AZ Elk Hunt (Area 1) - Rifle Recommendation


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NelsErik
January 16, 2012, 03:19 PM
I'm starting to prepare for next year's elk hunt. I will be hunting on foot with no horses or four wheelers. The areas I will be hunting in will be mountainous with lots of large plateaus, mountain meadows and general pined hillsides. I have taken eight deer in this area with most shots being in the 250-350 yard range. I am putting in for both the early and late hunts, but the late hunt is my first choice. I don't mind the cold and hope the snow will drive them to the lower elevations. If I end up with an early hunt, in the rut, I will have to depend on calling them in. Either way I will be walking a lot and will have to quarter and hike out with my cow elk. I packed my deer out 6 miles this year :eek: I am worried about the weight of my gear.

I am considering buying a .300 Winchester Magnum for the added range over my .308 (20" AAC-SD), but which one? My budget is about $2K max with half of that for optics, any suggestions, and why? Is the .300 Winchester Magnum the right gun? I think my .308 will be underpowered at the typical ranges that I am use to shooting at, 250-350 yards.

Also, does anyone here Elk hunt Arizona? Any tips or suggestions regarding areas or dates?

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H&Hhunter
January 16, 2012, 05:10 PM
Your .308 is just fine for cow elk at the ranges you mentioned. Just use a good 165 or 180 gr controlled expansion bullet. If you really just want a new rifle in .300 WM there are many options available. I'd look long and hard a Winchester M-70 Extreme Weather. If I was buying an exclusive elk rifle I'd skip the .300 WM altogether and look at the same rifle in .338 WM. But like I said for cows your .308 is fine. I don't know what your preference or shooting experience is so it's hard for me to make a recommendation that is tailored to you personally.

If I end up with an early hunt, in the rut, I will have to depend on calling them in.

If you are hunting the rut for cows all you really have to do is go to where you hear bulls bugling and there will be cows there. You can use a cow call for locating purposes but especially in a public area I wouldn't count on "calling in" any elk. If the area is heavily hunted and called, many times the bulls will go silent during the day. But will often bugle at night giving you a rough idea of where to find them.

If they've gone silent get up high early in the mornings and late in the afternoon and glass your eyes out.

Good luck.

NelsErik
January 16, 2012, 05:38 PM
I shoot a lot of paper long range, but have only hunted deer here in AZ and in IL. For deer I usually go in with my sleeping and bag and bivy a day or two before the season opens. I sleep on the ground, no tent, I'm walking remember. I usually spend the day before glassing and get my deer at first sunlight on the day my tag is good.

Everyone keeps telling me that my .308 won't cut it for elk unless I want to trail it for a long time. I'm worried that if I use my .308 I could have an extremely long walk out. I have read all I can about elk hunting, but it seems like everyone has their own perfect elk caliber. Is my .308 really enough at 250-350 yeards? With my AAC-SD I'm pretty good with Federal Gold Match in 175 up to about 800 yards. I have no idea what I would use for hunting elk though, my .308 likes heavy bullets.

H&Hhunter
January 16, 2012, 05:58 PM
Everyone keeps telling me that my .308 won't cut it for elk unless I want to trail it for a long time.

Who is everyone and what is their experience on elk? That sounds like a bunch of rookie BS to me. If you put a quality bullet into the boiler room of an elk it's going to die pretty quick. The last elk I shot with a .30-06 using a 180 gr Barnes TSX was at 233 yards and took exactly 5 steps 2 forward and three backwards before it fell over dead.

The .308 will give identical performance.

NOLAEMT
January 16, 2012, 08:38 PM
Get a tikka t3 lite in 300 win mag. very light weight gun, very accurate. (guaranteed 1 moa) they go for about 600, leaving you with plenty for optics.

wankerjake
January 16, 2012, 09:12 PM
Who is everyone and what is their experience on elk? That sounds like a bunch of rookie BS to me.

