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Thread: What Criteria for a 500yd Huntin Rifle

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    Member bigswede358's Avatar
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    Default What Criteria for a 500yd Huntin Rifle

    Now that huntin season is over I have been thinking about this more. The area I live, in N. Idaho here is logging country. There are more and more clear cuts every year. I have noticed a lot more opportunities for shots out there at 400-500yds. While I am a hunter first and foremost, getting close to an animal is not always possible.
    So I have been wanting a rifle that is capable of 500 yd shots as long as I do my part. I do not like doing the "Hail Mary" thing and trying different hold overs until an animal is wounded or crippled. I have seen this and found many wasted animals over the years.
    What do you guys think a 500 yd rifle should be capable of ballistically? I hunt whitetails(130-160lbs), Mule Deer (150-250lbs) and elk which can be up to 600-700lbs for a really big one, most of them are around 300-400 lbs though.
    The flattest shooting rifle I own is my 358 Norma, it fires a 225 gr Nosler Accubond out of the muzzle at 2950 fps. That bullet has a B.C. of .421. At 500 yds this load still has over a ton of energy left. Should I just practice a lot with the rifle I have, or would a flatter shooting rifle be more humane and ethical if a long shot is the only option left for filling my freezer? Thanks for your input and opinions.
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigswede358 View Post
    Now that huntin season is over I have been thinking about this more. The area I live, in N. Idaho here is logging country. There are more and more clear cuts every year. I have noticed a lot more opportunities for shots out there at 400-500yds. While I am a hunter first and foremost, getting close to an animal is not always possible.
    So I have been wanting a rifle that is capable of 500 yd shots as long as I do my part. I do not like doing the "Hail Mary" thing and trying different hold overs until an animal is wounded or crippled. I have seen this and found many wasted animals over the years.
    What do you guys think a 500 yd rifle should be capable of ballistically? I hunt whitetails(130-160lbs), Mule Deer (150-250lbs) and elk which can be up to 600-700lbs for a really big one, most of them are around 300-400 lbs though.
    The flattest shooting rifle I own is my 358 Norma, it fires a 225 gr Nosler Accubond out of the muzzle at 2950 fps. That bullet has a B.C. of .421. At 500 yds this load still has over a ton of energy left. Should I just practice a lot with the rifle I have, or would a flatter shooting rifle be more humane and ethical if a long shot is the only option left for filling my freezer? Thanks for your input and opinions.
    You're not going to like this answer, but my opinion is that you should work to get much closer. Indians took the same animals with bow-and-arrow; and even took buffalo with the same gear. In most cases, the range didn't exceed twenty yards, and with the buffalo, much less.

    The answer to better, and more successfsul, hunting lies in hunting skills, rather than in superior shooting skills. Almost none of our sheep, for instance, were taken beyond thirty yards. We simply hunted from the top down, rather than from the bottom up. Your hunting hat or cap can be used to call caribou in as close as thirty yards almost any time.

    Think about the game you're hunting and, after spotting the animal you think you want, work out a plan that will either get you closer to the animal, or bring the animal closer to you. It's really not all that difficult, though it does sometimes require patience.

    I told you that you wouldn't like this answer, but I eect quite a bit of support about it from experienced and successful hunters..

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    Grizzly2,
    You are right, I didn't like your answer. For 2 reasons, first you imply that you're hunting skills are better than mine, that was rude in my opinion, and secondly you replied to a thread which asked a legitamate question and you merely inserted your OPINION which wasn't needed and it didn't help anything. There are also no buffalo, caribou, or sheep where I hunt. But there are indians though, they ride around on 4-wheelers and shoot animals with high powered rifles, mostly by the aid of artificial light in the middle of the night.
    So this thread doesn't get any more unneeded replies like that from Grizzly 2, I will describe the area I hunt a little more. This is logging country. Clear cuts are an area where all trees are cut down, and I mean ALL trees, then the area is typically burned to help restart growth. There is usually no more than 1/2 miles between roads, which means every 1/2 mile or so there is another road. The first 2 or 3 hours of daylight and the last 2 or 3 there are 4-wheelers that travel the roads sometimes every 10- 15 minutes. THESE are not undisturbed animals on some remote mountain range in Alaska. Again, I am not asking advice on hunting. Just a question about shooting.
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    There are kinda two schools here, sport hunting and meat hunting.
     
