Reach Out and Touch Something
Posted In Long Range on Wednesday, March 20th 2019
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Reach Out and Touch Something

Northeast Outdoors Experience Staff

One of the advantages to centerfire rifles is that they extend the lethal reach of the hunter significantly, sometimes VERY significantly. With an adequate scope, a steady rest and an accurate range finder, the bar can be definitely raised when it comes to just how far is too far for harvesting an animal. There are several considerations when it comes to the long range rifle that should be examined a bit closer.

The first consideration that always comes up is trajectory of the caliber in question relative to the size game being hunted at long ranges. While some of the smaller calibers suitable for a gopher at 400 yards or so might well be capable of dispatching the pint sized varmint at that distance, trying to use it on a pronghorn at the same distance could potentially wound the animal and therefore not be considered ethical. The choice to stretch out your shots should be one made within your own self imposed limitations based on your rifle, cartridge and skill level.

The second factor affecting your maximum range should be just how imperative to your ego is taking a long shot in the first place? Except under special circumstances, a 400 yard shot probably can be reduced to 350 if a reasonable stalk is planned, possibly even 300 or less. The longest shot on big game you should ever take is the one that you simply cannot gain any more ground without being detected and losing the shot opportunity.

Another aspect to the long shot is bullet performance at extended ranges. With modern day centerfire ammunition the velocities on impact will determine how well the bullet will perform. Few hunters actually practice at 400 yards or more, so predictable accuracy and bullet performance is a calculation at best and a guess at worst. For anyone who contemplates a 400 yard shot, simple ethics should dictate he practices somewhat significantly at that distance before assuming he can shoot that far. Live game should not be considered long range practice bull’s-eyes.

.270, .308 and 30-06 calibers as well as many others are definitely more than capable at long distances and will perform well with an accurate shot on most game. Knowing your rifle, scope and cartridge performance are all essential elements at any range for clean, ethical harvests. Long range shots should be a matter of confidence in both your equipment and your shooting skills always erring on the side of ethical sportsmanship. Hunting as a sport that is depending on your decisions for its future and there are far too many just looking for a reason to take that right away. Don’t be that reason with an unreasonable shot.

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