How far is too far?

JLF

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:A Stirring: The "stalker" days are over. It's all about long range. Just look at what the young people are buying and shooting, at the range and while hunting. It's sort of like this:


:E Big Grin::E Big Grin:
Young people would have to begin in the art of hunting with muzzle-loading rifles ...
On the other hand, what is ending are the old hunters, those who enjoy the approach, to crawl on the ground so as not to be seen, it is a species on the verge of extinction.
Today hunting is based more on trying to kill than trying to hunt.
 
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Kevin Peacocke

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There is another side to hunting, and that is truly appreciating your quarry - its fur, its proportion, its horns, the twitching ears and the wet nose. Sure, a good pair of binos may give you some of that, but how much better to see it in the raw? I never tire of watching buffalo watching me, and when their smell carries across it is divine.
 

Bert the Turtle

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If a person is honest with himself, (the most important and probably least likely person most people are honest with) he knows if the shot is too far.

Too many of the answers here remind me of the old saying about driving that there are only two kinds of drivers: the inconsiderate jerks driving too slow and blocking traffic (i.e. everyone slower than me) and the maniacs trying to get everyone killed (i.e everyone driving faster than me).

Fact is, conditions differ in many places. I am generally in the "get close and make an easy shot" camp, but I live in NC where you'd be lucky to find a place to see 150 yards let alone take a shot at extended range. But I'm not going to speak for the man who lives in New Mexico and takes a 400 yard shot on antelope after using a cactus and half a tumbleweed for cover to get even that close.
 

Firebird

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Have watched all the YouTube videos of John x safaris and gunwerks. I don’t agree with it and not interested in it but absolutely successful. Notice always high shoulder shot to catch the shoulders and spine. . .
I regularly shoot long range but off any shooting rest is absolutely different from those found in hunting conditions. The guy I shoot with sometimes spends five minutes getting the wind, atmosphere, distance bla bla bla correct. Try that while hunting on public land! Also remember those long range videos are heavily edited-so you don’t see the misses or the time lapse before animals die. I know guys that do it and do it very well but it is not for me. I love to shoot rifles and my bow is my favorite hunting tool-and guys are trying to stretch the limits there and in blackpowder as well and of course the 6.5 craze. None of it makes us better hunters-but can’t argue that it makes longer shots more doable.
I love to shoot gallon milk jugs filled with water. Can do it regularly with my old .300 wm at 750 yards and 180 accubond bullets-from a bench. The Swarovski and custom turret and hand loads are the integral pieces-
 

Mort Hill

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Scenario 1: you rest your gun on the sticks, take a deep breath, exhale and squeeze. You drop the buff at 200 yds and the PH says “great shot.”
You smile, lower your gun and say “thanks”.

Scenario 2: The PH quickly drops the binos to his chest. He briskly grabs you by the back of the collar and whispers “get ready” as he half drags you and you side step the large bush. There, at 8 yards you see the buff, throw your gun up, and shoot him square through the heart. He immediately drops and bellows. Your PH looks at you and says “incredible”. Not the shot, the whole experience. You can’t answer because you are shaking. Your knees feel week. 8 gallons of sweat are pouring out of every pore. You finally utter in a guttural voice “Wow”. You both understand.

For me, I take scenario 2 every time. Even with all the screw ups, bum stalks, bad wind and all. That helpless thankful feeling is beyond belief.
 

Hank2211

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As was said early on in this thread, "it depends." What does it depend on?

1. The animal you're hunting. I like to hunt. To me, that means getting as close as is reasonably possible to the animal you are intending to shoot. If that means more busted stalks (and it does), that's part of the sport.

So, and this is just my perspective:

General plains game: I like to be under 100 yards, but I'm prepared to go to 200. I have made longer shots on plains game, but there's usually been a reason. I will admit that it wasn't always a good reason.

