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View Full Version : Hunting?...shooting game at long range....I have a few questions


Dearhunter61
February 10, 2009, 09:22 AM
All,

First please refrain from turning this thread into a bashing thread or an ethics thread. We all have our own ethical standards and this thread is not to try and define this from an ethical standpoint.

Let me define what I consider a long range shot at game, I am not talking about varmits, I am talking about Deer, Elk etc.

I believe anything over 400 yards is long range.

Anything over 600 yards is extremely long range.

First for those who do shoot game at long/extremely long range...why? What motivates you to shoot at animals at this distance? What is your background? I am curious how many have been in the military etc.

How much practice have you put in at these distances before you have actually went into the field and took shots at these distances?

Before you actually went into the field to shoot at game at long range did you set a goal for yourself on the practice range that you had to accomplish first? For example a 4-6 inch group at 600 yards etc?

Do you hunt alone? Or do you hunt with a partner?

Before you shoot do you consider how you will track game when you shoot it at this distance? Is this something that is all or nothing? In other words if it runs do you even try to track it? or do you assume you have missed it? For those who have made a shot like this or have taken a shot like this what is your tracking process. At ranges in excess of 200 yards it can get a little difficult to identify exactly where the animal was when you shot it so I am wondering how you go about identifing where the animal was when you shot it at distances in excess of 600 yards?

What are the varibles you take into consideration before you shoot at a distance like this? Are there conditions that would prevent you from taking a long range shot that you would ordinarily take? If so what are they?

What type of rifle and what caliber do you use? What type of ammo? Factory or handloads?

What type of scope? What magnification do you have on the rifle? What magnification do you use to shoot at this distance?

How many game animals have you been able to harvest at long range distances?

VaFisher
February 10, 2009, 12:40 PM
I will not try to answer all your questions but will say that if you have a rifle that is capable and good optics along with a great shooting ability then shoot as far as you feel good about.
With that said my longest shots to date have been at a moose 425 yards, wacked him in the shoulder three times one right behind the other, 300 win mag was what I shot it with. With that gun I felt good out to about 500 yards.
Now I have 30-378 that's loaded with berger 210 gr VLD bullets. This caliper was developed for 1000 yard bench rest shooting. That's not to say I feel good about shooting 1000 yards but I do feel great about a shot out past 600for sure and as I get more use to the rifle maybe further if needed.
I do not go out planing on shooting that far when hunting but sometimes that what happens and I like to be ready when it does.
I have not had had to track any animal past 40 yards in my many years of hunting.

Daryl
February 10, 2009, 02:46 PM
First for those who do shoot game at long/extremely long range...why? What motivates you to shoot at animals at this distance? What is your background? I am curious how many have been in the military etc.

I'll take a close shot over a far one anytime. Even so, sometimes a stalk isn't practical. A deer across a rocky canyon filled with scrub oak or mesquite can be taken with a cross-canyon shot, but stalking isn't likely to work out too well. The brush is too thick and noisy, and it's too easy to lose track of an animal if it moves even a little bit.

As for background, I grew up hunting open country, and I learned the trajectory of my chosen cartridges shooting coyotes, varmints, and just messing around shooting small rocks and stuff across canyons. I've never been in the military.


How much practice have you put in at these distances before you have actually went into the field and took shots at these distances?

A lifetime spent shooting; you get pretty confident after making several hundred successful one-shot kills on jackrabbits and other varmints across canyons at various ranges.


Before you actually went into the field to shoot at game at long range did you set a goal for yourself on the practice range that you had to accomplish first? For example a 4-6 inch group at 600 yards etc?

No. It's a skill I developed over time; the more I shot at long range, the better I got at it. When a shot at a critter is presented, I have to decide then and there if I can make the shot under the conditions I'm in. What kind of rest do I have? How hard is the wind blowing? What rifle am I using, with what load? Is the animal moving, or stopped? How likely is a successful stalk to get closer?

There are no absolutes.

Do you hunt alone? Or do you hunt with a partner?

Sometimes I'm alone; other times I'm with a partner.

Before you shoot do you consider how you will track game when you shoot it at this distance? Is this something that is all or nothing? In other words if it runs do you even try to track it? or do you assume you have missed it? For those who have made a shot like this or have taken a shot like this what is your tracking process. At ranges in excess of 200 yards it can get a little difficult to identify exactly where the animal was when you shot it so I am wondering how you go about identifing where the animal was when you shot it at distances in excess of 600 yards?

Tracking is a part of hunting. If a person can't track, they should learn. If you shoot, you should ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS follow up by checking the area for evidence of a hit. If you find it, you should do everything in your power to recover the animal.

I know of one guy who shot an elk with a bow, made a bad shot, and tracked it, searched for it, and finally found it about a week later. He tagged the antlers, and called his hunt over. It was a nice bull, too, grossing about 360+ inches.

What are the varibles you take into consideration before you shoot at a distance like this? Are there conditions that would prevent you from taking a long range shot that you would ordinarily take? If so what are they?

