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Bushfire

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I took my eldest son out for a hunt this morning with my GRRW .54 flinter. Lots of roos and emus but no foxes or deer seen. He found some "dinosaur" bones and some emu pop so as far as he was concerned it was a success.

Anyhow, I wanted to unload the gun on the way back to the ute and saw a nice big rock on a dam bank. I ranged it at 130m (143 yards), sat down took aim, judging it needed to be a smidge high and fired. It's winter here and all is wet so no dust flew up to indicate where the shot landed. I walked up and lo and behold I hit directly in line but 4" to the right. Definitely a kill zone shot.

Got me to wondering, ballistically how far out will a 54 cal round ball effectively kill big game such as elk? I know there are energy recommendations and such but I'm after actual experiences of folks if they exist.

Dino hunter
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Depends to a degree on the load. However, the faster it is started, the more rapidly the velocity falls off. So, for example, at the range you shot a larger charge would still be moving faster but not on the same scale as velocity at the muzzle. The long range advantage of a faster ball is more about better trajectory than hitting much harder at longer distance even though it will hit somewhat harder.

Think I made that as clear as mud!

So, having taken the long way around, I'll add that I've never shot an elk over 45 yards with a 54 ball. 🤣

OTOH, I'll throw out a few debatable opinions on round ball ballistics and terminal performance.

Here's a real life example of performance on mule deer. Two doe deer shot one each by my two son-in-laws. Both 54 caliber, both loaded with 54 ball and 80 grains of 2f goex. One at 25 yards and one at 180 yards. Both were broadside, both near identical highish lung shots. Both balls stopped under the skin on the far side. The 25 yard shot mashed flat and the 180 barely deformed. Both killed quickly. So, the mashed ball stopped because it's expansion slowe the ball quickly. The barely deformed ball with far less velocity penetrated the same because it was not hindered by expansion.

That still doesn't answer your question but maybe is food for thought.
 

Rock Home Isle

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I’ve killed a lot of elk with a smokepole…most of them with a .50 calibre…longest shot was paced out to be 155yrds. Thing about blackpowder and elk hunting, is that season overlaps with the best time of year to call ‘em in. Most of my blackpowder elk were killed inside of 30 yrds…and quite a few were taken at 5 yrds.
 

sneaky

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I’ve killed a lot of elk with a smokepole…most of them with a .50 calibre…longest shot was paced out to be 155yrds. Thing about blackpowder and elk hunting, is that season overlaps with the best time of year to call ‘em in. Most of my blackpowder elk were killed inside of 30 yrds…and quite a few were taken at 5 yrds.
Perhaps in Colorado, but here in Idaho most of our muzzleloader elk tags are late season. Nov/Dec. We don't have the benefit of a mid September season.
 

hanshi

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I've killed deer at the 100 + mark with a couple of .50s. But in Georgia that was only possible when I haunted large fields where they emerged from the tree line just before dusk. My .45 did the job at 75 yds for one deer.

So I would count on the .54 to at least that distance. The .54 has the power and trajectory much like the .50 and would be my choice over any .58.
 

sneaky

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Then use cow / calf calls…I’ve hunted late season for elk. Cow / calf works any time of year.
I'd rather not have that many eyeballs looking for me. Besides the eyeballs the crunchy snow is the next biggest issue. With fresh snow it's more doable, that crusty stuff has saved many an elk and deer.
 

new2bp

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Depends on how big your big game is. Here in Florida, a big deer is 150lbs. Just based on how nicely my 54 thwacked the steel plate at 200 yards compared to several centerfire rounds this weekend, for light-skinned/boned animals like white tail deer I'd say the bullet can do the job at 175-200. However, knowing how much elevation and kentucky windage I had to use to hit that 200 yard steel I'd probably limit things to 100-125 yards. IF you are really good at ranging (or have known distance markers) and IF you are a good shot then feel free to extend that. Especially if using a minnie or maxi or similar hunk-o-lead instead of a PRB. Hogs can get bigger and be tougher, I'd limit them to 100 yards no matter the projectile just to know I had more than enough oomph left to do the job.
 

Rock Home Isle

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I'd rather not have that many eyeballs looking for me. Besides the eyeballs the crunchy snow is the next biggest issue. With fresh snow it's more doable, that crusty stuff has saved many an elk and deer.
Adapt and overcome…bugling is over rated, great for finding bulls.

When you’re in cover…Cow/Calf calling is where it’s at…crunchy snow, no big deal, call and move, call and move. Elk make noise in crunchy snow, sound like a herd of cows and you become a herd of cows. Stop often and listen…

In open ground…don’t call, just move quietly like your on a Sunday stroll. Don’t even look like you’re hunting, and you’ll see elk. Weird, but it seems to work.
 
