A BUCK or BULL TOO FAR? by Montana Grant
By angelamontana

Posted: November 3, 2023

I was talking to some long-range deer/elk hunters the other day. They were bragging about their “Long Shots”. Some of the elk hunters were also bow hunters. All of them stretched rifle shots beyond 600 yards and bow shots out to 120 yards!

My personal best Big Game rifle shot was a bull elk at 450 yards. I have never shot a critter over 18 yards with a bow. My longest attempt at a Long Shot was at an antelope buck at 500 plus yards. I missed and the bullet impacted below his front right foot. Plenty far enough but too low. I should have stalked into a more comfortable range. 

Most vintage/veteran hunters brag about closer shots. We all began with iron sights. A 150-yard shot was a big deal. If you used a shotgun slug, the range and accuracy declined dramatically. These shells were nicknamed “Pumpkin balls” since it was like throwing a Pumpkin at a target. 75 yards was an act of God shot!

 Lever action 30:30 rifles, or similar actions, require loading of round nosed bullets. It wasn’t until Hornaday LEVERevolution ammo was created that you could load a pointed, rubber tipped bullet, in a tubular chamber. This has doubled the range of these old-style action weapons. 

Black powder guns offered better accuracy than shotguns and were legal during shotgun season. A practiced smoke pole hunter could hit a target accurately out to 300 yards! I hunted with a single shot Muzzleloader for years during this season to increase my range. My longest Muzzle loader shot is still just 150 yards. I still hunt with my Ruger #1 single shot 30:06 to keep things sporting. 

I am not bragging about my shooting, I am just saying that after a lifetime of a lot of hunting, these are my experience. If a shot seemed Too Far, I “hunted’ to get closer. Camo, scent, wind, terrain, whatever it took, I got close to a comfortable range for my shooting skills.

 I did advertise my shooting prowess to some of my daughter’s crappy boyfriends, that I could hit a target at 1,000 yards or more. That seemed to work. If that were the case, I would have learned and practiced that skill or maybe made things closer and more personal. That’s just what protective Dad’s do. 

If you are a Super Sniper and can hit a target at 1,000 plus yards, God Bless You! On paper, I can do that too. Hunting in the field is a different matter altogether. For most hunters getting closer is a more “intimate shot”. I called a Bull Elk into 7 yards for my bow ready brother. That’s pretty intimate. 

Nothing is more exciting than Getting Close for a shot. When you can see the eyes, hair, and hear the critter, that’s close. Talk about Buck/Bull Fever! You must be a disciplined shooter to keep your composure at under 20 yards or at close rifle ranges. Close shots are intensely exciting and personal. 

Long range shooting may be sex, but close-range shooting is like Making Love! Shooting across a canyon at over 600 yards is a challenge and requires a lot of skill, optics, technology, and practice. At 1,000 yards the bullet becomes so slow that it could hit the animal and not cause a response. The critter may not flinch.

Do these Long Shot hunters go down one side of the canyon, cross a river, and go up the other side of the ridge to check for blood? My guess is that if the animal does not drop, oh well. Long Range hunters will just look for another long-range target. 9They are not going to spend half their hunt crossing a canyon to see if they missed. Short range hunters follow up with every shot as every hunter should.

 The level of excitement is greatly reduced. You don’t smell the critter, hear the movement, or even see the personal detail of the animal. The animal can’t hear, see, or smell you. Is this even an ethical hunt?

In some states getting rid of deer and big game critters means fewer car strikes and less CWD. Insurance companies encourage huge critter kills. Any shot is a good shot. If the critters are too close to the city, bait piles and snipers are called in. That’s not hunting, that’s just irradicating critters. 

Long range shooting is perfect for taking out terrorists. Keeping the shooter safe from getting shot is what sniping is all about. They are just eradicating heartless terrorists. But is long-range shooting an ethical and fair chase hunting skill? 

Long Range shooting, where legal, is certainly considered a sporting way to tag big game. Younger and newer hunters seem to relish this form of shooting. The practiced skills and gear needed to make long precision shots is expensive and requires a unique commitment. 

The targeted critters have no chance of even knowing that they are targeted. Long range hunters practice long distant shooting but fail to learn how to actually HUNT! They are also missing the best and most intimate part of the Hunt!

Aim Small Miss small and maybe get a bit closer!

Montana Grant

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