Yep, I've killed plenty of cow elk in AZ and I use a 30-06. If my 30-06 will do it, so will your 308.

NelsErik
January 16, 2012, 09:43 PM
Will my 20" barrel give me enough velocity, energy?

wankerjake
January 16, 2012, 10:33 PM
If you want a 300 mag by all means get one. Don't let some dudes on the internet talk you out of something you want. It'll make a good elk gun. All I'm saying is that the 308 is all you need, and if the only reason you would buy the 300 mag is because you think you need it then you might as well buy something else you want. I couldn't tell you the velocity or energy of your 308 at 250-350 yards, but I can tell you it's enough to kill a cow elk.

But if you want a bigger gun for added insurance, don't let me talk you out of it. The .300 mag(s) do in fact fling the same bullet faster than a 308, and that's not going to hurt anything. Except the elk, of course:D

NelsErik
January 16, 2012, 10:46 PM
No, if I can save the money, I'll spend it all on new optics.

NelsErik
January 17, 2012, 07:47 PM
Can anyone suggest a set of binoculars for this hunt? I use to have a set of Steiner Military/Marine 8x30's. They were lost when my truck was stolen. They were pretty clear, lite, and rugged. I probably had them for 10 years. Anyhow, I still have insurance money for a new pair and am trying to figure out whether to just buy another pair of those or go with something else. I have been considering a pair of Steiner Military/Marine 7x50's. They are of course bigger, but not that big, and their low light capabilities would be great for both early morning and for spotting game in the trees. Does anyone else have any other suggestions for binoculars?

Bobson
January 17, 2012, 08:32 PM
Can anyone suggest a set of binoculars for this hunt? I use to have a set of Steiner Military/Marine 8x30's. They were lost when my truck was stolen. They were pretty clear, lite, and rugged. I probably had them for 10 years. Anyhow, I still have insurance money for a new pair and am trying to figure out whether to just buy another pair of those or go with something else. I have been considering a pair of Steiner Military/Marine 7x50's. They are of course bigger, but not that big, and their low light capabilities would be great for both early morning and for spotting game in the trees. Does anyone else have any other suggestions for binoculars?
I've had my eyes on a set of Zeiss Conquest Compact binoculars (8x20 or 10x25 - I prefer the latter) ever since I first looked through em. No money in the budget for em right now, but hopefully later this year just before the fall hunting seasons, I can grab a pair.

I'm no bino expert, but they seemed to be superb quality. Light transmission and clarity were both outstanding, and they seem really well made, and are extremely lightweight. The regular Zeiss Conquest 10x30 binocular is also great, but for whatever reason, I really liked the compact version more. (Here are the Zeiss Compact Conquest binos) (http://www.cabelas.com/product/Hunting/Optics/Binoculars|/pc/104791680/c/104752080/sc/104217480/ZEISS-Conquest-Compact-Binoculars/734857.uts?destination=%2Fcatalog%2Fbrowse.cmd%3FN%3D1100054%26WTz_l%3DSBC%253BBRprd734857&WTz_l=SBC%3BBRprd734857%3Bcat104217480)

I'm not sure how the Zeiss Conquest line compares to the Steiner Military 8x30 you had, but the Zeiss compacts are around $300 less (the regular Zeiss Conquest seem to run around $100 less than your old Steiner bino). I would take that to mean they're not as high quality, but I have to say I was extremely impressed with the Zeiss when I checked em out.