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i killed this doe with my 54 at 93 long paces, no doubt 100yds. a week before i had a deer come out of the same path she did and i held on the top of the back and missed! so when i got home i shot my gun at 93 paces and it shot dead where i was aiming, no significant drop at all! so when this deer came out i held dead on. the shot was quartering toward me, the ball exited on the 3rd offside rib. my load was 75gr. of 2F goex OE and a patched RB i have not shot it at a longer distance. my gun is zeroed dead on at 50yds,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,
flint doe6.JPG
 
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Adapt and overcome…bugling is over rated, great for finding bulls.

And right there is some excellent advice 👌 I see and hear it every year. Hunters blowing those bugles like it's a marching band. Sometimes actually marching to boot. A bull with a harem isn't spoiling for a fight. The bigger and more aggressive the Hunters bugle sounds, the more certain the bull will push his harem away. That bull isn't going to come to a cow call either. But he'll let a cow calling hunter sneak in on him! And any other bull in the area without a harem is very likely to come to your cow call.

What many Hunters don't realize is the bull bugling is to call the cow to him. When bulls are actively bugling it's a competition for who will call available cows to them. Once a bull has a few cows in his harem he's not going off leaving them to investigate a cow call.

If there are bulls actively bugling around you, it's very likely that one or more of them is a lone bull. If you sit still and cow call a couple times every ten to 15 minutes and stay put you have a pretty good chance of bringing one to you.

The other thing is, a cow in heat has a distinctive call that is not the same as the chirps and other vocalization between elk in a group. The cow in heat makes a short separated series of calls tha sound like a mournful cat meowing. I hear Hunters in the woods and on videos chirping loud. Those loud incessant chirps are approaching warning calls. ⚠️

Anyway, I apologize for the preachiness. This is how I do it and know it works. Not necessarily the best way but my experience has shown that it works. Doesn't mean there aren't better ways.
 

Rock Home Isle

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I’ll use a bugle to locate a bull, there after, I’m cow/calf calling, as I move into position.

I want to work my way in close, and ideally I find myself in a situation where there is open ground between me and the elk. Then start making lots of cow/calf talk, while using my grunt tube to throw my calls in different directions around me. I want it to sound like a herd of cows.

And then add the wimpiest, woosiest, weakest little bull bugles that I can…let every bull out infront of me believe that there is a herd of cows, being covered by the weakest little rag horn bull elk ever.

Has never failed me…
 

Bushfire

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I’ll use a bugle to locate a bull, there after, I’m cow/calf calling, as I move into position.

I want to work my way in close, and ideally I find myself in a situation where there is open ground between me and the elk. Then start making lots of cow/calf talk, while using my grunt tube to throw my calls in different directions around me. I want it to sound like a herd of cows.

And then add the wimpiest, woosiest, weakest little bull bugles that I can…let every bull out infront of me believe that there is a herd of cows, being covered by the weakest little rag horn bull elk ever.

Has never failed me…
Gives me chills Picturing that. It's a dream of mine to chase bugling elk. Roaring reds is a fair alternative for the time being.

tapatalk_1532474332560.jpeg
q
 

Rock Home Isle

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Gives me chills Picturing that. It's a dream of mine to chase bugling elk. Roaring reds is a fair alternative for the time being.

View attachment 155111 q
You are so lucky to have access to Red Deer. That is a Bucket List item…hunting Red Deer with a muzzleloader, and hunting Black Buck with a muzzleloader.

So yeah…there’s that.
 

Rock Home Isle

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And right there is some excellent advice 👌 I see and hear it every year. Hunters blowing those bugles like it's a marching band. Sometimes actually marching to boot. A bull with a harem isn't spoiling for a fight. The bigger and more aggressive the Hunters bugle sounds, the more certain the bull will push his harem away. That bull isn't going to come to a cow call either. But he'll let a cow calling hunter sneak in on him! And any other bull in the area without a harem is very likely to come to your cow call.

What many Hunters don't realize is the bull bugling is to call the cow to him. When bulls are actively bugling it's a competition for who will call available cows to them. Once a bull has a few cows in his harem he's not going off leaving them to investigate a cow call.

If there are bulls actively bugling around you, it's very likely that one or more of them is a lone bull. If you sit still and cow call a couple times every ten to 15 minutes and stay put you have a pretty good chance of bringing one to you.

The other thing is, a cow in heat has a distinctive call that is not the same as the chirps and other vocalization between elk in a group. The cow in heat makes a short separated series of calls tha sound like a mournful cat meowing. I hear Hunters in the woods and on videos chirping loud. Those loud incessant chirps are approaching warning calls. ⚠️

Anyway, I apologize for the preachiness. This is how I do it and know it works. Not necessarily the best way but my experience has shown that it works. Doesn't mean there aren't better ways.
This right here…Elk Hunting at its finest.
 
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