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Long Range Hunting

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Wing master View Drop Down
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    Posted: 15 January 2019 at 01:06
I had an interesting conversation with a game warden today. 

Some how the conversation came around to long range hunting. I know that their are people that are very capable of taking deer sized game at long distances, but I also think those people are few and far between. 

One comment she made really made me think. she said "ever since they started putting those long range hunting shows on television, we have found a lot more wounded game." That made a lot of sense to me because I think a lot of people don't put the time and expense into preparing themselves to take a shot over a couple hundred yards. 


The longest shot I've ever taken was 387 yards according to my range finder. It was on an antelope with my Remington Mountain Rifle in .308. The antelope ran about a 20 foot semi circle and dropped. It was hit through the heart and lung area. Bear was my witness. 

 I was laying in the prone position and had a bipod on my rifle. It was about as good of conditions as I could ask for. 

That being said, about 300 yards is my personal limit. I would take a little longer shot under the right conditions. 

What is your personal range limit for hunting big game animals?

Wing master
I have always considered myself to be quite the bullshitter, But ocasionally it is nice to sit back and listen to a true professional......So, Carry on.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote jsgbearpaws1 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 January 2019 at 01:17
200 on game of just about any type anymore..perhaps a piece more on vermin, groundhogs and yotes when I get a chance.
...oh yeah! thats gonna hurt!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote BEAR Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 January 2019 at 06:21
Longest shot on game was a groundhog (10#) at 551 yards, measured (before lasers).  Longest on big game would be 332 yds  260 Remington/kimber.

One of the best shots was on Grizzly that was running, standing, no sling or rest, 223 yards, heart shot, fell right there (416 mag 400 grain max).  And I was standing in 2 foot of snow, tough to move.

No a lot of long range big game possibility here in the east.  Some LR guys in Pennsylvania do hunt and kill deer close to a mile or more.  they hunt power lines, ridge to ridge; they hunt from a fixed bench with mechanical rests and 20# rifles.  I do believe they wound as many or more than they kill.

The question is NOT how far can I shoot and hit a kill zone, not just hit a deer.  My thought is IF you can shoot 1 MOA in the field, and an animal has a 8 inch kill zone...then absolute max range is 800 yards.  Few guys can manage 2+ MOA in the field  which means 3-400 yards if they are good shooters.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote MtElkHunter Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 January 2019 at 13:58
Bear hit the nail right on the head. Shooting 1 MOA groups from a bench rest with perfect conditions is a long, very long way from field shooting at real game. I have shot long range and yes it is fun to do and  have made some pretty good shots on game but I am very picky on the shots and as I get better at long range I take less and less long shots simply because I know that there are too many variables and things that can go wrong with long shots on game.  On the subject of long range hunting shows, what they do not show or tell you is the ones that they missed and/or wounded. They also do not show the ones that they hit and had to get close and finish off, all you see is the initial shot and then the next part of the show is the crew with the dead animal. We don't see the hours of tracking and the eventual kill shot.
 
I know several ex-military snipers and they all will tell you that they like the 200-400 yard shots not the 500+ yard shots simply because they can guarantee a solid hit at those ranges and that anything past 500 yards things can and do go to hell quick. That is not to say that they cannot do those shot because they can and have but they do not like them because the probability of a miss go up.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Wing master Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 January 2019 at 01:11
I totally agree.

Sitting at a bench shooting at a target that doesn't move and is square with the bench is a whole different thing. 

Add in up hill or down hill, resting on a rock or uneven ground, hell, even a faster heart rate from being more excited makes a difference. 

I do take long shots on prairie dogs. Last summer I hit a prairie dog at 600 yards with my Swede. That shot was also witnessed by a member here. By the way, Where has deaddog been? I haven't seen him around here in a while. 

Wing master
I have always considered myself to be quite the bullshitter, But ocasionally it is nice to sit back and listen to a true professional......So, Carry on.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote BEAR Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 January 2019 at 08:39
Wing you hit another good point.