Dangerous game: I like to be under 50 yards, whether we're talking buffalo, lions or leopard. Elephant is even closer. The only one I shot was at 12 yards. The stalk was the hunt. The shot was just the end.

Specialty game: That depends on the animal and where you are. For bongo and forest sitatunga, I'd suggest anything over about 15 yards is too far. You aren't even likely to see them at that distance. Mountain nyala on the other hand can easily be over 300 yards, and I took a shot at 375 yards. That's the nature of shooting in the mountains.

2. Your skills and your equipment. Trying 200 yard shots for the first time on game is, in my view, unnecessary and irresponsible. If you want to take those shots, you should practice so that you can say up front that you are virtually certain to place a killing shot at the relevant distance. Equally, if you want to take those shots with a .416, you have the wrong equipment, so you better be extremely knowledgeable about ballistics. That's not what a .416 is for, but it is what a .300 Win Mag is for. so have the right equipment.

3. Whether you're hunting or target shooting. I think once you get beyond what most would consider a reasonable distance for the game you're after, then I'd suggest you're target shooting, not hunting. What's a reasonable distance for this distinction? We can argue about that. From my perspective, on general plains game, anything over about 250 yards is not really hunting, but for those who might have an issue with that, can we agree that wherever the line is, 400 yards and beyond exceeds it - even for those who have both the skills and the equipment?

And if you're target shooting rather than hunting, could I suggest that using live targets is unnecessary? It violates my personal hunting ethics, but I won't impose those on others. Having said that, I'd encourage those who engage in that sort of thing to consider whether Tannerite wouldn't provide a more satisfactory reaction.
 

Hogpatrol

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Pulled the crossbow out of mothballs, set the target up at 20 yards and fired off a broadhead offhand. 25 & 30 produced the same results. Looks like I'll be doing that "get closer" thing over the next few days. :giggle:
IMG_20200901_143002579.jpg
 

Fred Gunner

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I wise instructor told our class "hit a 6 inch steel plate 5 out of 5 consecutive shots. Keep moving the plate out until you can't hit 5 for 5 every time. You now know your personal max range."

for me off the sticks I'm confident at 300 yards. After two hunts in Namibia that was valuable information to have.
 

Hogpatrol

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One thing I've noticed guys having trouble at the longer ranges at my gun club is factory guns' trigger pull weight. A four to six pound trigger isn't conducive to long range accuracy. Put that gun on sticks or even a sandbag and trying to keep a decent size group can be problematic. Having said that, unless one knows what they're doing, it's best to have a gunsmith or other skilled person change the trigger or make the adjustments.
 

Forrest Halley

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One thing I've noticed guys having trouble at the longer ranges at my gun club is factory guns' trigger pull weight. A four to six pound trigger isn't conducive to long range accuracy. Put that gun on sticks or even a sandbag and trying to keep a decent size group can be problematic. Having said that, unless one knows what they're doing, it's best to have a gunsmith or other skilled person change the trigger or make the adjustments.
Interesting thing you brought up. Target rifles have low pull weights. I like lighter triggers. My .375 #1 has an awesome trigger. My Model 70 doesn't have as nice a trigger. I think I'd take a longer shot more comfortably with the #1.
 

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It depends on what you're comfortable with. In my case I am comfortable shooting out to 500 yards at a stationary animal or one that is moving slowly. I've never shot over 500 yards and won't attempt to take an animal at a distance I have not practiced becoming efficient at.
 

Hogpatrol

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Another behavior I've noticed is lifting the head off the stock after, during or while the trigger is pulled, in other words, no follow through. Imagine what that does at long range.
 

Newboomer

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If you are close enough to see him blink, that's hunting and a good stalk. If not, it's target shooting with little or no true HUNTING skill involved. A modern long shot may be a sign of good marksmanship, or good equipment, but not necessarily good sportsmanship. The sport is in getting close.
 

