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.243 Winchester and elk: FIRSTHAND experiences requested.

Discussion in 'Hunting' started by Chuck Dye, May 25, 2008.

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  1. Chuck Dye

    Chuck Dye Member

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    I may be hunting with an inexperienced friend this fall who will be hunting with a .243 Win. I would really appreciate comments from those who have hunted elk with the .243, especially guides who may have had customers shooting the .243.
     
  2. Racktracker

    Racktracker Member

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    I wouldn't stress to much if you will be hunting cow elk, but if you are after bulls, I would be much more hesitant. It can be done, but there are alot of things to consider.

    I took a cow elk with my wife's 243 one season. I normally pack an 06, but for reasons beyond my control, my main gun was not available to me at the moment. One shot through both lungs will bring down a cow in a matter of minutes. Shot selection and range will be highly critical. IMO elk would be the upper limit for a 243 to make ethical kills. I would also recommend you use the heaviest bullet available (I used 100gr Rem CL).
     
  3. TAB

    TAB Member

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    Would it work? yes, so would a 22.

    I would not go any smaller then a 270( in power not bullet diameter...)
     
  4. DUCKNDAWG

    DUCKNDAWG Member

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    my opinion is the 243 would be just fine if your buddy can shoot it GOOD!! I have a 243 and use it for everything so i know it will work. i took mine as a back up gun on my elk hunt last year. I used my 25-06 for the hunt and the guide was concerned about it but three other guys on the hunt and two had 270 and one had a 257 and my 25-06 and the guide was impressed afterwards cuz of four shots and four dead elk. I would recommend at least a 100 grain bullet
     
  5. H&Hhunter

    H&Hhunter Moderator

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    The .243 should not be considered as a reliable elk gun. Period end of story.
     
  6. Ridgerunner665

    Ridgerunner665 Member

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    I agree with H&Hhunter...but if you're going to do this ...use good bullets...I recommend Barnes 85 grain TSX.
     
  7. Chuck Dye

    Chuck Dye Member

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    Huh!

    One firsthand experience in five replies. The Firing Line is running two in eight.

    How could I have worded my request better????
     
  8. Ridgerunner665

    Ridgerunner665 Member

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    You couldn't...

    Everybody knows that the 243 is NOT an elk caliber...so nobody uses it. A 25-06 should be the minimum for elk...270 is better.

    I'm not saying it won't work...Use a GOOD bullet and put that bullet in the right place and it will work fine.
     
  9. Ridgerunner665

    Ridgerunner665 Member

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    One more thing...have you checked to make sure that 243 is legal for elk???
     
  10. skinewmexico

    skinewmexico Member

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    Don't know about elk, but I got to watch a yahoo try to prove a 243 WSM worked on oryx. The 3rd shot with a 270 put it down.

    Elk were hunted almost to extinction with 30-30s, but that was also when a 100 yard shot was considered long range.
     
  11. eliphalet

    eliphalet Member

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    I have experience killing elk but none with a 243 although I own one, as it would be a very poor choice.

    Read about a guy that was killing Grizzles with a 22 till one killed him. Just cause something can do it doesn't mean it is good choice. Be smart get a caliber made for the job at hand.
     
    Last edited: May 26, 2008
  12. H&Hhunter

    H&Hhunter Moderator

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    Ok,

    Here is some first hand experience. I've killed a lot of elk. The .243 is not to be considered a reliable elk cartridge under any circumstances. I will not now or have I ever used a .243 for elk hunting and have no plans to do so in the future.

    When ever you see a qualifier at the end of the statement "it will work, but...." that means it isn't the best choice.

    I've personally seen three bulls killed with a .243 in all three cases they were clean kills at rather close range and all three were lung shots.

    The .243 is very marginal under normal hunting situations on an elk sized animal. As a guide I would strongly recommend against using the .243 on elk.

    It is really not rocket science the .243 is simply to small and lacks lots of major stuff to considered a good choice for elk.

    When you ask a question be prepared to get the answers people are going to give not just what you want to hear.
     
  13. Grumulkin

    Grumulkin Member

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    Yes but his questions was about "firsthand" experience. He probably knows all the stuff about how it's a poor choice but that wasn't the question. It was about "firsthand" experience.

