Seems to me that the kid got lucky at that range, and it's quite irresponsible. The .243 will work for elk, according to many, though perhaps marginal. In any event, it's not really a great long-range round, nevermind the skill needed to shoot something at that range under field conditions. I'd not have big problem using a quality 95-107 grain hunting bullet from a .243 win on elk, within a reasonable distance - out to 300 yards or so. Wouldn't be my first choice, but it's not unethical in my book. It's the distance much more so than the caliber that makes the shot in question unethical. But it's really a combination - a .243 bullet will have lost a lot of steam at that range, and not being a particularly heavy bullet to begin with, it's not going to have much energy left for penetration when it reaches the target. Obviously it worked in this case, but it's a lot of luck, I'd guess. The fact that it took a *complete* miss of a very large animal, before the hit, speaks volumes about the unethical nature of the shot.
Elk are larger than deer, and thus have a larger vital zone, and thus the distances to shoot at them ethically are going to be a bit longer than deer. If I had a good field rest, and didn't have a lot of wind, I'd probably take a shot at an elk at up to 350 yards. If it was a huge 7x7 (bull of a lifetime), then I'd chance a shot out to 400. But 535? No way; just not ethical with the accuracy of my hunting rigs, my own mediocre skill, and field condition rests. Even assuming plenty of time to take the shot and little to no wind. And I'd definitely use a .270 or .30-06, not .243. I believe in some states you MUST use a .25 caliber or larger to be legal, though I think 6mm/.243 is the minimum in others, IIRC.
Fremmer, I wonder if you're right about that.... regardless, it's *definitely* the case that for every "X" number of succesful harvests you see on the hunting show, there are "Y" number of misses or woundings with no recovery - how many proportionally? I dunno; I'd sure love to know. Heck, they even show misses quite regularly, but usually only the ones which are immediately followed up with hits. There are also of course X*10 film sessions when no shot at game presents itself. Oddly enough, I've never seen them show hits which are bad hits that result in no recovery. But you KNOW it happens on film, since complete misses happen.