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Minimum safe distance for rifle hunting

Discussion in 'Hunting' started by Rivenoak, Sep 18, 2019.

  1. Rivenoak

    Rivenoak Member

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    What is the minimum safe rifle hunting distance away from houses and roads you would hunt in a tree stand approximately 8 ft off the ground with a .308? I have hunted the same area the past four years with a .308 but it was in pretty dense timber that led to a swamp. Now having to hunt a different area of open crops with only a thin treeline. Also the stand had to be set up with a house (who's owner doesn't care) about 200 yards behind it. Just concerned about overtravel and ricochet. Also have a 30-30 I was debating using in this stand.
     
  2. Loyalist Dave

    Loyalist Dave Member

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    Well the legal limit where I am is you must be 150 yards from an occupied dwelling, unless you have permission to be closer. ;)

    Being in a tree stand your angle of trajectory should be into the ground if you over-penetrate, or miss, no?
    I did a check on a diagram to scale..., so the platform is 8' meaning you're sitting in with your butt on the platform so your shoulders and your rifle are at 10 feet above the ground. Now on a completely level surface, say you were on one side of a sod farm field in the stand, and the deer was 100 yards away in a tree line on the same, level, sod farm..., so you'd be aiming at a point on the deer no more than 4 feet above the level surface...the trajectory if it was perfectly flat hits the ground 45 yards beyond the deer. The closer the deer is to you, the less distance the bullet will go before it hits if you miss or over penetrate as the closer the deer to you = the greater the downward angle from you to the deer.

    That doesn't account for bullet deceleration going through the animal, nor does it account for destabilization of the round as it exits the animal causing the bullet to hit the ground sooner.
    So …

    HUNTER.jpg

    If where you are there is a distant rise that brings the deer level with you, and you can't see higher ground close behind..., wait until the deer is off that rise before you shoot, or be in a tree a lot closer to the rise to increase your downward angle.

    True Ricochet will likely not be a problem. You're not hunting in a canyon.

    LD
     
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  3. jmorris

    jmorris Member

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    I suppose it depends on where the deer is and what’s behind it.

    If it’s right underneath you all you can hit is earth.

    We have a number of stands setup at our farm and all shooting positions were set with the mind set of bullet path. Very easy to do if you are setting up both feeder and stand locations. A little more work if you haven’t done any homework and just plop a stand off a trail but it can be done.
     
  4. jmr40

    jmr40 Member

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    Any rifle bullet, even a muzzle loader or shotgun slug will travel far enough to be a problem. I never understood the logic behind the places where shooters were limited to slugs or muzzle loaders. In some more densely populated areas it is archery only. That I understand. If you're shooting from an elevated position it should really limit the possibility of an errant bullet.
     
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  5. film495

    film495 Member

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    The 30-30 round nose, has a little less mustard on it - but, seems to work pretty good for deer. Know what is beyond the target in the line of fire. If you hit a rock on the ground at the right angle, it could skip and end up a mile or 2 away.
     
  6. Rembrandt

    Rembrandt Member

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    I do live in one of those states, the reasoning is that close proximity of home/farm buildings, flat landscape, and livestock-vs-terminal range of necked cartridges, (which can be up to 7 miles).

    This is how Iowa's regulations read....

    PROHIBITED HUNTING NEAR BUILDINGS
    You cannot discharge a firearm, or shoot or
    attempt to shoot, a game or furbearing animal
    within 200 yards of a building inhabited by people
    or domestic livestock or a feedlot unless
    the owner or tenant has given consent to do
    so. Feedlot means a lot, yard or corral where
    livestock is confined for the purpose of feeding
    and growth prior to slaughter. Pastures, hayfields
    or cropfields where animals are allowed
    to graze are not considered feedlots.

    Regarding roads....
    Private Property Highway or Right-of-Way Fence Ditch Roadway (includes shoulder) SHOOTING RIFLE OVER WATER OR HIGHWAY.
    You cannot shoot any rifle on or over any
    of the public highways or waters of the state
    or any railroad right-of-way. You cannot discharge
    a shotgun shooting a slug, pistol or
    revolver on or over a public roadway.
    Additionally, no person shall discharge a rifle,
    including a muzzleloading rifle or musket, or a
    handgun from a highway; or discharge a shotgun
    shooting slugs from a highway north of U.S.
    Highway 30, while deer hunting.
    “Roadway” means the portion of the highway
    improved, designed or ordinarily used for
    vehicular travel, including the shoulder.
    “Highway” means the entire width between
    property lines, from fenceline to fenceline (includes
    the ditches).



    Short answer to the OP, every state is different, know the laws, use common sense, know your target and what is beyond.
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2019
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  7. 1976B.L.Johns.

    1976B.L.Johns. Member

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    Bingo!
     
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  8. jmorris

    jmorris Member

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    It’s not what’s near you, it’s where you are shooting. I have fired at animals from inside my house. Open up the door first of course and don’t fire if a bullet is going to leave your property or endanger anyone on your property.

    Firing from an elevated position is a good place to start though.
     
  9. earlthegoat2

    earlthegoat2 Member

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    You have to be aiming pretty steeply downward to prevent bullet skips on normal soil. Crop fields and swamp land are different and usually will do a pretty good job of at least significantly slowing down a projectile.
     