    Sport hunting you should stalk in on them. If they are busting you at 4-500 yards your moving way too fast, too loud, not using cover and wind well. In the woods I quietly move 100 feet and then spend some time there with eyes and ears open before going on. I always keep the wind in my face and try to never show my outline or make any sudden movements. Iím stalking before I even know where they are. I can and have stalked to 100 yards of antelope out in the open grass, takes most all day but low, slow, and planning ahead works.
     
    For meat hunting I can see not wanting to spend the time to get closer, especially someplace where other human activities will foiling your stalk. But Iím not the guy to advise you on that kind of gear, youíll do much better asking the question over at:
    http://www.longrangehunting.com/forums/
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    I agree with Grizzly about getting closer; however, I used to live and hunt in OK and now in AK, and I know that getting closer is not always an option. I believe that you have to practice and be confident about taking long shots and nothing replaces practice. As Bob Munden says, "Shoot More Shoot More Often" is the key to making consistant hits.
    As for the 500 yd rifle; ballistically, 500 yds isn't really that far and your rifle is more than adequate for the task. I would consider getting a ballistic scope for the caliber and practice, practice, practice. Of course, I'm always looking for excuses to buy another rifle, and you have established a pretty good one. If you are buying a new rifle, any rifle caliber from 270 to 375 is capable of making a 500 yd kill shot on an elk in the right hands. I routinely shoot my 30/06 at that distance, and I'm confident that I can take an elk at that range as well. I also have a 375 ruger that I have had customized, and would not hesitate to shoot a moose at that distance. However, I don't routinely shoot animals that far away because I can usually get within 300 yds or less without spooking.
    Most manufactures make good quality rifles these days, so, preference is in the shooter. Whatever your budget can afford, you can shoot accurately and comfortably would be my advice. personally I prefer 30 calibers for long range shooting, but the 7mm family is just as good. Your 358 has more energy than both and if you can shoot minute/sub-minute groups with it, put a good ballistic optics on it and go shoot some elk.
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    Thanks but I prefer Remington
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigswede358 View Post
    Grizzly2,
    You are right, I didn't like your answer. For 2 reasons, first you imply that you're hunting skills are better than mine, that was rude in my opinion, and secondly you replied to a thread which asked a legitamate question and you merely inserted your OPINION which wasn't needed and it didn't help anything. There are also no buffalo, caribou, or sheep where I hunt. But there are indians though, they ride around on 4-wheelers and shoot animals with high powered rifles, mostly by the aid of artificial light in the middle of the night.
    So this thread doesn't get any more unneeded replies like that from Grizzly 2, I will describe the area I hunt a little more. This is logging country. Clear cuts are an area where all trees are cut down, and I mean ALL trees, then the area is typically burned to help restart growth. There is usually no more than 1/2 miles between roads, which means every 1/2 mile or so there is another road. The first 2 or 3 hours of daylight and the last 2 or 3 there are 4-wheelers that travel the roads sometimes every 10- 15 minutes. THESE are not undisturbed animals on some remote mountain range in Alaska. Again, I am not asking advice on hunting. Just a question about shooting.
    Afraid you're not going to like my statement either, and I really don't mean any disrespect, but... In country like that with as much traffic and activity as there is, a person can not be sure of what/who is potentially behind his intended target at 400 or 500 yards so it's not safe to be taking such long shots. Better to stick to targets inside 150 yards. And take a stand against the deplorable practice of clearcutting.
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    Good bullets, plain and simple. And practice.

