How far to shoot?


January 4, 2003, 07:28 PM
What is the longest shot you would take on a deer? I try to limit my shots to under 300 yards.

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January 4, 2003, 07:45 PM
With the right rifle, range finder, rest, weather and an animal that was cooperating perfectly about 600 yards would be as far as I go, and only then if I knew I could not get closer. I shoot a 7 Mag, it peters out pretty darn fast past 500, and too much can go wrong too fast beyond 400. It would have to be PERFECT conditions.

In some situations I have declined 40 yard shots, and in others taken some 450+ yard shots. The situation at hand is critical to ranges possible. I have shot an elk at a stepped 470 yards (+ or - 40 yards probably) prone, it was feeding and unaware of me and there was nearly no wind on a flat shot. I took nearly 5 minutes setting up and preparing to pull the trigger as there was no way to get closer. I drilled it well, and it ran about 30 yards before stopping, weaving and toppling over. Earlier that day I let one run off after busting it out at about 25 yards, I just did not have an angle. Uphill, downhill, wind, rain or snow, movement, range, rifle, optics, ammo, lighting, escape routes of wounded animals, and countless other things need to be considered before a long shot is taken on a game animal.

My max range can be measured in feet all the way through several hundred yards.

January 5, 2003, 10:22 AM
From unsupported shooting positions in the field, the farthest I would shoot, given my current skill level, would be in the neighborhood of 200 yards.

Someone, I believe it was either Art or C.R. Sam, said that the farthest distance for which one should attempt a kill should be the farthest one can hit an 8 inch paper plate while in an unsupported shooting position. For me this is a wee bit over 200 yards, as mentioned previously.

January 5, 2003, 11:48 AM
i hunt w/ a bipod, so i do not subscribe to the unsupported philosophy...for me, my max distance is determined by how far i can reliably hit a prairie dog, every shot using the same set up i hunt deer w/.

my max range depends on which gun i am carrying that day... also, there has only been 1 deer i've ever shot at my max range. the rest have been substantially closer. for me, finding deer is hard, getting close is easy; getting close also removes much margin for error...

January 5, 2003, 01:35 PM
I don't think anyone should take a shot past 300 yards on any game animal.
I know there are plenty of people who can, and I've done so myself - I just know I shouldn't have. Beyond that point the variables tend to begin stacking up against you. A 2 mph wind where you are doesn't tell you what the wind is out in the canyon, a few yards error in range may mean a 12" difference in point of impact, and lastly, bullet expansion becomes questionable at those ranges while energy drops to nothing.

There are few situations where you can't get within 300 yards, and if you just can't, then maybe you should pass up the shot.

The best argument I can give is to simply go to a high-power silhouette match and watch the results at long range. There is almost nobody who can consistently put their bullets into the kill zone - as opposed to simply striking the silhouette and knocking it over. And this is under perfect conditions with specialized rifles, wind gauges and ranges known to the inch.

I don't want to step on anyones toes here, but really... just because you can - most of the time - make that shot, doesn't mean you should. Just get closer instead.


Art Eatman
January 5, 2003, 11:14 PM
Under 300 is a whole bunch better than over 300. :)

The vast majority of all shots I've ever made on anything is probably under 150 yards. I've made a few at 200, one at around 350 and one at around 450.

By and large I agree with Keith. However, there are those times when "it feels right" and I'd not object to playing Ma Bell. Heck, I've had times when "it didn't feel right" and I've passed on a fairly short-range shot...

Individual decision, in accord with circumstance. If you're "married" to a particular rifle, shooting a reasonably powerful cartridge, you may well be justified in a longer shot. Even so, it's not really a wondrous thing to always find yourself needing to take that long shot. If that's your situation, maybeso you need to work more on hunting skills. Sumpn like that, anyhow.


