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Suggestions for "best" sheep hunting caliber ... 200 to 350 yards?

Discussion in 'Hunting' started by MCMXI, May 19, 2009.

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  1. MCMXI

    MCMXI Member

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    Here's my dilemma ... I have the opportunity to go on a three-day sheep/pig hunt at the end of August. This will be my first hunt for anything over 10lb so I don't have any experience in caliber selection. However, according to the organizer (an experienced hunter), my Remington 700 in .300WSM is too much gun for 80lb - 120lb sheep between 200 and 350 yards. I have a .308 Win and .300 Win Mag both they're both set up for long range matches with heavy barrels so they're definitely not hunting rifles. I have a couple of Marlins in .45-70 but I don't think that they'd be a good choice for sheep at that range (please correct me if I'm wrong).

    I have an Alaskan Ti in .300 WSM for deer/elk hunts in the future and wasn't planning on a sheep/pig hunt at this stage. The Lyman manual lists a 150gr bullet but that may still be too much for sheep. I feel that I should have a .30-06 in my collection, but would that be a good choice? Ballistically (and in terms of felt recoil) it seems to sit somewhere between the .308 Win and the .300 Win Mag. How about a 7mm-08 or .25-06? Here are some of my options but what would you do?

    1. Work up a 150gr load for the .300 WSM and hope it's not too much.
    2. Buy a .30-06 and select an appropriate load for sheep (assuming there is one).
    3. Go with another caliber altogether (would most likely be a Savage Weather Warrior).
    4. Use the XLR in .45-70.

    In case you're wondering about the pigs, I'll be using a Marlin 1894 in .45 Colt with 250gr OT Laser-Cast bullets and 23.0gr of H110. I could use 300gr OT Laser-Cast bullets and will probably work up a load over the next month or so. The pigs are fairly close range shots between 50 and 100 yards.


    Any help is MUCH appreciated

    Thanks.
    :)
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2009
  2. bailer

    bailer Member

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    I don't see the problem with your 300wsm, if you want to use something you already own. If the guide insists you could load a 150 in the 2900fps range and call it a .308. If you want to buy a new rifle there's a long list of flat shooting cartridges that would work great: .243, 25-06, .257 weatherby, .264 win mag, .270 win, Weatherby, WSM, 7-08, WSM, Rem Mag, etc...
     
  3. Art Eatman

    Art Eatman Administrator Staff Member

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    For all that I have the attitude that says there's no such thing as "too much", I'd agree that there is "more than you need".

    The starting load in most books is about 10% below the max, which would turn the WSM into a 308 for performance. If your groups are within 1.5 MOA you're good to go.

    Zero at 200; you'd be about 5 or 6 inches low at 300 and about a foot low at 350.

    Or you can always figure that this guide won't have a chronograph. :D
     
  4. ~z

    ~z Member

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    A few things, where are you headed for this hunt? I ask because if it is anywhere August is pretty hot and care for the meat becomes a pretty big deal around then, more with sheep and pigs than about any other critters. Pigs will pretty much liquefy in their skin in the August sun. Don’t know about the sheep you are hunting, but we do some long range hunting for feral sheep in W TX and they have about 18” of matted thorn filled wool which acts like a shield. The 300 would not be “over kill” on those. My rifle of choice for the 750+yd shooting of those poor critters is the 300WM, presumably set up similar to your long range target rifle. For shorter distance I use a 7-08. If you are thinking of another rifle for this purpose, think antelope gun, somewhere between 25-06 and .243.
    ~z
     
  5. MCMXI

    MCMXI Member

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    bailer and Art, thanks so much for your comments. I've been doing some more "research" and found an article on exotic sheep hunting by Chuck Hawks. For sheep he recommends at least 800 ft-lb of energy at impact and staying within MPBR for +/- 3". I've been running some numbers for the .300WSM and a 150gr Hornady InterLock SST boat tail bullet. Over the typical MV range of 2,900 fps to 3,100 fps, it has about 1,700 ft-lb and 2,000 ft-lb of energy respectively at 300 yards. You all know a lot more about hunting than me so if you feel that this is acceptable then I'll order some 150s and get to work with the chronograph. If this is a case of too much for too little then I'll get busy with selecting my next rifle.

    The MPBR for a 150gr moving at 3,100 fps and a 6" target is 150 yards to 300 yards with a 250 yard zero.

