Mule deer are bigger than whitetails and are usually taken at longer ranges, but they present no special problems and do not require a special rifle. Any of the whitetail guns I’ve listed will work fine. A good-size bull elk, though, can weigh three times as much as a big whitetail, and elk, unlike both species of deer, are often very hard to kill. Any of the rifle models I’ve listed will do the job, but let me tell you this: If it were my money, and my sweat, and my dream of getting a trophy, I would get an elk rifle, chambered for an elk cartridge.
An elk cartridge throws a heavy bullet (250 grains) fast (2900 fps or so). It delivers a crushing blow at all ranges and has enough velocity to make long shots. There are three rounds that meet these specs, and I’ll list them along with the rifles they’re chambered for.-D.E.P. Dakota Model 76 Classic in .330 Dakota: Beautifully made, and expensive. $3,595
Remington Model 700 LSS in .338 Remington Ultra Mag (above): A rifle that is about as delicate as a railroad cross tie. $800¿¿¿$850
Weatherby Mark V Accumark in .340 Weatherby: I killed my first elk with a .340 in 1972, and it made a believer out of me. This is a big, heavy, expensive rifle, and it is a very serious tool that will get the job done. $1,507