January 6, 2003, 12:37 PM
With my .270 or .308 I would be confident up to 350 with no problem. But it is very situational. I think I might try a shot at 400/450...but it would depend. Like Art, almost all of my shots have been under 150 yards. Jeez, can't people stalk or call anymore!? ;)

January 6, 2003, 05:26 PM
I know, Art. I've done it too. It's just that afterwards I had to ask myself why I did it. Instead of telling a back-slapper about one of those shots that worked perfectly, I'll tell about one that didn't.

The worst was a 450-500 yard shot at a small buck lying on top of a snow covered ridge. Absolutely no way to approach... I couldn't even see his body, just his neck and head poked up vertically and staring down at me. It was late in the day and I figured what the hell, it'll be either a clean miss or a head/neck shot instant kill. No wind. The rifle is a tack-driving custom Mauser that I've used for ten years with absolute confidence. I got down prone and held a foot over his head and squeezed one off. Animal jumps up, obviously injured, and begins hopping around the mountain while I shoot again and again. Refilled the magazine and kept shooting until he finally went down. I think I shot 8 or 9 rounds at him.

I march on up there and find that many of those shots have connected, including the original shot which just went through the meat of his neck. I think the only bullet that expanded is the one that hit his rear quarter and ruined most of it. He's gut-shot... of course. He's still alive even though it must have taken me 15 or 20 minutes to climb up to him.

I quit taking those shots.


January 6, 2003, 11:47 PM
Keith, I think your post illustrates the single biggest problem with long-range shots. Accuracy can be obtained at extended ranges, given enough practice, a good scope and an accurate round: but the terminal effectiveness of the bullet, at those ranges, is often very poor indeed. I've seen some pretty bizarre cases in Africa, where an animal was shot at 400 or 450 yards, and just kept on going... When eventually tracked and killed, in each case, the original bullet showed no expansion at all, and simply drilled a neat hole, not very deep, which didn't do any real damage.

My personal standard is no shots over 300 yards - and I won't make exceptions. If the animal is further out, God bless it - it's won that day (assuming I can't stalk any closer, of course! :D ).

January 7, 2003, 12:15 AM
I admit that I haven't hunted with a rifle, excluding rimfire in a lot of years.
My standard is offhand unsupported consistent accuracy -based on game to be taken.
I 've used a shotgun and handgun mostly.
8" pie plate large game (shotgun)
2" ~ targets, ping pong balls..etc small game, rabbits/squirrels
4" targets 'predator' control.

Set limits base on my performace. Been using a1911 style and P-11, interesting on the later.

January 7, 2003, 12:27 AM
Bullet selection plays a huge part in the "failures" that have been brought up in the last few posts. Rifle caliber plays another huge role. If you would happen to be blaming a 308 or an 06 for poor bullet performance at 400 yard with typical standard grade ammo then shame on you for shooting. Same case if it was a bullet designed for heavy game at much closer ranges. Make that a 300 Wby and premium ammo and we have a different case.

I load for long shots (of a whole whopping 350 yards) knowing that inside of 200 I need a good angle and still knowing that I will have good bullet performance on game out to 450+.

Some more info would help on the "failures" of bullets.

Black Dragon
January 7, 2003, 07:37 AM
The longest shot was with a 300 wby mag on an Elk at 396 yards (laser range finder). I aimed at the back of his head trying to hit him in the spine where neck and back met. I was 2 inches to the right and 1 inch down. He walked about 20 yards and then dropped. Most of my mule deer are 300 yards max.

January 7, 2003, 01:48 PM
The bullet used in my case was a Federal Premium with Nosler Partitions.

It wouldn't have mattered what bullet I used because the I didn't hit a vital spot. Look at the ballistic charts for any caliber and you'll note a dramatic drop at those ranges. What if the range is 450, rather than the 475 yards you think it is? What if you're off by 50 yards? It becomes guess work. Check out the wind drift at such ranges, again enough that even the slightest miscalculation becomes a gut shot rather than a lung shot.

Check out the tables on this page:

You'll be shocked to find how much even the AIR TEMPERATURE plays at long range! For example, with a 180 grain .308 at 600 yards there is a 20 inch difference in drop between 80 degrees and zero degrees!