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    If your gun shoots well, then stick with it. The Accubond is a good gullet for longer range. You may want to look into the new Berger Hunting VLD bullets if you are going to routinely shoot long. The only suggestion I would make is get a custom turret for your scope to dial in the range, get a good range finder, and study the wind drift for your load. Then practice!
    "Beware the man with only one gun; he may know how to use it."

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    I'd say a couple of things about your goal. It is easily doable; 500 yards isn't long range with a modest amount of equipment and ability. Determining what is ethical is little more than knowing your limitations, regardless whether your hunting with archery equipment or centerfire rifles. I'm not of the opinion that using something other than rocks or clubs is less sporting or requires less hunting prowess/skill, but obviously others do not "feel" that way. IMO, competency with your weapon of choice is what determines the ethics of the situation.

    I've a "few' LR rifles and I'd lean towards something with less recoil and better ballistic efficiency than your .358 Norma. I've no doubt that you can become quite competent at 500 yard shooting with the Norma, but there are better hammers. For example, .284 cartridges fire capable bullets with high b.c. at reasonable recoil levels. I gotta believe that something like the 7mm RM would be among my first choices for your stated hunting.
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigswede358 View Post
    Now that huntin season is over I have been thinking about this more. The area I live, in N. Idaho here is logging country. There are more and more clear cuts every year. I have noticed a lot more opportunities for shots out there at 400-500yds. While I am a hunter first and foremost, getting close to an animal is not always possible.
    So I have been wanting a rifle that is capable of 500 yd shots as long as I do my part. I do not like doing the "Hail Mary" thing and trying different hold overs until an animal is wounded or crippled. I have seen this and found many wasted animals over the years.
    What do you guys think a 500 yd rifle should be capable of ballistically? I hunt whitetails(130-160lbs), Mule Deer (150-250lbs) and elk which can be up to 600-700lbs for a really big one, most of them are around 300-400 lbs though.
    The flattest shooting rifle I own is my 358 Norma, it fires a 225 gr Nosler Accubond out of the muzzle at 2950 fps. That bullet has a B.C. of .421. At 500 yds this load still has over a ton of energy left. Should I just practice a lot with the rifle I have, or would a flatter shooting rifle be more humane and ethical if a long shot is the only option left for filling my freezer? Thanks for your input and opinions.
    I can share in what some poster's replies are getting atÖ like varying hunting plans, tactics, in addition to concerns for others in multi-use access areas that may involve extended-range shooting in clear-cuts.

    To stereotype a little: A hunter taking afield with a .358 Norma hints that original poster is no greenhorn to the outdoors and is serious about his big game hunting tactics on a changing landscape. Terrain familiar enough as it has become clear cut, yet changing the strategies, advantages, ways, and means of the hunt.

    I see both sides of the discussion.

    That said, I'll keep to the shooting and making the shot perspectives --- Here goes:

    To initiate, you have a 'cartridge choice' that would be about ideal for the 500 yard line on big game from Deer to Elk based on a couple of design features that are often overlooked in .35 caliber magnum. #1 its mid-bore speed is fast enough with ample downrange energy & #2 it can be used with long, heavy for caliber, bullets of high sectional density that fly straight. In other words, the 358 Norma is as good as anything reasonable and truly effective for what youíre looking to pull off. Most of my experience is with .375 H&H and .340 WBY... For <400 yards I'd go the .375 H&H while @ the prescribed 500 yards Iíd opt the .340 WBY. Your .358 Norma sits right in there: thus using excellent loads, an accurate rifle with good optics plus mounts, and lots of range practice should make the connection. Greatest concerns I see are going to be the shooter challenges (marksmanship) and shooting conditions (environment) as well as equipment selections (ranging, gun, loads, and accessories like optics, tree stands etc.). None of the above in your quiver currently may be up to task 9 out of 10 times even at the shooting range. Hard to state really... however, I'd probably dedicate a whole new set-up to extended-range big-game hunting tooled to the game & settings of the 'known' hunt environment.

