Broadside take the heart lung shot. If quartering, try and catch the shoulder with your entrance or exit. I prefer to bust the shoulder first and foremost. They are tough critters. Hope it helps and good luck. You will do fine. Also put as much in his boiler room as you can with a second shot and so on.
Matt - I dropped my 6x6 quickly, shooting him just behind the shoulder/fore-leg, and about 1/3 up the body. He took a few faltering steps and collapsed, blew a little blood from his nose and it was over real quick.
That was a 175 gr Nosler Partition from a 7mm Rem mag, about 180 yard shot. That bullet exited with about a half-inch exit wound. If he hadn't dropped, I was going to try to take a shoulder with the next shot. It wasn't needed.
Best of luck - I know you're excited about your upcoming hunt!
Previous advice is good! I took a guy out who used a 300 WSM and 180 Accubombs and he desperately wanted to shoot an elk Best of the West style and after a very candid conversation about where the doctors would be removing my boot from if he shot an elk in the shoulder I took him out. I had him at the corner of a hay yard where a herd of 900 elk pile up before crossing into another field, he lined up on a big cow at 75yrds and drilled her dead smack in the center of the shoulder, bullet did not penetrate and it took 3 days to get her. On your first elk shoot till they are down also, no high five's till your standing over the carcass
Here's a visual aid.
Excellent advice, esp. the last statement. Always make the first shot count and be prepared for the follow up shot(s).
Here's another visual aid ...
Good luck and have a wonderful/safe hunt here in the Big Sky Country. BTW, where in MT (region/area)?
Checkout the similar threads below too, lots of good info ...
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That is good advice. Use a bullet that will penetrate, no ballistic tips. Lungs/ heart area works well. If you have enough gun then you can go thru the shoulder but I have seen a few shoulder shots that ended up in several miles of tracking and the blood trail dries up... not a good time. shoot off of your sticks or whatever you are going to be carrying in the field, bench shooting for gun accuracy and alike is good but try to practice field shots. If nothing else, use low power, small targets at whatever range you can and shoot next to the bench... without knowing what you have available to you, all I can do is tell ya to try and get prepared.
Being an elk hunter in the Bitterroots of Montana for all of my life I have been blessed to take many elk. I have raised my children on the best of organic wild meat and shot placement really does make a difference in how much meat makes it to the freezer. A couple of blood shot front quarters can cost you a bit in time to clean it up and also loss due to being blood shot. If you shoot it too high against the back bone you can ruin a bit a back strap, which will cost you some mighty fine steaks.
When you get right down to it, you take the shot you can get. Elk always appear when you least expect it and you may be shooting in poor light, a long distance, the animal may be standing turned toward or away from you or there might be brush covering the ideal shot placement. The best shot is the one you can make. We do try to operate on the one shot one kill theory. Filling a dieing critter full of holes just to make it drop is not always the best action. An elk with a through and through hole in its lungs can travel a long ways if chased, but if you take a break from the chase and just sit down and be quiet for 20 or 30 min, more often than not you will find the elk either dead or dying within 100 yards of where you made the kill shot. Get the shot right and take out the heart and the critter just will not go far at all.
This last year, I was out hunting elk with my 16 year old son. We were walking up a steep ridge, myself in the lead, when we spooked a group of elk that were bedded down in the brush to our left. The elk broke but being uncertain of our positions crossed the trail up-hill from us about 50 yards. I asked my son if he was going to shoot one as I fell to the ground so as not to obstruct his shot with the back of my head. As one stopped to look down toward us I heard the 30-06 blast over my head. "Did you get it? Did you get it?" I shouted over the ringing in my ears. I don't know dad....I just had a moment to shoot and all I could see was the neck and head. We walked up the trail and found the elk dead and bleeding out from the shot through the neck at the base of the skull. The practice on the range at close distances paid off and the boy filled the freezer for another season.