View Full Version : What is "Long Range" to you, when hunting?

Long Path
September 3, 1999, 11:48 PM
This topic sprang from Sambonatur's topic on .50 BMG hunting, and it got me to thinking: "Long Range" is a different thing to each hunter. To a PH in Africa who leads hunts for Cape Buff, Long Range may be 120 yards. To a mountain goat hunter in Montana, that range might start at 450 yards. To an E. Texas piney woods hunter with a M. 94 .30-30, that range might be 80 yards, but to the shotgun deer hunter in the Florida swamps, 40 yards may be "long range."

Near as I can tell, range factors for the inteligent hunter include: rifle, load, caliber, sights, terrain, visibility, target size, target movement, wind, availability of a rest, and perceived self-confidence. (I think "experience" falls in there...)

There may be more. Given what and where you shoot, what's your definition of "A Long Range Shot"? Why? What are you using, and what are you using it on?

For me, the answer is "450 Yards." I'm shooting a 300 Win Mag Sendero with a 180g Game King at 3100 fps at the muzzle. Why do I consider that figure long range? Because (a) Things start to drop quick beyond 400 yards, and (b) It's quite difficult to accurately estimate range at distances beyond a quarter mile. I take this rifle elk hunting, but never have gotten to shoot one with it. I've shot 3 deer with it, but, as occasion would have it, the longest shot was less than 110 yards. I hunt deer from hilly outcroppings in the SW Hill Country of Texas, and regularly see deer at 600 yards, but I'm not shooting that far. At 500, I'd have to think about it, and would have to have a ROCK STEADY rest. These animals are small, and I'd say the kill zone is about 9".

Your turn!

Will you, too, be one who stands in the gap?

[This message has been edited by Long Path (edited September 04, 1999).]

Art Eatman
September 4, 1999, 06:32 PM
I think you've called it pretty good, in your assessment. I'll omit cross-valley long range, but all in all, long-range shooting is an open-country issue, generally. And I'll stay with rifles one would rationally carry across country in walking-hunting...

I buy into the general limit of around 400 yards or so, because of your bullet-drop comment. More important, however, is the hunter's prior experience and practice in shooting at targets out beyond, say, 300 yards.

For instance, a guy who shoots a lot of Silueta and regularly hits a 500-meter Ram, offhand, has a different perspective on his abilities than somebody who sights in at 100 yards from a benchrest and doesn't practice at longer ranges.

And there's range estimation. Lots of folks can't tell the difference between 200 and 400 yards. I've watched 'em! I have a 100-yard backstop for the benchrest on my front porch, and a hanging plate out at 185 yards. I've been told they are everything from 200 to 500 yards out!

Most hunting rifles/cartridges have a "point it and pull" capability of around 300 yards. That is, if it's 2" high at 100, it's dead on at about 200, and about 6" low at 300. For a deer, then, out to 300 yards, point it and pull...

Sorry for all the wandering around in this...I guess where I've gotten to is that it's mostly a function of experience and judgement. Ain't everything?

:), Art

Long Path
September 4, 1999, 07:16 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>"I have a 100-yard backstop for the benchrest on my front porch, and a hanging plate out at 185 yards. I've been told they are everything from 200 to 500 yards out![/quote]

Ah, to return to the green(?), green(!?) pastures of Brewster County, where civilized gentry reside in trappings of opulence. What size dinger you got hanging at 185, Art? Big enough for pistol?

I, too, am subject to losing my range estimation if I don't practice a little. Funny thing, though, if you consciously try to practice, the opportunity is all around you. I sometimes play at a really stupid waste of time that involves about 13 useless clubs and a white plastic ball of about 1.5", struck over 5 mile courses. (Twain called it a good walk, spoiled.) While doing so with my best friend the argument has, in the past, arisen over the approximate distance said balls were struck. After awhile, I've noticed that I get no arguements if I correct Scott tp tell him that the ball he's certain he's stricken 300 yards distance is really 230 yards. In the past, the argument went: "But I'm an engineer!" "And I'm a rifleman." Being right (on this subject) often enough, I've found the arguments stop. (he he)

What gets scarey is how I can be a solid 100 yards or worse off when estimating ranges beyond 500 yards or more, especially if there's any part of the distance occluded by a rise, or if there's a large drop between me and the target, like in a canyon.