Absolutely there are conditions under which I wouldn't shoot. I've passed up decent shots just because I couldn't get in a comfortable position to take the shot. Winds can make it hard to hit at longer ranges. A bad rest for the firearm, or lack of a rest at all can stop me from shooting. A moving animial at long range, even just walking, has to be compensated for. I'll only shoot if I'm absolutely sure I can make the shot.

What type of rifle and what caliber do you use? What type of ammo? Factory or handloads?

The rifle is less important to me, because all of my long-range rifles shoot sub-MOA. If they didn't, I would have sold them off. I use handloads exclusively, and they're tailored to the rifle they're shot from. You need to make sure that the cartridge used is powerful enough for the game you're shooting at, at the range you're shooting at.

I've shot coyotes at 500+ yards with a .243, but I wouldn't shoot past about 350 yards on our desert deer with that cartridge.

IMO, most folks who use factory ammo don't shoot enough. There are exceptions, but most folks who shoot enough to be confident at extended ranges shoot enough to realize the benefits of a hand-tailored load for their rifle, not to mention the money saved.

Good long range shooting ability comes from using the same load over, and over, and over, for many years. Factory ammo isn't always loaded the same, even if you use the same brand, and loaded with the same bullet.

What type of scope? What magnification do you have on the rifle? What magnification do you use to shoot at this distance?

All of my centerfire rifles are topped with 3-9 powered Leupold scopes. I don't like using scopes I'm not completely familiar with, so this keeps things simple.

Incidentally, the last "long range" shot I made I was using my brother's rifle, loaded with my own handloads (which the rifle was sighted in for). It was a 6.5-24X scope made by Burris, I think. I had to turn the magnification way down before I got comfortable with shooting it. I made the shot ok, and the only reason I was using that rifle is because I was in Mexico, and he had two rifles already registered down there for a previous hunt.

After the shot, my brother asked why I didn't use the 24X setting on the scope (it was still set on about 10-12X). It was awkward as heck IMO, and I'm used to shooting with less magnification. It's all about being comfortable with your equipment and the conditions of the shot.

How many game animals have you been able to harvest at long range distances?

Not all that many. Like I said before, I prefer stalking closer. When the conditions are against me doing that though, I'm not afraid to take a long shot as long as I'm confident I can make it.

Daryl

Art Eatman
February 10, 2009, 04:58 PM
I'm about like Daryl, I guess. Just grew up with shooting. My uncle figured that with an iron-sght 03 he owned anything within 300 yards. Then witnesses talked of my father's killing deer out to 500 yards, called shots. "If he can, I can," and I pacticed and studied the '06 ballistics for trajectory.

But there are those days when I may well pass a 100-yard shot, just because things don't feel right. I dunno. Overall, though, some things I just take for granted.

Lemme put it this way: I prefer getting sorta up close and personal. But I don't want to HAVE TO get up close.

Tracking? Just something you learn by getting out there and looking and doing. Some of it is having an idea of behavior patterns as to likely direction of travel, as well.

"Son, after I killed that big ol' buck, I back-tracked him. I'm pretty good at it. Tracked him back to where he was born!" :D

jdscholer
February 11, 2009, 07:14 PM
[QUOTE]At ranges in excess of 200 yards it can get a little difficult to identify exactly where the animal was when you shot it so I am wondering how you go about identifying where the animal was when you shot it at distances in excess of 600 yards?

As usual, Daryl nailed it with this important consideration.

Many of us with a well tuned, high powered rifle could hit a large game animal at 500 yards. Finding the spot where that animal was standing when you shot can be VERY difficult, especially if you are by yourself. I speak from experience, and these days prefer a shorter range. jd

Shorthair
February 11, 2009, 08:33 PM
Wow, lots of questions!
As to long range, I consider 200 yards and beyond long range for hunting. I say that because I've seen so many deer improperly hit at ranges much closer that I don't consider it ethical for the average shooter to shoot at anything beyond that range. So.... by average shooter, I mean the typical nimrod who goes to the range maybe once a year prior to hunting season, to sight in his rifle, who fires maybe 10-20 rounds at the bench and is satisfied that he's somewhat consistently on paper. This is not a shooter nor a hunter in my opinion, but I'm thinking he's fairly representative of the people who go afield on opening day every year.
For me, 300 yards is a pretty far shot, and I've never shot anything farther than 200 yards. I have a spot on my place up north where a 350 yard shot may someday present itself. I live in Michigan, this is long range up here, but I shoot a very accurate 7 Mag that I handload for, from a blind with a rock solid rest. I've qualified expert 3 times on the USMC KD course, you have to hit at 500 yards with iron sights to do that. I've scoped many deer at 350 yards and its a hell of a lot farther than I think most people can reliably hit at, they look so tiny out there.
There are a lot of people on this forum that are much, much more dedicated than my self-described average shooter, or myself, for them they may feel much more comfortable at longer ranges.
As to tracking, must follow up on every animal you shoot at, unless you are absolutely certain you've blown the shot. If you don't, in my opinion, you don't have any business shooting at animals.
Lots of good stuff, Daryl.