    What rifle, optics etc. and how are you shooting with 'er now? Also what will be your rest position... in a tree-stand, off a pod or sticks from ground, from a machine etc.?

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    I take it there are no antler restrictions in your neck of the woods, because if there were, how would one be able to tell if an animal is legal or not at 500 yards?

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    Ive been to that area of Idaho before. You can have a 500 yard line of sight shot, but it may take a mile to get there across or around the canyon. You may also have an animal at the edge of a clear cut 500 yards away and only a few seconds before it either walks into the dense cover along the edge or gets spooked by other people. Long range shooting will require that you take the time to set up the shot. You may not have that time in those conditions. Long range shooting may not be a solution.

    How does your Norma shoot now? can you get it inside 3 inches or less at 300 yards now? If not then I would hesitate using it and look for something of higher quality build with a smaller diameter bullet. And lots of practice along with custom ammo building.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bigswede358 View Post
    Now that huntin season is over I have been thinking about this more. The area I live, in N. Idaho here is logging country. There are more and more clear cuts every year. I have noticed a lot more opportunities for shots out there at 400-500yds. While I am a hunter first and foremost, getting close to an animal is not always possible.
    So I have been wanting a rifle that is capable of 500 yd shots as long as I do my part. I do not like doing the "Hail Mary" thing and trying different hold overs until an animal is wounded or crippled. I have seen this and found many wasted animals over the years.
    What do you guys think a 500 yd rifle should be capable of ballistically? I hunt whitetails(130-160lbs), Mule Deer (150-250lbs) and elk which can be up to 600-700lbs for a really big one, most of them are around 300-400 lbs though.
    The flattest shooting rifle I own is my 358 Norma, it fires a 225 gr Nosler Accubond out of the muzzle at 2950 fps. That bullet has a B.C. of .421. At 500 yds this load still has over a ton of energy left. Should I just practice a lot with the rifle I have, or would a flatter shooting rifle be more humane and ethical if a long shot is the only option left for filling my freezer? Thanks for your input and opinions.
    I plugged your data into my ballistics program and using generic atmospheric data came up with

    -41.99 inches of drop at 500 yards 1866 ft lbs of energy at that range. That should be plenty of energy for game up to and including Elk. With practice, and proper ranging equipment and optics I don't see any reason with the proper rest and practice why you could not accomplish what you are after with the rifle you have. About anything is going to have a lot drop out that far and being able to adjust for that is the key.

    Know your equipment and your limits,, go fill your freezer.

    Good Luck

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    Quote Originally Posted by iofthetaiga View Post
    Afraid you're not going to like my statement either, and I really don't mean any disrespect, but... In country like that with as much traffic and activity as there is, a person can not be sure of what/who is potentially behind his intended target at 400 or 500 yards so it's not safe to be taking such long shots. Better to stick to targets inside 150 yards. And take a stand against the deplorable practice of clearcutting.
    Hate to take the thread anymore off course,, but, there ain't nothing deplorable about the practice of clearcutting up there where bigswede lives, in fact it's very healthy and loaded with game, way more game than the areas around it that haven't been logged.

    That area is mostly owned by Potlatch and they replant immediately after clear cutting,so there's many thousands of acres in various stages of growth.

    bigswede,, Really not to much to shooting out to 500 yards,,spend a bunch of time out at the range and just dial in your scope from 100 out to 500 make a cheat sheet tape it to your stock,, then,practice practice practice.
    I shoot a 7mm,mag, topped with a leupold, also have a good quality range finder,, shooting styx, and cases of me pappys handloads. Although I have never shot at game much out past 250 yards, except once I took a Lope out at 525,, I do punch holes in many many Rockchucks out to 500 every year.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sayak View Post
    I take it there are no antler restrictions in your neck of the woods, because if there were, how would one be able to tell if an animal is legal or not at 500 yards?
    With the possible exception of a spike/fork, decent glass will give him plenty of ability to judge sufficiently. You have no tough to count brow times nor any 7/8 vs full curl decisions to make.