Has anyone calculated the ambient temperature tables for their rifle/load? I didn't think so. How about the altitude/air pressure...?

There is a point where you have to simpy accept that the odds have fallen below the point where ethics dictate you can take a shot. For me, that's 300 yards. For someone else with a better long range combo, and/or skills it may be somewhat further. But, at some point out there the variables become too abstract to calculate.


January 7, 2003, 07:37 PM
Within 300 yards, no problem. I start losing confidence around 400 yards, but with a good rest.. and time to settle down its possible.

Still prefer the 300 yard or less shot.

Art Eatman
January 8, 2003, 07:37 PM
Funny, but the only bullet "failure" I've had was with my pet 150-grain Sierra SPBT: I was so close to the deer that the bullet blew up inside the neck! He was paralyzed, of course, so a coup de grace was zero difficulty...The jacket on that BT bullet is a bit thin to work well above approximately 2,800 ft/sec or more, per a Sierra person in a discussion at TFL. It has accounted for many full-body penetrations at 75 to 200 yards, and worked perfectly on my 450-yard buck.

My 350-yard buck was a cross-body high heart/lung shot. The exit wound was startling. The bullet hit a rib going in, and a rib going out. A good two inches of exit hole, with the deer being DRT. At that time I was using the Remington 150-grain Bronze Point.

While I'm proud that I could put a bullet "just so" on those two long shots, lemme repeat that those were only two deer out of (I ain't sure) 50 or more.

:), Art

January 11, 2003, 02:18 AM
400 yards or less. Where I hunt if you get a 100 yard shot your darn lucky. I have had the chance at a shot at around 200 yards on a big buck but I didn't take the shot due to an unsafe backstop. I think I could take one at 400 yards being that I have hit varmit sized targets at that distance in the past.

January 11, 2003, 06:07 PM
Every Whitetail I have taken, with the exception of one, has been taken within 50yds and most of those under 20yds. I rarely see Does and don't see a lot of deer. Where do I hunt? lol

Art Eatman
January 11, 2003, 07:29 PM
Marshall, not everybody puts a feeder right outside their bedroom window.

:D, Art

January 11, 2003, 08:45 PM

January 16, 2003, 12:19 PM
My longest distance to shoot would be about 150 yds., mainly because I don't yet feel comfortable shooting further. Passed on a couple of ~200 yd. shots this year. Expect to push on out to 200 yd level this year or next.

Carlos Cabeza
January 17, 2003, 12:21 PM
I practice out to 250 yds. using a scoped .270 win. and consistently hit an orange (the fruit) stuck on a stick about 30" off of the ground. Three consecutive shots into the orange is a big confidence booster. Then I'll look at the ballistics chart for my particular load and calculate the maximum distance I would be able to comfortably make the same shot i.e. drift and drop. Then its only a matter of hunting ethics and weather conditions. I think practice would be the hurdle to overcome.

Art Eatman
January 17, 2003, 01:06 PM
The nice thing about a .270 is that 2" high at 100 is about 2" or so low at 250--which makes it easy to ignore the issue of holding over or under.

The biggest problem has always been that of estimating range. The nice thing about it all is that if a deer is much over 200 yards away, you generally have time to get a good shooting position and do some figuring about how far off is he.

My father was so good at range estimating and eye/finger coordination that it was scary. Many witnesses have told of his offhand shots, killing deer out beyond 400--and all called shots. When you grow up with that sort of example, you sorta work at emulating it. I'm not that good, but I guess I learned how, better than the average fella. Just the luck of the draw...


January 17, 2003, 01:35 PM
250-300 yards unless it was dead calm and a rock steady hold.

January 17, 2003, 09:32 PM
I use a Marlin Guide gun in 45-70, so I personally would not take a shot over 200yards with it. Of course, of the 7 deer I've taken in my life with various guns, none of them were over 200 yards to begin with.

It's not about how long of a shot you make, it's about how close you can get. The shooting part is easy compared to sneaking up on the critter.

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