At What Range Have Most of Your Big Game Animals Been Shot At?

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R.J.Bruce

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Since the advent of, and rise in popularity of, the inline muzzleloading rifle, if one listened to the gun writers, and their constant drivel; you would be hard-pressed to believe that anything but a modern inline m-l rifle shooting a light-for-caliber bullet out of a plastic sabot was capable of humanely harvesting North American big game animals.

It is my contention, as it was Jack O'Connor's, that the vast majority of all species of North American big game animals are killed within 150 yards. If you want to use the metric system, then 150 meters (165 yards).

If I had to make an educated guess, I would say that at least half of those 150 yard shots are under 100 yards.

This means that there is no reason that a muzzleloading firearm cannot be used to humanely kill any big game species in North America. And, as far as I am concerned, with a patched ball of at least .45 caliber. If you can own two rifles, then a .45 caliber, and a .58 caliber will humanely kill everything but the big bears.

Feral hogs
Javelina
Brocket deer
Whitetail deer
Mule deer
Coues deer
Blacktail deer
Sitka deer
Keys deer
Caribou
Moose
Sika deer
Elk
Bison
Musk ox
Coyote
Wolf
Black bear
Bobcat
Canadian lynx
Oceolot
Mountain lion
Dall sheep
Desert Bighorn sheep
Rocky Mountain Bighorn sheep
Stone sheep
Mountain goat
Pronghorn antelope

The three exceptions that I might posit are the polar bear, the coastal grizzly bear (brown bear), and the inland grizzly bear. Not because a muzzleloading rifle is incapable of killing them in the hands of a very competent, fit, calm-minded hunter; but because there are better weapons choices to make for hunting animals that are apex predators with little fear of man. That will WILLINGLY, and EASILY kill you.

And, because most states won't allow a hunter to take a double-barrelled, muzzleloading rifle into the field during hunting season. And, if I was going to hunt a grizzly bear, then I would want the muzzleloading equivalent of an African, double-barrelled, big bore, cartridge rifle in my hands to do so.

So, in YOUR hunting lifetime, at what ranges have you generally shot your big game animals?

Thanks for your replies.
 
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Let's see. I've killed a mountain of turkey which my state categorizes as big game, but I don't see them on your list. I've killed one feral hog, which was taken at a distance of maybe 40-50 yards. Otherwise, the only game on the list which I've taken are whitetail deer. I THINK that I've taken around 60 deer in my life, maybe a few more (actually probably a few dozen more as I think of it). Of those, one was probably taken at close to 300 yards with a centerfire rifle, 2 or 3 others were probably taken at 100-150 yards with a centerfire and one was taken at 125 with a flintlock. Aside from those 4 or 5 animals, probably close to a dozen were taken at 50-100 yards, mostly with flintlock rifles (of all of the deer that I've killed, I'd guess 10 were taken with rifles/shotguns, 30 or so with a bow and 30 or so with a flintlock). A handful were taken under 50 yards with centerfire and a pile were taken at under 30 yards (most under 20) with a bow. Also a pile taken under 50 yards with a flintlock. So, the average range for those deer kills was probably around 30-40 yards, although admittedly the archery kills would have lowered the average. If you remove all of the archery kills, the average would likely be closer to 50-70 yards I suppose. Keep in mind that I hunt primarily in a heavily wooded area of Pennsylvania.
 

R.J.Bruce

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GANGGREEN
Thanks for your answers. It confirms my suspicions. Most shots east of the Mississippi River are going to be under 75 yards, on average.

I forgot the five species of turkey native to North America.

The Merriam
The Rio Grande
The Gould's
The Osceola
The Eastern

Thanks for reminding me.
 
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Well, I've also killed a veritable mountain of wild turkeys (almost all easterns other than 4 Rios that I killed in Texas over a two-day period once) and all of them were taken at ranges under 50 yards, even the couple that were taken with rifles and/or flintlocks.
 

deermanok

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For most of my life, I hunted the woods in New England. The farthest shot I ever made on a deer was about 90 yards.
A few at about 50 yards but most have been taken at under 40 yards. Bow and muzzleloader are my favorite hunting tools.
 
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I too hunt mostly in New England, in particular in CT. My hunting areas are densely covered with mountain laurel and seeing a deer much beyond 50 yards is a rarity. I would say that 95% of the deer I have shot, with muzzle loaders, handguns & modern rifles, have been under 40 yards, with only a few beyond that. The farthest was 83 yards, checked with a range finder, with my .54 flint lock Jaeger.
 

Loyalist Dave

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I'm in Maryland, and woodland hunting,

So ONE TIME I shot at a deer, and Luckily I was successful, at 110 yards. Bang-flop. She was a very big doe for my area and I under estimated the range at 80 yards. 😶

Twice, I've harvested at under 10 yards.

