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Petzal: Another Take on Long-Range Shooting

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February 02, 2009

Petzal: Another Take on Long-Range Shooting

By David E. Petzal

One of the best reasons to go to SCI is the hunting seminars. For example, if you’d like to go to Africa and you’re not sure how it’s done, you can listen to Craig Boddington who’s been there 75 times (probably more by now) and knows whereof he speaks.

Anyway, I went to hear Dr. Wayne van Zwoll speak on long-range shooting, and was uplifted to hear that his philosophy is the same as mine; i.e., if you’re any kind of a hunter you can almost always get within 300 yards, but once in a great while you will have to take a long shot, so it should be part of your repertoire.

When the hour was up and the attendees went off to ogle expensive stuff, I asked Dr. van Zwoll how many shots he had taken at over 300 yards in 40 years of big game hunting. “Four,” was the answer. Creepily, that is the same number I’ve taken in 40 years of big-game hunting. To this embittered old observer, there are only three reasons to take a shot beyond three football fields: the animal is an absolute hell of a trophy, Liver-Eating Johnson himself could not get closer, and you’ve spent a lot of money on the hunt and this is the last hour of the last day.

Here are the long shots I’ve taken:

1. Buck antelope, Montana, 1973, 460 yards (paced off), last hour of the last day.

2. Caribou bull, 1995, Quebec, 600 yards (?), clipped some hair off the bottom of his chest, monster trophy and no way to get closer.

3. Bull elk, 1977, New Mexico, 498 yards (paced off), biggest-bodied elk I’ve ever shot and one of the two biggest I’ve seen, and it was literally the last minute of legal shooting light.

4. Bull elk, 1994, Wyoming, 500 yards plus (snow was too deep for pacing), only a fair five-point, but I was the only one in the party who had drawn an elk tag and I had been kicked in the face by a horse earlier in the day and was feeling out of sorts, and again, it was the last minute of legal shooting light.

Comments (72)

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from rabbitpolice88 wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

Very interesting article!

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from Scott in Ohio wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

Dave,

I take it you hit three of the four animals. 75% at 400+ yards is better than I certainly could do. What caliber rifle were you using for these long shots and what calibers would you NOT shoot at this range? (I realize the bullet would be a critical issue here)

p.s. Steelers Won, who-ee!

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from Charley wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

I have never shot at a mule deer at more than 100 yards. You have to creep close because if you take a long shot, and wound the animal, by the time you get to where you shot it to look for blood that animal cold have bounded three counties away.

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from Beekeeper wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

This type of shooting has a place when it is employed with the same restraint as by you and Dr. Van Zwoll. A practiced marksman can accomplish such a shot because they are familiar with the rifle, load, wind, gremlins and demons that live between the end of the barrel and the animal. This is much the same as Ben Roethlisberger throwing that pass to a receiver in the corner of the endzone last night into triple coverage. Under great duress he hit THE ONLY spot he could have for the completion! If you shoot and shoot or throw and throw you can make those shots. For the average hunter who takes 2-3 years to shoot through a box of shells... I don't think so!

Question: Is it just me or is Springsteen starting to look like Tony Bennett with ear rings? No disrespect intened to you guys from 'Jersey!

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from duckcreekdick wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

Jack O'Connor says it best,"There is something about long-range shooting that fascinates many hunters and riflemen, and the less they have hunted and shot the more fascinated they are."

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

Good article, Dave.

duckcreekdick hit it on the head!

The longest shot I ever took was last year on a bull elk at 308 yards. That was from a steady sitting position, good Stoney Point shooting stick, no wind, straight away across a draw, with a rifle I have utmost confidence in that was zero'ed at 250 yards. Down he went.

That said, I won't shoot that far again if I can avoid it.

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from Happy Myles wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

As I recall, O'Connor also wrote something to the effect, that long shots were most easily accomplished by typewriter. People forget the results are often not kill or miss, but miss or wound. Our game deserves better.

62 years big game hunting around the world resulted in most animals being taken between 50 and 150 yards. This includes more than a dozen sheep often thought to be associated with long shooting.

The exceptions involved unique trophies, good shooting conditions, and interestingly, the same rifle. One I have complete confidence in, built by the late Seely Masker in .300 Win Mag with a super handload.

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from texasfirst wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

Oof. 600 yards. Some hunts are just hell. I always feel like a closet case when folks like my preacher tell me shots beyond 300 yards are unconscionable. Down a South Texas sendero in wide open range, a hunter ought to be able to bring down a nice buck at 500 yards out to no more than 650. In the Marine Corps we had to shoot open sights on the torso-sized target out to 500 M with that damn M-16. Once you settled in and got your dope together, it was easy for most of us, even the pizza-box bubbas. Thanks for bringing this one out in the open. I feel better about myself. Semper Fi.

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from jjas wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

I don't begrudge anyone taking a shot @ extended ranges as long as they have practiced that shot and can make it with confidence under field conditions.

I've just seen too many guys taking 200 yard shots w/slug guns and muzzleloaders and longer shots with centerfire rifles only because the ads say you can.

With the cost of ammo and limited shooting ranges, many people don't practice enough @ 100 yards (and not off a bench but under simulated hunting conditions) and yet they think they can make 200+ yards shots? I doubt it.

Jim

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from MaxPower wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

Dr. van Zwoll is the man. I myself have only gone past 300 one time. Wyoming elk @ 515 last hour of last day, and it took me two.

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

Well, like the man said, " a good man always knows his limitations". If long range shooting is practiced, then long range shooting in the field is OK, but only if the conditions are the same (which they seldom are, even for military range shooting types).

I have seen one of my hunting buddies routinely take down deer and elk on the far side of 400 yards with ease, so it can be done. But I fear most of the long range kills are from those that have become a legend in their own minds........

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from davidpetzal wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

Sorry, forgot to add this dope: I missed the caribou and killed the other three. The cartridges involved were:

Antelope: 7mm Remington Magnum, 160-grain Nosler Partition at around 2,950 fps.

Caribou: 7mm Weatherby Magnum, 140-grain Nosler Partition at 3,400 fps. (This load was too hot and I stopped using it after this hunt.)

Great Big Elk: 7mm Weatherby Magnum, Wby. factory ammo, 160-Nosler partition at 3,150.

Five-Point Elk: 270 Winchester,Winchester factory ammo, 140 Grain Fail-Safe, 2,900 fps.

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from HogBlog wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

Funny I just finished blogging on a similar topic... but here's the deal and it'll rub some folks the wrong way.

A sport hunter never HAS to take a shot that he is not completely confident in making, cleanly. NEVER.

Last day, great trophy, lots of money spent... It doesn't matter, there's no good excuse, in my opinion (and yes, this is only my opinion).

If you're confident and capable, then go for it. I don't like long range shooting, but mostly because it makes everyone with a whiz-bang magnum think they can do it too. But don't tell me the best reason a hunter can give for taking a shot at the outer limits of their capabilities is because, "it was the only shot I had!"

You're not going to die if the animal walks away unharmed.

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from Carney wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

I don't know much about long range shooting -- as all hunting out here is really close. The longest rifle range in my area is 300 yards but with my 45-70, I'd have to hold about 4 feet high just to hit paper at that distance.

Beekeeper -- I'm with you on Springsteen. However, unlike Tony Bennett who still "has it" at 83, BS's Super Bowl bellowing betrayed the fact that he's lost his chops. So -- we now have an entertainer who should not only give up political commentary but also sining in public.

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from Carney wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

that should have been "singing in public". But of course could have been "sinning in public" just as easily...

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from Del in KS wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

Any shot that requires the shooter to make allowances for the curvature of the earth is too far. There is a 10 inch round steel plate set on the 200 yd berm at my gun club. It makes a good practice target for offhand shooting when you want to "train" as Clay calls it. If you take long shots you should train before hunting season at any range you think you might have a shot.

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from TheEasternShore... wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

really cool it must make your ego go up when you kill an animal at 400+ yards

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from shane wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

how about the shortest shots you've taken?

220lb. 8-point whitetail. 5 yards on the ground. horton crossbow.

195 lb. 11 point whitetail. 11 yards on the ground. bear recurve.

whitetail doe. 40 yards. remington 660 in .308 with 150 grain fail safes. knocked her over. 3 inch hole on her far side. very, very dead. instantly. i think i am going to cry now. somewhat for her untimely and violent death, but mostly because fail safes are leaving us. deadliest bullet ever for "cxp2" and "cxp3" game.

fox squirrel. 10 feet. 338 win. overkill? them foxes are a lot bigger than grays...

i've yet to hunt one, but i think i might be able to close the gap a little tighter than 600 yards on a caribou.

i surely hope so. i'm only confident out to 300 yards. my brain can only process so much of that sniper stuff. my dope isn't so "dope" as they say.

now, varmints are another story. if i can see it, and i'm holding a rifle...the woodchucks better scurry.

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from Jim in Mo wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

shane,
Closest shot? Saw my son shoot a small tender doe at twelve foot with '06 150gr Federal Fusion. Bullet blew up upon entering. Killed deer but never use them again. Got 19 for sale, cheap.

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from Sb Wacker wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

I like Philip from the Hog Blogs take: to me we are at our best when it's only a man, an animal who doesn't know he's there, and his moral core. Or to put it another way
Being a gentleman is about doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.

SBW

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from Bernie wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

After 48 years of big game hunting and almost 200 animals taken, I remember four animals taken beyond 300 yards. All the others were under 300, and the vast majority were 50-150. I used to shoot on the range out to 650 yards and was a much better rifleman in those days. I wish to point out that the older I get, the more conservative I have become in shooting.

1. Pronghorn antelope, 1979. Shirley Basin, Wyoming, 408 paces, 243. Win. handload with 100-gr. Hornady Spire-Point at about 2,900 fps.