  10. Random 8

    Random 8 Member

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    Rifle bullets are funny things and can end up in funny places. Counter-intuitively, your .30-30 RN will likely carry further in real life hunting situations than a .308 150 gr SP. The reason is a combination of expansion and riccochet. The faster bullet will rupture the jacket more and shed more weight, becoming less aerodynamically efficient in an impact with ground or a hard object such as a rock or tree than the .30-30 given a higher impact velocity. In an oblique impact, the higher BC of the spitzer will be a hindrance to flight more than the lower BC of the RN bullet, destabilizing into a tumble much faster. There was a study conducted in Pennsylvania comparing ML bullets, shotgun slugs and rifle bullets, carrying this principle to extremes. Even though the .30 cal high velocity slug had a much greater potential range at optimum trajectory, the other 2 projectiles outdistanced it on level trajectory. I have personally recovered a foster style shotgun slug from my Grandpa's garage siding that covered over 1/2 mile of chisel plowed clay in gently rolling terrain fired on-the-level at a deer. It struck point forward, penetrated the douglas fir car siding and embedded in the rough sawn hardwood underneath.

    The responsibility is basically your own to determine whether you have safe vectors of fire. Google Earth Satellite view with topo layer can be helpful in this. A rule of thumb is at least 1 mile on level, open terrain, level shot angle, +/- 15 deg of shot vector. You can improve your situation with stand/blind placement. Set up so shots are towards heights of ground and/or heavy cover and away from people. Shoot at a downward angle into ground whenever possible. You can also hedge the bullet a bit, by selecting a light for caliber conventional cup and core at a higher velocity and restricting yourself to "clean" boiler room shots. Basically, if you wouldn't be willing to stand at a given distance downrange of your shot, it's a no-go.

    I used to work winters doing deer population control work in quite populated areas. In daylight hours, we made extensive use of 6mm and .223 match bullets with head shots. After dark we used a suppressed 7.62x39 bolt gun with a frangible tactical bullet. I wouldn't recommend either of these for hunting, but definitely tested the concept. We always set up shooting locations with a hill or heavy cover behind the kill zone, and tried to use a steep downward shot angle, often from a cherry picker, whenever possible.
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2019
  11. Rivenoak

    Rivenoak Member

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    Thanks for all the input. I guess I should provide a little more info as well. My .308 is zeroed at 50yards which is almost dead on up to about 200. I have never shot at a deer further than 50 yards, and never needed to. I won't be reaching out further than 200, probably more like 100 for a shot because I don't consider it an ethical shot given my experience shooting longer. My shots will always be from a stand. I am in an area beside a cotton field with a thin treeline in between it and the surrounding fields. There are pine thickets randomly scattered between the different fields, though most of the other fields are not within line of sight. The actual ground the bullet would come in contact with is an area clear-cut for timber in the summer of 2018 which was then burned and is currently regrowing. I plan to place a feeder approx 30 yards from the stand to bring in closer shots (baiting is allowed in SC). I understand the know what lies beyond your target rule of gun safety. I am mostly concerned about the possibility of a deflected shot continuing on over other fields and out of line if sight. I realize it's unlikely from that angle but possible. There are at least 500 yards behind the intended target area, probably more than 1000 at most angles. I'm just trying to make the most responsible choice of weapon. I also bow hunt but have another stand where I will only be able to do that so would prefer variety. A slug gun could also be an option if I had to but I would prefer a rifle for personal comfortability of equipment. I really appreciate all of the input do far and hope you guys can provide more.
     
  12. Random 8

    Random 8 Member

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    Based on the scenario you describe, your .308 should be fine with the proper bullet selection. A 150 cup and core such as the Speer BTSP or if limited to factory, Hornady SST, Winchester PP or Rem Core-Lokt would be my choice. If you handload, the Nosler 125 BT would be a good bet. Avoid the bonded or partitioned bullets as these are designed to stay intact more. For the same reasons, avoid the .30-30 or slugs as these will stay intact due to the lower velocities and carry farther in riccochet. Check Google Earth satellite view for structures beyond your line of sight and flag unsafe shot vectors accordingly and you should be fine.
     
  13. sage5907

    sage5907 Member

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    The County law enforcement where I live say it is legal to shoot as long as you are not endangering anyone else which basically come down to good judgement on your part. For example, I will not shoot with a rifle if the target it is standing on top of a hill or ridge where sky can be seen around the animal. That is a big time no no. Also, the closer the target is to the shooter the safer the shot because shots at a higher angle will almost always dig into ground. Shots at longer range will almost always come off the ground and fly into the air. I would not fire a rifle or a handgun in a residential area.
     
  14. HB

    HB Member

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    Would you feel comfortable firing towards a house which your family was sleeping in 200 yards away?

    Bullets do weird things... Even if you are firing 1 bullet, would you take that 1:1000000 chance?
     
  15. Rivenoak

    Rivenoak Member

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    No. That's why the only house that is remotely that close is directly behind the stand and the owner aware of it's location. The next nearest thing is a country road with a small tractor shop which is a minimum of 1100 yards away from the stand at all points with between 1 and three treelines between it depending on each angle. Don't know why I said 8ft off the ground but it's more like 15ft. Checked it out on Google Earth and then attempted to shoot different angles with a rangefinder that couldn't calculate a range at that distance.
     
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