Seeing game at long range and being able to pass up a shot because of the games position isn't the same thing.  even waiting while watching big game for it to move and give  the perfect shot isn't something many hunters can do.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote jsgbearpaws1 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 January 2019 at 15:23
MEH....Big game hunting out west is way too easy these days to worry about perfect shot placement or even caliber. The animals are all stoned from the hippies second hand smoke in Colorado and pushed out of the parks by the stench and garbage to the point they just find you, unload your gun and jump up and down on your projectiles to end their own lives! What you need is a good set of calls for long range. Ones that can bring in all the other suicidal critters in the neighborhood.

...oh yeah! thats gonna hurt!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote d4570 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 January 2019 at 17:20
I have been watching this to see where the wind was going to blow.
I do not like to see the trend abrewing . Most hunter want to be's cant shoot 100 yards and that's to far to walk anyway.
That said;
my las antelope was shot at 450 yards.
The two deer before this year was shot at a bit over that.
The Kids have shot game that far also.
BUT!
You gota remember we all shoot many 100's of rounds a year
out of each of our guns. Before the season we all go and SEE where
out prospective guns actually shoot at 100,200, 300, 400, and sometimes 500 yards. we have cheat sheets on each gun and round.
 anything suspected to be over 300 yards we laser and SEE how far we are looking at.
With all that there is still a LOT of luck involved . A 1000 yard shot is not an option .
Remember: Four boxes keep us free ,the soap box, the ballot box, the jury box, AND the cartridge box
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote BEAR Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 January 2019 at 08:34
Cheap laser rangefinders have truely changed the game.

In 1960, I made a large 3' string winder with 100 yards of kite string on it.  I'd estimate my shoots and then actually measure them on varmints.  Learned to be pretty good on range estimating.  Range finder really changed the game, now I know before I shoot exactly how far the range is.

Rangefinder also changed the way I reload.  Back in the day I went for max accuracy, even if it was P++.  today I only load for accuracy.  Flat trajectory isn't needed for 400 yards.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Wing master Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 January 2019 at 21:02
Bear, I agree. most hunters (myself included) get too excited to wait for the perfect broadside shot to present itself. I am getting better and have passed a few shots in the last few years. Range finders have made a huge difference. But I do think a lot of hunters, especially young hunters, haven't put in the time and practice to make a shot over 100 or 200 yards. 

D, I realize that their are some hunters that actually put in the time and effort to be perfectly capable of taking long shots on game animals. I do quite a bit of long range shooting at prairie dogs and some target shooting. I'm still not totally comfortable taking a shot much over 300 yards. I guess I need to shoot more to get my confidence up to where it should be. 

Wing master
I have always considered myself to be quite the bullshitter, But ocasionally it is nice to sit back and listen to a true professional......So, Carry on.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote BEAR Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 January 2019 at 07:16
Wing, you got that 300 yards correct.  this year my long shot was 332 yards, one shot band dead.

But I had been sighted-in at 300 yds, and shooting at the 300 yard range  a lot.  But I did pass a 400 yard critter...cross wind was gust 30-45.  Wind is THE big factor at anything beyond 200 yards for me.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote MtElkHunter Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 January 2019 at 13:42
Another factor that so many people over look in long range shooting is terminal performance. Just because you can hit that animal, can you cleanly kill it. For someone who has studied bullet performance on game for over 40 years I can still say even with todays high quality bullets that that is not a given. I have been up to my elbow in a gut pile trying to find a bullet and determine the bullet path and performance. That bullet that worked perfectly at 100-200 yards can fail miserably at 600+ yards.
If you have a bullet that will expand and work great at 600,700,800 yards it will be an absolute disaster when all of a sudden that animal pops up at 50 yards. I don't think there is a bullet made today that will work both in very close and a extreme range.
 