2. raghorn bull elk, 1994, Gravelly Mountains, Montana, 450+ yds. (bullet dropped about two feet from point of aim, but I couldn't pace off the distance due to rockslides), 7mm Weatherby Magnum, 175-grain Nosler Partition handload at about 2,950 fps.

3. cow elk, late 1990s, Missouri River Breaks, Montana, 515 long paces, 7mm Weatherby Magnum, 140-grain Nosler Partition factory load at approximately 3,300 fps.

4. Barren ground caribou, 1998, Nushagak River, Alaska, 368 paces, .338 Win. Magnum, 225-grain Hornady Spire-Point handload at about 2,850 fps.

My compliments to Mr. Van Zwoll, by the way. There is another fellow who gives classes on 1,000-yard shooting. That is fine for targets or enemy troops in the open, but we have to remember that animals are flesh and bone. If you can't put your bullets in a 12" group at a given range, you have no business shooting at that range, whatever it might be.

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from runx3 wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

Bernie - sorry to be off topic, but your column on the labs was excellent. I enjoyed it very much. Keep it up.

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from KJ wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

There is a distance where we stop being hunters and become shooters. I admire shooters who can make long shots at non-living targets, but to me hunting requires getting close, and ethics require passing on shots that are "iffy." With factors like wind, the animal moving, angle, and about 50 others coming into play, shots become iffy well inside 500 yards, and past that, hunting becomes shooting. Just my opinion.

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from Devil_Dog wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

My longest shot to date was a Colorado mule deer at 198 yards, the shortest a Pennsylvania whitetail at poweder burn distance. Maybe it’s just my experiences, but I feel that not only is 300+ yards to far for most shooters, but that even if an animal winds you, the majority won’t react the same as if you were closer. To me, long shots are one more case of hunters verse shooters.
In a similar vein, I must ask how people feel about the same long range shooters using match bullets for big game. I think it’s literally criminal, but maybe it’s just me.

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from T.W. Davidson wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

Hello, All . . .

I belong to a very nice shooting range about 45 minutes from my office. The rifle portion of the ranges are set-up to shoot at targets 25, 50, 100, 200 and 300 yards out. I like to shoot regularly--once or twice a week--but sometimes work or parental duties or weather or social activities or other responsibilities and obligations kick in. It always takes work--sometimes a whole lot of work--to get back to the level of proficiency I can live with when I've been away from the range for a while.

I like to take my favorite rifles and my favorite handloads in those rifles and not only practice a whole lot of shooting from the bench, but also from shooting sticks, as well as from the prone position. When I feel like I'm up to speed with the bench shooting and the sticks-shooting and the prone-position shooting, I move to off-hand shooting, starting at 50 or 100 yards and gradually increasing the distance as my marksmanship improves and becomes consistent. At the 300 yard line a thick steel plate hangs 3'-4' above the ground from a sort of iron trellis. The plate is about 10" wide and about 16" tall. I always worry about someday being in a position to take a quick off-hand shot at game at long-range and whether I will risk doing so. I do not feel my marksmanship is at a high-enough level of proficiency to take a 300-yard off-hand game shot unless I can routinely and consistently hit the steel plate off-hand with any of three different scoped rifles (a .257 Roberts with handloads, a .257 AI with handloads, and a .270 with handloads) nine times out of ten shot with each rifle. I usually cannot do this unless I've been out on the range a whole lot for two or three months in a row, putting a great deal of high-speed lead and copper downrange. Sometimes, for whatever reasons, I never do get to that level of proficiency and can only make maybe 8 out of 10 shots or 7 out of 10 shots off-hand on the plate at 300 yards. But if I can't regularly make 9 out of 10 off-hand shots with the rifles I know best at realistic distances I might encounter in a real hunting situation, then I will not attempt similar off-hand shots in the field.

The last time I took a long off-hand shot when I needed to--it was about 300 yards--was when I was about 14 on the farm where I grew up. Feral dogs had come through our fences and were chasing and attacking our sheep, maiming them and killing them. This would happen two or three times a year. It was always a very bad scene. On this particular occasion, I happened to be the first person to spot the panicked flock and the pursuing dogs, all of whom were about 500 yards away and closing rapidly. I alerted the family. My stepfather grabbed his .270 and a 12-gauge double and I grabbed a .30-06 and a Model 94--ammo always seemed to be in short supply at my house when I was a kid--and we ran toward the trouble.

The sheep instinctively ran toward us, the murderous dogs right amongst them. My stepfather, always a superb shot, nailed two running dogs at around 325-350 yards each, one shot per dog, no misses, instant kills. He was always the best shot with a rifle I ever knew, and was never excited when things were bad.

I missed my first shot, an angling broadshot attempt on a running dog at about 325 yards. My stepfather, a veteran of D-Day at Omaha Beach, swore and yelled at me to settle down and hit what I was shooting at, because every shot counted. My second shot connected on the same running dog at about 300 yards. It was instantly down and gone. Scattered sheep ran past us at this point, with the bulk of the flock still a bit over 200 yards away. It was very difficult to get good sight pictures on the 3 or 4 dogs that were remaining, so my stepfather gave the order and we ran toward the flock again. We moved one way, the flock moved another, and within a moment or two my stepfather and I were in the middle of a hurricane of bleeting fleeing animals and their murderous pursuers. My stepfather took out another dog with his .270, then laid the rifle down on the ground but across the top of his boots (I'll always remember that; he was fanatical about not letting his rifle get dirty), and calmly opened up with his 12-gauge using heavy buckshot. I put down the 30-06, which always kicked the hell out of me (I weighed about 100lbs when I was 14) and always made me flinch and go deaf, and opened up with the Model 94--a rifle I always loved to handle and always felt very comfortable with. Between my stepfather and myself, the remaining dogs didn't last long.

I sometimes wonder if I practice as hard as I do now mostly because I missed that one shot back then.

T.W. Davidson

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from Tom Mrjenovich wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

i gotta say, those are some amazing shots

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from Shaky wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

427yd,22/250, hand load,registerd German shepherd bitch, while she was gnawing on my calf, which was still alive.
I know you wouldn't consider this a big game animal, but I was as proud of that shot as any I have made, because I was able to doctor the calf and nurse her back to health.
I killed a blacktail buck at 4yds. and a bull elk at 11, neither one knew I was anywhere near. If possible I always get close to game, but my partner wounded a bull elk who immediately ran into a canyon where he couldn't see him, but he was in plain sight of me, so my partner yelled to me, shoot! shoot! so I fell to a prone position waited til the elk stopped and shot him. He dropped right where he was and only kicked a couple times. We paced off the shot at 440 long paces, but subtracted 30 for a generous allowance for the angle. 30/06 180gr. Hornady, case full(level full),magnum primer, H4831.
That's all of my long shots on anything except varmints or coyotes in 51yrs. of hunting.
I shoot regularly,(at least 5 days a week), at from 20yds. to 600 using the 25/06, 22/250, .338 and the 30/06, and if necessary,ie, the aforementioned case I am confident I could make the shot, but I can't imagine any circumstance where I would shoot at a healthy big game animal at over 250yds. Just my opinion.

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from ishawooa wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

Wayne is one of my all time favorite writers as I believe I either have owned or have loaned out all of his books and read most of his articles. I know of what type rifles, knives, and flashlights he prefers, iron sights, lower power optics, mostly foot hunts, and usually the type of terrain he prefers. Therefore the fact that I often do not agree with his ideas, methods, and choices does in no way contribute to my admiration of his accomplishments. I have unfortunately never met the man. That said I will add why I often choose to shoot at long range...simply because I can and do make the single killing shot in a country that more easily allows this to be accomplished. Even if followup is necessary, which is somewhat rare, it is not difficult such as the tight forests of Maine or the entangled and snake infested swamps of Mississippi. If we all adhere to the 300 yard rule we need not more than an '06. I still like my idea of everyone being forced to use only Model-94's or Model 336's in .30-30 with iron sights and not even a peep or sling. Everytime I bring this thought up of course everyone either looks at me like I've shot too many .458's in a rather short timespan and then they glance down at their .338-.378 Weatherby's with a huge Zeiss on top. Alternatively I get no reply as when I mentioned it some time ago on this blog. Certainly an idea who time can come and past, most likely will never occur again. I think I would have enjoyed living in 1894 when that new fangled smokeless flat shooting round came out in what looked like a slightly stretched '92. Even Tom Horn prefered it over the .45-70. This is in spite of the wonderful movie staring my old favorite Steve McQueen would have you believe. Check it out in one of Tom's books. Tom often shot animals to eat. He killed men for pay before the hangman got him for being framed for shooting the Nichols kid. In today's court he would have walked...in fact the case has been retryed and he was found innocent. But I am stretching the intent of our topic again as I am prone to do so good night.

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from ishawooa wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

One other thought, you folks who live in the east might not believe some of the distances of shots stated as taken in the west by a few of our bloggers. I can assure that without a doubt all are true as I have repeatedly made or witnessed equal or longer one shot kills. You most likely could duplicate the feat yourself with the proper equipment and some practice. I once was one of ye and thought that a 257 yard shot with a .25-'06 was whopping long. I have since learned better. I prefer not to go into detail unless I am in an antagonizing and insulting mood neither of which represents my present attitude. You might not believe some of the shots especially those made by my kid since all were not on camera for proof. By the way we also cap a buck or two every now and then up close with a .44 or .45 just to remember the feeling of the sneak. The older I get the more difficult it is to sneak. Again good night.

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from Del in KS wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

Shane,

Alaskan barren ground Caribou tend to be constantly on the move and no man can keep up. It's easy for me to imagine a situation where 600 is as close as you can get as I have hunted the critters. My bull fell in his tracks at 330 yds hit by a 200 grain Nosler Part. from a 300 WBY handloaded to 2900 fps. He was with 2 other bulls moving across the tundra at a ground eating pace. The shot was when he paused for a moment.

