Long Range Hunting


Well-Known Member
Jun 4, 2003
Hermiston, Oregon
I am somewhat new to this site. It is an excellend site for my kind of hunting. I tend to prefer and shoot deer and elk at ranges of 450-600 yards. This site is awesome. I have been a member on shooters.com for a while now, but they are not so happy with me for beliefs on long range hunting. If any of you went there, you would see. They all plot against me. I really like the fact that when I asked about the 300 RUM and 338 RUM on this site about longer distance shots on elk and bears, nobody here said you have no business shooting that far. You gave me insight and facts and thats what I was looking for. Most of all, you all didn't bash me. Over on shooters, I get the whole community in an uproar. I am shying away from that place more and more and spending most my time reading the posts in here. I am going to be getting my 300 RUM here soon and working up a load consisting of the 200g SMK is what I decided apon. Everyone in here seems to have nothing but good to say about SMK's on game performance. I am only interested right now in shooting out to 600 as thats all I practice out to and am consistent. I practice every day, or at least every other day at 400-600 yards by setting milk jugs up and laying prone. I click my Leupold 6-18 Target accordingly to the range. My go to gun is a 25/06 and 115g b-tips. Have made many 1 shot kills on deer and coyotes at 450-600 yards. One thing I really need to practice is the wind. I do not shoot that far if there is any noticeable wind. I just dont feel comfortable and dont want to take the chance of losing or wounding an animal. I have more respect than that. Am going to get the SkyMate out of Sinclair to help with wind reading. Then I will start practicing a lot in the wind. Well I probly sound like I'm rambling on, 17 year olds have a tendancy to get away from the points. But just like to say, I love this site, and the people on here are wonderful and very helpful. Thanks a lot guys.
You are doing the right thing by practicing - that is how we develop our marksmanship and related skills. If I might offer some advice, you should ensure that you are keeping real good records of all your shooting, including the regular practice sessions. We have simple 8 1/2x11 pages in ring binders with columns for base info, wind (velocity and angle), mirage conditions, sunlight, rifle/scope/ammo etc. and vertical columns in which we record or ditto the actual elevation and windage settings for each shot, plus where it hit and how well the shot broke (that is called the "call").

Record keeping is the way to develop your drop charts, my hunting charts start at 300 yards and go to 700 in 50 yard increments. I put them on the side of my rifle on a label. In reality I may not shoot past 550 or so, I don't have the confidence yet but hope to get out further.

Don't expect buying a wind meter will make you a wind shooter, they are nice tools to give you some reference info but the best way to get long range hits is to learn to read and interpret the mirage and other natural wind indicators. This takes a lot of practice - try to learn as much as you can about reading mirage as it is the best indicator if it is present. I find that I usually underestimate the wind, only way to fix that is to keep records of your first shots at various ranges in various winds.
Most important suggestion is to keep shooting and to work at learning and retaining skills as you practice - don't just pull the trigger, keep notes on drop and drift and use them each time you setup for a session of practice. There are other nasty things that can effect a bullet's flight but wind and gravity are the main things to handle.

Also get the best scope you can afford and learn how to work the turrets with your eyes closed, get real comfortable with the turrets as that is how you drive your shots.

Good luck and have fun. This is the place to get help and to share experiences, you won't get shot down for talking long range with these guys
Thanks for the advice. I dont keep records like that. Can you tell me where I might get those record keeping log books? I usually just save my 100 and 300 and 500 yard targets and call it good. When I shoot my milk jugs filled with water at 400-600, I lay prone with my harris bi-pod and at 400 I am 100% hit rate the last couple months. At 500 yards, I am 8-9 out of 10. At 600 yards, 6-7 out of 10. I am not shooting with any noticable wind. The misses I do encounter are usually either left or right and that was obviously due to wind. I rarely ever shoot high or low on the jug. My rifle is very accurate 25/06. My load consist around the 115g B-tip. With a BC of .453, it is the best choice for longer range accuracy. My 500 yard 3 shot groups are usually 4-5 inches. I once shot a 2.5" group. That is laying prone with bi-pod and no wind. My farthest 1 shot kill is 604 yards on a muley buck. Hit him right in the shoulder and he went 25 yards before piling up. Have made several 450-550 yard shots on deer and a lot of coyotes. I have missed quite a few times to. Only human. I love long range shooting. The wind meter is just another piece of equipment that will make me a little better. I dont have any experience shooting in wind because I never can hit anything. I dont like to practice in the wind either. With this device, I can slowly get better at doping the wind at maybe 5-10 MPH. Still, I never shoot at an animal 400+ with any noticable wind. I just wont do it. I think for the ranges I shoot, which is only out to 600 yards, the new Leupold vx2, 6-18 fine duplex, target scope is good. I am a Leupold man. This scope is excellent.

