Calling All Western Hunters: Advice Please!!

Discussion in 'Hunting' started by courtgreene, Mar 24, 2022.

  1. H&Hhunter

    H&Hhunter Moderator Staff Member

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    Based on the bear hunters I know in the area, they have their gear sorted out and know exactly what the range is before shooting. In good weather and low winds 600 yards is completely doable with the right rifle and scope with dials and some practice, for a person who’s put in the time and effort to make that shot it’s very doable. I know very few local hunters who don’t use range finders and range dialing scopes now days. Me being one of them. My biggest problem with taking a 600 yard shot is not hitting the bear but being able to find it after it falls into the oak jungle. That stuff is miserable to move around in and it looks completely different on the ground once you get there.

    I can imagine it, in fact I see it all the time. To get to my favorite bear spot is a fairly difficult 2.5 to 3 mile hike at over 10,000 feet elevation. You’ll see bears out in the oak at 600+ yards all the time. Bears that there is no possible way to get closer to without blowing them out of the country.

    My strong recommendation is to leave the beer cooler at home. A night of beer drinking will put a stop to your ability to operate in those conditions the next day. Because if you do shoot one it’s a long hike with about 1000’ of elevation gain to get back to the fire road with a bear skin and meat on your back. You’d best be rested and hydrated. Just sayin….


    I’ve hunted that area and it looks much like the picture I posted above. Miles and miles of steep hill sides covered in oak brush. Prime fall bear habitat and a long shot opportunity will be a very real possibility. I’m not saying you have to take a long shot but getting closer can very often be impossible. So your choice are to take the shot or let the bear go. Passing on a long shot is often the right choice in those situations, I do it all the time, I see way more bears than I shoot.
     
  2. Shooterbob

    Shooterbob Member

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    I have never hunted out west. But you will need a “6.8 western of course “ This is a lite hearted joke
     
  3. H&Hhunter

    H&Hhunter Moderator Staff Member

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    To answer this question I’d take the very most accurate rifle you have that you shoot the very best with. Caliber is not all that important, I’d put a high quality scope on it. In fact I’d put a Leupold VX-5 on it in 3x15 or a VX-6 in 2x12 and order a CDS dial for 4500 elevation with your ballistics for your load and bullet. 4500’ is good medium for up to 8500 or so and down to sea level out to about 700 yards. Or get a quality scope with a an MOA or Mill rad dial and make a range card for it.

    I’d highly recommend a quality controlled expansion bullet, for your .308 I’d use a 165 Gr Nosler Accubond and for the .300 WSM I’d use the same in a 180 Gr Accubond.

    I’d take that load and rifle combo and get zeroed at 200 yards then I’d shoot it off the beach at all ranges out as far as you can find to verify your dial. Then I’d practice shooting at all those ranges from various field positions and from field expedient rest’s such as back packs, folded up jackets, tripods, bi pods, stumps etc etc. I’d be sure to do it in the wind, the rain the heat and the cold, do it after running a 100 yard sprint and 20 fast push ups to see what effect your elevated heart rate has on your shooting ability.

    Then when you get to Colorado you’ll know your max effective range for you and your equipment on any given day. That’s how I get tuned up for hunting season with my rifle.

    As a note for comparison off the bench all of my “long range” rifles are capable of a sub MOA group at 600 yards in fact if they won’t produce 3 to 4” groups at 600 yards from the bench they don’t get used for “long range” hunting. You’ll find out real quick that the group you get off the bench is not the same group you’ll get from a field position in most cases. You need to know that and not have a false sense of security based on your performance from the bench.

    BTW I say “long range” in parentheses because 600 yards is not a long range shot for a real deal long range shooter with the right equipment and training which I am not.
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2022
  4. courtgreene

    courtgreene Member

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    We are spending the first two days acclimating. I appreciate you mentioning that though. I live in the mountains, so prepare by hiking in and over them. Our mountains are not nearly as tall as yours though.
     
  5. courtgreene

    courtgreene Member

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    No offense to others because I appreciate their advice, but I was really hoping you’d reply and I’m so glad you did. I’ve read your posts about hunting these critters in these places.
    I don’t know if I can swing a vx5, but I will get what I can as close to its specs as possible. Good advice on zeroing at 200 (again, easterner). Thanks!
     
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  6. Fooey

    Fooey Member

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    I hope you realize I was kidding about the beer cooler. Most hunters not used to shooting at 600 yards in unfamiliar country don't remotely have the ability to shoot at that range much less have a high probablility of getting a clean kill.
     
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  7. codytrucker

    codytrucker Member

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    Your getting a lot of good advice , especially from H&H hunter . The thing I'd add is make sure to bring good glass , that you can look thru for long periods without hurting your eyes . 8 or 10 x 42 works good . and a spotting scope if you have one . You will be amazed how many burned stumps and shady spots look like a bear! Make sure to use a good bullet , two holes are better than one , and fat bears are somewhat "self-sealing". If you have to shoot long hopefully you can have someone stay where you shoot from to guide you into where last see the bear . I'd be really leery of taking a long shot late in the day . Good luck!!
     
  8. H&Hhunter

    H&Hhunter Moderator Staff Member

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    Excellent advice!!

    I use a Leica 8x42 binocular and a Swarovski 20x60-65MM spotting scope.

    Two years ago my older daughter who is a excellent field shot and has killed multiple deer, elk and antelope at ranges past 400 yards popped a big mature blackie at 270 yards. She rolled the bear. He got up and ran we saw him again at 388 yards when he stopped. She popped him again. We immediately found good blood at the first shot. We had good blood for about 400 yards past the spot of the second shot.