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from olsingleshot wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

In my opinion any shot over the 300-500 yard range on a large game animal is not hunting; it is shooting. Yes it does take experience to make those shots but it would take more hunting experience to get closer.

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from AlaskanExile wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

I agree with Dave, Van Zwoll and Boddington are some of the very best writer/hunters we have today, and I always read their stuff first, even when some editor assigns them to cover something I'm less interested in. Dr Petzal is no slouch either.
I also agree with all above, that 300 yards is a long way out there for most people to hit game with a rifle in the field. I think the longest shot I've ever taken was about 250 yards (across a deep coulee) I got the mule deer buck and filled my tag. I try never to shoot standing when I can possibly sit, and never sit when I can shoot prone, time permitting.
This year I took an offhand shot at a standing mule deer doe in Montana, and missed completely, about 200 yards (another coulee, terrain prevented any kind of a rest).
This fall I had to take an older (new to hunting) hunter aside and gently, respectfully "rip him a new one". He was bragging about shooting an antelope at over 400 yards. Two weeks prior he burned-up a box of ammo shooting at antelope and not getting one, we went to the range and got his rifle zeroed again, but he could not hit a life-sized deer target at 300 yards. He has a rangefinder and I told him (and he agreed) not to take any shots beyond 200 yards. He went hunting again and shot this animal at over 400 yards, wounded it, chased it for a few miles, missed again, and finally hit it at around 150 yards. It was a doe, he had an either-sex tag, but it was so far off he thought it was a buck when he shot initially. I don't think he will do that again. He felt pretty bad about what he had done.
He came to hunting late in life and had no father-figure teaching him these things when he was growing up, so here I am, 25 years his junior, mentoring him into being an ethical hunter, and competent shooter.
This is something you all will see more of, as more kids who grew up with no Dad in their life, hit middle-age and seek to connect with the outdoors and nature and all that draws men to hunt,and have nothing to draw from but TV, movies and magazine articles. Be on the lookout for those mentoring opportunities.
Alaskan Exile

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from Clay Cooper wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

I find it funny that those like Del in KS and I are able to hit “MOP” while others are only able to eat off “MOP”at the dinner table! That’s “Minute Of Pieplate” to you “Range Monkeys” LOL!

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from sarg wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

Ishwooa, you've shot too many .458's... I would never take a .30-30 over a .35Rem any time.(kidding of course)

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from 60256 wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

I'll never be able to shoot that well even if i get the chance(I probably won't because of the forest we hunt in) but dang those are some great shots!

Nate

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from sarg wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

Nate, I'm like you, Here in Eastern Ky, I've never shot a deer more than 100yds, usually 50-75 yds., ground hogs a little farther. I usually cast a fishing plug farther than I shoot, which reminds me, the Muskies are hitting now at Cave Run Lake. Gotta go through my tackle box.

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from Jim in Avon wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

I'm tired of not getting blog notifications until at least 24 hours after each has been posted, so I'm gonna be pissy as I feel this winter morning:

Do you guys have any editors? Or, if F&S is too cheap for that, has anyone shown you how to run spell-check on what you write?

This piece is headlined -- read it carefully now -- "Longe-Range" shooting. Now, unless that is somebody's failed idea of clever, it's just a stupid, avoidable error -- like dropping a couple extra grains of powder into an already maxed-out handload. C'mon guys. You are Field & Stream. You are the heirs of Ruark, Page and Ford. You are better than that.

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from KJ wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

Jim in Avon -
Nice. Piss away, sir. :)

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from Scott Jones wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

Okay, my shots at deer are mostly at 45 degrees or greater, and I don't climb that high. That's why I hunt with a pistol. This discussion would be no different if we were talking about over 40 yard shots with a bow. Personally, I find no reason to take a first shot over 300 yards, but I've never had the opportunity to hunt where a closer shot was not available. To each his own; IF you have the equipment, IF you have the skill, AND IF YOU HAVE PRACTICED THE SHOT AND KNOW YOU CAN MAKE IT, then proceed. Hunting is about personal ethics anyway, not what is legal.
Having said that, ANY shot presented at a wounded animal is an ethical shot. With all due respect, Mr. Petzal, your three reasons apply for you. Once you've drawn blood, you've committed yourself. Even if it's outside your comfort zone. Until my hunting opportunities change, that is my ONLY acceptable reason for long range shooting.

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from Gritz wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

I have not felt compelled to add to the conversations since this new format was created. I am not exactly happy about the reformat. But this post brings back why I started reading a couple years ago. I really enjoy hearing about shooting. I love shooting as much as I do hunting. But I think the distinction between hunting and shooting was very good. I have always kept my shots under 150 yards on Whitetails in the past. When shooting for food I want my meat in my freezer and not on a scrap pile. I can't remember EVER using more than two bullets on a deer and have very rarely needed more than one. This said, I love to shoot my 06 at 250 yard targets off the bench. Usually I pass most of the summer shooting through thermals and waiting impatiently for my barrel to cool before going for that next shot. I can consistently put factory loads through a pie plate at 200 yards but still hesitate to take that shot in the field. Mostly, this is due to exactly the opposite reason that was mentioned FOR taking the shot (last minute of legal shooting). In my earliest years I did take that last minute shot at 100 yards through the brush and those have been the only deer I have ever lost. When the light is failing that is not the time to be taking desperate shots at animals that could or could not drop where they are, because if they happen to move 20 yards without a good blood trail, by the time you wait 10 minutes and walk the 8 million paces to your quarry it is going to be completely black and the land that looked flat in your scope will be unforgiving, thick with brush, turned around. I even made a solid shot on a doe at dark once and no blood trail. I had to come back the next day only to find that the deer fell 50 feet from where it was shot and it was half eaten by dogs. If it is the last minute of the last day and my tag is still unfilled, I am more likely to be even more picky about my shots. Often, this is when I start walking back to the camp with a single bullet chambered. If anyone I am hunting with hears a shot at dark they can be assured that I just got run over by a deer and was forced to shoot it in the face. I think this is a good topic though. I think that, most importantly, the ethical thing to do is train, have a game plan, and stick to that plan. If you decide that it is best not to take long shots in the dark before you even enter the woods then the best thing to do is stick with that plan and enjoy the fact that you are out in the woods. It is the guys who quickly change their game plan when they see fur and start making decisions based upon their heart rates rather than their common sense that things turn hairy. That is when we get guys shooting high power rifles over hills and into dark woods and people get hurt, game gets wounded, and a good hunt turns sour.
That said, longest successful shot: took a crow at 100 yards with an air rifle when I was 11. Shortest shot: Doe that almost licked my 30-30's muzzle. That almost ended my hunting carrier because of the gore. I should have let that one go.

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

If you can't hit Clay's MOP or a gallon milk jug at a given distance, you have reached the limit of your shooting ability. Put your long range fantasies in the same folder with Ms. Elisha Cuthbert. Most of the "hunters" you know can't shoot MOA on the range, much less in the field. There are the rare birds that can do it consistently.

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from Scott Kittinger wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

Yep. Agreed, WA.
Rare it is to get a shot at those distances. 386 paces with an '06 is my furthest on big game. 748 bet-winning steps on a pasture poodle. That was with a really nicely done .308 though.

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from Mike Diehl wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

If there was one minute left of shooting light and I was 400+ yards from eligible game I'd let it go. I seem to recall something about "being aware of the target and beyond." Too much can go wrong at that range in that kind of light, IMO.

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from Mike Diehl wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

My longest shot was about 250 yards in a Maine cutting, over iron sights, offhand with a hasty sling, at a standing white-tailed doe that was facing me.

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from CPT BRAD wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

Ahh the same timeless debate, much like the 270 vs. 30-06, (30-06 by a mile) I get into this one at least once or twice a year. How far is too far? Well that depends on the shooter and the conditions. I have killed deer past 440 yards (it’s easy here, we range them by the fence rows) and I have passed on shots that were 200 or so. I am fortunate to be able to hunt bean fields and hay meadows and yes I do shoot the hottest magnum that I can accurately get results with.

I read a lot of these guys talking about the off had shot, I hardly ever take them personally, there are always a tree, fence post, hunting bag, or knee handy to steady that shot up which will GREATLY increase your chances of putting lead on target.

I also use the laser range finders quite a bit; I learned the value of one when I missed my first bear with my bow. It was rather large and I shot under it. Rookie mistake, but it can happen with deer at long ranges even with the laser straight magnums.

And here is where I make my money, I don't get out and shoot EVERY weekend, but I do manage to launch a few hundred rounds a month just to keep the rust off.

I don't recommend long range shooting unless you practice, A LOT. You need the equipment and practice to get competent at it and you need to do it on a regular basis.

Now is it ethical? I don't know and I'm not getting into that debate, you owe it to the animal you shoot to be 100% so if you can make the 300-500 yard shot 10 times out of 10 go for it; If not you need to rein her in a little.

Is it hunting? You Bet!

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from Bernie wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

Del in KS: Do you mind revealing your powder choice and weight in grains for that 200-grain bullet in the .300 Weatherby? My Dad used IMR-4831 for decades in his .300 W.M. with the 180-grain bullet. When he turned the rifle over to me two years ago, I switched to the slightly slower-burning H-4831. Now I am contemplating working up a load for the 200-grain Nosler Partition. I have a pound of Reloder-22 and was going to try that. One friend recommends IMR-6828, another uses H-1000. I suspect H-4831 also would be good. What do you say?

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from elkshane wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

We were hunting out in Western Colorado when a weather/snow front moved in. The snow was coming in sideways about 25+MPH. My guide and I walked over a rise and about 400 yards out stood an elk with a 8x10 rack. I carefully leaned against a 1" sapling and while wavering in the breeze I squeezed of a well aim round from my trusty 300 Weatherby Mark V.