By the way, I have been experimenting a lot lately with the 100g matchkings out of my 25/06. I went with the accuracy load out of the sierra manual which say 52g of IMR-4350. This load at 100 yards regularly groups in the .4 to .6 range. Average is .5 inch. Velocity is average of about 3250fps over my chrony. I know sierra does not recomend them forhunting purposes, but all the LR hunters use them, and dont have problems with them. I did some expansion test with mine with wet newspaper placed at 100 yards. I shot 3 shots into them and later recovered the bullets. 2 of them blew up so bad that all I found was bits and pieces, the other 1 was a good mushroom. They did not retain much weight though. That doesn't bother me, much like B-tips performance. However, I also shoot my milk jugs with B-tips and they will explode and send water flying everywhere. When I hit the jugs with the 100g Matchkings they act like FMJ's and dont have the expansion like they had when I shot into the newspaper. Also tonight, I just got back from a coyote hunt and was successfull. My dad called in a coyote to 101 yards and I was shooting my trusty 25/06 with 100g SMK's. At the shot, the coyote dropped in his tracks. When we walked up to the thing, it was almost blown in half. These are some of the most recent experiments I have made with the 100g SMK's. From my experiences, they seem to give erratic performance on expansion. Sometiems they will expand rapidly, and sometimes they dont. I have not yet tried them on deer, but I will this coming year if my 25/06 barrel is not worn out by this time. Are my findings out of the ordinary?
You can easily make your own data sheets, the only commercial ones that I know of are sold to tactical or centerfire rifle target shooters and they are quite pricey. Just start horizontal colums across the top of your page, I use the following:

a.Date/Time........... b.Rifle/Scope......... c.Ammunition/load .............. d.Shooter ........ e.Location ............ f.NOTES ........
That is the base info.
Then I also put this info in horizontal columns:
g.Wind ...........mph h.Direction ( ) (put an arrow to show wind direction relative to bullet path
i.Light Clear Sky( ) Broken Clouds( ) Overcast( ) (you can also use BRIGHT( ), HAZY( ), OVERCAST( ))
j. Mirage Light( ) Medium( ) Heavy( )
k. Temperature.............
You can also include barometric pressure if you wish, and note any other weather factors.

All this goes across the top of the page, you can ditto " info that is constant.
Then I make vertical columns with the rest of the 8 1/2 x 11 page with the following headings:
Distance Elevation Windage Call Hit

I put 25 or 30 horizontal lines across these vertical columns so that each page will hold 25+ shots, in fact we scaled down the data section and have some pages that hold 60 shots in three separate sets of columns.

I also use a small data book that I created with all this info but 10 shots per page that I give to guys who shoot in a little Advanced Marksmanship for Hunters course that I teach. My smaller books are 3 3/4" x 8 1/4" and they have twenty five pages (times two as they are printed on each side) and held together with plastic bindings. You can create something like that and get them madeup at Kinkos or Staples.

Another important aspect of our shooting (from the guys on that website who tear a strip off your butt) is firearms maintenance. If you want to do yourself and your rifle a favor, accept the fact that you have to spend real money on top quality cleaning equipment, and use it religiously. Cleaning chemicals and patches are not cheap, but they are essential for keeping that rifle shooting at its potential. We clean our barrels every 40 shots or less when on the range, and never put a rifle away dirty. Get into the habit of including cleaning in your shooting day, just like hauling enough ammo and setting up targets.
As for bullet selection - you are very restricted as to bullet choice in .25 - that is the strong point of the .30 cal. Terminal performance is very tough to predict or count on given the many variables involved. Bottom line might be that the bullets you are talking about perform better at longer range than closer distances as they will tend to fragment and shead cores with high impact velocities. There are only two bonded bullets available right now, Swift A-Frame and Speer Trophy Bonded but neither is a long range bullet. Watch for some new bullets in .25 like the Interbond, Accubond and Scirocco in the future as they will have sharp points and boat-tails for good LR performance.

Last bit of advice - get out there when the wind is blowing and make your misses, learn from them and before you know it you will have more fun shooting in wind than you did shooting in calm air. Try to work from 10 mph wind, that is pretty common and you can cut numbers in half for five mph or double them for 20mph. Get some steel plates, spray paint them white so your hits will show up and have at it. My plates range from 1" thick and 6 inches square to 1/2" thick and two feet by four feet. Find an old swing set to hang them on and life will get much more interesting than blowing up water jugs.
Water jugs and balloons are great targets but steel is the way to get your downrange zeros and to learn what wind is doing.

Remember that wind DIRECTION is a big factor, not just velocity. I always put up a rod with some yarn on it to show me wind direction when I am practicing, but get used to throwing grass in the air etc. to figure out wind direction. Wind speed is also critical, there are wind charts that work well, plus your meter. Here is a standard chart:
3 MPH - can barely be felt, smoke will drift
3-5 MPR - can be felt on your face
5-8 MPH - leaves are in constant motion on most trees and shrubs
8-12 MPH - tops of small trees moving
12-15 MPH - trees begin to sway

Good luck with your shooting, sounds like you are doing real well. Sorry this is so long, I cut and pasted some stuff and tend to get wordy...
Rem25-06, you are doing it right. I didn't read it but assume you have a rangefinder of some sort. That is a critical piece of equipment.

The only advice I can suggest to you is start shooting in the wind as often as you can. It really isn't tough to learn and hunting season is not the time to figure it out.

