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Discussion Starter #1
If you were going to travel a long distance and spend a bunch of money to go on your first elk hunt what kind of rifle setup would you go with?

What kind of characteristics, calibers would you look for?
 

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I would use a Mauser action and make it a 30-06, 300 WM, or 35 Whelen. I have all three. The 30-06 is my most accurate. My .300 WM is a Rem 700 BDL. The 35 Whelen is just as accurate as my .300 WM at 100 yards. That is the longest range I have access to around here.
 

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No need to spend a huge amount of $,my rem mdl 700 in 8mmMag with a Leupold 3-8 VX II and a harris bipod probably cost $1200 to assemble and is as good at killing elk as any rifle in the world.I would spend the extra $ to work up some handloads with barnes TSX's,that will make more difference than the brand of rifle you buy.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I'm not really so concerned with the name brand of the rifle. It'll probably either be an encore or a savage.

I have an encore with a 26" 30-06 barrel and it'd maybe I could use that depending on how it does when I see how well I can shoot with that at longer ranges or getting a different barrel for it. What's the max ethical distance to shoot at an elk with a 30-06?

I wouldn't be opposed to buying a heavy barreled savage because they're more accurate and I'll be able to shoot better with it. If Savage produced a heavy barreled 30-06 I wouldn't even have started the topic because I already reload 30-06, but I'm open to going up in caliber as well.

The problem is I'm a guy from Indiana and I have no idea what I'm talking about when it comes to elk hunting. All I know is from what I've heard, read, and talked about. I have no personal experience, but hopefully some day I will.
 

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teddy12b said:
I'm not really so concerned with the name brand of the rifle. It'll probably either be an encore or a savage.

I have an encore with a 26" 30-06 barrel and it'd maybe I could use that depending on how it does when I see how well I can shoot with that at longer ranges or getting a different barrel for it. What's the max ethical distance to shoot at an elk with a 30-06?

I wouldn't be opposed to buying a heavy barreled savage because they're more accurate and I'll be able to shoot better with it. If Savage produced a heavy barreled 30-06 I wouldn't even have started the topic because I already reload 30-06, but I'm open to going up in caliber as well.

The problem is I'm a guy from Indiana and I have no idea what I'm talking about when it comes to elk hunting. All I know is from what I've heard, read, and talked about. I have no personal experience, but hopefully some day I will.
If you're talking wild elk then you're going to have to carry that rifle a lot. Miles up and down the mountain. You don't want a heavy barreled anything. If you're talking about pen raised elk, who cares what you use? They aren't going anywhere anyway.

A 30-06 would work just fine, but one of the 300 mags would send a bigger bullet flatter and hit with more energy.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I should have mentioned this earlier as well. My 30-06 encore shoots 150gr bullets the best. If it's going to be an accurate shot with that rifle it'll be with a 150gr bullet. I have some 150gr TSX, but I haven't been able to test them yet. I'm hoping that the 165gr or 168gr triple shocks will shoot just as good, but I haven't had a chance to try them out yet. Would a 400 or 500 yard shot be possible using a triple shock if I find an accurate handload with as much powder behind it as I can get?
 

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Lightweight bolt rifle in a short action .300 WSM, Leupold VXIII scope 3 x 9 in Talley rings, matte black finished and loaded with 165 gr. Barnes TSXs.
 

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Buy a .375 H&H, load it up with a premium 270 bullet, mount a long range scope on it and go hunt'n!!
 

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Don't depend on any boutique bullet to do your killing for you. Practice, practice, practice. I killed my first elk with a 30-06 with a 200gr bullet but I don't consider it a 400-500 yard elk rifle. And I don't think any magic bullet would make it one. But then, I don't consider 99% of the hunters as 400-500 yard elk shooters. My go to elk rifle(s) were Rem 700s 300wm, 1.5x5 scope, harris bipod. 200gr Grand Slam bullet @2950fps. 7mmRM, 2x7 scope, harris bipod, 160gr NP @2950fps. Of the two, if I had to pick just one, it'd be the 300 altho I really like the 7mag.
 

