Back up rifle for big game hunts


New member
Feb 25, 2001
Oakdale CA
Do you bring a back up rifle on your hunts? If you do is it the same make, model and cal?
I currently mix my back ups: Elk 340 and 300 Win, Deer 300 Win and 30-06. A friend uses a 300 Win and a 7 Rem Mag for all game. During a Elk hunt he missed a nice bull several times at under 100 yards. Back at camp we began to check the 300 Win over and all looked good. As we were talking he pulled some ammo out of his pocket and guess what it was 7mm Rem mag! In the dark he picked the wrong box of ammo. Do you think this is a good reason to have the same cal back up or having ammo different enough for your back up that you can feel it in the dark?
I always take a backup rifle...sure do wish I could afford doubles in all my calibers, but doesn't seem too practical. I usually try to drop down a caliber from the main rifle I plan to use for backup.Your point about being able to feel the difference in caliber in the dark is definitely food for thought. I fired a .300 caliber thru a .338 caliber once off the bench in broad daylight and was thoroughly embarressed, more from the poof from the rifle than anything else. Now all my "friends" give me a friendly reminder when we zero in.
If you have ever been on a hunt several hundred miles from home, slipped and falled and broken a scope and not had a back up rifle then shame on you if you still hunt without one. I always have at least one backup usually two. It doen't matter what I hunt, my 6.5 Swede is always there, sometimes I will take another backup, sometimes I don't. It depends on several things.

As for grabbing the wrong ammo, I always have my hunting rifles in camp, with ammo in the magazine. I use MTM cartidge cases and write the caliber of the ammo inside, on the outside with a magic marker. The cases are are the same color, yellow. That way, I know I have to look to see what ammo I am grabbing.

Those two things help when you get advanced in years and start suffering from CRS disease.

Dan AZ

[This message has been edited by danr55 (edited 03-17-2001).]
John R-Dont know if you have been officially welcomed to Moosies site but I will do it now. WELCOME!!! Its always good to have a back up rifle along in my opinion. I have loaned mine out several times when stocks get broken or sights get knocked off. Sometimes just because they couldnt hit nothing with their own rifle
Good hunting to ya. bcat

If you aint the lead dog the scenery never changes


Boykin's Hunting Homepage
I agree. I'll always take a back-up rifle on every hunt. Since I only have one caliber in which I own two rifles, it's usually a gun of a different make/model/caliber. Until recently, it's alwys been my 7mm Rem Mag.
I always have at least one extra rifle with us (me and my wife and boy) when we go hunting. I have to 30-06's that are identical, one is the wifes.

On my trip to Wyoming this fall I'm bringing a 25-06 for me and a 270 for my boy with one of the 30-06's for backup purposes. Maybe my muzzleloader, too.
Can't wait.

Live to Hunt-Terry aka Coydog.
To have a back up rifle is a great idea, although most outfitters that I have been with in the past years won't or don't like the idea of you packing 2 guns on a horse to go several miles up the mountain side. Yes poor excuse on the outfitters part, but all my gear goes or check doesn't get written usually tames their earlier thoughts. I always take a backup rifle!
My main rifle is usually a 7 MM Rem mag, and my back up is normaly a 45-70. The short lever rifle is easy to hide away.

Good Luck
The Greek

I always take two. One is Win Mdl 70 30-06 with a 165grn gameking, and 3x9 leup. The other is a Savage 99 Lever in .308 with a 180grn partition, and 2x7 leup. with QR mounts and iron sights. Stand hunt with the Win and still hunt with the Savage. Covers all the bases for me.
I always take a backup rifle. My standard elk rifle is a Ruger .338 Win. Mag., but my backup is my old, trusty Remington .280 Rem. I've killed one elk with that backup .280. The reticle on my .338 scope was broken, when I got to elk camp. Don't know what happened, as it'd been fine at the range a few days before.

