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Old October 27, 2020, 07:43 PM   #1
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Guided elk hunt

I'm looking at a guided elk hunt in the future. I'm getting a new rifle soon and hunt in the east mainly whitetails. I know it varies by outfitter but what would be a good recommended non magnum cartridge I should be looking at?
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Old October 27, 2020, 07:51 PM   #2
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270. 30-06.
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Old October 27, 2020, 07:53 PM   #3
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Thank you. I had a 270 in my last rifle before I sold it always liked the 06 though.
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Old October 27, 2020, 08:24 PM   #4
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It's hard to go wrong with 30-06, but I left mine home and carried my 308 instead. My 308 is lighter and was a bit easier to carry at 11,000' in a foot of snow. It is more accurate, and with plenty of power for elk out to at least 400 yards.

My 30-06 shoots the same bullets 100 fps faster which might extend the effective range a little bit farther, but the 308 gets it done at ranges farther than I have the skills to shoot.

But 270, 280, 7-08, or any of the 6.5mm cartridges will get the job done. Picking a good bullet and putting it in the right spot is much more important than the cartridge you fire it from.

I used 30-06 almost exclusively for about 40 years, but in the last 10-15 years have come to appreciate the short action versions, 308, 7-08, 260, 6.5CM etc. The rifles tend to be a bit lighter, trimmer, and they recoil less. I find I enjoy shooting them at the range more often, and as a result get better with them. Nothing like confidence in what you're shooting.

Modern loads in those cartridges are more than adequate. A 308 in 2020 is considerably more potent than 30-06 loads from the 1950's and earlier. In fact you have to hand load 30-06 to beat 308 factory loads today.
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Old October 27, 2020, 08:53 PM   #5
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I asked the SIERRA techs about using the .308's for elk with my MI deerloads. [165gr Sierra SPT, over a load of W748]
They advise me to up the velocity by 150 FPS and switch the SPT tp the HPBT bullet they make, as it is a stouter construction and better penetration.
Search for a report by Colorado game department, as to what they recommend for Easterner using whitetail rifles.

Good Luck
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Old October 28, 2020, 12:44 PM   #6
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I would wholeheartedly recommend the .280 Rem, or even better, the .280AI. They'll be plenty without being too much.

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Old October 28, 2020, 04:07 PM   #7
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Regardless of what people say ask a guide what THEY carry, nearly every one I've ever seen and talked to in person carries a 300 mag of some kind, a few carry 7mm mags as well as 338's, read what you want to into that.
Notice I'm referencing's what they carry and not what they recommend, the difference being lots of deer hunters can't shoot hard kicking rifles very well. Muzzle brakes and suppressors do a great job of negating the recoil of those cartridges but few people actually use them.
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Old October 29, 2020, 03:29 AM   #8
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I live Co so all my hunting rifles are for hunting here. Most of the good outfitters here are book ahead few years and I would call outfitter on what to use. I would also ask about the hunt if it's more walking or horseback etc.

I'm 78 and I like 30-06,280AI,270Wby,30-338mg for bull elk. I have 270 another 30-06,280AI that I'll use cow tag.
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Old October 29, 2020, 03:50 AM   #9
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280 AI

Bullets are big enough; velocity fast enough; recoil is still reasonable; ammo just cheap enough.

It is a bit better than 270, 280 or 30’06 for various reasons. 7mm mag & 300 mag are also good, but you lose a round in the mag and gain some recoil.

308, 7mm-08, 6.5 creed, 6.5x55 also work, but can be a bit light.
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Old October 29, 2020, 07:10 AM   #10
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Search Randy Newburg on Youtube.
He has a video addressing this.
When our own government declares itself as "tyrannical", where does that leave us??!!
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Old October 29, 2020, 10:38 AM   #11
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I'm also an eastern whitetail hunter. If you called me today and asked me to come with you, I'd grab my 308 and use that.

308 is kinda more than I need for deer, but I could use it in a pinch on something bigger if give the chance, which is why I keep it around.
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Old October 29, 2020, 11:07 AM   #12
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This is my dilemma I can get away with a 260 or a 7mm-08 here but I do want to put elk on my bucket list.
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Old October 29, 2020, 12:37 PM   #13
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Your guide will probably have 300 so if you get long shot he'll probably offer it up, you'll be fine with whatever you decide to bring.
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Old October 29, 2020, 01:05 PM   #14
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A 165 out of either a .308 or .30-06 will kill any game you care to hunt. The .30-06, any .30-06, shoots the same bullet weights 100 fps faster.
The issue with places like Colorado is the amount of 'up' there is out there. Ain't the same as anywhere East. Even the mountainous places in the East don't have as much 'up'. At at 11,000', you should be on O2.
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Old October 31, 2020, 05:24 PM   #15
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"In fact you have to hand load 30-06 to beat 308 factory loads today."