    If caribou in Alaska acted like antelope, I bet many many Alaskans would be taking 500 yard shots at them. But here that range is no bueno for sheep or moose at least. Not to mention that in Alaska you're plagued with 50 yard visibility as much as this Idaho hunter is plagued with 500 yard opportunities.

    I have a friend that hunts animals like you have there, in terrain like you have there. He too yearned for a better long range gun, and settled on a 7mm Mag. Its got just a bit too much oomph for a deer that's close by, but other than that is appropriate for your hunt. She's a pretty flat shooter and that round does have quite a decent bite.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bigswede358 View Post
    Grizzly2,
    You are right, I didn't like your answer. For 2 reasons, first you imply that you're hunting skills are better than mine, that was rude in my opinion, and secondly you replied to a thread which asked a legitamate question and you merely inserted your OPINION which wasn't needed and it didn't help anything. There are also no buffalo, caribou, or sheep where I hunt. But there are indians though, they ride around on 4-wheelers and shoot animals with high powered rifles, mostly by the aid of artificial light in the middle of the night.
    So this thread doesn't get any more unneeded replies like that from Grizzly 2, I will describe the area I hunt a little more. This is logging country. Clear cuts are an area where all trees are cut down, and I mean ALL trees, then the area is typically burned to help restart growth. There is usually no more than 1/2 miles between roads, which means every 1/2 mile or so there is another road. The first 2 or 3 hours of daylight and the last 2 or 3 there are 4-wheelers that travel the roads sometimes every 10- 15 minutes. THESE are not undisturbed animals on some remote mountain range in Alaska. Again, I am not asking advice on hunting. Just a question about shooting.
    You did ask for ďinput and opinionsĒ.

    I would accept grizzly 2ís advice and opinion on this.

    Isnít advice always colored by opinion?

    When you encounter an animal at 500 yards, thatís not hunting, itís spotting.

    When you shoot an animal at 500 yards thatís not hunting either. Itís shooting.

    If 500 yards is too far to have enough certainty, that you will kill an animal cleanly, itís too far, a shot for hunting purposes. I think that thatís a given, certainly in most cases.

    I donít wanna risk wounding and causing needless pain and suffering, or fail to recover to a game animal. Thatís where ethics come in for me.

    Sure, you might do well from a Bench at the range, but hunting is from Field Positions.

    Youíre implying that your only option is to shoot from 500 yards, or that you donít have enough patience to do otherwise. Maybe, you just donít wanna miss what you consider an opportunity.

    In that case, surely your ďshooting positionĒ matters a great deal more than what kind of rifle you use. I suggest that you sight in your rifle, at 500 yards, then try shooting from field positions, not at the range, but in the kind of territory you hunt, in, and see how well you do from Field Positions.

    You might wanna get one of those scopes with a range finder type reticule, or onna those Tactical jobbie doos.

    I wouldnít shoot at an animal, that far away, myself and if I did, I wouldnít tell anyone.

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    Supporting Member iofthetaiga's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by slimm View Post
    Hate to take the thread anymore off course,, but, there ain't nothing deplorable about the practice of clearcutting up there where bigswede lives, in fact it's very healthy and loaded with game, way more game than the areas around it that haven't been logged.
    Gotta call BS on that. I worked in the woods for years in that country, lots of it swinging a hoedad and replanting units for the third or fourth time; units that should never have been cut and will take hundreds of years to revegetate and recover. I know firsthand the reality of what's behind the locked gates and fool-em strips, and what effect it's had on the environment, fisheries, and wildlife populations. I agree there's little point in discussing it here however.
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    Minimum would be .338-378 Weatherby to have enough punch. Maybe better to move up to the .375 or .408 Chey-Tac. The Allen Mag could do 500 yards too.
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