The elk kind of looked up our way and seemed to say "you have got to be kidding" and sauntered off. My guide was pretty sure the round landed in the same zip code, but would not swear to it at the dinner table that evening.

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from jamesti wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

you are not starving and noone is pointing a gun to your head telling you have to make the shot. there is no reason to be shooting at those distances and risking wounding an animal or worse.

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

Del in KS,

Having read dozens of your posts, I respect your common sense approach to most things.

Two questions: Was that you that bought a .35 Whelen last year? Secondly, what do you really think of the .300 Weatherby? Is it realy worth the expense and recoil over a .30-06 or .300 Win mag?

Petzal just drags out this ong range debate every now and then to get everyone fired up with predictable results!

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from Zermoid wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

"I had been kicked in the face by a horse earlier in the day"

Well, that explains alot. ;-)

Around here it's rare to see an animal more than 100 yds away, unless you are hunting a farm field or shooting down a road! I carry a 30-30 Marlin with open peep sights alot, and if I'm looking at fields the scoped 6.5x55 gets to go. Even at that I don't go longer than 200 yards or so, too many variables past that IMO.

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from Clay Cooper wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

AMEN BROTHER from WA Mtnhunter
If you can't hit Clay's MOP or a gallon milk jug at a given distance, you have reached the limit of your shooting ability!!!!

I’ve witnessed better one shot kills on Moose and Caribou with a 30-06 than a 300 Weatherby!

Face it, if you’re going to take on us big dogs, better know more about shooting skills than lock and loading and letting it rip at the hip Chip! If your skill of MOP is better at hitting your dinner plate with a snow shovel for a spoon than your target at 50 yards and still getting what you went for, I say GREAT and good for you!!!!

Generally I prefer Big Game Archery Hunting over firearms.

By the way, I find it funny you Range Monkeys have never been Certified Firearms Instructor, Director for High Power Competition or nationally recognized shooting team and you got the odasity to say what!

There is a reason why I settled on the 338 Win Mag over the 375 H&H for Alaska, its long range performance almost duplicates the 30-06 168 grain trajectory that I’m accustomed to.

And one more thing, you can always find a person speaking professionally on what you believe in.

Hey perhaps you can find another Marshall Applewhite to believe in!!
Heaven's Gate was an American UFO religion based in San Diego, California and led by Marshall Applewhite and Bonnie Nettles. The group's end coincided with the appearance of Comet Hale-Bopp in 1997. Applewhite convinced 38 followers to commit suicide, which he claimed would allow their souls to board a spaceship that they believed was hiding behind the comet.

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from focusfront wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

I'd like Dave to tell us how far away he thought those animals were when he shot at them. The two shots he took in the seventies at least had to be guesstimated, as you couldn't really get a decent rangefinder back then. In high power rifle shooting, you know exactly the range to click in and have time to estimate wind drift on a stationary target. Not so in the field. If you are just a few yards off in your estimation of a long shot it makes a huge difference to your point of aim. The antelope, especially, must have been one sweet, lucky shot.

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from Clay Cooper wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

focusfront
Shooting is like baseball; the more you throw at different ranges the better you are!

Have you ever heard of Kentucky Windage!

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

"You just don't have to lead 'em as much"

- Apocalypse Now

LOL

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from Tim Platt wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

The average white tail is taken at less than 30 yards in Tennessee... my longest was less than 150 and I used a muzzleloader. I once sighted in my 30-06 at 200 yards off a fence post and shot 1 1/2" groups. Would I take a 300+ yard shot on a buck of a lifetime? Hell yes.

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from Tim Platt wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

Oh yeah, that "long shot" with the frontstuffer was when I was walking out of the woods and had a treestand on my back and completely offhand. I had kicked them up and they ran to the next ridge only to stop and look back... no time to find a rest or tree or even kneel down. There were a good 20 deer and I only had a clear shot at one, the woods are thick.

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

Dr. Ralph:

Was that you that bought the .35 Whelen last summer?

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from Clay Cooper wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

Dr. Ralph

IF I DIDN'T HAVE A 338 WIN MAG, A 35 WHELEN WOULD BE NICE!

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from Clay Cooper wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

I don’t know about this year but I really like to get some of the gang together for a low impact easy on the pocket book hunt somewhere like New Mexico and YES DAVID YOU TOO!!!!

Man got to tell ‘ya if I didn’t pick on Ol’Dave he would think I was mad at him!!! LOL!

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from ishawooa wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

Sarg, how about we compromise on the .32 Win Spl. and I will back off a few grains with the .458. Good luck on any of us finding rifles or brass anymore. However I actually do know three guys who have a couple M-94's in .32 and one fellow with I believe a Marlin Model 36. Oddly enough somewhere along the line someone rebarreled the Marlin, did not bother with replacing the iron sights, and added a Leupold 3x-9x. Sort of struck me as an odd combination.

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from brutherford wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

Here's what I'd tell my students when I used to teach hunter ed classes--take a paper plate and staple it to a target. Shoot at it under field conditions--standing, kneeling, sitting, prone--at 100 yards, 200 yards and 300 yards if possible. If you can put five shots in the plate at 200 yards from the standing position, then you can confidently take that shot in the field. If you can't put five shots into the plate, then you have no business trying it for real.

Try it sometime. It's a real buzz kill for lots of folks who think they're shooters.

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from Jim in Mo wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

Wa MtnHunter, I don't remember either who said they were building a 35 Whelan, or getting one, but I did say it was my ambition to build a Whelan. Just have to find a reasonable priced action to start with.
P.S. Your mention of 'leading em enough' was sick but hilarious, I know the movie your talking about.

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from Jim in Mo wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

Wa MtnHunter, I don't remember either who said they were building a 35 Whelan, or getting one, but I did say it was my ambition to build a Whelan. Just have to find a reasonable priced action to start with.
P.S. Your mention of 'leading em enough' was sick but hilarious, I know the movie your talking about.

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from Sportsman Matt wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

The biggest thing is knowing what the effective range and accuracy of yor gun is at that range. I shoot a Colt 45 Automatic at steel plates set at 125 yards and can hold a 5" group reliably. Switch to my 12 Gauge 2 3/4" slugs and I can keep in a 6" group at 200 yards reliably. Switch to my 30-30 Winchester and handloads, i run 1/2" groups at 300 yards, but know the effective 1 shot kill distance is only 200 yards with the 30-30, 125 yards with the 12 gauge, and 50 yards with the 45. Long range shots can be done, I used to own a rifle that could shoot 800 yards with pinpoint accuracy, but unfortunately I haven't seen a spot for a shot more than 200 yards in any of the hunting areas I frequent, so I sold it to another hunter who uses it on a regular basis out in the midwest.

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from MattB wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

Longest shot I ever made in 40+ years of hunting and only one over 400 yds was a coyote on a South Texas sendero at 473 yds with a Ruger 77 220 Swift with a four power scope. Closest shot was a forked horn Texas whitetail at about 5 feet with a 222 Rem. 70 grain handload. Out still hunting and heard deer running. Threw up my rifle and waited. The buck stopped on the opposite side of a shoulder high ceder bush. Neck shot dropped him in his tracks. Luckiest shot I ever made was a 75 yd shot with the 220 Swift on a running gobbler. Took his head off cleanly.My dad witnessed this and said that if he hadn't seen it with his own eyes he wouldn't have ever believed it.(The gobbler was running straight away from us.)

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from davidpetzal wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

To ALL: The "Don't have to lead 'em so much" line is from Full Metal Jacket, the scene in the helicopter where Joker asks the door gunner how he can kill women and children for fun, as Rafterman quietly pukes onto his flak jacket.

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from Clay Cooper wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

With my Dad President of the Base Rod & Gun Club ammo was endless. Instead of shooting 22’s I grew up shooting 30-06 Hornady 130 grain busting Jackrabbits on the run. With a fist size target in warp drive this will defiantly make a shooter out of you! I remember if you showed up with a shotgun squirrel hunting, you’ll be laughed out of the county!!!

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from HogBlog wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

Gritz just nailed it! Great comments!
"When the light is failing that is not the time to be taking desperate shots at animals that could or could not drop where they are, because if they happen to move 20 yards without a good blood trail, by the time you wait 10 minutes and walk the 8 million paces to your quarry it is going to be completely black and the land that looked flat in your scope will be unforgiving, thick with brush, turned around."

Same goes for shooting into the next county in broad daylight. I've seen it happen too often, the shooter can't even tell if he's hit or missed, gets in the truck and drives away... I've found multiple dead animals in the chaparral due to this kind of thing.

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from Mark-1 wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

I twice made kills on deer just prior dusk and almost did myself in with my hunting knife field dressing them failing light.

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

Dave -
My apologies for the incorrect movie quote reference. FMJ is indeed correct.

Del in KS - See, we aren't the only ones who remember that line. To remember something that trivial, you have to have deemed it profound or funny! I found it to be both! LOL

For the .35 Whelen, just go buy a Remington 700 Classic (1988 - 22in. bbl) or a new 700 CDL with 24 inch bbl. You can usually find a NIB 700 Classic specimen on Gunbroker dot com.

Van Zwoll or Barsness (I think) once wrote that 23 inches is the optimum barrel length for that round. I have a 700 Classic 22 in. bbl that I have restocked. I get an average of 2618 fps over the chrony at 15 feet from the muzzle with Federal 225 gr. TBBC. You can kill MOA's all day with it! It'll damn sure kill elk out to 300 yards and beyond without clapping your shoulder blades together.

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from HogBlog wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

"The biggest thing is knowing what the effective range and accuracy of yor gun is at that range."

Nothing personal toward anyone, but that statement above is exactly the problem (although it looks like the person who made it actually knows better). It's not about what the gun can do. It's about what YOU,the SHOOTER, can do. Most modern centerfires can shoot accurately way beyond the capabilities of most modern hunters. That's a fact. You can't rely on the tool... you have to rely on the worker's skill with the tool.