By the way, if you do decide on another pair of the Steiner 8x30, Cabela's sells them for $799. I'd expect you can find them cheaper elsewhere though, as is usually the case when dealing with Cabela's. (Here are the Steiner Military 8x30 binos) (http://www.cabelas.com/product/Hunting/Optics/Binoculars|/pc/104791680/c/104752080/sc/104217480/Steiner-8x30-Military-R-Binoculars/755816.uts?destination=%2Fcatalog%2Fbrowse%2Fhunting-optics-binoculars%2Fsteiner%2F_%2FN-1100054%2B1000004769%2FNe-1000004769%3FWTz_l%3DSBC%253BBRprd734857%26WTz_st%3DGuidedNav%26WTz_stype%3DGNU&WTz_l=SBC%3BBRprd734857%3Bcat104217480)

4895
January 17, 2012, 09:02 PM
7mm Mag is a great flat shooting, fast, high energy, explosive round for anything you might find in AZ. You can't go wrong with that one. I would be more concerned with the bullet you choose. Barnes X bullets are very popular and quite effective.

avs11054
January 17, 2012, 10:48 PM
I looked throught some leupolds at a trade show over the summer. No idea what model they were, but they were around $400. Man were they nice. I've been debating about whether or not to get them ever since.

As for the rifle, my dad hunted elk his entire life with a .270. I use his same .270 now. Your .308 will do just fine.

Just curious...why is the late hunt your first choice? I would put it the other way around. If I understand the draw process correctly, if you're drawn, you get either your first or second choice (first choice if there are still licenses left, and second if there are not). They will run out of tags for your second choice long before they run out of tags for your first choice. Also, the rut hunt has much better hunt success...Just my opinion as you could have other reasons other than hunt success for choosing which hunts you go on.

wankerjake
January 18, 2012, 09:02 AM
I believe avs11054 is correct in saying that most likely the early hunt will fill up before the late hunt, so putting the early hunt second choice may be a bit of a wasted choice.

Another thing to consider though is the area you want to hunt. If you are expecting to have to pack it out in pieces then you may want to put in for two late hunts so it's cold enough to prevent meat spoilage. Just a thought.

As far as optics, I like a 10x or 12x for elk. I like at least a 12x for deer. If you are willing to spend the money, the Leica duovids in 10x AND 15x makes a great all purpose bino. Use the 10x lens for general purpose, and switch to 15x when you need to look something over better. Crystal clear, and 15x comes in handy spotting those little coues deer. But for elk, you don't need that much glass in my opinion. Any decent pair of 10x will do nicely for elk.

NelsErik
January 18, 2012, 12:29 PM
The late hunt is better for me in area one because the cold helps to drive the elk out of the upper elevations into the open lower fields. I have, as mentioned, lost most of a large buck due to spoilage. Also, with the ground frozen I can get my truck in further than when it is muddy. When hunting the late season for deer I have been able to go in a day or two before and just sleep on the ground at the edge of field, wake up, take my shot at less than 50 yards, and be done. I have done this several times.

Stantdm
January 18, 2012, 02:32 PM
As noted your current rifle is fine for elk. If you want a 300 WM look at the Ruger bolt action. Mine shoots an 1" and it leaves you with $1300 for glass. As for binoculars there are many good ones on the market, from the old line german ones to the Nikons, Leupolds, and Pentax. My favorites are an older pair of Swarovski SLC in 7x42. Hope you have a great trip.

Smokey in PHX
January 20, 2012, 03:32 PM
As recommended your current rifle will be fine. I have shot elk with a .270. 7x57, 7MM mag, 30-06, 30-30, .308, .300 WM, and .338WM. My son and I currently use 300WM with 180 gr CoreLokt. They have always worked fine for us so we never changed. My oldest son uses a .308 for everything and also uses the 180gr CoreLokts.

We use the high shoulder shot that will break the elk down. The majority of the time the shot goes through the backbone.

788Ham
January 21, 2012, 05:42 PM
Smokey,

Glad you like the big .300's, high shoulder shots are good too, but the same can be done with a .300 Savage, as well as the .308, with about 2/3 less powder. The gun is no better than the man behind it! Some guys one meets out in the forest are way over gunned.

nastynatesfish
January 21, 2012, 06:01 PM
id get a savage long range hunter in 7mm mag. put the rest into the scope you want and still have some cash left.