Most people do not realize how little energy a bullet has at 1000 yards.  My example of this is the standard 30-06 168gr FMJ military load. This is a full power load designed for penetration.  Shooting this load at 3/4 inch plywood targets at 1000 yards about 50% of the bullets do not make it through the plywood and the ones that do you can find 10 or 15 yards behind the target on the ground. In comparison a 22 mag at 50 yards will go through the same plywood every time.
 
Granted most people including me shoot something bigger than an 06 but at 1000 yards you really don't gain that much.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote BEAR Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 January 2019 at 17:56
I use the 30-30 guideline.

With a good kill-area shot a 30-30 150 grain at 100 yd will kill most critters.  that is about 1200 ft lbs.

If your cartridge has that energy a x range, then you have enough gun to do the job.

problem most cartridges will get you that...but few can hit a kill-area at that range.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote MapleHill Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 January 2019 at 18:43
For an eastern hunter like me a 100yd shot at a deer is very rare. 30-60yds is probably the norm in my area. When I went west the first time I went to my cousins farm to practice before the trip. We lasered 550yds in his lot and put up half sheets of plywood to shoot at. 550, 400, 300, 200, etc. With my rifle I planned to take with me I was comfortable at 300 and OK at 400. I set my personal limit at 350 if things were right. Of course we shot from a bench (easy) then moved and shot off sticks and our packs, this was of course harder, but still do-able. What we couldn't simulate was shooting thru the woods, huffing and puffing from climbing mtns and moving animals! It is all together different than shooting live game. Last years trip to the Montana plains had potential for long shots as well, ended up 125yd shot was all it took for me to connect. I think the romance on TV with the long range shows makes Joe Average think he can do it, with little or no practice. That makes for bad shots and wounded game. So many guys talk a big game here about long shots they have made...lots of BS most of the time!!

Edited by MapleHill - 21 January 2019 at 18:44
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote deaddog Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 January 2019 at 20:08
Range finders are a wonderful tool. But, I believe they give a false sense of confidence in making long range shots. They don't gauge the wind. The time a bullet spends getting to 200 yards isn't enough to let the wind do it's tricks. At 400 it turns a shoulder hold into a gut shot. You have to put in a lot of time learning to dope the wind. I don't think the average hunter does.
Endeavor to persevere.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote BEAR Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 January 2019 at 07:36
I doubt the AVERAGE hunter even spends time on the drop beyond 200 yards at a bench, before trying longer shots.