Moreso, and this becomes redundant to what's already been said, you have to consider the other factors, including the ability to follow-up ths shot and recover the animal.

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from AlaskanExile wrote 5 years 10 weeks ago

Clay and WA MtnHunter;
AMEN on the minute-of-pie-plate!

I used a .338 Win for most of the last 4 years hunting,(AK,MT,& WY) and there's nothing it can't take in North America.
The 35 Whelen is fully up to the task, however If you are going to travel with it, there isn't much ammo available in stores. Make sure you bring enough with you, and don't lose it. 338 (300 Win, 30-06) ammo is like currency in AK, you can buy it at the grocery store.

I just bought a 375 Ruger (lefty rifles bigger than 06 don't grow on trees) so as soon as I get back from Iraq again I'm going to shoot that, and do some handloading, cases are rare and expensive, so I'm now not practicing what I preach.
Maybe I'll shoot a moose in September.

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from Happy Myles wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

As I recall, O'Connor also wrote something to the effect, that long shots were most easily accomplished by typewriter. People forget the results are often not kill or miss, but miss or wound. Our game deserves better.

62 years big game hunting around the world resulted in most animals being taken between 50 and 150 yards. This includes more than a dozen sheep often thought to be associated with long shooting.

The exceptions involved unique trophies, good shooting conditions, and interestingly, the same rifle. One I have complete confidence in, built by the late Seely Masker in .300 Win Mag with a super handload.

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from HogBlog wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

Funny I just finished blogging on a similar topic... but here's the deal and it'll rub some folks the wrong way.

A sport hunter never HAS to take a shot that he is not completely confident in making, cleanly. NEVER.

Last day, great trophy, lots of money spent... It doesn't matter, there's no good excuse, in my opinion (and yes, this is only my opinion).

If you're confident and capable, then go for it. I don't like long range shooting, but mostly because it makes everyone with a whiz-bang magnum think they can do it too. But don't tell me the best reason a hunter can give for taking a shot at the outer limits of their capabilities is because, "it was the only shot I had!"

You're not going to die if the animal walks away unharmed.

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from Carney wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

I don't know much about long range shooting -- as all hunting out here is really close. The longest rifle range in my area is 300 yards but with my 45-70, I'd have to hold about 4 feet high just to hit paper at that distance.

Beekeeper -- I'm with you on Springsteen. However, unlike Tony Bennett who still "has it" at 83, BS's Super Bowl bellowing betrayed the fact that he's lost his chops. So -- we now have an entertainer who should not only give up political commentary but also sining in public.

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from Del in KS wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

Any shot that requires the shooter to make allowances for the curvature of the earth is too far. There is a 10 inch round steel plate set on the 200 yd berm at my gun club. It makes a good practice target for offhand shooting when you want to "train" as Clay calls it. If you take long shots you should train before hunting season at any range you think you might have a shot.

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from T.W. Davidson wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

Hello, All . . .

I belong to a very nice shooting range about 45 minutes from my office. The rifle portion of the ranges are set-up to shoot at targets 25, 50, 100, 200 and 300 yards out. I like to shoot regularly--once or twice a week--but sometimes work or parental duties or weather or social activities or other responsibilities and obligations kick in. It always takes work--sometimes a whole lot of work--to get back to the level of proficiency I can live with when I've been away from the range for a while.

I like to take my favorite rifles and my favorite handloads in those rifles and not only practice a whole lot of shooting from the bench, but also from shooting sticks, as well as from the prone position. When I feel like I'm up to speed with the bench shooting and the sticks-shooting and the prone-position shooting, I move to off-hand shooting, starting at 50 or 100 yards and gradually increasing the distance as my marksmanship improves and becomes consistent. At the 300 yard line a thick steel plate hangs 3'-4' above the ground from a sort of iron trellis. The plate is about 10" wide and about 16" tall. I always worry about someday being in a position to take a quick off-hand shot at game at long-range and whether I will risk doing so. I do not feel my marksmanship is at a high-enough level of proficiency to take a 300-yard off-hand game shot unless I can routinely and consistently hit the steel plate off-hand with any of three different scoped rifles (a .257 Roberts with handloads, a .257 AI with handloads, and a .270 with handloads) nine times out of ten shot with each rifle. I usually cannot do this unless I've been out on the range a whole lot for two or three months in a row, putting a great deal of high-speed lead and copper downrange. Sometimes, for whatever reasons, I never do get to that level of proficiency and can only make maybe 8 out of 10 shots or 7 out of 10 shots off-hand on the plate at 300 yards. But if I can't regularly make 9 out of 10 off-hand shots with the rifles I know best at realistic distances I might encounter in a real hunting situation, then I will not attempt similar off-hand shots in the field.

The last time I took a long off-hand shot when I needed to--it was about 300 yards--was when I was about 14 on the farm where I grew up. Feral dogs had come through our fences and were chasing and attacking our sheep, maiming them and killing them. This would happen two or three times a year. It was always a very bad scene. On this particular occasion, I happened to be the first person to spot the panicked flock and the pursuing dogs, all of whom were about 500 yards away and closing rapidly. I alerted the family. My stepfather grabbed his .270 and a 12-gauge double and I grabbed a .30-06 and a Model 94--ammo always seemed to be in short supply at my house when I was a kid--and we ran toward the trouble.

The sheep instinctively ran toward us, the murderous dogs right amongst them. My stepfather, always a superb shot, nailed two running dogs at around 325-350 yards each, one shot per dog, no misses, instant kills. He was always the best shot with a rifle I ever knew, and was never excited when things were bad.

I missed my first shot, an angling broadshot attempt on a running dog at about 325 yards. My stepfather, a veteran of D-Day at Omaha Beach, swore and yelled at me to settle down and hit what I was shooting at, because every shot counted. My second shot connected on the same running dog at about 300 yards. It was instantly down and gone. Scattered sheep ran past us at this point, with the bulk of the flock still a bit over 200 yards away. It was very difficult to get good sight pictures on the 3 or 4 dogs that were remaining, so my stepfather gave the order and we ran toward the flock again. We moved one way, the flock moved another, and within a moment or two my stepfather and I were in the middle of a hurricane of bleeting fleeing animals and their murderous pursuers. My stepfather took out another dog with his .270, then laid the rifle down on the ground but across the top of his boots (I'll always remember that; he was fanatical about not letting his rifle get dirty), and calmly opened up with his 12-gauge using heavy buckshot. I put down the 30-06, which always kicked the hell out of me (I weighed about 100lbs when I was 14) and always made me flinch and go deaf, and opened up with the Model 94--a rifle I always loved to handle and always felt very comfortable with. Between my stepfather and myself, the remaining dogs didn't last long.

I sometimes wonder if I practice as hard as I do now mostly because I missed that one shot back then.

T.W. Davidson

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from Del in KS wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

Shane,

Alaskan barren ground Caribou tend to be constantly on the move and no man can keep up. It's easy for me to imagine a situation where 600 is as close as you can get as I have hunted the critters. My bull fell in his tracks at 330 yds hit by a 200 grain Nosler Part. from a 300 WBY handloaded to 2900 fps. He was with 2 other bulls moving across the tundra at a ground eating pace. The shot was when he paused for a moment.

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from Jim in Avon wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

I'm tired of not getting blog notifications until at least 24 hours after each has been posted, so I'm gonna be pissy as I feel this winter morning:

Do you guys have any editors? Or, if F&S is too cheap for that, has anyone shown you how to run spell-check on what you write?

This piece is headlined -- read it carefully now -- "Longe-Range" shooting. Now, unless that is somebody's failed idea of clever, it's just a stupid, avoidable error -- like dropping a couple extra grains of powder into an already maxed-out handload. C'mon guys. You are Field & Stream. You are the heirs of Ruark, Page and Ford. You are better than that.

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from CPT BRAD wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

Ahh the same timeless debate, much like the 270 vs. 30-06, (30-06 by a mile) I get into this one at least once or twice a year. How far is too far? Well that depends on the shooter and the conditions. I have killed deer past 440 yards (it’s easy here, we range them by the fence rows) and I have passed on shots that were 200 or so. I am fortunate to be able to hunt bean fields and hay meadows and yes I do shoot the hottest magnum that I can accurately get results with.

I read a lot of these guys talking about the off had shot, I hardly ever take them personally, there are always a tree, fence post, hunting bag, or knee handy to steady that shot up which will GREATLY increase your chances of putting lead on target.

I also use the laser range finders quite a bit; I learned the value of one when I missed my first bear with my bow. It was rather large and I shot under it. Rookie mistake, but it can happen with deer at long ranges even with the laser straight magnums.

And here is where I make my money, I don't get out and shoot EVERY weekend, but I do manage to launch a few hundred rounds a month just to keep the rust off.

I don't recommend long range shooting unless you practice, A LOT. You need the equipment and practice to get competent at it and you need to do it on a regular basis.

Now is it ethical? I don't know and I'm not getting into that debate, you owe it to the animal you shoot to be 100% so if you can make the 300-500 yard shot 10 times out of 10 go for it; If not you need to rein her in a little.

Is it hunting? You Bet!

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from Beekeeper wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

This type of shooting has a place when it is employed with the same restraint as by you and Dr. Van Zwoll. A practiced marksman can accomplish such a shot because they are familiar with the rifle, load, wind, gremlins and demons that live between the end of the barrel and the animal. This is much the same as Ben Roethlisberger throwing that pass to a receiver in the corner of the endzone last night into triple coverage. Under great duress he hit THE ONLY spot he could have for the completion! If you shoot and shoot or throw and throw you can make those shots. For the average hunter who takes 2-3 years to shoot through a box of shells... I don't think so!

Question: Is it just me or is Springsteen starting to look like Tony Bennett with ear rings? No disrespect intened to you guys from 'Jersey!