The rest have been from 40-60 yards.

Here's something that you might like to know...,

" …, 200 yards may be taken as the very outside limit at which it is ever advisable to fire at ordinary [large] game ; not because the rifle may not be accurate enough to ensure frequent hitting at much greater distances, but because the probability of killing at such ranges is very small indeed, …, In the jungle, at least one-half [of the large game shot] are under 50 yards, three fourths under 75, and all, with scarcely an exception, under 100 ; that is to say these are the distances at which animals are usually killed in jungle shooting, and I imagine that the case is very much the same in other forest countries. If any one thinks that the general run of his successful shots are at longer distances than these [in a forest setting], let him put them to the crucial test of measuring ; and, if still unconvinced, all I can say is that his experience differs from my own and that of most shots of my acquaintance. " James Forsyth The Sporting Rifle and Its Projectiles 1867

So the above is from the book written by one of the foremost large game hunters of India, and more than 150 years ago. I see how he supposes his results apply to any forest area of the world. He was also the man who came up with "Forsyth rifling", and he himself wanted large bore rifles that would shoot extremely flat out to 200 yards, BUT curiously, he notes that his shots, as the OP and myself have also found, are under 100 yards and mostly around 50 yards , when in the woods. He also hunted dangerous game in India with the same results, and although other bullets were available, HE preferred as did his peers, the patched, round ball.

It was true then and it's true now. 😉

LD
 

Patocazador

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Hogs and whitetails are the only ones on your list that I've killed with MZ.

The longest shot on a hog was 90 yds. and the shortest about 3 yds. .....Avg. =~ 40 yds.
The longest shot on a deer was 112 yds. and the shortest about 15yds. .....Avg. =~ 35 yds.

It's not on your list but I shot a coyote at 75 yds.
 
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I took a mile deer at fifty five paces, counting only my left foot coming down, about a hundred yards. Took a whitetail at four paces
Most have been 15-25 about thirty thirty five yards
 
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A bunch of deer with both un-mentionable weapons, and Black Powder, never kept count, either of which were in the 10ft to 90 yard range, Antelope with un-mentionable around 250 yards. Black bear was exactly 10 steps from where I was standing. I am comfortable with the traditional rifles out to 100 yards and do O.K. The secret for me is never take a shot that you are not sure of, with the un-mentionable some are very accurate up to 600 yards. Modern hand gun suitable for hunting deer I stay under 50 yards. I shoot traditional hand guns but have never hunted with them I also carry one when hunting , mainly because I feel naked without a handgun on my person. I am a sitter when it comes to hunting especially deer, part of the challenge for me is too test my woods skills and see how close I can get the animal to me. A few turkeys most in the 25 yard range.
 

HughMan

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The farthest shot with a traditional muzzleloader with open sights was 80 yards. A .62cal roundball from my underhammer through the front of the neck dropped the big nyala in its tracks. I took a large waterbuck a few days later at less than 15 yards; it ran about 30 yards before expiring. The farthest shot with my inline was less than 150 yards only because I couldn't get closer with the sun quickly setting. The closest was an impala less than 6 feet away. My bears were about 10 and 50-ish yards.
As a frustrated bowhunter, my goal is to take game with my MZ within bow range as much as possible.
EDIT: I just remembered I shot a warthog at close to 200 yards with a .50cal inline. It was a decent shot but I don't like that it was so far. Years ago, I was at an SCI convention and I walked up on some guys talking about shooting Coues deer at 600-800 yards. After I said that it was too bad they couldn't get any closer, I realized I was not winning any popularity contests that night.
 
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550 meters down to 3 paces. That is the range from furthest to closest. Whitetail at 550 meters on a called neck shot, 5x5 bull elk at 3 paces (ground level) with a bow. I’m in the West and have hunted fields that were a mile wide by a mile and half long. That is one uninterrupted field! So it all depends on the terrain being hunted and the firearm of choice. I have taken elk, moose, black bear, mule and whitetail deer. Furthest muzzleloader shot was a mullie at 100 yards with a .488” patched hard ball (wheel weight cast).
Walk
 

R.J.Bruce

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Looks like we have some pretty good riflemen here with above average shooting skills. Men that know their equipment, and their abilities, to be able to occasionally take a long shot on big game. If I lived out west, I might consider building an English Sporting Rifle in .62 caliber, with Forsyth-style rifling for the occasional long distance shot over 100 yards. With my bad osteoarthritis, it would have to have a Kick-eez Magnum recoil pad installed on the buttstock.
 

fire bear

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I took a mile deer at fifty five paces, counting only my left foot coming down, about a hundred yards. Took a whitetail at four paces
Most have been 15-25 about thirty thirty five yards
Yep, that is how I count a pace; I used to have 12 to the chain.
 
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