Not intending this thread to necessarily start an argument but to show guys who have yet to take an elk or have few under their belt just what it is that they are shooting through. Hopefully a couple pics will help keep surprises and bad days from happening!!
Back story on the shoulder bones in the pictures, they are from a nice bull about a 290 class bull. Bull was shot with a 7mm mag with 150gr soft point at around 350yrds. He was making a break for it and when hit did an endo but was trucking on his front end and starting to get his back end back under him when a 165 Matrix crashed his neck. He made it around a 100yrds in a few seconds, if this would have been in heavy timber it would have been a crappy day and in some condition this would have been a lost elk.
The bullet went through the shoulder, went OVER the spine and took the top of a couple vertebra of then exited the of shoulder. I've seen this exact shot placement exalted on sites as the perfect shot placement but you have to remember on large bulls to bring your placement down so as to impact the spine, at the place of impact the main spinal column is 8 in from the top of the meat add a couple inches of hair and your looking at 10 in down to impact the actual spine.
I see this kind of shot placement every year cutting, most have a second shot placed to kill the elk, I've seen several elk healed over from hits like this with healed shoulders and missing parts of the back bone. Also seen elk that were stunned with a similar shot and be gone when you walk over to recover the animal. I cut a cow that was shot with a 8mm rem mag three times at these two spots, they slowed the cow down but did not bring her down, the only bullet that penetrated her past the on side shoulder was the one at the top of her shoulders the other two DID NOT penetrate, this was not even at long range!!
This is a picture of what your trying to shoot through if someone tells you to shoot for the point of the shoulder, for reference I have large hands and forearms being a mechanic. If you plan on consistently shooting elk at this point don't go with less than a 338 RUM class chambering driving a 250 gr size bullet. I've seen 30 cals fail time after time to make it through this bone, Barnes don't give you any special power either, been down that road as well.