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from davidpetzal wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

Sorry, forgot to add this dope: I missed the caribou and killed the other three. The cartridges involved were:

Antelope: 7mm Remington Magnum, 160-grain Nosler Partition at around 2,950 fps.

Caribou: 7mm Weatherby Magnum, 140-grain Nosler Partition at 3,400 fps. (This load was too hot and I stopped using it after this hunt.)

Great Big Elk: 7mm Weatherby Magnum, Wby. factory ammo, 160-Nosler partition at 3,150.

Five-Point Elk: 270 Winchester,Winchester factory ammo, 140 Grain Fail-Safe, 2,900 fps.

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from Jim in Mo wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

shane,
Closest shot? Saw my son shoot a small tender doe at twelve foot with '06 150gr Federal Fusion. Bullet blew up upon entering. Killed deer but never use them again. Got 19 for sale, cheap.

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from Sb Wacker wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

I like Philip from the Hog Blogs take: to me we are at our best when it's only a man, an animal who doesn't know he's there, and his moral core. Or to put it another way
Being a gentleman is about doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.

SBW

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from Gritz wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

I have not felt compelled to add to the conversations since this new format was created. I am not exactly happy about the reformat. But this post brings back why I started reading a couple years ago. I really enjoy hearing about shooting. I love shooting as much as I do hunting. But I think the distinction between hunting and shooting was very good. I have always kept my shots under 150 yards on Whitetails in the past. When shooting for food I want my meat in my freezer and not on a scrap pile. I can't remember EVER using more than two bullets on a deer and have very rarely needed more than one. This said, I love to shoot my 06 at 250 yard targets off the bench. Usually I pass most of the summer shooting through thermals and waiting impatiently for my barrel to cool before going for that next shot. I can consistently put factory loads through a pie plate at 200 yards but still hesitate to take that shot in the field. Mostly, this is due to exactly the opposite reason that was mentioned FOR taking the shot (last minute of legal shooting). In my earliest years I did take that last minute shot at 100 yards through the brush and those have been the only deer I have ever lost. When the light is failing that is not the time to be taking desperate shots at animals that could or could not drop where they are, because if they happen to move 20 yards without a good blood trail, by the time you wait 10 minutes and walk the 8 million paces to your quarry it is going to be completely black and the land that looked flat in your scope will be unforgiving, thick with brush, turned around. I even made a solid shot on a doe at dark once and no blood trail. I had to come back the next day only to find that the deer fell 50 feet from where it was shot and it was half eaten by dogs. If it is the last minute of the last day and my tag is still unfilled, I am more likely to be even more picky about my shots. Often, this is when I start walking back to the camp with a single bullet chambered. If anyone I am hunting with hears a shot at dark they can be assured that I just got run over by a deer and was forced to shoot it in the face. I think this is a good topic though. I think that, most importantly, the ethical thing to do is train, have a game plan, and stick to that plan. If you decide that it is best not to take long shots in the dark before you even enter the woods then the best thing to do is stick with that plan and enjoy the fact that you are out in the woods. It is the guys who quickly change their game plan when they see fur and start making decisions based upon their heart rates rather than their common sense that things turn hairy. That is when we get guys shooting high power rifles over hills and into dark woods and people get hurt, game gets wounded, and a good hunt turns sour.
That said, longest successful shot: took a crow at 100 yards with an air rifle when I was 11. Shortest shot: Doe that almost licked my 30-30's muzzle. That almost ended my hunting carrier because of the gore. I should have let that one go.

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

If you can't hit Clay's MOP or a gallon milk jug at a given distance, you have reached the limit of your shooting ability. Put your long range fantasies in the same folder with Ms. Elisha Cuthbert. Most of the "hunters" you know can't shoot MOA on the range, much less in the field. There are the rare birds that can do it consistently.

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from Mike Diehl wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

If there was one minute left of shooting light and I was 400+ yards from eligible game I'd let it go. I seem to recall something about "being aware of the target and beyond." Too much can go wrong at that range in that kind of light, IMO.

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from Tim Platt wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

The average white tail is taken at less than 30 yards in Tennessee... my longest was less than 150 and I used a muzzleloader. I once sighted in my 30-06 at 200 yards off a fence post and shot 1 1/2" groups. Would I take a 300+ yard shot on a buck of a lifetime? Hell yes.

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

Good article, Dave.

duckcreekdick hit it on the head!

The longest shot I ever took was last year on a bull elk at 308 yards. That was from a steady sitting position, good Stoney Point shooting stick, no wind, straight away across a draw, with a rifle I have utmost confidence in that was zero'ed at 250 yards. Down he went.

That said, I won't shoot that far again if I can avoid it.

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from jjas wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

I don't begrudge anyone taking a shot @ extended ranges as long as they have practiced that shot and can make it with confidence under field conditions.

I've just seen too many guys taking 200 yard shots w/slug guns and muzzleloaders and longer shots with centerfire rifles only because the ads say you can.

With the cost of ammo and limited shooting ranges, many people don't practice enough @ 100 yards (and not off a bench but under simulated hunting conditions) and yet they think they can make 200+ yards shots? I doubt it.

Jim

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

Well, like the man said, " a good man always knows his limitations". If long range shooting is practiced, then long range shooting in the field is OK, but only if the conditions are the same (which they seldom are, even for military range shooting types).

I have seen one of my hunting buddies routinely take down deer and elk on the far side of 400 yards with ease, so it can be done. But I fear most of the long range kills are from those that have become a legend in their own minds........

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from shane wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

how about the shortest shots you've taken?

220lb. 8-point whitetail. 5 yards on the ground. horton crossbow.

195 lb. 11 point whitetail. 11 yards on the ground. bear recurve.

whitetail doe. 40 yards. remington 660 in .308 with 150 grain fail safes. knocked her over. 3 inch hole on her far side. very, very dead. instantly. i think i am going to cry now. somewhat for her untimely and violent death, but mostly because fail safes are leaving us. deadliest bullet ever for "cxp2" and "cxp3" game.

fox squirrel. 10 feet. 338 win. overkill? them foxes are a lot bigger than grays...

i've yet to hunt one, but i think i might be able to close the gap a little tighter than 600 yards on a caribou.

i surely hope so. i'm only confident out to 300 yards. my brain can only process so much of that sniper stuff. my dope isn't so "dope" as they say.

now, varmints are another story. if i can see it, and i'm holding a rifle...the woodchucks better scurry.

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from Bernie wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

After 48 years of big game hunting and almost 200 animals taken, I remember four animals taken beyond 300 yards. All the others were under 300, and the vast majority were 50-150. I used to shoot on the range out to 650 yards and was a much better rifleman in those days. I wish to point out that the older I get, the more conservative I have become in shooting.

1. Pronghorn antelope, 1979. Shirley Basin, Wyoming, 408 paces, 243. Win. handload with 100-gr. Hornady Spire-Point at about 2,900 fps.

2. raghorn bull elk, 1994, Gravelly Mountains, Montana, 450+ yds. (bullet dropped about two feet from point of aim, but I couldn't pace off the distance due to rockslides), 7mm Weatherby Magnum, 175-grain Nosler Partition handload at about 2,950 fps.

3. cow elk, late 1990s, Missouri River Breaks, Montana, 515 long paces, 7mm Weatherby Magnum, 140-grain Nosler Partition factory load at approximately 3,300 fps.

4. Barren ground caribou, 1998, Nushagak River, Alaska, 368 paces, .338 Win. Magnum, 225-grain Hornady Spire-Point handload at about 2,850 fps.

My compliments to Mr. Van Zwoll, by the way. There is another fellow who gives classes on 1,000-yard shooting. That is fine for targets or enemy troops in the open, but we have to remember that animals are flesh and bone. If you can't put your bullets in a 12" group at a given range, you have no business shooting at that range, whatever it might be.

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from KJ wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

There is a distance where we stop being hunters and become shooters. I admire shooters who can make long shots at non-living targets, but to me hunting requires getting close, and ethics require passing on shots that are "iffy." With factors like wind, the animal moving, angle, and about 50 others coming into play, shots become iffy well inside 500 yards, and past that, hunting becomes shooting. Just my opinion.

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from Devil_Dog wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

My longest shot to date was a Colorado mule deer at 198 yards, the shortest a Pennsylvania whitetail at poweder burn distance. Maybe it’s just my experiences, but I feel that not only is 300+ yards to far for most shooters, but that even if an animal winds you, the majority won’t react the same as if you were closer. To me, long shots are one more case of hunters verse shooters.
In a similar vein, I must ask how people feel about the same long range shooters using match bullets for big game. I think it’s literally criminal, but maybe it’s just me.

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from Tom Mrjenovich wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

i gotta say, those are some amazing shots

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from KJ wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

Jim in Avon -
Nice. Piss away, sir. :)

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from Scott Jones wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

Okay, my shots at deer are mostly at 45 degrees or greater, and I don't climb that high. That's why I hunt with a pistol. This discussion would be no different if we were talking about over 40 yard shots with a bow. Personally, I find no reason to take a first shot over 300 yards, but I've never had the opportunity to hunt where a closer shot was not available. To each his own; IF you have the equipment, IF you have the skill, AND IF YOU HAVE PRACTICED THE SHOT AND KNOW YOU CAN MAKE IT, then proceed. Hunting is about personal ethics anyway, not what is legal.
Having said that, ANY shot presented at a wounded animal is an ethical shot. With all due respect, Mr. Petzal, your three reasons apply for you. Once you've drawn blood, you've committed yourself. Even if it's outside your comfort zone. Until my hunting opportunities change, that is my ONLY acceptable reason for long range shooting.

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from Mike Diehl wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

My longest shot was about 250 yards in a Maine cutting, over iron sights, offhand with a hasty sling, at a standing white-tailed doe that was facing me.

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

Del in KS,

Having read dozens of your posts, I respect your common sense approach to most things.