MeekAndMild
February 11, 2009, 08:45 PM
What are the varibles you take into consideration before you shoot at a distance like this? Are there conditions that would prevent you from taking a long range shot that you would ordinarily take? If so what are they?

Lots of numbers involved here. Do you know how long it takes your bullet to reach the deer and how far the same deer which is startled by your muzzle flash can move in the same amount of time? Do you know the wind, especially angled crosswinds on the hillsides and can you calculate bullet drift to accommodate them? Do you know your bullet's energy level, penetration and expansion at the range? What is the effect of temperature changes on your powder? What is the slope and how does it affect your aim point? What is the effect of the altitude on the other factors mentioned above? Have you practiced on deer lung sized targets at this distance?

elkman06
February 11, 2009, 11:06 PM
While I do a lot of spot and stalk as well as woods creeping...I continue to try and train myself to try and sit and watch more. I believe it will pay even more dividends as I get older. 49 now so it's coming fast. With sitting and watching you tend to get higher and more distant in order to see a larger field of view, hence longer shots.
I do try to stay sharp w/ the distance factor by shooting a fair amount as well as shooting at a variety of ranges. I tend to shoot groups at 100yds but always burn 10-15 rds at 400-500yds. Luckily my local range have these distances well established for comparison. Repitition works for me. Others are more natural at judging distance, etc.
Last elk, from a rock pile at 465. One shot, through the heart w/ my 300wm.
Previous, 100, trotting.
Previous, 100, walking.
Previous, 265, trotting.
Previous, 250, walking.
Previous, 200, trotting.
Previous, 250, trotting.
The rest,,don't really rememer.
Deer, all over the map, out to 500yds.
Anelope, to 500yds.
Moose, to 200.
Most were shot w/ 30/06. my fave.
Some, .270, 300, .243
elkman06

FrankenMauser
February 12, 2009, 03:50 AM
How and why my family shoots at game over long distances depends upon the game.


Deer and Elk... the long shots typically don't happen. Anything over 300 yards is very carefully considered, and usually given up. The terrain we hunt in makes recovery very difficult; so avoiding an extra 100-150 yards can make a big difference. Even with rifles from .270 Win, to .30-06, to 7.7 Jap, to 8x57 Mauser; and magnification from iron sights to 16 power... We avoid long shots.

Pronghorn Antelope, on the other hand - long shots are the norm where we hunt. You must know the rifle, and the load you are shooting. You absolutely have to have, at the very least, a basic understanding of windage. In my family, the .270 Win reigns supreme, with -06 coming second. Most of us use 3-9 power, adjustable scopes. Last year, I hunted with a .243 Win topped with a 4x scope. The magnification wasn't enough, and won't be used again; unless topped with better optics.
Long shots are discussed with anyone available, before the shot, and we don't take snap shots over about 350 yards.

Most botched shots have been under 200 yards, with most being the responsibility of a single shooter (to remain unnamed) at ranges under 120 yards.
Some notable successes: (With no ranging shots)
650 yards, one shot kill, heart and lungs, .30-06, 160(165?) grain Ballistic Tip, 4-16x scope, pile of rocks for a rest.
650 yards, head shot, head shot finisher, .270 Win, 130 grain Core-Lokt, 2.5-8x scope, rested - sitting position. (First one was lethal, but not immediate.)
550 yards, one shot kill, heart and lungs, .270 Win, 140 grain Ballistic Tip, 1.5-7x or 2.5-8x scope, rested on a folding chair. (not sure of which scope)

Oh... and if they aren't standing still... they aren't eligible targets. At least not in my family.

FishinDave07
February 12, 2009, 08:20 AM
I'm not sure if you guys have seen these videos, if you have, well here they are again :D

Long Range Hunts (http://savageshooters.com/SavageForum/index.php/topic,20196.0.html)

Shorthair
February 12, 2009, 09:09 AM
Those videos at savageshooters.com are, IMO, crap, and are perfect illustrations of how not to hunt. Most of the shots are through brush, tree tops, etc. These clowns are doing this as a stunt, and I honestly think its sick. I wonder how many they let crawl off after marginal hits at those ranges.

DiscoRacing
February 12, 2009, 09:15 AM
ive been shootin rifles every since dad took my daisy rider away for shooting pigeons in the barn...*holes in the roof he said*.. and got me a 12 guage to shoot them when they flocked out of the barn... from there went to a .375.. then to model six rem pump .06... shot a whitetail standing dead stop broadside at 575 yards...only reasons i shot... thought I could drop it..was a nice buck..and was sure of my calibers range...went into the army just after that year and achieved several shooting awards.

armedtotheteeth
February 12, 2009, 01:45 PM
Well, Game animals, such as deer.. Ill keep it under 400 Yards with my Ar-30 300 Win Mag.
Coyotes,a bit harder to hit, but ill take them to 1000 yards , if i get a nice steady shot, with no wind. Hogs.. If I can see them, Ill bust them. Last one was at 1100 yards. These animals replicate too durn fast to worry about"ethical kills " and the like. Sorry to say, but thats how it is here. Thank god for range cards and really accurate rifles.