Why I learned to shoot long range - Success Story


Well-Known Member
Aug 2, 2020
I decided to put some effort into gaining some long-range abilities a few years back to become more confident in regular hunting situations. Thinking back, I needed it.. I know others can do it routinely, but taking a shot at an unwounded animal beyond 500 or 600 yards isn't really in my wheelhouse. I've been able to stretch out my ranges a bit and now have a handful of 500+ yard animals under my belt - a couple of mule deer and an elk, but those were ideal setups with completely relaxed game and almost no crosswind.

I just got home from an out-of-state pronghorn hunt. My hunting companion has hunted all of his life, but mostly in heavily-wooded areas. We peeked over a ridge and couldn't believe our fortune when we discovered a nice buck facing directly away from us sleeping, 280 yards away in the bottom of the draw. I passed on him and let my buddy take the first shot of the hunt. We had plenty of time and once the buck stood up, he took the shot from a stable position. Well....... stuff happens, I guess. The pronghorn took off at warp speed (as only they can) down the draw. Through the binos I could see that he had been hit far back - somewhere in the hindquarter. The buck quickly went out of sight behind the ridgeline and we started quietly working our way down the draw. I knew he was quickly approaching the boundary of the property and I wasn't convinced he was wounded badly enough to lay up and stop moving. Our chances to recover the animal didn't seem very good.

To my slight surprise, he started working up the opposite side, and he came back into view at 650 yards. I asked my companion if he wanted me to try to help and he said, "absolutely, go for it." I didn't have much time, but ranged him again, checked the dope card on the stock, dialed in, and fired from a sitting position with a bipod. He said, "you were a bit high" but the pronghorn spun around quickly a couple of times.

He started away from us again, and stopped at 748 yards away. I dialed up again and fired another shot. After a short eternity, his back legs dropped and I got the reassuring "whop!" sound of a hit. This anchored the animal and we worked our way down as quickly as we could so he could put in a finishing shot.

The situation was far from ideal, but if you hunt long enough, this kind of thing happens. It was enormously satisfying to salvage a bad situation, end the suffering of an animal, allow my buddy to collect a nice trophy, and gain even more confidence in this rifle and load. It felt even better when we discovered that he had a recent rifle wound across his brisket, and a large abscess around and through the sternum. We called an officer and he agreed that we shouldn't try to recover the meat. My first shot had punched a small hole through the sinus cavities and the third shot caught him in the spine. Neither was perfect, but the rules change once the critter is wounded.

Two years ago making this shot would have been questionable. Five years ago it would have been miraculous. For those interested, I used a Custom Remington 700 in .260 Ackley with 140 grain Berger HVLDs.

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