Two questions: Was that you that bought a .35 Whelen last year? Secondly, what do you really think of the .300 Weatherby? Is it realy worth the expense and recoil over a .30-06 or .300 Win mag?

Petzal just drags out this ong range debate every now and then to get everyone fired up with predictable results!

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

"You just don't have to lead 'em as much"

- Apocalypse Now

LOL

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from brutherford wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

Here's what I'd tell my students when I used to teach hunter ed classes--take a paper plate and staple it to a target. Shoot at it under field conditions--standing, kneeling, sitting, prone--at 100 yards, 200 yards and 300 yards if possible. If you can put five shots in the plate at 200 yards from the standing position, then you can confidently take that shot in the field. If you can't put five shots into the plate, then you have no business trying it for real.

Try it sometime. It's a real buzz kill for lots of folks who think they're shooters.

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from rabbitpolice88 wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

Very interesting article!

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from Scott in Ohio wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

Dave,

I take it you hit three of the four animals. 75% at 400+ yards is better than I certainly could do. What caliber rifle were you using for these long shots and what calibers would you NOT shoot at this range? (I realize the bullet would be a critical issue here)

p.s. Steelers Won, who-ee!

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from Charley wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

I have never shot at a mule deer at more than 100 yards. You have to creep close because if you take a long shot, and wound the animal, by the time you get to where you shot it to look for blood that animal cold have bounded three counties away.

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from duckcreekdick wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

Jack O'Connor says it best,"There is something about long-range shooting that fascinates many hunters and riflemen, and the less they have hunted and shot the more fascinated they are."

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from texasfirst wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

Oof. 600 yards. Some hunts are just hell. I always feel like a closet case when folks like my preacher tell me shots beyond 300 yards are unconscionable. Down a South Texas sendero in wide open range, a hunter ought to be able to bring down a nice buck at 500 yards out to no more than 650. In the Marine Corps we had to shoot open sights on the torso-sized target out to 500 M with that damn M-16. Once you settled in and got your dope together, it was easy for most of us, even the pizza-box bubbas. Thanks for bringing this one out in the open. I feel better about myself. Semper Fi.

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from MaxPower wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

Dr. van Zwoll is the man. I myself have only gone past 300 one time. Wyoming elk @ 515 last hour of last day, and it took me two.

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from Carney wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

that should have been "singing in public". But of course could have been "sinning in public" just as easily...

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from runx3 wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

Bernie - sorry to be off topic, but your column on the labs was excellent. I enjoyed it very much. Keep it up.

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from ishawooa wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

Wayne is one of my all time favorite writers as I believe I either have owned or have loaned out all of his books and read most of his articles. I know of what type rifles, knives, and flashlights he prefers, iron sights, lower power optics, mostly foot hunts, and usually the type of terrain he prefers. Therefore the fact that I often do not agree with his ideas, methods, and choices does in no way contribute to my admiration of his accomplishments. I have unfortunately never met the man. That said I will add why I often choose to shoot at long range...simply because I can and do make the single killing shot in a country that more easily allows this to be accomplished. Even if followup is necessary, which is somewhat rare, it is not difficult such as the tight forests of Maine or the entangled and snake infested swamps of Mississippi. If we all adhere to the 300 yard rule we need not more than an '06. I still like my idea of everyone being forced to use only Model-94's or Model 336's in .30-30 with iron sights and not even a peep or sling. Everytime I bring this thought up of course everyone either looks at me like I've shot too many .458's in a rather short timespan and then they glance down at their .338-.378 Weatherby's with a huge Zeiss on top. Alternatively I get no reply as when I mentioned it some time ago on this blog. Certainly an idea who time can come and past, most likely will never occur again. I think I would have enjoyed living in 1894 when that new fangled smokeless flat shooting round came out in what looked like a slightly stretched '92. Even Tom Horn prefered it over the .45-70. This is in spite of the wonderful movie staring my old favorite Steve McQueen would have you believe. Check it out in one of Tom's books. Tom often shot animals to eat. He killed men for pay before the hangman got him for being framed for shooting the Nichols kid. In today's court he would have walked...in fact the case has been retryed and he was found innocent. But I am stretching the intent of our topic again as I am prone to do so good night.

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from ishawooa wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

One other thought, you folks who live in the east might not believe some of the distances of shots stated as taken in the west by a few of our bloggers. I can assure that without a doubt all are true as I have repeatedly made or witnessed equal or longer one shot kills. You most likely could duplicate the feat yourself with the proper equipment and some practice. I once was one of ye and thought that a 257 yard shot with a .25-'06 was whopping long. I have since learned better. I prefer not to go into detail unless I am in an antagonizing and insulting mood neither of which represents my present attitude. You might not believe some of the shots especially those made by my kid since all were not on camera for proof. By the way we also cap a buck or two every now and then up close with a .44 or .45 just to remember the feeling of the sneak. The older I get the more difficult it is to sneak. Again good night.

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from AlaskanExile wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

I agree with Dave, Van Zwoll and Boddington are some of the very best writer/hunters we have today, and I always read their stuff first, even when some editor assigns them to cover something I'm less interested in. Dr Petzal is no slouch either.
I also agree with all above, that 300 yards is a long way out there for most people to hit game with a rifle in the field. I think the longest shot I've ever taken was about 250 yards (across a deep coulee) I got the mule deer buck and filled my tag. I try never to shoot standing when I can possibly sit, and never sit when I can shoot prone, time permitting.
This year I took an offhand shot at a standing mule deer doe in Montana, and missed completely, about 200 yards (another coulee, terrain prevented any kind of a rest).
This fall I had to take an older (new to hunting) hunter aside and gently, respectfully "rip him a new one". He was bragging about shooting an antelope at over 400 yards. Two weeks prior he burned-up a box of ammo shooting at antelope and not getting one, we went to the range and got his rifle zeroed again, but he could not hit a life-sized deer target at 300 yards. He has a rangefinder and I told him (and he agreed) not to take any shots beyond 200 yards. He went hunting again and shot this animal at over 400 yards, wounded it, chased it for a few miles, missed again, and finally hit it at around 150 yards. It was a doe, he had an either-sex tag, but it was so far off he thought it was a buck when he shot initially. I don't think he will do that again. He felt pretty bad about what he had done.
He came to hunting late in life and had no father-figure teaching him these things when he was growing up, so here I am, 25 years his junior, mentoring him into being an ethical hunter, and competent shooter.
This is something you all will see more of, as more kids who grew up with no Dad in their life, hit middle-age and seek to connect with the outdoors and nature and all that draws men to hunt,and have nothing to draw from but TV, movies and magazine articles. Be on the lookout for those mentoring opportunities.
Alaskan Exile

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from Clay Cooper wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

I find it funny that those like Del in KS and I are able to hit “MOP” while others are only able to eat off “MOP”at the dinner table! That’s “Minute Of Pieplate” to you “Range Monkeys” LOL!

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from sarg wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

Ishwooa, you've shot too many .458's... I would never take a .30-30 over a .35Rem any time.(kidding of course)

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from 60256 wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

I'll never be able to shoot that well even if i get the chance(I probably won't because of the forest we hunt in) but dang those are some great shots!

Nate

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from sarg wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

Nate, I'm like you, Here in Eastern Ky, I've never shot a deer more than 100yds, usually 50-75 yds., ground hogs a little farther. I usually cast a fishing plug farther than I shoot, which reminds me, the Muskies are hitting now at Cave Run Lake. Gotta go through my tackle box.

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from Scott Kittinger wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

Yep. Agreed, WA.
Rare it is to get a shot at those distances. 386 paces with an '06 is my furthest on big game. 748 bet-winning steps on a pasture poodle. That was with a really nicely done .308 though.

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from Bernie wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

Del in KS: Do you mind revealing your powder choice and weight in grains for that 200-grain bullet in the .300 Weatherby? My Dad used IMR-4831 for decades in his .300 W.M. with the 180-grain bullet. When he turned the rifle over to me two years ago, I switched to the slightly slower-burning H-4831. Now I am contemplating working up a load for the 200-grain Nosler Partition. I have a pound of Reloder-22 and was going to try that. One friend recommends IMR-6828, another uses H-1000. I suspect H-4831 also would be good. What do you say?

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from elkshane wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

We were hunting out in Western Colorado when a weather/snow front moved in. The snow was coming in sideways about 25+MPH. My guide and I walked over a rise and about 400 yards out stood an elk with a 8x10 rack. I carefully leaned against a 1" sapling and while wavering in the breeze I squeezed of a well aim round from my trusty 300 Weatherby Mark V.

The elk kind of looked up our way and seemed to say "you have got to be kidding" and sauntered off. My guide was pretty sure the round landed in the same zip code, but would not swear to it at the dinner table that evening.

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from jamesti wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

you are not starving and noone is pointing a gun to your head telling you have to make the shot. there is no reason to be shooting at those distances and risking wounding an animal or worse.

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from Zermoid wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

"I had been kicked in the face by a horse earlier in the day"

Well, that explains alot. ;-)

Around here it's rare to see an animal more than 100 yds away, unless you are hunting a farm field or shooting down a road! I carry a 30-30 Marlin with open peep sights alot, and if I'm looking at fields the scoped 6.5x55 gets to go. Even at that I don't go longer than 200 yards or so, too many variables past that IMO.

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from Clay Cooper wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

AMEN BROTHER from WA Mtnhunter
If you can't hit Clay's MOP or a gallon milk jug at a given distance, you have reached the limit of your shooting ability!!!!

I’ve witnessed better one shot kills on Moose and Caribou with a 30-06 than a 300 Weatherby!

Face it, if you’re going to take on us big dogs, better know more about shooting skills than lock and loading and letting it rip at the hip Chip! If your skill of MOP is better at hitting your dinner plate with a snow shovel for a spoon than your target at 50 yards and still getting what you went for, I say GREAT and good for you!!!!

