulls. I started putting in for cow tag plus my bull tag or I put in for either sex tag which counts as bull tag.
First year I hunted cow elk did it with rifle I used for bulls quickly learned I was over gunned so had had few rifles build just of cow hunts and I've changed those over the years.
When Co does their harvest report for elk they break it down rifle seasons for Bulls,Cow and Calves. Last year 17,186 Bulls taken, 21,012 Cows taken and 2622 Calves taken. Little over 215,00 hunters.
Benchracer,Hers one to make you miss MT more.My boy was about 15, about 5 miles in and a good chunk of verticle, we where recovering a big mtn. muley. In in dark out in dark and I had to take alot of his load on way out,fun stuff
THat's the stuff of which memories are made! My son would kill to be standing where your boy is in that picture! If you ever feel the need to stop and count your blessings, I think you have quite a few of them right there!
I've been on five elk hunts and killed four elk.
I used a 30-06 with 200gr nosler partitions. The very first elk I killed was at 450 yards. All elk but one died 20 yards from where I shot them. My cousin has been a guide in Montana for the last 30 years and just recently retired. All those years he used a pre 64 mod. 70 257 Roberts and harvested an elk every year. This year if I draw I'm going to use my new savage light weight hunter in a 7mm08. It only weighs 6 lbs. with the scope. Much easier than carrying my Weatherby's.
Great question and discussion. Number one concern in all of this is, always, bullet placement. Be sure of your shot. And remember when shooting uphill or down hill aim low.
I started out with an '06, went through several 7 mags, 45-70, a few .300's, .358 STA, and then I got tired of thunderous magnums and went to a .270 and .270 WSM.
I had been telling clients for a couple decades to bring their deer rifles... the ones they were used to shooting and could hit well with. I asked them not to bring a magnum unless they were already shooting one and had mastered it.
My hunters usually shot well with their .270's and '06's. Most shot poorly with a .300, and many more animals were shot poorly or missed altogether with them.
There is a lot of bull crap that flies around on the 'net about elk calibers. Somehow elk must have gotten a lot tougher over the last 39 years I have hunted them, because back then almost none of us used those big, heavy recoiling magnums... they kicked like hell and were unnecessary. Now for some reason, most of the internet jockeys claim you HAVE to have a .300 or you're undergunned. Baloney. IME the vast majority of elk are shot at 200 yards or less. And if a guy has to take a 500 yard shot, those standards have what it takes as long as you do; the ability to shoot well and put the bullet where it needs to go.
The advantage of a magnum is range. Within 4-500 yards you have enough power with the standards.
When my youngest was 12 she started hunting elk with a 7-08. In four years she killed four elk and four mulies. I took that little rifle out last year for old times, and killed two more, a mature bull and a cow.
The 280 and 280 AI will do the job just fine. Shoot poorly and the magnum won't save you.
I have a bit of an opinion on this because I've guided or outfitted for over 30 years and been in on a few elk shootings. Just my opinion though. Shoot what ever floats yer boat. My marmot rifle is a 7 mag, bigger than my elk rifle. It's the range thing. Those 180 gr Berger VLD's are still flying nice when they pass the 1200 yard mark and it's almost impossible to sneak up on the wiley marmota!