Smokey in PHX
January 22, 2012, 03:16 PM
What 788Ham stated is correct. Shot placement is critical. Big calibers do not make up for poor hits. Elk are easy to kill with the first shot. Wound an elk and they become much more difficult to kill and they can go a very long way before they die. And when they do die they are usually in a bad place to get them out. If you are a good shot with your deer rifle you should easily be able to kill an elk with one shot with proper placement.

finnwolf64
January 25, 2012, 10:34 AM
.308 will work for Elk. 10x40mm for the binos. I have a pair of Swarovski binos, but a mate recently bought a pair of Nikon & they're pretty good for the money.

millertyme
January 25, 2012, 07:32 PM
Get the 300WM. Tikka makes a great gun for the money and then get a good brake put on it. You should still have a grand or so left over for optics, ammo, a nice sling, etc.

NelsErik
February 5, 2012, 02:40 PM
Hey Guys,
I recently found a Browning BLR Takedown in .358 Winchester. The rifle looks brand new and supposedly the guy who originally bought it wanted it to keep in his truck. I don't think it has been fired. I can buy it for $450.

I have never done so, but it looks really easy to make cases for this rifle by necking up .308 cases and bullets are easy to get. Chuckhawks.com has an article on .358 Winchester the data looks good. (http://www.chuckhawks.com/358Win_mystery.htm)

.308 Winchester, 150 grain bullet at 2820 fps
.308 Winchester, 165 grain bullet at 2700 fps
.308 Winchester, 180 grain bullet at 2620 fps
.358 Winchester, 180 grain bullet at 2700 - 2800 fps
.358 Winchester, 200 grain bullet at 2500 - 2600 fps
.358 Winchester, 225 grain bullet at 2400 - 2500 fps
.358 Winchester, 250 grain bullet at 2200 - 2300 fps
.300 Winchester Magnum, 150 grain bullet at 3290 fps
.300 Winchester Magnum, 180 grain bullet at 2960 fps
.338 Winchester Magnum, 200 grain bullet at 2950 fps
.338 Winchester Magnum, 250 grain bullet at 2660 fps
.45-70 Government, 300 grain bullet at 1810 fps
.45-70 Government, 350 grain bullet at 2100 fps
.45-70 Government, 405 grain bullet at 1330 fps

.308 Winchester, 150 grain at 2820 fps - MPBR 264 yards
.308 Winchester, 165 grain at 2700 fps - MPBR 260 yards
.308 Winchester, 180 grain at 2620 fps - MPBR 250 yards
.300 Winchester Magnum, 150 grain at 3290 fps - MPBR 300 yards
.300 Winchester Magnum, 180 grain at 2960 fps - MPBR 284 yards
.338 Winchester Magnum, 200 grain at 2950 fps - MPBR 289 yards
.338 Winchester Magnum, 250 grain at 2660 fps - MPBR 265 yards
.358 Winchester, 180 grain at 2700 fps - MPBR 255 yards
.358 Winchester, 200 grain at 2500 fps - MPBR 237 yards
.358 Winchester, 250 grain at 2300 fps - MPBR 227 yards
.45-70 Government, 300 grain at 1810 fps - MPBR 164 yards
.45-70 Government, 405 grain at 1330 fps - MPBR 130 yards

The gun is relatively lightweight, advertised at 6 lbs. 8 oz., and should be easy to hike with.

Before I found this rifle, I had never even heard of .358 Winchester, does anyone have any experience with one? It looks like a good elk gun to me, what does everyone think? I could probably use it for mule deer too, and leave my AAC-SD .308 at home, it weighs about 11 pounds with scope.

Tomcat47
February 5, 2012, 02:50 PM
My Smith & Wesson / Howa .300 mag done a superb job on elk.

In that hunting party there was also a .270. .308, 7mm Mag., and 30-06

All done the job...!

I would like to get a new Marlin lever action in .308 or .338 leverlution and go west again. I think either of these would perform great on elk. The .338 having a slight edge on energy for obvious reason.