There's a lot of truth in that comment. I once ran a comparison of 180 gr. Winchester Power Points from the .308 Win. and 30-06. It was an eye opener.

From a 22" barrel velocity was for all practical purposes the same. About a 20 FPS difference in favor of the 30-06. No rifle with a 24" barrel for the .308 but the 30-06 was still measurably less that factory advertised speeds. Only from my 26" barreled Ruger #1 did I come even close to what Winchester says their ammo is supposed to do.

I've killed a fe elk over the years, one with the 300 Win. Mag. at a lasered 530 yard, one with a 30-06 at 100 yard using the 165 gr. Nosler Accubond at 2880 FPS for whatever that's worth and six with the .35 Whelen. Shots with the Whelen have ranged from 75 yards to 350 yards. Bullet of choice has been the Barnes 225 gr. TSX.

The OP's .308 should work just fine with a good 165 gr. bullet like the Accubond or Partition loaded to the highest safe speed for his rifle while retaining decent accuracy.

The comment about hunting at 11,000' MSL is no joke. I live at around 2,500" MSL and my elk hunt is at 9,000' to 9,500' MSL and I like to get to the area a few days ahead of the hunt to acclimatize myself to the higher altitude. Altitude sickness is no fun and can be fatal I learned that on my first high country hunt.
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Last edited by Paul B.; October 31, 2020 at 05:29 PM. Reason: To add a comment.
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Old October 31, 2020, 07:34 PM   #16
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I was sitting in my treestand today deer hunting and got to thinking if the 243 is sufficient to kill elk with well placed shots a 224 Valkyrie, 6mm arc or even a 223 loaded with heavy bullets would work where legal. Lots of modern shooters only own one rifle and it's an AR-15, with a 5 round mag they could use the rifle they're most familiar with and shoot all year, just a thought.
Killing game is really all about bullet placement or that's the common belief anyway. In Randy Newbergs video he talks about quick follow up shots with 308 class cartridges, doubt there's a better gun for quick multiple shots than an AR.

Last edited by Double K; October 31, 2020 at 07:49 PM.
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Old November 1, 2020, 09:06 AM   #17
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An old friend of mine was an elk hunting guide in a Colorado Wilderness area.
His favorite elk rifle was a 308. When a client showed up with a 270,280,30-06,or equiv,he was happy. Past that,the bigger the gun,the more likely there would be problems. Especially if the gun was brand new.
Stan.check into what sort of hunt you are getting into. Some guides are into cross canyon shots. Way out yonder!.Big Magnum country/style. If thats what you want. Others will likely get you within a couple hundred yards...or less.
The cautions about 9000 ft altitude can be real. Talk with your outfitter.
If you are anticipating recoil,squinting,flinching,your gun is too big .Shot placement trumps all. I know a woman who kills elk just fine with a 243.Another uses a 257 Roberts. IMO,those cartridges are marginal for elk,but they can be used with the right shots. Brother and I cooked up a 165 gr ballistic tip load for a 14 year boy where recoil was a consideration. Two different years he took his elk,one shot kills,no problem. He only shot when he had a clear shot inside 300 yds. Hit a rib heart lung shot. Or pass up the shot.

IMO,you can't go wrong with 270 through 30-06,and a 308 is fine.No,I'm not saying you can't use a 7-08. IMO,as you go smaller,you have to get better. Closer,And more willing to pass up a shot.
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Old November 1, 2020, 11:47 AM   #18
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I shot my elk with 7mm Rem Mag, but others in camp used 308's. The real key is to use a good bonded bullet. I didn't realize how tough an elk hide was. I used Federal Premium ammo, but some of the bullet actually came apart and was stuck in the hide. My shot was less than 75 yards and the bull only ran about 50 feet. My ammo ended up being "Good Enough", but if I go again I will get better ammo. Just my $.02

If 90% of your hunting is deer then it is hard to beat 30.06 or 7MM Mag.
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Old November 1, 2020, 02:17 PM   #19
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Along the lines of using the gun your most familiar with Hornady loads an elk bullet for the 450 bushmaster, another great AR-15 caliber and certainly legal in any state. A 16" carbine in 450 using a 250gr ftx with a suppressor-perfect elk rifle!!/

Elk rifle
New upper to fit your existing gun.
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Old November 1, 2020, 02:35 PM   #20
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7mm-08 has killed many elk.
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Old November 2, 2020, 10:11 PM   #21
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30-06, 308, 270.
They're classics for a reason.
I'm right about the metric system 3/4 of the time.
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Old November 3, 2020, 08:35 AM   #22
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With the ammo crisis 270 for sure or a 30-06 would be my second choice.
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Old November 3, 2020, 12:55 PM   #23
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If it were me, I wouldn't buy a new rifle for a one time hunt. I'd use either my 308 or 30-06, unless of course I was already in the market for a new rifle. I think with proper ammunition either one of those calibers would do the job just fine.
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