Once, I was on an outfitted hunt in S.W. Colo., several years ago, and a dude had something happen to the scope on his .300 Weatherby. No problem: he just pulled out his Win. 70 in .25-06. Got a nice fat spike for the freezer.

Another elk hunt in central Colo., one of the dudes (from Kansas City), got off his horse when we got to elk camp, pulled his .300 Weatherby from its saddle scabbard, leaned it against the tree where he'd tied his horse, the horse took a side step, knocked the rifle over, stepped on it and broke the stock in two at the pistol grib. He DID NOT have a backup, so used the "camp rifle," an old, beatup Savage in .30-06. He never fired at an elk on the trip, although he wanted to shoot the horse.

Feces happens.

Duster, when I've gone on outfitted hunts, I always told the outfitter before hand that I'd be bringing a backup rifle. In seven hunts, I've never had a "No, you can't."

I only have one big game rifle, but since I hunt not too far from home I don't worry much about it. The rifle travels in a hard case all the way to my tent (the day before moose season begins). Once there I ready it for hunting.

My backup is a .454 Casull, but I have never hunted with it. This backup is only in case a bear wants to rush me when I sleep in my tent. My hunting gun is a very reliable Ruger Stainless .338 Magnum.
Like Ray I don't hunt very far from home. The very few times I have been off my home grounds where there wasn't any way to get back to the house I stuck my old O3A3 in the baggage. It is still straight military configuration, you can't hurt it and it isn't fancy but it is tough as nails. Shoots good too as far as you can use the peep sight.

Most of my hunting is right near home. We do set up camp and I always bring along two rifles. I keep the rifles and ammo locked & hidden in my truck at camp when I am not using them. If I am going to switch rifles for a hunt, I do it at night befor retireing and lock up the other. In the morning I know I can just grab my rifle and ammo and head out.

Elk Hunting 101: Everything You Need To Know About Elk Hunting
Almost all of my hunting is done in my homestate, so I don't specifically bring a back-up.
However, my wife and I always hunt together, and we can use each others rifles if need be. Her's, a little short for me, mine, a little long for her, but we can get by!!-memtb
I always have 2 rifles, 2 handguns or 1 rifle and 1 handgun with me. Doesn't matter if they are the same or not. One day I will hunt with one or the other and the next day I will switch. That way I am adding a little excitement to the hunt by not knowing what I will be carrying when I come up on what I want to shoot.

My primary is a 300wby in a winchester model 70, and my backup is a remington 7400 in 280 remington.
It only takes one slip to knock the heck out of a scope and it is unlawful to shoot a gun in colorado during hunting season unless you are shooting at game, something i wish a few hunters would check into.

Many times i have heard people shooting, just shooting, either to sight in their guns or to check them. During hunting season in the mountains in elk country ain't the place to be doing it!!!




There are two things that one must consider.
1) If weight is the big deal, I have 2x7 Leupold thatI set up for rifle that I am shooting. I must be lucky, I have never broke a rifle on a hunt.
2) If I carry a back up,it is always a smaller Cal.
3) I mark my ammo so big that, I can find it in the dark, and I am blind in one eye and can't hear out of the other one!!
I never have fired the wrong round, in what I thought was the right rifle, I guess, I just haven't been out enought!
Be safe, have fun!
I've got a .35 Wailin' as my main rifle with an old Enfield P-14 .303 Brit. as a backup. I know it can do the job, because I dropped my first moose with it. I think it allows me to poke around in areas I might not because I worry that if I breeak my rifle due to a fall, that my hunt would be over.
I haven't needed my backup yet and I hope I never will.
I've got a .35 Wailin' as my main rifle with an old Enfield P-14 .303 Brit. as a backup. I know it can do the job, because I dropped my first moose with it. I think it allows me to poke around in areas I might not because I worry that if I breeak my rifle due to a fall, that my hunt would be over.
I haven't needed my backup yet and I hope I never will.
Leupold BX-4 Rangefinding Binoculars

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