Elk shoulders, what your shooting through!

Hand Skills

Well-Known Member
Nov 1, 2017
He must be cutting meat on the side..!

I do a little cutting myself, and it never ceases to amaze me how much tougher wild animals are than domestic animals. The bones are harder, the tendons are stronger and the silver skin is thicker.

A friend of mine hit an elk in the shoulder last year. Fortunately he kept shooting until the bull went down. Found a .338 230gr ELD-X on the on-side ribs - did not penetrate the chest cavity. Impact velocity ~2600fps.

Over the years, I've seen bullets do some weird stuff, mostly glancing a bone and turning (sometimes remarkably in the case of elk and moose).

Just this year had a hunter hit a whitetail deer low in the shoulder - 6.5CM, ~100yd. Bullet deflected fore (through the brisket) instead of aft (through the heart). Fortunately 1/2mi later we caught up with the deer just before it crossed a fence.

Wild animals have incredible determination and vitality. They deserve a lot more respect than many hunters give.


Well-Known Member
Apr 16, 2018
Lately, on public ground in both Colorado and Utah you want that elk on the ground immediately and not going anywhere! If it goes 50 yards over a crest of a ridge or into the junipers out of sight, I've had other hunters suddenly take a knee and shoot 800 yds over the top of me, then have the audacity to walk up on me field dressing my elk and say they killed it. These arguments are getting more common and have happened to me twice in 3 years. Getting to the point where I don't even want to take my kids on public land and would rather pay a trespass fee. Luckily, on both occasions I was able to recover my bullet and show them before the fist fight ensued. Not gonna give up my kids first elk to some a-hole lobbing bullets in from 600+ yards off a knee. So we have been shooting for offside shoulders or neck/shoulder junction breaking the spine and killing them on the spot. It's dog eat dog out there and a lot of guys operating under different rules then I'm accustomed to. We always went by first blood gets the animals but now it seems first one to it stakes their claim. I've finished off half a dozen animals over the years and always handed it over without hesitation to the active tracker or hunter in pursuit. One time the animals was hit in the antler and another grazed the front leg with a wound I could have covered with a band aid, but I still said congratulations to the hunter who walked up and told me the story how he'd shot the elk 1 ridge over and had been tracking him for an hour. My kids say he probably would have never caught up with that elk but hey the effort and diligence was there and deserves to be rewarded. Who am I to say he wouldn't have gotten another shot at it. Kids weren't too happy with me but it was more about the principle and lesson I wanted to pass on more than anything. Last year I put a 170 grain Berger EOL through the heart of a bull at 360 yards. It dropped in it's own tracks. 270 WSM works really well when I do my part. Broke the offside shoulder on the way out and no mess no fuss from other hunters. It was 7 degrees that day and no trucks at the trail head so I may have been the only guy on the mountain. Ha
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