    It took us over an hour to push that first 400 yards in tangled thick oak brush. The blood sign went from great, to okay, to scant to gone. As mentioned bears plug up holes with fat. We never found that bear.

    The point being as mentioned above, if it’s near dark don’t shoot unless you’re 1000% sure of an instant kill.
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2022
  9. .308 Norma

    .308 Norma Member

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    A pre-64 Model 70 "Westerner" (.264 Win Mag) would also be a good choice.;)
     
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  10. Ugly Sauce

    Ugly Sauce Member

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    There's another good point, bears don't leave much of a blood trail. At long range, even the fast stepping modern whizz-bang magnums are running out of steam and won't always drop game like a bolt of lightning. I put a .62" ball over 110 grains of swiss through both sides of that cinnamon black bear I got, at close range, and there was only about 30-40 yards of any blood trail, and it was slight. I had to guess where it went, and poke around in the thick brush until I found it. That was an "adventure" for sure.
     
  11. Ugly Sauce

    Ugly Sauce Member

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    They say many a burned stump has been killed by bear hunters. I've met a few that I came very close to shooting. If they hadn't held perfectly still for ten minutes, they would have been dead.
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2022
  12. codytrucker

    codytrucker Member

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    LoL . Been there , done that myself .
     
  13. courtgreene

    courtgreene Member

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    Y’all are fantastic. Thanks.
     
  14. Ugly Sauce

    Ugly Sauce Member

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    Dang, when you ask for advice, it comes by the boatload!!!!
     
  15. Ugly Sauce

    Ugly Sauce Member

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    I doubt that anyone took it seriously, unfortunately there are more than a few "hunters" out there that fit that description. Sad but true.
     
  16. courtgreene

    courtgreene Member

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    Why I like it here
     
  17. Flight01

    Flight01 Member

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    A good range finder and a good shooting form.
    Practice how you will be shooting in the field.
    Some back pack shots , both sitting and prone.
    Some shooting sticks shots and some free hand shots. practice practice practice ;)

    nothing wrong with the 308 for black bear at 500 yards. I’d take both 308s so there is no ballistic or ammo miscalculation.

    The only thing beyond this is using a ballistic calculator to figure out your drop at elevation. Or better yet on your fist day you should confirm that elevation data and take a shot at a small rock at 500 yards when your at your common ground elevation.
     
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  18. courtgreene

    courtgreene Member

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    good advice. Thank you.

    update: I installed a vortex with higher magnification on one rifle (.300wsm) and will also bring the Nikon which sits atop one of the .308s and already has higher magnification. One will stay in the truck and is being brought as a backup. Murphy.
    I got a 85L internal frame pack, new binoculars, a 0degree sleeping bag and three season tent today. Already have boots. As far as I can tell, game bags and a sleeping pad will do it. I’ll get really good hiking socks too. Now I’m going to be right bummed if I don’t draw a tag.
    Until then, practice practice practice.
     
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  19. Ugly Sauce

    Ugly Sauce Member

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    Be sure to practice your hiking with all that gear on. !
     
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  20. nick22

    nick22 Member

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    I would suggest a backpack trip with all the gear you are planning on taking food water med kit etc. If you haven't done this sort of thing you are very likely to take the kitchen sink, don't do it. Taking too much gear will affect your ability to move and enjoy your hunt. We did a remote diy backpack hunt in Colorado last fall and had all my gear in a 45# backpack it wasn't the easiest hike in but starting every morning 3.5 miles in is a huge advantage. I am in the draw for Montana elk this year good luck on your tag.
     
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  21. Ugly Sauce

    Ugly Sauce Member

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    Anytime I hike or take the wife's little dog for a long walk I try to carry all my hunting gear, pack, rifle etc, just to keep in shape and conditioned. I live in a rural very gun friendly area so I can even sling a rifle over me shoulder without anyone being "alarmed".
     
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  22. Paul7

    Paul7 Member

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    Agreed, the average hunter has no business shooting beyond 200 yards.
     
  23. Ugly Sauce

    Ugly Sauce Member

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    Many assume that if their rifle can shoot a one inch group at 100, it will shoot two inches at 200, and therefor 200 yards, no problem. Five inch group at 500? Easy-Peasy! But when most people actually put a paper plate up at 200 yards, they will have trouble hitting it. I think a very good shooter/rifleman with a scope can hit an animal in the vital zone at 300, under ideal conditions. Beyond 300 is where I really have my doubts, and think that 400 and 500 yard shots is no longer hunting. I can hit a torso sized target at 500 with open sights, with a Mosin-Nagant carbine, a SKS or a Mauser. But sometimes I miss. I'd never shoot at an animal at that range.
     
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  24. Grumpy_old_Fart

    Grumpy_old_Fart Member

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    My longest shot at game is currently 505 yards across a canyon at a moving blacktail with a 7mm RUM. Dumb luck in hitting him. I will avoid attempting that again. Took 45 minutes to find him.

    Black bear are one species I will not attempt a shot at range, as their first instinct is to roll downhill into puckerbrush and disappear. I'm not into following a wounded bear into blackberry jungles, and we have loads of those.

    My oldest boy spotted a black bear over the weekend at 1020 yards and passed on the shot for the same reasons.
    Getting a bear out needs to be the first consideration. How do you haul something slick, fat, heavy and smelly with no grab points? Rope, cable, winches.. while we have and use them, not everyone does.
     
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  25. South Prairie Jim

    South Prairie Jim Member

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    Take the big one.
     
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