I put up a flag and use it to reference surrounding indicators like mirage, trees, grass. That way I learn how to use the surroundings which is all I will have in a hunting situation.

After shooting about 1000rds in windy conditions, I still consider myself a novice. More trigger time can only help. You know your load works, now learn how to really use it. Also consider using smaller targets. I would suggest switching to clay pigieons or something similar (we now have gongs).

The smaller targets makes hitting more difficult and further refines your shooting technique. If your task allows for over 75% hit ratio, it is not difficult enough. I believe that the practise should be much harder then hunting. This ensures that I have the confidence and the extra room for error that will occur in the field.

A milk jug is the size of the kill zone on a deer. The clay is half that. Believe me that after a very short while, you will be hitting those clays regularly. Eventually, you will even do it in the wind...

I like shooting at the larger steel plates too. The nice thing about the steel is the bullets POI shows up so much easier at LR and if you get some plates wide enough that you can stay on them in the high winds, you'll quickly see it's nice to know where each hits POI was.... even if you missed the center where you have your bull.

All the data you wish you had at a later time to evaluate, start wrighting it all down.

A few things I keep track of: (example)

scope settings (16.0,0.00) vert, horiz MOA
wind speed @ what direction (5@7)

bullet and lot#
powder and lot#
primer and lot#
case #'s being fired (51-60)
# times cases loaded
rounds through bore after cleaned last
powder chg wt.
OAL to ogive
OAL in relation to land distance (.005 into)
neck tension

POI distance from POA
vertical dispersion
Horizontal dispersion
POI shift (if any)

any rezeroing of turrets (down .5 MOA from previous zero)
assign a record #
digital pic of target w/ rec #
running total of rounds through this bbl

I probably left out some things too.
But all the data sheet and targets get three ring hole punched and thrown in a big binder in the order they are shot.. each rifle has a binder.

Most of the data is a pretty quick to log down, ditto a bunch etc. It pays off when you want to go back and review, it SUCKS when you can't...

[ 06-16-2003: Message edited by: Brent ]
Oh yes I have a Nikon Laser 800 Rangefinder. It is nothing like what you guys have, but for my limited shooting ability, it works just fine. I have gotten it to give me readings on deer as far away as 850 yards as well. So I will probly keep it untill I can shoot out to that far, which is going to be a long while.

I have written down all the data you guys gave me on a piece of paper. I am going to buy some paper here real quick and start doing all the proper data. I'm sure it helps a lot.

When I get my wind meter by SKYMATE I will do a lot more practicing in the wind. I have very little knowledge about wind and shooting in wind for that matter. It is something I think is very hard to do. And I usually miss. I dont like to miss and when I do, I get kinda mad. I know it is going to make me a better shooter though. So anything that is going to help me, I am willing to do. Clay targets is a really good idea. I have always just used milk jugs because like you said it represents a deers vitals. I will try some clay pigeons though and see how those work out. Thanks a lot for all who replyed.
have been a member on shooters.com for a while now, but they are not so happy with me for beliefs on long range hunting. If any of you went there, you would see. They all plot against me. I really like the fact that when I asked about the 300 RUM and 338 RUM on this site about longer distance shots on elk and bears, nobody here said you have no business shooting that far. You gave me insight and facts and thats what I was looking for. Most of all, you all didn't bash me. Over on shooters, I get the whole community in an uproar. I am shying away from that place more and more and spending most my time reading the posts in here. un-quote

I used to post there also, as well as a few other places, some of the poeple there are not that bad, they are stuck in a shotgun and slugs strut, were you can't do much over 100 yards or you are unethical...
A Rifle to them is a typical thin barrl 270, 30-30, 30-06, 7mm that has a cheap scope, shoots maybe 2 inches at 100 yrds..
So when you talk to them about picking coyotes off at 500 yrds or killing deer at 1000 yrds, they do not comprehend...
They do not shoot off of portable bench rests, shoot heavy bbl accurate factory or quality custom rugs with good optics, they do not have range finders, they do not have drop charts for bullet drop etc...

Do not get me wrong, I do know some people who are great long distance shooters, my friends buddy who has 3-4 custim rifles 220 swift improved with 8x32x56 Nightforce that shoots way under 1/2 at 100 ALL day long...
but the guy does NOT believe in long range HUNTING at all....
Why I do not know, but from his view he claimed it taKes hunting away from the sport...
He says the thrill of hunting is sneaking up on the animal, and seeing it close..
and that I am missing the whole point..
I tell him I have done all that kind of hunting since the 70's..
And that I don't need to be close enough to smell a coyotes *** to be happy.

my hunting buddy was hunting long range with me, but not much anymore.. since after hunting with him, the guy is older and has a ton of hunting places to go...
he's a great marksman from a bench to targets, but from what my friend says he's shakes and get nervous when hunting and gets bad shots or misses alot, so maybe he is better to take short shots, some poeple are just not steady when they see a live animal in the sights...

Sounds like your a natural hunter, not very old and already killing game way way out there..
I too use a 25-06 (a Ruger with 6.5-20x50 Leopold that shoots around 1/2-2/3 MOA depending on load..
I use mainly Berger 115 VLD's at around 3100 fps... for my coyote loads.

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