View Full Version : "You Call the Shot," a caribou on a ridge.

September 23, 2006, 09:21 PM
This is sorta a followup to the "7mm08 and Texas Heart Shot" thread.

A particular "You Call the Shot" episode went by on OLN earlier today. The quarry was a nice caribou buck facing a hunter, almost head-on, in silhouette, from a higher elevation on a ridgeline. The buck, and several others, was looking hard at the hunter. Relative elevation is hard to gauge on an idiot box, but the buck was definitely above the hunter; call it a mildly uphill shot. Range was given at about 230 yards, rifle was .308.

The buck looked at the hunter for ten-fifteen seconds, exclusive of editing. I think the shooter was crosslegged. He didn't take a shot and the panel agreed, saying he should wait for a broadside shot, or find another buck (which he eventually did.) I disagreed (admittedly on the basis of no experience whatever). A buck that's in bold silhouette against the skyline, and holding still, ought to be fine; if you can't hit the dinner plate at 230 yards head-on, you're not likely to hit it in broadside either. If you need the broadside view to hit the buck "somewhere," you need more range time.

I had an impression, and I might have misunderstood, that the panel was concerned about the lethality of the shot. A broadside shot offers the chance to hit both lungs and the heart; I understand that. Head-on, though, you're going to hit one lung at least. A head-on chest shot offers the chance of splintering the breastbone, and if you raise your aim to the centerline of the neck, bullet trajectory will either strike or come within an inch of windpipe, spine, carotid artery and jugular vein. Shooting uphill, this is going to mess up the backstrap something fierce, so I'd'a taken that head-on shot at the heart. Did anyone see that episode? What was your take on it?

Fat White Boy
September 23, 2006, 10:41 PM
The major problem with a head on shot is if the bullet goes out the back end via the guts...That would mess up some meat. I know you said it was an uphill shot but the bullet could hit something hard and deflect through the abdominal area.

September 23, 2006, 11:24 PM
The quarry was a nice caribou buck facing a hunter, almost head-on, in silhouette, from a higher elevation on a ridgeline.

The buck is uphill on a ridgeline. You would take the shot without knowing what was in the background? What if you missed and hit a hunter on the next hill? Please practice safety before commenting about taking a shot head-on or broadside.

September 24, 2006, 12:17 AM
sillhouette on a ridgeline = no shot for me

September 24, 2006, 01:47 AM


September 24, 2006, 08:11 AM
Good point on the ridge shot. I was concentrating head on part, and didn't even consider the safety issue. I think in AK, that is not as big an issue, but is definitely something to be thinking about. I'm a flat lander, so I didn't even think about that. It's a great point to point out, as many "flatlanders" got to these areas, and having never experienced that terrain, may take a shot uphill without considering the consequences.

September 24, 2006, 12:27 PM
The safety aspect was addressed by the panel. The locale was in the tundra; one of the panel remarked, to nods of agreement, that in this case (near Hudsons Bay? there was a place reference) that this wasn't a problem.

September 24, 2006, 12:29 PM
Psssniper, what would your objection be - safety, meat spoilage, or lethality?
Or something else entirely?

September 24, 2006, 04:55 PM
there is no such thing as a caribou buck:rolleyes:

September 24, 2006, 06:37 PM
The major problem with a head on shot is if the bullet goes out the back end via the guts...That would mess up some meat.IMHO those sort of shots are best taken when you're a half hour from a water hose and refrigeration. A ridge in east BFE doesn't sound like it has the requisite facilities. :D

September 24, 2006, 06:56 PM
I would probably not take the shot--but not for the reasons mentioned above. It is because there is an above average chance that you would actually miss the target clean, or cause a crippling and not killing shot. Why?

When shooting uphill or downhill, you must compensate for the angle. Conventional wisdom is correct in that you must usually aim lower to hit a target at an up or downhill angle--but how much lower must you aim?

The answer is to use a simple equation to determine target range on a slope.


Target range = 200 yards, and
Angle of target from horizontal plane = 30 degrees



or, in simpler terms,

Slope range (estimated range from your position) times the cosine of the estimated angle from horizontal = the horizontal (impact) range.

Here's how it works:

The slope range is 200 yards, and the angle is 30 degrees. Multiply 200 times the cosine of the angle, (which is .87), and you'll get 174 yards.

Thus, aim as if your target was at 174-175 yards, and shoot.

Of course, the effect is more pronounced as the angle or range is increased.

Assuming a 70 degree angle: 200 x .34 = 68 yards.

You can do one of two things: Either memorize the cosine of angles from 0 to 90 degrees--

or cheat like I did, and get a copy of the USMC Angle Chart. ;)

September 24, 2006, 08:21 PM
Now THAT is an aspect of the shot that I hadn't considered. Good food for thought.