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I use two rifles for elk hunting. I know it's rude to answer a question with a question but the question back is what kind of hunting are you going to do? Are you going to hike in or will you be on horse back or in a truck mountain road hunting.
Let's assume it's horse back. A bolt action is standard but you will want to keep to a 40mm objective on your scope as most rifle scabbards are not designed for the 50MM scopes. Even the new Leupold that bends over the barrel gets stuck in the scabbard. Still leaves you lots of options. Same problem if you plan to have a bipod attached to the stock. You may want to get a set of your own saddlebags and make sure you bipod will fit. I do not use one. As the horse will be hauling your rifle up and down the hills all you will have to do is be able to carry it a few hundred yards to a stand or to put the sneak on them. The same will follow for truck hunting. both of my guns are in the 9 pound range. Not too heavy to slow me down and heavy enough not to kick the snot out of me.
If you are going to back pack hunt then weight is a premium. The down side to light weight is it will kick the living snot out of you. You may want to go with a 30-06 or one of the other non mag 7's like .284 or .280 or even one of the .25's either 25-06 or 25 win super short mag. (WSSM) and limit your shots to 300 yards.
As I said I have two elk rifles. The first is a Win M70 classic super grade in .338 Win Mag with a Weaver Grand slam 4.5-14X40 scope. Do you know scope power? Lets say you don't, the 4.5 is the lowest power it will increase to 14 power and had a 40mm objective ( the big bell pointed to the game diameter).
The second is a Sako AIII in 375H&H with a Leupold fixed 4 power scope.
I bought both of my rifles used at good prices.
Both rifles are sighted in for 200 yards and I am confident to 250 with the .375 and 350 yards with the .338. The 375 was purchased as a brush elk rifle as well as a back up.
I like heavy bullets for game. Of my friends, one uses 7mm Mag, one uses 7mm Shooting times Western (STW), two .338 Win Mag, one 30-06, one 300 Win mag, two 8mm Remington Mag, and another uses .257 Weatherby Mag. But all of us have almost identical scopes. A good compromise would be a good 3-9X40 Weaver or Leupold.
Had I to do it all over again. I think I still would go with .338 but I would look at one of the stainless / synthetic stocked bolt guns. Rifles get beat up in the back of trucks and on horse back. Horses love to walk under trees and the branches bang off of you and your gear. Do not forget a good clear pair of binoculars about 10X42.
Any standard bolt action rifle will work. You can even go for a single shot, like a Ruger #1.
I agree with Peter Capstick ,Famous African hunting guide and writer, and shoot the largest caliber you can shoot well. You should find a budget for your rifle, scope, sling, soft case, and at least 100 rounds of ammo. I use the Remington core lok 225 grain soft points in the .338 and the same bullet in 270 grains for the .375. They are accurate, cheap, and easy to find at some local shops. With large belted rounds the standard bullets work fine on game and premium bullets are not needed. Shot placement is paramount. Shot placement comes with practice. Shoot often. Maybe only a few rounds each session but shoot it every time you go to the range. Try and find a local club that does a running deer shoot. It will help your shooting a lot.
I like wide 1 1/4 inch slings. When hauling out game it keeps the rifle on my shoulder better the the 1". Other than that I walk a lot before the trip with a step aerobic stick in either 9 or 15 pounds and a small back pack with 20 to 30 pounds of junk and get used to carrying the rifle and hauling weight. Better to get a rifle you enjoy shooting and like and get in shape for your hunt than buy a super light rifle you hate shooting. If you don't like it you won't shoot it and you won't hit what your elk when the time comes!
I also said a soft case. If your hunting out of a truck or moving horses around the soft case will keep your rifle from getting dinged not to mention in camp. the seat material of the back seat of a Ford pick up will rub the blueing off of your gun bouncing down dirt roads. You may fly to your hunt with a hard case, but pack a soft case as well.
Once you get into elk country the standard belted mags are available in most sporting goods stores as well as some grocery stores and wall mart in case you forget or looses your ammo.
Truth is until the 1950's your standard deer cartridges were also elk rounds. With premium bullets and a lot of practice your deer rifle would work as an elk rifle. Two years ago my friends brother in law shot a nice 6X6 with a Winchester 94 carbine in 30-30. One shot right to the heart. Dead Elk 120 yards form the truck.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I have a friend that lived in Wyoming for a year and knows where to hunt so the type of hunt would be two guys driving there in a pickup truck and driving as close as possible, then backpacking it in. I've already looked at a couple of those game carts because I know there is no way we'll be able to carry it all out.

I'm pretty set on the 30-06. I've been asking a lot of questions about it and the 300's but the 30-06 will do for what I need and I already reload for it. I have an encore 30-06, but for something like this I'd prefer a bolt action. I'm pretty set on the Savage Weather Warrior series. I've heard nothing but great things about their accuracy and that's the most important part of a rifle to me.

I have a couple good slings so I'm set there and I probably wouldn't bring one of my harris bipods. As far as scopes go I have a couple different ideas on that so it's a matter of pinning down what one I'd like to get. I have a nikon buckmaster 6-18 that is awesome, but I also recently looked through a Weaver classic V with a fine reticle and I loved it! I really liked the fine reticle even though most people don't like them for hunting. I'll definately also have some good binoculars with as well. I'll be borrowing dad's steiner's
 

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teddy12b said:
... the type of hunt would be two guys driving there in a pickup truck and driving as close as possible, then backpacking it in. I've already looked at a couple of those game carts because I know there is no way we'll be able to carry it all out.