Generally I prefer Big Game Archery Hunting over firearms.

By the way, I find it funny you Range Monkeys have never been Certified Firearms Instructor, Director for High Power Competition or nationally recognized shooting team and you got the odasity to say what!

There is a reason why I settled on the 338 Win Mag over the 375 H&H for Alaska, its long range performance almost duplicates the 30-06 168 grain trajectory that I’m accustomed to.

And one more thing, you can always find a person speaking professionally on what you believe in.

Hey perhaps you can find another Marshall Applewhite to believe in!!
Heaven's Gate was an American UFO religion based in San Diego, California and led by Marshall Applewhite and Bonnie Nettles. The group's end coincided with the appearance of Comet Hale-Bopp in 1997. Applewhite convinced 38 followers to commit suicide, which he claimed would allow their souls to board a spaceship that they believed was hiding behind the comet.

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from focusfront wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

I'd like Dave to tell us how far away he thought those animals were when he shot at them. The two shots he took in the seventies at least had to be guesstimated, as you couldn't really get a decent rangefinder back then. In high power rifle shooting, you know exactly the range to click in and have time to estimate wind drift on a stationary target. Not so in the field. If you are just a few yards off in your estimation of a long shot it makes a huge difference to your point of aim. The antelope, especially, must have been one sweet, lucky shot.

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from Clay Cooper wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

focusfront
Shooting is like baseball; the more you throw at different ranges the better you are!

Have you ever heard of Kentucky Windage!

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from Tim Platt wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

Oh yeah, that "long shot" with the frontstuffer was when I was walking out of the woods and had a treestand on my back and completely offhand. I had kicked them up and they ran to the next ridge only to stop and look back... no time to find a rest or tree or even kneel down. There were a good 20 deer and I only had a clear shot at one, the woods are thick.

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

Dr. Ralph:

Was that you that bought the .35 Whelen last summer?

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from Clay Cooper wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

Dr. Ralph

IF I DIDN'T HAVE A 338 WIN MAG, A 35 WHELEN WOULD BE NICE!

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from Clay Cooper wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

I don’t know about this year but I really like to get some of the gang together for a low impact easy on the pocket book hunt somewhere like New Mexico and YES DAVID YOU TOO!!!!

Man got to tell ‘ya if I didn’t pick on Ol’Dave he would think I was mad at him!!! LOL!

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from ishawooa wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

Sarg, how about we compromise on the .32 Win Spl. and I will back off a few grains with the .458. Good luck on any of us finding rifles or brass anymore. However I actually do know three guys who have a couple M-94's in .32 and one fellow with I believe a Marlin Model 36. Oddly enough somewhere along the line someone rebarreled the Marlin, did not bother with replacing the iron sights, and added a Leupold 3x-9x. Sort of struck me as an odd combination.

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from Jim in Mo wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

Wa MtnHunter, I don't remember either who said they were building a 35 Whelan, or getting one, but I did say it was my ambition to build a Whelan. Just have to find a reasonable priced action to start with.
P.S. Your mention of 'leading em enough' was sick but hilarious, I know the movie your talking about.

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from Jim in Mo wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

Wa MtnHunter, I don't remember either who said they were building a 35 Whelan, or getting one, but I did say it was my ambition to build a Whelan. Just have to find a reasonable priced action to start with.
P.S. Your mention of 'leading em enough' was sick but hilarious, I know the movie your talking about.

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from Sportsman Matt wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

The biggest thing is knowing what the effective range and accuracy of yor gun is at that range. I shoot a Colt 45 Automatic at steel plates set at 125 yards and can hold a 5" group reliably. Switch to my 12 Gauge 2 3/4" slugs and I can keep in a 6" group at 200 yards reliably. Switch to my 30-30 Winchester and handloads, i run 1/2" groups at 300 yards, but know the effective 1 shot kill distance is only 200 yards with the 30-30, 125 yards with the 12 gauge, and 50 yards with the 45. Long range shots can be done, I used to own a rifle that could shoot 800 yards with pinpoint accuracy, but unfortunately I haven't seen a spot for a shot more than 200 yards in any of the hunting areas I frequent, so I sold it to another hunter who uses it on a regular basis out in the midwest.

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from MattB wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

Longest shot I ever made in 40+ years of hunting and only one over 400 yds was a coyote on a South Texas sendero at 473 yds with a Ruger 77 220 Swift with a four power scope. Closest shot was a forked horn Texas whitetail at about 5 feet with a 222 Rem. 70 grain handload. Out still hunting and heard deer running. Threw up my rifle and waited. The buck stopped on the opposite side of a shoulder high ceder bush. Neck shot dropped him in his tracks. Luckiest shot I ever made was a 75 yd shot with the 220 Swift on a running gobbler. Took his head off cleanly.My dad witnessed this and said that if he hadn't seen it with his own eyes he wouldn't have ever believed it.(The gobbler was running straight away from us.)

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from davidpetzal wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

To ALL: The "Don't have to lead 'em so much" line is from Full Metal Jacket, the scene in the helicopter where Joker asks the door gunner how he can kill women and children for fun, as Rafterman quietly pukes onto his flak jacket.

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from Clay Cooper wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

With my Dad President of the Base Rod & Gun Club ammo was endless. Instead of shooting 22’s I grew up shooting 30-06 Hornady 130 grain busting Jackrabbits on the run. With a fist size target in warp drive this will defiantly make a shooter out of you! I remember if you showed up with a shotgun squirrel hunting, you’ll be laughed out of the county!!!

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from HogBlog wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

Gritz just nailed it! Great comments!
"When the light is failing that is not the time to be taking desperate shots at animals that could or could not drop where they are, because if they happen to move 20 yards without a good blood trail, by the time you wait 10 minutes and walk the 8 million paces to your quarry it is going to be completely black and the land that looked flat in your scope will be unforgiving, thick with brush, turned around."

Same goes for shooting into the next county in broad daylight. I've seen it happen too often, the shooter can't even tell if he's hit or missed, gets in the truck and drives away... I've found multiple dead animals in the chaparral due to this kind of thing.

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from Mark-1 wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

I twice made kills on deer just prior dusk and almost did myself in with my hunting knife field dressing them failing light.

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

Dave -
My apologies for the incorrect movie quote reference. FMJ is indeed correct.

Del in KS - See, we aren't the only ones who remember that line. To remember something that trivial, you have to have deemed it profound or funny! I found it to be both! LOL

For the .35 Whelen, just go buy a Remington 700 Classic (1988 - 22in. bbl) or a new 700 CDL with 24 inch bbl. You can usually find a NIB 700 Classic specimen on Gunbroker dot com.

Van Zwoll or Barsness (I think) once wrote that 23 inches is the optimum barrel length for that round. I have a 700 Classic 22 in. bbl that I have restocked. I get an average of 2618 fps over the chrony at 15 feet from the muzzle with Federal 225 gr. TBBC. You can kill MOA's all day with it! It'll damn sure kill elk out to 300 yards and beyond without clapping your shoulder blades together.

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from HogBlog wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

"The biggest thing is knowing what the effective range and accuracy of yor gun is at that range."

Nothing personal toward anyone, but that statement above is exactly the problem (although it looks like the person who made it actually knows better). It's not about what the gun can do. It's about what YOU,the SHOOTER, can do. Most modern centerfires can shoot accurately way beyond the capabilities of most modern hunters. That's a fact. You can't rely on the tool... you have to rely on the worker's skill with the tool.

Moreso, and this becomes redundant to what's already been said, you have to consider the other factors, including the ability to follow-up ths shot and recover the animal.

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from AlaskanExile wrote 5 years 10 weeks ago

Clay and WA MtnHunter;
AMEN on the minute-of-pie-plate!

I used a .338 Win for most of the last 4 years hunting,(AK,MT,& WY) and there's nothing it can't take in North America.
The 35 Whelen is fully up to the task, however If you are going to travel with it, there isn't much ammo available in stores. Make sure you bring enough with you, and don't lose it. 338 (300 Win, 30-06) ammo is like currency in AK, you can buy it at the grocery store.

I just bought a 375 Ruger (lefty rifles bigger than 06 don't grow on trees) so as soon as I get back from Iraq again I'm going to shoot that, and do some handloading, cases are rare and expensive, so I'm now not practicing what I preach.
Maybe I'll shoot a moose in September.

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from TheEasternShore... wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

really cool it must make your ego go up when you kill an animal at 400+ yards

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from Shaky wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

427yd,22/250, hand load,registerd German shepherd bitch, while she was gnawing on my calf, which was still alive.
I know you wouldn't consider this a big game animal, but I was as proud of that shot as any I have made, because I was able to doctor the calf and nurse her back to health.
I killed a blacktail buck at 4yds. and a bull elk at 11, neither one knew I was anywhere near. If possible I always get close to game, but my partner wounded a bull elk who immediately ran into a canyon where he couldn't see him, but he was in plain sight of me, so my partner yelled to me, shoot! shoot! so I fell to a prone position waited til the elk stopped and shot him. He dropped right where he was and only kicked a couple times. We paced off the shot at 440 long paces, but subtracted 30 for a generous allowance for the angle. 30/06 180gr. Hornady, case full(level full),magnum primer, H4831.
That's all of my long shots on anything except varmints or coyotes in 51yrs. of hunting.
I shoot regularly,(at least 5 days a week), at from 20yds. to 600 using the 25/06, 22/250, .338 and the 30/06, and if necessary,ie, the aforementioned case I am confident I could make the shot, but I can't imagine any circumstance where I would shoot at a healthy big game animal at over 250yds. Just my opinion.

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from olsingleshot wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

In my opinion any shot over the 300-500 yard range on a large game animal is not hunting; it is shooting. Yes it does take experience to make those shots but it would take more hunting experience to get closer.

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