    ~z, it'll be in the mid '80s where I'm going with humidity in the 60% to 75% range but most of the hunt is for eradication purposes so it's not an issue if the meat spoils. The guides do dress a few sheep (and possibly pigs) on the last day for the local residents but I'm not planning on shipping any meat home.

    I've always wanted a .243 Win but the 7mm-08 is appealing too ... hmmm ... if another caliber is the way to go it's going to be tough to decide.

    :)
     
  6. ~z

    ~z Member

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    Sounds like a good time. We have been trying to slowly eradicate feral sheep on a buddies place in W TX. Where are you hunting?
    ~z
     
  7. MCMXI

    MCMXI Member

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    ~z, the hunt is on the island of Niʻihau in the Hawaiʻian Islands. Commercial flight to Kauaʻi followed by a helicopter ride to the island. The island isn't open to tourists (invitation only) so it's a great opportunity to see a unique place while helping the local residents. From what I gather, the feral pigs and sheep are destroying the native plant species and are preventing the indigenous Hawaiʻians from growing taro.

    :)
     
  8. R.W.Dale

    R.W.Dale Member

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    use the 300wsm you have with a somewhat tougher projectile and part throttle reloads. You won't blow your animal up with such a combo.

    The too much gun myth comes from folks splattering their deer all over with full throttle handloads, shooting light fragile bullets (nosler b-tip or similar) at ranges less than 100m with a big magnum
     
  9. Dr. Tad Hussein Winslow

    Dr. Tad Hussein Winslow member

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    The answer is #1 (use the Alaskan Ti - excellent choice for a rugged hunt). Distant second choice: #3**.

    Yes and no and sorta. Generally, yeah, it's a bit 'too much'. At 200 yards it may be 'too much'. At 350, *in high winds*, it's definitely NOT 'too much' - the faster it gets to the target, the better - that's a long ways, and the wind can blow it off its true course a lot in that much time, and a LOT of wind can do even worse. That's precisely what .300 maggies are for - long range - albeit with 350 yards being on the 'near side' of 'long range'. Besides, what about the pigs? Which are tougher animals. Work up a moderate *accurate* load, get GOOD with it, kill the game, and show your organizer how the gun was 'too much' by showing your harvested animal to him.

    **If buying a new one, .243 win, .25-06, .257 robts, .260 rem, or 6.5x55 would be in the ideal range.
     
  10. MCMXI

    MCMXI Member

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    krochus, I know you're an experienced hunter so would the 150gr Hornady InterLock SST be a good candidate for "part throttle reloads" or does it fall into the "light fragile bullets" category. It seems to be highly regarded for .30-06 and .308 (and a couple of .300WSMs) based on the 34 reviews on Midway's site.


    Dr. THW, thanks for the help and sorry to see you go ... you're one of the fixtures here so I hope you stick around. It looks like everyone here (bailer, Art, ~z, krochus and you) is of the same opinion ... download the .300WSM a little and use it. I think that's about as good a recommendation anyone could want. I'll be ordering 150gr bullets this week and working up a load over the next couple of months.

    Thanks to everyone for your help ... I really appreciate your expertise.

    :)
     
  11. Dr. Tad Hussein Winslow

    Dr. Tad Hussein Winslow member

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    SSTs rock - they penetrate well - I researched them, and almost universally they had good reviews for both penetration and expansion - not to mention excellent accuracy.
     
  12. rmuzz

    rmuzz Member

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    If the hunt is for erradication and most of the game is not actually going to be collected, what is the problem with bringing too much gun? Do you think that the guide would trust your ability to make head shots on game thats going to be eaten and let you use what you feel comfortable using instead of going out and buying something new? unless your looking for a good excuse to do so, haha. Ill admit I don't have any experience in this area, just some of the questions that came to mind reading this.
     
  13. kmrcstintn

    kmrcstintn Member

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    use what ya got and yer comfortable with; you'll destroy a bit more meat with a larger caliber (eg: your .300 wsm shooting a 150gr to 180gr .30 caliber bullet at fast velocities will destroy more meat that something like a .243 shooting a 100 gr .24 caliber bullet or a .25-06 shooting a 100gr to 120gr .25 caliber bullet); use what ya got and don't make an excuse to waste money...