Maple, what you did was the correct way.  hunting in the west is VERY different than hunting in the east.  It is easier, in that game is plentful, terrain is more open, and game is less spooky.  But for all the guys that "go west" for a hunt few practice anything over 200 nor do they practice shooting off anything except a bench with sand bags.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote jsgbearpaws1 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 January 2019 at 22:54
Even at the bench, it's just playing around past 200 for me. I just wouldn't risk it on any animal short of varmints. From solid rests like the rock ledges I usually haunt I have no issue with blowing the heads off turkeys out to 200. My guns are capable enough for much longer, smallest I use is a 7mm rem mag. Just too many variables. I haven't worked at the angles and wind enough to attempt anything beyond so I stay in my comfort zone. If I'm huffin and puffin off hand, distance shrinks to inside 50. I don't get worked up over game, regardless of trophy or not. Smacking an 18" gong at 1000 yards is fun but deer sized boiler rooms are a mere 4" circle, start throwing in windage, elevation angles and grass or twigs that vanish in a scope as well as projectile effectiveness at the greater distances...to me I just respect the critters too much to make those shots with a clear conscious. If I was to make the trip back west to hunt the bigger stuff, then my range time would have to be substantial enough to extend my comfort zone. No need for it out east here....does that make me lazy?
...oh yeah! thats gonna hurt!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Goatlocker Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 March 2019 at 19:08
Hey guys, hope all are well.  Have been away busy with life, but thought I'd drop in and see what ya'll are up to.  I generally think on the same lines as the majority of posts in this thread too.  I'm mainly an eastern hunter, and certainly wonder around in that traditional "thick stuff", have a few rifles specifically for those conditions which I enjoy breaking out from time to time.  However, I learned almost from the beginning, that as a deer hunter here in eastern NC, we also have our fair share of long range shooting opportunities.  Bean fields, power lines, and logged cutovers are common place.  I learned early on that the same cartridges which are considered for use "Out West", are also perfectly deadly inside of 100 yrds.  So why limit myself to something ideal out to only 100 yrds or so?  I discovered, that the biggest advantage in some of those "brush busters" wasn't so much the cartridge, as it was the fast handling rifle commonly found paired with these chamberings like the 30-30, 35Rem, and 44Mag.  I mostly hunted from tree stands, and learned that the further away down wind I could get from where I expected the deer to show, the better my chances of not getting busted by them.  I started shooting the 270Win, 130 grn loads, and was comfortable out to 200 yrds "from a good rest".  After a few years of shooting that rifle, I started setting up targets out to 300 yrds, and found them to be fairly easy to hit, "from a steady rest".  I learned early on that the "steady rest" was the key to my success in making a proper hit.  Hail Mary shots were for the birds.  I just was never lucky like that to even try those kind of shots.  If I couldn't set up on something to keep me steady, I wouldn't/will not take the shot.  In those early years, before the laser range finder, we would set up our rifles to strike within a 6" diameter, shooting dead center of target, from any range out to about 325 yrds.  Usually that would mean I was shooting 2.5" to 3" high at 100 yrds.  I learned to judge how far away 300 yrds is, and didn't really consider shots beyond, but could just aim center of target out to that distance and know I did not need to adjust for distance.  I moved to shooting the 284Win reloads with 140 grn Sierra Game Kings, and have the same basic sight in.  After I bought my first laser range finder, I've moved my maximum shot to 400 yrds.  However, that's not going to be my first choice to take.  I've learned a few other considerations over the years concerning long range shots.  Here in the east, where the animal could literally hop into a thicket and disappear, adds a twist to deciding how far away one might risk a shot.  In the mature pine plantations, looking down a 400 yrd shooting lane, one is usually presented with two sides of thicket that looks much the same for it's entire length, with very little to distinguish the first two hundred yards, from the third or fourth.  You could make the perfect heart shot, and the deer leave the shooting lane, and you can easily think you know where the deer entered the brush....until you start that way, and it all looks the same way down there.  Now you have to hope you are at least within 100 yards of where the deer entered, when you search of a blood trail, and start wading through the reeds and briars to find it.  I learned to stage land marks such as dead limbs across the lane at known distances to use as reference marks to the animal before the shot.  Of course, a range finder is ideal when you have time to use it.  I also shoot for the shoulder to anchor it.  Tracking a heart/lung shot deer through 100 yrds or so of briars, and then dragging it back is too much work if I can avoid it.
To date, my longest shot on big game was 337 yrds, out of a box stand with a sand bag rest.  I don't shoot, if it feels like an unsure shot.      

Edited by Goatlocker - 03 March 2019 at 19:41
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote BEAR Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 March 2019 at 06:33
Boy, you said that right.  " I learned early on that the "steady rest" was the key to my success in making a proper hit."

  I never hunt without a shooting stick.  Got my allround monopod , good walking stick and works good to 250 yds.  then I have a bi-pod trigger stick, that gets me stead enough to 500 yards.  also have two tripods, one is heavy and works best when only carried a few hundred yards from vehicle, steady but heavy.  also got lightweight tripod, home-made out of dowels, good for gophers from standing position.


I've hunted for years in eastern NC, Tarboro area.  Lots of long bean field and cotton field shots.  Longest was 551 yds with a 308 from a box blind and sand bags (filled with kitty litter).  I've had those NC deer dive 3 yards into jungle and die....difficult to see and find.  


Edited by BEAR - 04 March 2019 at 06:35
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