Some basic "long" range hunting questions

thatsjet

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Jul 1, 2019
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Beaverton, Oregon
1. Get a laser range finder and use it off the range... get used to some of what yardages look like.
2. Zero your rifle at 200 or 250 yards. You'll either be 1.5 high at 100, on at ~ 200, and 1.5 low at 300. That's plenty close considering the size of an animal's vitals.
3. Consider a ballistic computer. I have a program called "Bullet Drop" for my iPhone. I can put in range, elevation, and windspeed to calculate holdover. Yes, I use holdover rather than adjusting my rifle. That way I know the rifle hasn't changed if I need to take another shot, vs. having to re-adjust the rifle.
4. Like muley said... get time behind your rifle. Better yet, compile DOPE (Data On Previous Engagements) on the rounds you'll be using, in your rifle, at various yardages, with various conditions. You can print out your DOPE in a chart and tape it to the stock of your rifle for use in the field. It will help you know at 50, 100, 150, 200, 250, 300... etc. how high low or for windspeed 5mph, 7mph, 10mph... etc. to hold over high/low, left/right.
5. Shoot. A. Ton. -- I am able to shoot prone at my range at 200/300. I bring a sandbag and will do lifts and drags, then squats until my heart rate is up, then get down on the ground, breathe....... and take a nice looooong squeeeeeeeze.... Then do it again. Practice makes all the difference.

FULL DISCLOSURE: This is my first year hunting big game. But, I've been long range shooting for a while in preparation for the Zombie Apocalypse ;-)
 

VikingsGuy

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Last year was my first pronghorn hunt. While the scope I had with me had “BDC” subtends I decided to keep it simple and just use the primary cross-hairs. I had a fairly flat shooting 25-06 and a self imposed 300y limit. I zeroed at 200y, practiced a lot at 150, 200, 250, 300 & 350. I used the free jbm ballistics calculator online to calculate drop at the average elevation of my unit. I then looked up the average pronghorn back to brisket distance and did a little back of envelope work. From that 15 minute project I knew that if it was 0-175 yards I would place cross-hairs a little below the white patch on the shoulder, 175-225y I would aim dead-on, 225-270y I would aim high halfway between mid-point and top of back and 270-325 I would aim exactly at the top of the back. Made it super easy in the field. When the time came I had very little time to set up a shot, but my buddy gave me a range of 286y. I put the crosshairs directly on the top of the back and fired. Shot hit perfectly double lung just at the little white patch on behind the shoulder, the animal never took a step.

I am going to allow myself to shoot out to 400y this year if needed (and if the wind were to cooperate) so I am going to do the same thing, except my new scope has vertical turret. So I will add to my little list - 0-325 same as last year plus 325-400y turret clicks in 25 yard increments.
 
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pgidley

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Dec 4, 2018
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Last year was my first pronghorn hunt. While the scope I had with me had “BDC” subtends I decided to keep it simple and just use the primary cross-hairs. I had a fairly flat shooting 25-06 and a self imposed 300y limit. I zeroed at 200y, practiced a lot at 150, 200, 250, 300 & 350. I used the free jbm ballistics calculator online to calculate drop at the average elevation of my unit. I then looked up the average pronghorn back to brisket distance and did a little back of envelope work. From that 15 minute project I knew that if it was 0-175 yards I would place cross-hairs a little below the white patch on the shoulder, 175-225y I would aim dead-on, 225-270y I would aim high halfway between mid-point and top of back and 270-325 I would aim exactly at the top of the back. Made it super easy in the field. When the time came I had very little time to set up a shot, but my buddy gave me a range of 286y. I put the crosshairs directly on the top of the back and fired. Shot hid perfectly double lung just at the little white patch on behind the shoulder, the animal never took a step.

I am going to allow myself to shoot out to 400y this year if needed (and if the wind were to cooperate) so I am going to do the same thing, except my new scope has vertical turret. So I will add to my little list - 0-325 same as last year plus 325-400y turret clicks in 25 yard increments.
I actually just copy and pasted this comment into an email to myself - I'm going on my first pronghorn hunt this fall, taking my 25-06. I'm going to see what my yardages look like and memorize the aimpoints you used here. What bullet were you shooting? I'm playing around with 115 accubonds and 100 grain e-tips, haven't decided which to go with yet.
 