    I got stoopid and bought a .25-06 and put a 6-21 x 44 scope on it to shoot groundhogs (to 'keep up with the jones' in my hunting group); do you think we have shot 1 groundhog as a group??? nope...I would have been better off spending the money on something more usable like a climbing treestand or paying for more practice sessions to get good at archery (now that I want to archery hunt, I have to cut corners {like buying an older bow and buying a used climbing treestand instead of getting what I like}

    keep what ya got and use it!!!
     
  14. jmr40

    jmr40 Member

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    I don't think the 300 WSM you have is the ideal rifle for the hunt, but if you do not want to buy another rifle it is definately your best option.
     
  15. MCMXI

    MCMXI Member

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    Good to know ... looks like I'll be ordering a bunch.


    I think part of the issue is killing efficiency and cartridge weight. The guy organizing the hunt from this end (not one of the guides) took more than 40 animals over three days when he went to Niʻihau last year. He took a .223 on his last trip so that he could bring more ammunition but it wasn't as effective as he would have liked. We're officially only allowed to put 11lb of ammunition in checked baggage so weight is an issue particularly since I'm bringing a bunch of .45 Colt too.

    This year he's decided to bring a .308 because he feels that it'll be effective while at the same time allowing him to bring enough ammunition so that he won't run out over three days. Once you're out then that's it for the trip ... this place is remote i.e. no stores, no phones, no bathroom, no roads etc. I can see his logic that if your caliber of choice is just sufficient to kill sheep humanely at 300 yards, then you can pack more rounds compared to say bringing a .50 caliber which would be effective on the sheep but you'd be a spectator by 10:00am on the first day.

    Anyway, based on the excellent advice here, I'm going to take the Alaskan Ti and will satisfy my urge to spend some money by replacing the 15 year old Leupold Vari-X II currently on that rifle with a new, better optic from Zeiss or similar.

    :)
     
  16. MCMXI

    MCMXI Member

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    This is a slightly different situation in that I'm definitely going to use either what I have or what I was thinking of buying. I genuinely wanted to know if my .300WSM would be a ridiculous option and it seems like it isn't.

    Succinctly put. I think it's fair to say that no one here would buy a .300WSM specifically for this hunt, but as you've all said, since it's what I have, why not make it work.

    Thanks again for the help.
    :)
     
  17. MCMXI

    MCMXI Member

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    This is more of a reloading post rather than a strictly hunting post but it's related to the topic at hand. I was just looking at Hodgdon's reloading data on their web site to see if I have any powders that they recommend for 150gr bullets. They actually list a load for the .300WSM and 150gr bullet using TRAIL BOSS!! :what::eek::D That would be an interesting load to try if only to feel how much recoil it would generate.

    Bullet Weight (Gr.) = 150 GR. SPR GSSP
    Manufacturer = IMR
    Powder = Trail Boss
    Bullet Diam. = .308"
    C.O.L. = 2.780"
    Grs. = 16.3
    Vel. (ft/s) = 1473
    Pressure = 26,400 PSI
    Grs. = 23.3
    Vel. (ft/s) = 1758
    Pressure = 31,600 PSI

    Hodgdon also lists other powders that I have such as IMR 4895 and Varget so that's good news. They also have loads for 110gr, 125gr, 130gr and 140gr bullets. Lyman only goes as low as 150gr ... interesting.

    :)
     
  18. noob_shooter

    noob_shooter member

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    any magnum rifle rounds should be fine and even those non-mag rounds such as .308, 270, 30-06 + more... can easily achieve that too. The shooter matters more than the round being used
     
  19. 41 Mag

    41 Mag Member

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    If you have any H-4895, you might give the Hodgdon Youth Loads a look. Using the Barnes 130gr TTSX you should be able to get a good shooting load in the mid 2800 - 3000fps range and it would be great for both critters.

    I spoke with them a while back on using this powder and loads for my .308 when looking for something for my oldest grandson. They said the great thing was that you could start with the Youth data and work all the way up through the max load listed in the standard rifle loads. Our load now stands at 42grs. I can tell you that this particular bullet moving at only 2650 fps is deadly on hogs out to 200yds, giving us complete pass through penetration on up to 200# hogs, from the short 16.5" barrel on my Ruger Compact.

    I know they are a bit more expensive, but if your looking to save weight this might give you another box of ammo, verses a heavier load. Just another option for your short mag.

    Good luck on your loads and good hunting on your trip.
     