Heck, I am sure there were many, many elk taken with a Win. / Marin .30-.30 obviously distance would have been a great variable....but nonetheless they ate elk!

sixgunner455
February 5, 2012, 08:41 PM
I think the .358, obviously, has enough power to be effective on elk. If you like the gun and want it, then go for it.

Or get another, lighter .308 (or .270, what I would get) than the one you currently have. 11lbs is a lot of rifle for hiking in elk country.

4895
February 6, 2012, 03:10 AM
I have never hunted Elk in Arizona or anywhere else for that matter. Now that my disclaimer is up, I can continue. I am putting in for Elk and Antelope this year (don't know where to go) and have thought about this issue a bit. First, what I do know, is that a light rifle in a magnum caliber is hard on the shoulder. It may be of no consequence, but I would pick something in a wood stock. Second, if you can kill an Elk with a bow from 40 yards away, you can kill one with a .308. I just loaded up some 180 grain Barnes X bullets for a coworker and he shot a cow at 200 yards with .30-06 with a clean pass through (2011). The animal dropped dead on the spot (neck/spine shot). I plan on taking either my Mosin Nagant M38 carbine length rifle, or my 8mm mauser for elk this year. If you desire another caliber, get it. You only live once. I don't feel underpowered with a 7.62x54r or 8mm mauser. If I had a .308, I would pick a premium, heavy bullet and learn to shoot it very well.

P.S. I live in Tucson, where are the elk in Az? What hunt numbers are good for a newb. I would like to work in snow. Thanks.

sixgunner455
February 7, 2012, 05:24 AM
4895 - There are lots of elk in Arizona. They mostly live in the White Mountains near Payson, and in the mountains around Flagstaff. Look to the higher elevations.

Look in the antelope and elk regs flier that is out right now. The areas that they have draws for are the areas you may find elk in. Don't waste time, though - the entry deadline is coming up quickly.

1goodshot
February 7, 2012, 08:49 AM
I think I would use the 308 and spend some money on a lite wieght game chart, I packed an elk out last year by my self and wont do it again.

Wile E Coyote
February 10, 2012, 08:45 PM
Yet another vote for the .308 being a dandy elk killin round. Folks in general are seeming to focus more on latest, greatest gear and not on improving general woodsmanship. Mountains of elk have fallen to .30-30's, .300 Savages and the like...both considered not enough gun by those same folks mentioned above.

For places to hunt, I'm only helpful regarding a few select hunt units. Units 10, 7w, 6a are all fine, popular units. I'd like to think there's similar opportunity that's closer, but you only have 4 days left to submit for the draw, so ya best get crackin'.

NelsErik
February 14, 2012, 02:15 PM
you only have 4 days left to submit for the draw, so ya best get crackin'.

I have bonus points galore! My dad put in for me every year I was in the service but couldn't go, so getting drawn should be pretty easy.

I am still looking for glass though. I really like the Steiner 210 Military Marine 10x50G Binoculars. They are a little on the heavy side, but I am planning on going very, very light on everything else. They are awesome in low light conditions.

wombat13
February 14, 2012, 02:44 PM
Hey Guys,
Chuckhawks.com has an article on .358 Winchester the data looks good. (http://www.chuckhawks.com/358Win_mystery.htm)

.308 Winchester, 150 grain bullet at 2820 fps
.308 Winchester, 165 grain bullet at 2700 fps
.308 Winchester, 180 grain bullet at 2620 fps
.358 Winchester, 180 grain bullet at 2700 - 2800 fps
.358 Winchester, 200 grain bullet at 2500 - 2600 fps
.358 Winchester, 225 grain bullet at 2400 - 2500 fps
.358 Winchester, 250 grain bullet at 2200 - 2300 fps
.300 Winchester Magnum, 150 grain bullet at 3290 fps
.300 Winchester Magnum, 180 grain bullet at 2960 fps
.338 Winchester Magnum, 200 grain bullet at 2950 fps
.338 Winchester Magnum, 250 grain bullet at 2660 fps
.45-70 Government, 300 grain bullet at 1810 fps
.45-70 Government, 350 grain bullet at 2100 fps
.45-70 Government, 405 grain bullet at 1330 fps

