There are quick and close shots out here too. Hunting a burn or meadow, you've got a good shot at a 350-400 yard opportunity with most being 250-300. If you're hunting the old growth timber, you could be shooting quick and not have time to evaluate as you've said. I've killed elk from 50-350 yards with most toward the lower end. My mule deer was at 150. Bow hunters are successful out here, so you can get close, but by the time rifle season comes around, you have to be ready to take longer shots, as the animals have been pushed and shot at a lot.
If you do want to hunt elk, come on out and hunt elk. NM only draws bull tags for out of staters now, but CO has pretty easy requirements, other than the money, for hunting elk. Check out Wyoming speed goats as well. That's the best meat on 4 feet in America, in my opinion.