When the newer Bushnell range finders that give good ranges out to 800 come down in price, I think I'm going to get one for that occasional 5-600 yard varmint shot on the ranch. If I get good enough, who knows? Maybe a deer at that range...

Will you, too, be one who stands in the gap?

September 4, 1999, 08:08 PM
For me, "Long Range" means 400 yards on a still day and 200 yards on a windy day when using a rifle which I can shoot &lt;1 MOA out to 400 yards. When using my Desert Eagle in .50 AE, "Long Range" will probably mean &lt;100 feet when a rest is available and &lt;50 feet without one (at least until I get a lot more practice!). I am one very conservative shot and I have yet to shoot at game over 160 yards away.

David Curry

P.S. This is a very congenial group and really enjoy being part of it :)

Long Path
September 4, 1999, 08:16 PM
David-- It's a pleasure to see you on the board. Your posts are insightful, and never inciteful. (Don't think about that one tooo hard, please... [grin])

I can well-appreciate your feelings on L.R. shooting with pistol. As my father says,"I consider it long-range pistol hunting if the muzzle flash does not actually singe the hide of the animal I'm shooting at!" I think I'm almost that way.

Long Range pistol for me would be 35 yards, with an excelent rest and sight picture, on a standing animal. I hunt with a Gold Cup .45 (which I keep my shots down to about 20 yards), and a 4" Super Blackhawk .44 Mag with 300 grain Kieth-style hard-cast SWC's.

Paul B.
September 4, 1999, 10:21 PM
Long range? Hmmm. Well, when it comes to long range shooting, I guess I'm pretty darn conservative. I like to keep it at about 200 yards, or preferably less. Can I hit farther out than that consistantly? Yes I can. I just don't care to if I don't have to. My longest shot on a deer was at 427 paces over a long swale. Straight line? Maybe 350-375 at most. This was with a Rem. 660 in .308 Win. I wouldn't have shot, except the two guys I was hunting with had hit it around the edges several times and it was wounded.
Longpath. I too have a shorty Ruger 44. Do you have any trouble with your 300 gr. bullets shooting high? Mine go about 6 to 8 inches high at 25 yards. They do that is all my 44's except a 629. I don't use it anymore. Too darn fragile. Might be great for 200 meter silhouette shooting, but I loaded them for bear during hikes. We have had bear problems on a local mountain, so I got the shorty for hiking. Much easier to pack than the 6.5 and 7.5 inchers. The front sight is high enough esthetically, but building it up would probably look like hell.
Paul B.

Long Path
September 4, 1999, 11:02 PM
Yup, but they don't pitch as high as the 320 grainers! I will say, though, they are SCAREY accurate, if you can just control your flinch after 2 or 3 rounds!! Because it's a borrowed pistol (Dad's), I obviously don't want to alter it. The rear sight is screwed alllllll the way down, though! I've been wondering what the cost would be to have the top milled down just a tad to get that rear sight down a bit lower, and if there would be any threat to the fantastic strength this remarkable old-style Blackhawk has. (It's already a custom Bisley/Blackhawk mix, with a very good shortening job done to it.)

I have every confidence that this pistol with this load will bring down a charging rhino (thus, we refer to them as Rhino Rollers), but I have to remember to hold a tad under it's chin. I could, however hold dead on out to 150 yards, if I could hold that tight!! :)

September 5, 1999, 07:50 PM
Any time I hafta leave the porch.! :)

Art Eatman
September 6, 1999, 01:48 PM
Long Path: Yeah, it's been green pretty much all year. I do believe that at least locally the drouth is finally over. (Crossed fingers) I have a bunch of dirtwork to do to get my roads and driveway back decent. bosslady doesn't like rocks and bumps...

The hanging plate is about 18" or 20". I also have a pistol range behind the house, with several steel targets as well as the frame for a couple of IPSC-style targets. And I use C Clamps to hold the claybird thrower onto the back porch deck.

This ain't a house; it's a hunt camp with wall to wall carpet and "the amenities". I decided I wuz old enough to spoil myself, although Dennis said I've smelt spoiled fer years...Druther hunt and shoot than buy new cars and all that stuff...

Lotsa dove & quail, this year.