    History is full of stories of erroneous conclusions based on what the masses thought was correct without any basis on experience or experimentation. The experience of elephant hunters of old and their use of rather small calibers very successfully could mean that if the proper bullets are used and placed properly, a 243 Win. could be very adequate for elk.
     
  14. Bob R

    Bob R Member

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    I don't know about elk, but those 70gr Speer out of a .243 work like a champ on prairie dogs and coyotes. :D

    bob
     
  15. Racktracker

    Racktracker Member

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    I would have to agree with most of the people in this thread. The 243 is a limited elk cartridge at best.

    In my case, I didn't have a backup rifle at the time. Literally minutes before dark the night before we were leaving to go deer hunting, the crosshairs of my 06 scope came apart. I was left with the choice of take the 243 or stay home. Even though I had an elk tag, this was primarily going to be a deer hunting trip so I chose to take the 243. I chose to shoot only because it was a standing, broad side, sub 100yd shot. If the conditions were less favorable, I'd have let them walk.
     
  16. Husker1911

    Husker1911 Member

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    When fishing, it's considered great sportsmanship to use light lines. It gives the fish a sporting chance to break off and will probably live to perhaps be caught again. Handicapping the fisherman is extremely ethical and even desirable.

    In hunting, exactly the opposite is true. One doesn't take to the deer woods with .22 Shorts to prove what a fine sportsman the hunter is. It's inhumane, since the odds are stacked in the animal's favor that it will actually escape the hunter, only to die a long, painful death. It's not a question of it being possible, it's a question of ethics, of respect for the game animal, of providing a sudden, humane dispatching of the animal, of having ultimate respect for the creature.

    What does your "buddy" hope to prove by using an under-powered cartridge for a large animal? Does he have some mistaken beliefs that it's more sporting, or is he just a cheapskate?
     
  17. Vern Humphrey

    Vern Humphrey Member

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    My experience is you want to break bones. In the area I hunt, (Eagle County, CO) a wounded animal can go a longway in a short distance (if you know what I mean) -- down into a steep canyon, for example, and leave you one hell of a job to pack him out. You want a cartridge that can break shoulders reliably, and go on to penetrate to the vitals.
     
  18. ClarkEMyers

    ClarkEMyers Member

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    Sorry, one more from somebody who's never done it and never will.

    Not a favor for the inexperienced friend nor for for the elk.

    A .243 in the hands of an experienced shot who knows game anatomy and who knows the land being hunted and who knows hunting in general - that 243 can be used to take an elk. Bob Hagel discussed the .243/6mm for big game in several places.

    I've seen times when I could have taken a trophy bull with the High Standard .22 WMR derringer we've sometimes used to slaughter for home consumption - and I'm not kidding about the trophy size because the dropped antlers from some years are long dry and available for measurement. Special case of course. We don't shoot the animals in the garden so to speak.

    And I have been tempted to do it as a stunt.

    But it ranks right up there with high fence hunting and guaranteed trophies in ultimate appeal. Similarly a tree stand over a salt block - placed for the cattle of course - and many other techniques of hunting will allow most anybody to take an elk with .243 on good land if not on heavily hunted public land.

    The mere suggestion very much reminds me of the notion of taking an inexperienced shooter out to shoot clay birds and giving that inexperienced shooter a .410 because it hardly recoils - then shooting Protection or Annie Oakley's for high stakes money.

    Before I'd go out with an inexperienced shooter who had a .243 I'd take the .243 and the inexperienced shooter would have my .308 or my .30-'06 or preferably something that Elmer Keith would approve of assuming practice and demonstrated ability to handle recoil and be a cool shot without fear of the gun AND the inexperienced shooter would have heard lectures about game anatomy and where to shoot and not putting one in the paunch no matter how big and powerful the cartridge.

    The best discussion that comes to mind of the .243 is in the course of several pieces by Donald Hamilton to be found in the collection Donald Hamilton on Guns and Hunting. Mr. Hamilton - noted fiction writer see e.g. the movie The Big Country as well as the Matt Helm series - had children and himself had physical problems so that he discusses adapting to recoil and using a commemorative long barreled .30-30 and such as well as comparing animals taken with different cartridges.