Brian in Montana

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Don't over think it, just really get to know the capabilities of your rifle and us the Maximum Point Blank Range method. Essentially, what that means is within your predetermined max range, you don't want the trajectory of the bullet to be higher or lower than 3 inches as it travels toward the target. With my .308 my zero is about 2.5 high at 100yds. At 300 to 350yds I'm still in the vitals of an elk. But I'd probably settle my crosshair a little high on the animal. If you actually are having to "hold over" as in your crosshair is hovering in the air above the intended target, this is a recipe for bad things and I would advise against it.

A lot of people use BDC reticles but this too takes planning and practice, you really have to know more than one zero as each compensation on the reticle will hit different spots at different distances.

Another big thing a turreted scope where you use you're range finder and dial in your shot right before taking it.

I like to keep it simple so I just zero in 2 or 3 inches high. The longest shot I ever took was just shy of 400yds. I'm generally able to get within 300yds of what I'm hunting. Regardless of what you've read and seen on YouTube, in the mountains things get pretty dicey beyond that.
 

VikingsGuy

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I actually just copy and pasted this comment into an email to myself - I'm going on my first pronghorn hunt this fall, taking my 25-06. I'm going to see what my yardages look like and memorize the aimpoints you used here. What bullet were you shooting? I'm playing around with 115 accubonds and 100 grain e-tips, haven't decided which to go with yet.
I have gone all copper for hunting. My 25-06 is shooting 100gn TTSX handloaded, but Barnes sells factory boxed “Vor-TX” in the same bullet. It was pencil in, pencil out which despite having it drop in its tracks gave me a little initial concern, but when we opened up the animal to field dress the entire set of lungs was just a liquid slurry. This animal was dead before it knew it. Since switching to TTSX exclusively in 25-06, .270, .308 and 300wsm, my son and I have killed 8 animals (pronghorn, elk, African plains game) - all one shot - 4 dead where they stood, none tracked more than 50 yards. I am sold on TTSX and will be trying to finalize my 7mm08 this summer if it ever cools off a little. If I was going to shoot lead I would go with Accubond.
 

MTGunner

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Guy, there has been some very sage information offered to your question. The best is getting to know your firearm, get as close as reasonably possible and be patient. My first hunt west was in 1980 and a very novice hunter of big game. I had to learn what my short comings were. This takes time. I continue to learn and now live in MT.
My best advice is to spend as much time at the range to understand your firearm and its’ mechanics. Then, practice range estimation. This, in itself, can be a very useful experience. If you have a good range finder all the better. Learn shooting up and down hill. Shoot from setting, prone and lastly standing positions. I very rarely shoot from a standing hold. All is good experience. MTG
 

pgidley

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I have gone all copper for hunting. My 25-06 is shooting 100gn TTSX handloaded, but Barnes sells factory boxed “Vor-TX” in the same bullet. It was pencil in, pencil out which despite having it drop in its tracks gave me a little initial concern, but when we opened up the animal to field dress the entire set of lungs was just a liquid slurry. This animal was dead before it knew it. Since switching to TTSX exclusively in 25-06, .270, .308 and 300wsm, my son and I have killed 8 animals (pronghorn, elk, African plains game) - all one shot - 4 dead where they stood, none tracked more than 50 yards. I am sold on TTSX and will be trying to finalize my 7mm08 this summer if it ever cools off a little. If I was going to shoot lead I would go with Accubond.
I'll have to add the TTSX to the list to try. I've heard nothing but good things. I don't know if they're much different than the E-tips at the end of the day, but might as well compare how they shoot - any practice is good practice. I picked up bunch of Nosler over-runs at a nice price, which is great as a newer reloader working up loads.
 

BrentD

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I suppose you guys don't really need to do this, but in addition to holding over, there can be a need to hold under. And, in my opinion and experience, it is far harder to do under pressure. I have twice spined animals that I did not hold under or hold under enough, but I learned from that and forced myself to hold on air under an eland bull that surprised me at 60 yds. Made a nice center-punch heart shot out of it. But holding under would seem easy and at least for me, it is not.
 