.308 Winchester, 150 grain at 2820 fps - MPBR 264 yards
.308 Winchester, 165 grain at 2700 fps - MPBR 260 yards
.308 Winchester, 180 grain at 2620 fps - MPBR 250 yards
.300 Winchester Magnum, 150 grain at 3290 fps - MPBR 300 yards
.300 Winchester Magnum, 180 grain at 2960 fps - MPBR 284 yards
.338 Winchester Magnum, 200 grain at 2950 fps - MPBR 289 yards
.338 Winchester Magnum, 250 grain at 2660 fps - MPBR 265 yards
.358 Winchester, 180 grain at 2700 fps - MPBR 255 yards
.358 Winchester, 200 grain at 2500 fps - MPBR 237 yards
.358 Winchester, 250 grain at 2300 fps - MPBR 227 yards
.45-70 Government, 300 grain at 1810 fps - MPBR 164 yards
.45-70 Government, 405 grain at 1330 fps - MPBR 130 yards



I'm no expert, but those velocities look a bit high for the .358 win.

Hodgdon Load Data (http://data.hodgdon.com/cartridge_load.asp)

The highest velocity listed in Hodgdon's online data for 180gr. .358 win is 2,603 fps.

NelsErik
February 14, 2012, 06:13 PM
Yes, all the data out there is different. I'm just going to go with some Double-Tap @ 2,800 (http://www.doubletapammo.com/php/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=21_74&products_id=516&osCsid=d6pk8g86hclq05f7i612rp9ln4) or Buffalo Bore (http://www.buffalobore.com/index.php?l=product_detail&p=249) until I get a load figured out.

Here is the LoadData for my actual rifle. (http://www.loaddata.com/members/search_detail.cfm?MetallicID=1033&caliber=.35&caliberid=17&header=.35%20Caliber%20Reloading%20Data) It shows a high of 2,669.

H&Hhunter
February 14, 2012, 07:37 PM
.300 Winchester Magnum, 180 grain at 2960 fps - MPBR 284 yards

.308 Winchester, 180 grain at 2620 fps - MPBR 250 yards

Isn't it amazing how we let ourselves be talked out of our favorite rifle in .308 or .30-06 because we need something that shoots "flatter"? yet the real world difference is a range advantage of 34 yards for the .300 WM! 34 YARDS.

I love to show that to people.

NelsErik
February 14, 2012, 10:00 PM
I went with the BLR for the heavy bullets of the .358 Winchester and because the rifle is a takedown model and is very lightweight. I don't want to be chasing an injured elk all over the mountain and like the idea of putting the rifle in my pack after the kill. I'm notorious for banging my scope on every tree and rock on the way back to the car.

jehu
February 15, 2012, 01:41 PM
Get a Sako Finnlite in 7mm RM and put a Swarovski Z3 4-12X50 on it. Then get a pair of Swaro 12X50EL Bino's and you will be set. I've been down the Steiner road and Swarovski blows them away.

NelsErik
February 15, 2012, 04:56 PM
What didn't you like about the Steiners? I really like them in low light conditions. With the 50-mm objective lenses they are very bright and easy on the eyes. They are relatively affordable too. The Swarovski binoculars are almost double the money. These things are going to be around my neck will probably take a beating when I climb steep hills, rocky areas, and while walking through the trees. I figured the Steiners would be a good compromise.

H&Hhunter
February 15, 2012, 06:58 PM
Steiners are just that a "good compromise". I've had two pair of Steiners go gunny sack in the field. I won't use them ever again. However I have friends who've had great luck with them. I have a pair of Lieca 8x32 BN that I've used for over a decade now.They are flawless. Of course at todays prices I'd probably never have bought top end euro glass its simply getting stupid expensive now!

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