September 24, 2006, 09:58 PM
I'd have gotten a good rest placed the cross hair on his chin, lowered 3 or 4 inches and took home a caribou.
Talk is cheap, I wasn't there, but the last elk I shot was just below the chin, animal facing straight toward me just like I just stated.
I did shoot a deer once down a steep hillside and hit off a bit. Knocked it down and had to do a follow up shot. Ever since then I have tried to think, before I shoot, " how is that bullet going to pass thru the animal" and have had no further problems.
Don't you only need to compensate on a steep angle, at distances far enough that gravity would effect trajectory differently ( less drop) than on level ground? Wouldn't that only need to be done on shots farther than 230 yards?
Rifles sighted in at approximately 2 inches high at 100 yards like most are for hunting.
Please correct me if that is not right.

Fat White Boy
September 24, 2006, 11:06 PM
Most places where Caribou hunted, you are likely the only humans for about 500 miles...

September 24, 2006, 11:44 PM
Trust my instincts.

IF I can hold steady and be sure of a heart shot the I will shoot.

If it is iffy then no.

I have made a few bad decisions in the field and learned from them.

The only real rule is NEVER RUSH YOUR SHOT.

September 25, 2006, 12:08 AM
as someone who has heard the wissssssWAck of bullets coming over a ridge, I will never shoot at an animal unless I know where that bullet is going.

the front chest shot is usually a good killing shot when the animal is close enough for a sure shot and the conditions are favorable. ( Not uphill, down hill, hunter out of breath like a asthmatic at marathon) If you shoot straight on, yes you are going to hit the guts, but you are not usually running the guts into the meat. You might loose part of a ham or inside loin. but usually that animal will drop really fast and usually not run at all. The reverse shot (up the bung hole) is also a good one IF the animal is not running. The deer walking away from you not alarmed usually drops right htere when you shoot the rosebud if you have a gun strong enough to reach from butt to heart. This is not the shot to take with a .243 and 80 grainers, but a 6.5 with 140's this is a great shot.

September 25, 2006, 09:12 AM
as someone who has heard the wissssssWAck of bullets coming over a ridge, I will never shoot at an animal unless I know where that bullet is going.

Ditto. Safety Issue. While you may be in a place where it's highly unlikely that you hit someone/something if you mis, it is a possibility, expecially considering the distance a High-powered rifle round can travel.

I wouldn't take the shot for that reason.

September 25, 2006, 09:38 AM
And then there's the low shot which passes into the chest but below the heart. A hole in the deer but he survives and walks away !!:D

Art Eatman
September 25, 2006, 10:12 AM
230 yards? Unless the angle is getting up toward 45 degrees, worrying about uphill/downhill is a waste of time. You're talking about one inch at most, as to trajectory. Normally, one inch high at 100 is dead on at 200. So, a vertical shot, up or down, would only be off by about two inches at that distance. (Okay, 2.3. Sheesh! :D)

The only way I'd take any skyline shot would be if I already knew for sure that no other hunter was within three or four miles in that direction. I said "For sure," not, "Probably."

Did those TV folks know for sure that Nanook and his cousins weren't working some caribou on the other side of that ridge, off a mile or two? Hmmm?


September 25, 2006, 04:40 PM
My gramps taught me not to take a skyline shot in 1964 and I haven't,but I sure have been tempted over the years .what are the odds of a miss hitting anyone, 3900000000 to 1 or so ?:eek:

September 25, 2006, 11:17 PM
Would you want to be the 1?

September 26, 2006, 06:15 AM
If the caribou is facing you, you have a steady rest, and you are comfortable with the range of shot, why not wait? He is facing you and will in all probability not back away. Hold on the target and wait until he either comes down towards you or turns away. He will present a broadside if he is facing you.
Ridgeline shot, not for me. Tundra or not, I hope I am not on the other side of that ridge. You should hope I am on the other side, I won't shoot at you.
Anyway, the point is, he is facing you. Give him the opportunity to turn or come closer.

Jack O'Conner
September 26, 2006, 08:54 AM
The question of safety has not been addressed. What was on the side of that ridge? Where we hunt antelope there are many square miles of un-inhabited prairie. But prize bulls and valueable stock roam and graze at will. It would be irresponcible to risk a miss and send that deadly bullet into the "unkown".

The only ridgeline shots I'd attempt would need a clear backstop such as a distant butte or canyon wall.

I also subscribe to the protocol of shooting into the animal from a broadside angle to destroy both lungs in a instant. Its okay to pass up a risky shot and plan a better stalk.