Who will be honest.

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Feb 14, 2015
Leavenworth KS
I have been hunting for 45 years. I've hunted the West, Midwest and West TX. I've taken White Tail, Mule and Coues deer. Rocky Mtn Elk, Black Bear, Mt. Lion. All types of furbearer critters and varmints.
When I get with a group of hunters and even buddies of mine. Out come the stories of " I shoot my animal at 550-800 yards on average. And on and on they go how they are true snipers of the hunting world. I am sure every now and then a few do attempt to take an unethical shot that far.
Theses super hunters are shooting 243, 7mm-08, 270, 30- 06, 300 Savage, 25-06 and 7mag.
I do my small game / varmint hunting with my 243 and my big game with my 30-06. The longest shots I've ever taken were at varmint (whistle pig, badger, crow and coyote) all at about 420 yards.
I'd say 95% of all my kills have been 250 yards or less.
Took my 1st bull elk in 93 outside Flagstaff at 95 yards. A really nice 6x6 Do hunters now a days really shoot that far the majority of the time? I find it very hard to believe these fine people are being truthful on most of their hunting stories.
My furthest shot is currently in the 2020 kill thread. Right at 400 on a doe this season with a .270 and that was further than I would prefer and at the outer limits of my comfort zone. If you are averaging that long a shot (550-800) most consider you a lousy hunter.
None over 250! I've passed on shots I knew would be impossible to get to or get out due to terrain in the Sierras!

Pistol shooting, I've been shooting competitively for many years in Precision and Action Pistol Games.

Many amazing shots/scores fall into the "I'd rather be lucky than good!" category!

I personally know far too many fellas who take far too long of shots.

They all have at least two glaring problems to contend with.

Too much magnification.

Too much cartridge.

They seem to feel that they've taken on Carlos Hathcock levels of lethality just by swiping their credit cards.

One, to this day, has the temerity to brag about an exceptionally long *kill* he got while not noting that he should leave out that it took FOUR 7mm mag rounds to end the elk. I told him he didn't shoot it but rather beat it to death.
Doggone shameful!

I have hunted deer for 30+ years now. I have never shot a deer over about 100 yards. Most of them under 50 yards. My first deer was shot at about 20 yards with a 12 gauge slug-gun. By biggest buck shot at 9 paces with a 410 slug-gun. Having moved out of a slug only state recently I still have yet to dial my scope off their lowest magnification to make a shot on a deer. My longest shot on any critter was groundhog at 365 yards with a 6mm Remington. I have shot rifles out to a mile but most of the places where I have hunted it has always been very hilly and/or very heavy cover and I have had very few shots on game beyond 100 yards.
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My buddy was in Colorado last year after pronghorn. He and his guide saw a nice one a couple of hundred yards away that slipped into a little gully. Overcoming the guide’s skepticism, my buddy talked him into stalking it into the gully.
They did, and my friend shot the pronghorn at 35 yards. With a lovingly prepped .300 Mag. He told the guide- “That’s how we do things in Pennsylvania.”
Longest and best shot of mine was 275 yards with a 130gr .270. Black Buck on the walk. I doubt I would have pulled the trigger if he was 50 yards farther away. I still would have plugged him at 300 yards though. I'd be concerned about an ethical kill much past that. Too, I'm not overly interested in following blood trails...too old for that crap anymore!
With the number of them that I have killed in traps, my average is likely better expressed in feet than yards. All those zeros would drown out the long range shots. Not only that lots of places I have hunted line of sight wasn’t ever more than a few hundred yards at most.

Others have different experiences than me though. I can tell you one thing a prairie dog hunt 100 yards would be pretty boring.
You do have a new generation of hunters vested into premium equipment that believe the cool factor is just as important as the hunt itself. I’ve taken deer and hogs at some extended ranges but I’m comfortable with my gun at those ranges and some of the areas I hunt have some long stretches upwards of 1000 yards from tree line to tree line. I’m not a trophy hunter I’m after the meat. The deer and hogs I put in the freezer every year Cary my family through the year and saves us a lot of money at the store. That being said I don’t pull the trigger if I don’t feel 100% about the shot. I always get as close as I can. If I’m busted and my food is moving out but within my comfort zone game over. If it’s iffy I’ll let em walk they will come back through. If I’m not busted I’ll try to get at least within 300 yards.
Part of it is where and how you hunt. In PA we have antler restrictions, where I hunt, it is tough to see a deer at 200 yards, harder still to tell if it is a buck, and impossible to pick out a brow tine. I may have exceeded 100 yards, but not often and not by much. If you're hunting open areas, you'll have the opportunity to reach out further, and you may need to be able to do so to be successful, but that isn't a scenario I encounter. I won a .300 Win Mag in a raffle. I hadn't ever owned a magnum rifle, and was pleased to think about the extended range it afforded me. That year I killed a doe at about 6 feet, and it became obvious that being undergunned wasn't a real concern for my hunting. The magnum got traded.
Personally, I've not taken a shot at much over 200 yards at game. But I've put in enough practice to feel comfortable at 300 if I ever needed to shoot that far. And under near ideal conditions might even stretch that to 400 yards. I've shot a little at 600 on paper. Not enough to feel comfortable with taking a shot at game that far, but I've yet to pull the trigger on a target at 600 that wouldn't have been in the kill zone of an elk. A deer is a much smaller animal with a smaller kill zone.

If someone has the equipment, and has put in the time to hone their skills it isn't unethical to take long shots at game. I'd argue that there are more game animals wounded and not recovered from shots inside 100 yards than over 500. The guys who take the 500+ yard shots generally know what they are doing. Lots of guys limit themselves to less than 100 because they never put in the time to develop their skills at even that range.

And there is also the argument that it is unsporting to take the long shots and a true hunter will stalk closer. It's just shooting, not hunting they say. I'm 100% in favor of getting as close as practical. Taking a 500 yard shot just to take a 500 yard shot when it would be possible to get closer turns it into a stunt. But sometimes the long shot is the only shot. And if someone can do it I'm OK with that. Like Harry Callahan said, "A man's got to know his limitations". If you can't do it, then don't try.

One of our moderators here has posted several times where he, or his daughter took elk with his 308 at ranges approaching or exceeding 600 yards.

Best hunt of the season..And I thought we were done. | The High Road

First elk of the season is in the freezer. | The High Road
Stories are what hunting camps are made of - along with testosterone, beard growth, carrying a gun, camp fires, liquor, tobacco, female conquest reviews, etc - macho in general - a chance to feel male in it’s essence. After the stories are told and the annual itch is scratched, we all return to the real world of “Yes Dear”, all relegated to the slavery of that very same testosterone we had just nurtured in the woods - the Lord has a very twisted sense of humor.
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