I'm pretty set on the 30-06. ...I already reload for it. ... I'm pretty set on the Savage Weather Warrior series. ...

I have a couple good slings so I'm set there and I probably wouldn't bring one of my harris bipods. .... I have a nikon buckmaster 6-18 that is awesome, but I also recently looked through a Weaver classic V with a fine reticle and I loved it! I really liked the fine reticle even though most people don't like them for hunting. I'll definately also have some good binoculars with as well. I'll be borrowing dad's steiner's
A .30-06 is fine. I'd use 165g premium bullets (Partition or Grand Slam or better) or 180's. By "better" I mean TSX/Trophy Bonded/A-Frame/North Fork/AccuBond/InterBond/Scirocco, etc. The main thing is that they shoot fairly accurately.

As to the scope, I'd forgo the -18x. You'll have good binoculars so keep the rifle weight down and go with a -9x. It will be plenty. The last couple years I have hunted with a Burris Fullfield II 3-9x with a Ballistic Plex reticle. With my .30-06 shots out to 500 yards are easy with that scope.

I would also make sure I have a laser range finder. My preference is for small (and light) ones that fit in the breast pocket of my shirt. My Nikon 400 works great and the newer ones have more range.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I plan on loading the barnes triple shocks as my first choice, I'll go from there if those don't shoot well.

I'm probably going to be going with the weaver classic V 4-16 with a fine recticle. I know it's probably not an ideal hunting scope, but it's ideal for practicing at the range, and I want to be very proficient with this rifle.

I've got access to a laser rangefinder, but I've also considered one fo those laser binoculars either Bushnell's or leupold. Both are nice, but it's hard to justify that kind of money when there's already a regular laser rangefinder and good binoculars that are already paid off.
 

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Good luck with those fine cross hairs. Don't be surprised if they disappear early and late and if you're in the dark timber. And against the dark hide of an elk for that matter. One thing I found invaluble for hauling out an elk was one of those plastic toboggans like you buy at Kmart. About 6" long. You got to rig 'em up with some rope and you need a "hold back" rope for going down hill but they work on snow or just dry forest litter.
 

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Beeman good advice. If you going to use the fine cross hairs draw a red dot on the objective where the cross hairs intersect. At duskk when the Elk move at least you will be able to see the dot.
The sled is a real good trick.
 

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There's really no need to get fancy. If you have a medium weight rifle that you can shoot well that is at least 7mm or larger and around .30-06 in energy (+ or -), with a 3-9X scope, you are well on your way. If you need an excuse to get a new rifle, tell the old lady that only a <fill in the blank> with a <whatever neat feature> will work on elk. Just stay away from the really light rifles and anything chambered in a quasi-safari magnum.

Personally, I use a 700 VLS in .308, 10 # with 4-12X scope as my primary rifle and it's never let me down. I've caught plenty of heat from people claiming it's too light in power because it's not a magnum or too heavy for extended carry and I've got this to say:

1) Up until recently, the biggest elk taken in Colorado was with a .30-40. Hunters in the NW part of the country were routinely killing elk (in wooded areas) with .44-40 and .38-40 rifles. COTW has a documented case of a guy killing two elk with 3 shots from a .25-20. What's the old adage about shot placement? I'd rather have a rifle that's comfortable to shoot to get enough practice to place shots with precision, than a magnum that doesn't get shot as much. I haven't lost an animal, and I've been quite surprised at how far Sierra Gamekings can travel through an elk after traversing 1-300 yards, a thick winter hide, ribs and whatnot.

2) The Marines carry a similar rifle that weighs a few pounds more over much longer distances with much more equipment. I don't really see what you get by carrying a 6.5# rifle instead of an 8 or 9 pounder. Anybody who isn't in the shape to carry a 10 pound rifle is not going to do well getting a down elk out without horse or mule. Elk hunting is not an activity for candy-asses, although I see plenty of them around with ATVs or snowmobiles. Yet to see any of them with an animal, though.

For backup rifles I've used a .30-06, a .30-40 and a 7x57, and never felt ill-equipped. Just my $0.02
 

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I only live 45 miles from where I hunt elk and even so, I always have a backup rifle. Got thrown from too many horses and more than my share of 4 wheelers not to. I have a Kimber 8400 in 300 WSM with a Zeiss Conquest 3 X 9 X 50 and a Kimber 8400 in 270 WSM with the same scope. Both are with me when I set up camp. Both will, and have done the job.
 
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