  20. ~z

    ~z Member

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    My only caution with the 150s would be on seating depth. If your rifle likes bullets seated close to the lands, 150s may not work well for you as you will have very little bullet in the case neck. The last thing you want on a remote hunt is bullets falling out of the cases. This is a problem I ran into a few years back when I was loading 150s. I shoot 168 SMKs for what you are doing and I have had excellent results. I have pictures but they are a bit graphic and I’d rather not post, so you will have to take my word on that one.
    Another option for this hunt and the weight restrictions on bullets would be to bring your press along so you can make more in the field.
    ~z
     
  21. ArmedBear

    ArmedBear Member

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    Chuck Hawks relies on bull**** numbers way too much. Ignore that crap.

    His tables say that a 405 grain .45-70 is insufficient for 600 lb. game like elk at the muzzle. That's about the most ludicrous thing I've ever seen written. The cartridge made a name for itself by, and is probably still best known for, nearly exterminating the North American Bison, that weighs more than twice that.

    WRT your guide, look at this chart: http://www.remington.com/products/a..._ballistics_results.aspx?data=R308W1*R300WSM1

    A factory 150 grain .300 WSM at 300 yards has just a hair more "oomph" than a .308 at 200 yards. If a .300 WSM is "too much" at 300, then the .308 is "too much" at 200.

    Furthermore, if you want a +/- 3" MPBR at 350 yards, you can only approach that with something like one of the small Weatherby calibers (.240 or .257). VERY FEW calibers offer a +/- 3" MPBR over 300 yards.

    Here's the thing: .300 WSM will work fine on the sheep, and it'll shoot flat enough that you can hit them. What does "too much" mean, anyway? .300 WSM isn't really THAT impressive. Yeah, it's a bit hotter than factory .30-06, but it's not .338 Lapua or anything.

    A .45-70 will drop any sheep you hit at 350 yards. But unless you're an experienced BPCR match shooter, good luck hitting the sheep. The trajectory is a bitch.:)

    I shot a jackrabbit with a .45-70 Sharps once at about 80 yards. Took 8 shots with the right windage, before I got the elevation right. When the rabbit moved away 10 yards, I had to start over and see where the dust kicked up.:D

    Seriously, I wouldn't buy a gun for this hunt unless you want a gun for this hunt.

    If I wanted an excuse, I'd get a Winchester Model 70 Featherweight in .270. Check those out -- very nice guns! Great handling, light weight, perfect for a mountain hunt, and the .270 actually can be set up for +/- 3" MPBR past 300 yards.

    But when you really look at all the numbers, it's usually not worth buying a gun just because someone thinks your bullet weighs 20 grains too much.

    I have a .30-06 and a reloading press. I might get a .308 because I want a short-action Model 70, now that I've handled them. Ballistically, though, there's no reason that, having the .30-06, I'd get a .300 WSM, a 7mm-08, a .308... The 7mm-08, especially, is a bit of a disappointment when you explore the numbers. Might as well get a .308, which is much more common.

    For the sheep hunt, I'd love to have a gun with a flat trajectory, but I wouldn't sweat the difference between a .277", .284" and .308" bullet diameter.
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2009
  22. ~z

    ~z Member

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    I can only assume you forgot a zero here:
    "I shot a jackrabbit with a .45-70 Sharps once at about 80 yards"
    or were you hip shootin in a tornado?
    ~z
     
  23. kd7nqb

    kd7nqb Member

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    So my info might be wrong but a good friend of mine grew up on Kaua'i and she always told me that that Ni'ihau was not part of the US that it was essentially a sovereign nation. Does that cause any legal issues with hunting? Obviously if your invited to go hunting that's tasid approval to bring in your guns but I was just wondering.
     
  24. ArmedBear

    ArmedBear Member

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    No, I was buzzing after shooting my first buffalo with the rifle.

    It was dark, and I was using sights that were almost invisible.

    A 525 grain bullet going just over 1200 fps at the muzzle drops A LOT, and if you're sighted in at a bit over 100 yards, you have to deal with several inches difference in elevation as soon as you get a little closer or farther.:)
     
  25. ArmedBear

    ArmedBear Member

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    Ni'ihau is all private property. The Robinson family bought it from Kamehameha V in 1864 (I guess he screwed his people over, but that's what being a king is all about). The Robinsons closed it to access without special permission, in 1915.

    It's part of the US, though. Many of its inhabitants are on Federal welfare. The US Navy has a small installation there, and trains there, too.
     
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