VikingsGuy

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I suppose you guys don't really need to do this, but in addition to holding over, there can be a need to hold under. And, in my opinion and experience, it is far harder to do under pressure. I have twice spined animals that I did not hold under or hold under enough, but I learned from that and forced myself to hold on air under an eland bull that surprised me at 60 yds. Made a nice center-punch heart shot out of it. But holding under would seem easy and at least for me, it is not.
You must have some serious drop on your bullets to have a zero with so much arc that requires a "hold under". My 25-06 zeroed at 200y is only 1.1 inches high at its highest point, so while I "bias low" in the first 175 yards, I never need to aim below the animal.
 

BrentD

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You must have some serious drop on your bullets to have a zero with so much arc that requires a "hold under". My 25-06 zeroed at 200y is only 1.1 inches high at its highest point, so while I "bias low" in the first 175 yards, I never need to aim below the animal.
Yes, I suppose so. I was 12" high at 60 with the sights set for 200, which was more or less what I was expecting until the herd of bulls doubled back on us unexpectedly.
 

Guy5858

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One followup question. How much attention should I pay to barrel heat when practicing in summer? Does it really affect accuracy?
 

brnsvllyjohn

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One followup question. How much attention should I pay to barrel heat when practicing in summer? Does it really affect accuracy?
In my experience a lot of guns tend to walk a little as the barrel heats up. I try to pay attention to me first 2-3 shots every time I go to the range. What I do is I shoot 1 shot then go to the spotting scope and see where I hit. I repeat this for the first 3-5 shots so I know where my group is from a cold barrel. When you are shooting for practice and the barrel heats up don't worry too much about the group walking a little. At this point you are probably just practicing shooting form and possibly from different positions. I have seen some shooters adjust the scope because after multiple rounds the group is now a couple of inches from where they want it to be. Bad idea in my opinion. What is important is the first few shots and you should make sure your zero is based on a cold barrel. If I am shooting multiple guns on the same day I will usually keep it to 10 rounds or less per gun at one time. I like to shoot my main gun one more shot at the end of any shooting session (if the barrel has cooled) just so I am sure the one shot from a cold barrel is where I want it.
 

brnsvllyjohn

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I didn't comment on your original question about holdover. I have been shooting deer for well over 50 years and we never had scopes with all of the features that are available now. Holding over was the norm. I am not talking about holding so high the crosshairs are not still on the animal I am talking about holding on the top of the vitals versus holding dead center of the vitals. When I shot at an animal that I felt was beyond 300 yards then I just aimed at the top of the vitals. Assuming my 7 mag is going to drop 3-5 inches from my point of aim I would hit center of the vitals. Worked for me for years and years. Now we all carry range finders so we know the correct yardage and then we know the bullet drop. If the animal is further than you are comfortable with then don't shoot. Too many shooters feel that if they practice occasionally at 300 yards then they are good to 500. NOT TRUE.
 

Gerald Martin

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Use a range finder, shoot your rifle to confirm the trajectory of the bullets you will be using on your hunt and on your hunt don’t shoot further than the distance you have proved to yourself in practice that you can make an accurate shot.

For some guys 300-350 is not a big deal and doesn’t merit the designation of “long range”. For others their shooting ability and experience would suggest that “long range” is much, much shorter.
 
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RockinU

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Jan 27, 2019
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Been thinking about it, and the easiest solution is to have a good rang finder, trajectory for your load from your rifle (not hard to get), and a scope with some sort of MOA marking in it. If you know the range, and have a MOA mark, inches are easy to measure.

If your target is at 400 yards, and your trajectory chart says you are going to have 12 inches of drop, all you have to do is gauge the MOA measure right there in your scope. At 400 yards, 1 MOA is 4 inches...so you need 3 of those. Use the mark in your scope, and roll with it. Or just as simply adjust 3 MOA into your scope. Elevation is actually very easy to compensate for, with very very little practice. Wind is another story...

With the rising popularity of scopes with measurement built into the reticle, there are some very affordable options out there, and it really is a handy feature to have once you play with it some and learn to use it...there is a lot of info it can give you.
 
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