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.