Hogpatrol

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If you are close enough to see him blink, that's hunting and a good stalk. If not, it's target shooting with little or no true HUNTING skill involved. A modern long shot may be a sign of good marksmanship, or good equipment, but not necessarily good sportsmanship. The sport is in getting close.


Never could get close enough to those whistlepigs to see 'em blink. :A Gathering: They were usually down the hole and out of sight if I tried to get that close.
 

JimP

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Never could get close enough to those whistlepigs to see 'em blink. :A Gathering: They were usually down the hole and out of sight if I tried to get that close.

I've seen them blink through the 20x scope on my 22-250 and watched as their head disappeared very shortly after I pulled the trigger.

What I have found is if the opportunity to shoot a animal at a distance that you are comfortable at shooting then go ahead and shoot. If you don't want to take that shot then by all means try to get closer if you want. But trying to get closer could mean tag soup where taking that longer shot could be meat on the table.
 

JLF

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If you are close enough to see him blink, that's hunting and a good stalk. If not, it's target shooting with little or no true HUNTING skill involved. A modern long shot may be a sign of good marksmanship, or good equipment, but not necessarily good sportsmanship. The sport is in getting close.
I fully agree with you.
A dear friend, who went to the city where he does not return, told me that the day I approach an Indian antelope at less than 50 yards and manage to shoot it that day I will be a hunter.
Ha ... I'm still an apprentice hunter ..
 
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Tanks

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One of our hunting group has bought a 300 WM to take long shots. He is an excellent shot, but is it 'right' to take a long shot at an animal when you could have got closer? Is there a sensible upper limit that hunters should adhere to? Do, or even should powerful optics excuse fieldcraft?

My view in this is that it is not up to me or anyone else to dictate how one hunts as long as one does it ethically.

Let's face it, most of the hunts sold here are el cheapo game ranch hunts in RSA (mostly) and Namibia. some of which are "put and take" hunts. Do you really want to go down that rabbit hole of what is considered a real hunt and fieldcraft?
 

M McDindi

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Read through all the replies and only One Day touched on the "ethics" part of it. So....

Questions you should be asking yourself are:

If you're on a guided hunt as in Day One's scenario, are you willing to risk the trophy fee and the possibility of the animal not being recovered and likely suffering a prolonged, agonizing and painful death? While for some with deep pockets a TF may not be a "big deal. Not likely too many African PH's would allow the indiscriminate waste like that of repeated wounding game.

Similar question for other guided hunts where the hunter/client only gets one tag. If you wound an animal that is not recovered, do you or your guild consider your tag "filled" or do you just say "Oh, well" and keep hunting?

Same question if you are hunting alone on public or private land and your license/tag limit is only a single animal. If you shoot, wound and don't recover do you consider you tag "filled". If no, how may are you willing to wound and not recover. I bring this up because when I was growing up there were a few guys who would brag about how many deer they shot that "got away" before they "tagged out".

This is not meant to come across a being judgemental or preachy. Ethics are an individual choice that we each have to live with within ourselves.

I don't remember all of the animals I killed but, I still remember the few that I wounded and not recovered. I regret pulling the trigger on every one of them.

Just me, and everyonelse's mileage can vary.
 
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JimP

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I can honestly say that in over 50 years of hunting with both rifle and archery equipment that I have only lost one animal. That on was a buck mule deer that I shot from 20 yards. We tracked him from where he was hit down almost to our camp and then back up the hill before we lost the blood trail. So a close shot doesn't guaranty a killing shot, at least a fast kill.

Another hunter found that deer I found out a few days later and tagged it himself. It didn't matter to me since I was done hunting.
 

Kevin Peacocke

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So, hit vs killing shot. It is necessary to hit the vitals, but that isn't sufficient in of it's own. To guarantee recovering the animal it is necessary to hit the vitals devastatingly. As someone said earlier the probability of achieving the killing shot drops off with distance, and extremely so with extreme distance. So why do it? Ego is the jester in the hunting world.
 

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