Later, Art

September 6, 1999, 10:06 PM
Art, you are a man after my own heart---I would much rather keep the same old truck I bought in college and get to shoot and hunt more than to have a nice vehicle. I buy about one gun every year or two and if my wife complains, I get to remind her of the fully-loaded Toyota Avalon I bought her while I drive an old, cheap truck :)

September 6, 1999, 10:14 PM
I am fortunate enough to have a rifle that shoots around half minute of angle. It is a custom Sako in .30-.338 with a match grade Shilen tube in number 5 taper. It is topped off with a Swarovski 2.2-9 scope in 30mm. I have taken numerous elk, mule deer, and pronghorn with the outfit and it is a tack driver.

I shoot 180 grain bullets at 3100fps and have it sighted in for maximum point blank range of 380 yards. This means the rifle is zeroed at 310 yards. Even with zero at 310 yards, the bullet will drop another 9.1 inches at 400 and 11.9 at 500 yards. Bottom line, hold dead on out to 380 yards. Anything beyond that is guess work and too far for me. I feel my effective range (meaning the critter is dead meat under almost any condition) is 300 yards. I prefer to shoot under 100. Afterall, getting close is what makes it sport.

Long Path
September 7, 1999, 04:53 AM

You and I have the same basic ballistics, you just have a much classier rig. My Sendero SF throws 180 g Sierra Game Kings at a tad over 3100 fps to give me .75 MOA, and is topped with a Simmons 4X12 50mm "ranging" scope.

Out of curiosity, why did you have the Shilen barrel bored for .30-.338 instead of .300 Win Mag, which gives identical ballistics, but is more widely distributed? Of course, I might as well have one; my rifle has not yet fired a single round of factory ammo, and I'd say she has about 600 rounds through her.

I first bought this rifle because a lot of the deer we saw were feeding at the edge of a winter-wheat field which was a section square. Shots could get very long on this field, and stalking is difficult to impossible across such low, bleak terrain. I had already made a 300+ yard shot on a large buck with a .257 Rbts. (edge of its range, in my opinion) after stalking up about 120 yards to close in. Ironically, I never got to hunt deer on this ranch again due to some family politics our host was having with his in-laws (who owned the place). The last three deer have been under 110 yards, with one at about 50! So much for my long range rig! I've been scouting some hilltops to prepare for this year-- I plan to see more of the ranch in one glance. If I do hunt from one of these hills, the closest shot will be 175 yards or so, with other shots out to infinity. Some consideration is in order... I may borrow a laser rangefinder.

David-- Yes, this is a theory of mine, too. Now, why haven't I been getting the guns out of the deal, as well?

Art-- I've a friend with a few acres to look at down that way-- need to see if I can clang your dinger with some heavy pistol bullets-- one of my favorite sports.

[This message has been edited by Long Path (edited September 07, 1999).]

September 7, 1999, 11:05 AM
Long Path, I have to admit that my wife still complains anyway... I just don't feel bad about it now :) :) :)

September 7, 1999, 06:34 PM
For me and the Ruger M77 .25-06 (with3X9 Simmons), long range would have to be anything past 200 yards. Most folks say the rifle is capable of doubling that, but these eyes weren't all that great to start with, and now with 5 decades on them it hasn't helped. I've never hunted with a pistol, but with a good rest and a clear shot I'd say 25 yards for my 6.5" S&W 629. I've hit a hanging steel gong target at 100 yards with it but I'd had 12 hours sleep, only 1 cup of coffee that day, and 2 bowls of menudo.
Art, I'm glad you folks are getting some rain in S. Brewster. I was in Alpine and Ft. Davis 3 weeks ago and it was the greenest I'd seen it since about 1990. A friend of mine who lives just south of Alpine emailed me today and said he's measured about 2.5" over the Labor day weekend, making it over 20" this year.
Long Path, if you're going down to south Brewster anytime soon, make sure you stop at the Railroad Blues in Alpine, have a draft Shiner Bock, and listen to some good music.

Big Bunny
September 7, 1999, 06:50 PM
"Long range" to me is whatever distance is too far for me to clearly see a humane shot and follow up recovery/misericord action, if needed.
If the cross-hair "wobbles" are in excess of the outline of the vital area, I forget it! (except on specific vermin sometimes).

Targets... aah, thats different -well maybe 300m.

I find a range-finder of a simple type is a good accessory when longer range hunting.

You can fool yourself often over ranges, but not the instrument if you know how to use it!

***Big Bunny***

Long Path
September 7, 1999, 07:29 PM
All right, then, I'll ask question that springs to my mind about Big Bunny's post in a New Topic entitled "Best value for range finders?". Follow me there for that thread.

Otherwise, more on your thoughts of L.R. hunting...?