    At one point IIRC he reflects that he has saddled his inexperienced daughter with a rifle that simply will not allow her to be successful and to make clean kills (as he shoots the wounded animal) - but a .308 on the same case later works to her satisfaction.
     
  19. uk roe hunter

    uk roe hunter Member

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    First Hand Experience

    I HAVE SHOT RED DEER WITH .243 WIN.
    reds are similar but slightly smaller than your elk. The chances of you getting a humane first shot kill in quick time are very limitted. I would not do it again, i use 7mm08 or .30-06 instead.

    steve
     
  20. ZeSpectre

    ZeSpectre Member

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    DISCLAIMER: I've never hunted elk.
    So with that disclaimer you may wonder why I'm even bothering to post. Well it's because I am very fond of the .243 Winchester. It's easily my favorite rifle cartridge and I've shot it a lot over the years so I feel that I know it's characteristics pretty well over a variety of real-world circumstances.

    Having explained that background, I would NOT recommend using a .243 Winchester for Elk. As hunters we have an ethical responsibility to make the fastest, cleanest kill that we can and in this case the .243 is not the correct tool for doing a clean job.
     
  21. Skoghund

    Skoghund Member

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    UK roe hunter. There is no comparison between a English red stag and a bull Elk.
    Even a big devon red is a lot smaller. Elk are more the size of one of our Swedish moose. Not for one minute would i consider useing a .243 on a moose size animal. Apart from the fact its illegal to shoot big game with a .243 here.
     
  22. 41magsnub

    41magsnub Member

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    I've shot an Elk with a .243 when I was a kid. It was the only rifle we owned that I could shoot right. My dad was standing right next to me with his .30-06 with a bead on the Elk in case it did not go down. I hit it in the neck and broke it's spine, it fell right over.
     
  23. waffentomas

    waffentomas Member

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    This sort of counts as first hand, I guess:

    One of the guys I hunt elk with carries a .300 Win Mag. and is pretty good with it. Every year we go out a couple days early to do some mule deer hunting, and he uses a .243 for that. He thinks the .300 Win is WAY too much gun for deer, but that .243 is his back-up elk gun. But he is not a man of means, and so only owns the two rifles. He's hunted elk with the .243 before when he took a tumble and broke his scope on his .300. He's a 50+ year old hunter and woodsman who knows what is up out there. He took a cow elk at about 50 yards with some odd .243 bullet, a 117gr something or other handload he keeps around for just such occassions. He didn't like hunting elk with the .243, but did it because he had no other options that day until we could get a .270 to him from the house. A couple years ago when a horse kicked his rifle while we were loading up a rag horn elk (a story for another thread), he had the choice of hunting elk with either that .243, or my iron sighted M1A. He didn't even hesitate, he took the M1A.

    Tom
     
  24. berettashotgun

    berettashotgun Member

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    Watching a show last night, and kinda' had a wild comparison-
    A Montana Grizzly ,matured, is about 8+ feet tall and weighs around 800lbs.
    A Montana Bull Elk, matured, weighs around 800lbs and has a combined 8+ feet of horn.
    Mature grizzly VERY seldom kill a bull Elk, let alone attack one.
    Montana Grizzly sometimes hunt smaller Grizzly whom are on the learning curve -hunting Elk.........:eek:

    Would you use a 6mm bullet on a bear up there?

    Both of my boys used a 243 as youths, killed everything that got in the scopes, I have no doubt about the ability of the 6mm bullet to take any animal walking in this section of the world. Heck, I've seen a 47lb flathead caught on 8lb trilene (XL - of course) , 96 dove shot with 4 boxes of shells from a 28ga 1100 sporting, and 4 turkeys taken WITH ONE SHOT.
     
  25. Chuck Dye

    Chuck Dye Member

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    H&HHunter,

    You appear to be citing a 100% success rate. Is that actually the case, or am I getting a report similar to those from my slot machine playing friends who seem to have no memory for the money played, and lost, to hit those jackpots?
     
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