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

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At the ranges i hunt, .50 and .54 conventional muzzleloaders firing patched round balls perform as well on hogs and deer as 180 grain bullets fired from a .30-06 rifle.

Several years ago i sniped a small doe at a lasered 418 yards using my .30-06. Got little satisfaction from that.

Sniping animals at long range is not the mark of a good hunter: The mark of a good hunter is crawling/sneaking up and putting a round ball in the animals ear. 😁
 

hanshi

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With iron sighted muzzleloaders the average, I guess, is likely 30 to 35yards for whitetail. The longest shots were a few from 75 yds to a bit over100 yds. Coyote/bobcat average 30 yds.

With modern scoped thingies about 50 yds is average with the longest well over 100 yds. Handguns (modern) 7 feet to 90 yards with an average about the same a with muzzleloaders.
 

Robby

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All the deer I have killed were in the woods and the edges of fields. I shoot paper ar the range.
robby
 
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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.
The goal for every hunter should be to kill your meat at the shortest range possible. Any fool can get 200 yds from a game animal but there are very few who can get 10 yds from them, consistently. The sport after all, is hunting, not shooting.
 

beardedhorse

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I am seeing claims of harvests at 550 meters, 400 and 300 yards. Are the respondents sure they are being asked about their harvests with a muzzle loading rifle and not modern center fire and bow and arrow? I would like to know the particular rifles, calibers, loads and situations that these out of the extra ordinary long range shots were attempted and made. Also if they had to take multiple shots and where the animal was hit and how long before it expired.

The majority of my big game harvests in Colorado on deer and elk are under 100 yards using a flintlock .54 fullstock Hawken. Patched .530 round ball on top of 70 grains of FFFg black powder and sometimes .54 percussion rifles. All but l cow elk and one 7 x 8 mulie buck required only one shot. My .73 caliber or 12 gauge smoothbore with a Curly Gustomoski barreled shotgun/trade gun used a .715 patched round ball on top of 120 grains of FFg black powder accounted for four whitetail bucks at 30 yards and under. All one shot kills with no travel after the hit.

A pronghorn doe at 200 yards was a one shot kill through the heart. It was an uphill shot with the .54 flinter and only attempted because of confidence in the rifle and shot from practicing long hours on steel gongs offhand at a similar angle of inclination. The shot was doubly verified by pacing and using a laser range finder against a reflective CD at one end of the shot. I would not attempt this same shot today though our range has an up hill gong at 184 yards and 3 of my 1st 5 shots will hit the gong. I am reluctant to talk about it as I don't want others to try harvesting at this distance unless they have a lot of practice. A lot can happen between the muzzle and animal - wind, movement of the animal, unseen branches or twigs. The closer the better. That is the main challenge in primitive season hunting, whether with primitive wood or sinew backed bows or muzzle loaders. The primary goal is a safe, humane shot that results in quick kill without lengthy tracking or loss of animal and minimal suffering. I have to question my own hunting ethics of taking long shots. Close range shots on pronghorn don't usually require but one shot.

Am finishing up a .62 caliber "super" flint Hawken with 42 inch barrel and very heavy. More likely a chunk or bench rifle. It was inspired by William Ashley's rifle built by Sam Hawken for firing at Arikaras on the banks above their keel boats at long distance. Will be too heavy to carry in the woods for elk, bear or deer. A .60 caliber Getz swamped barrel eft hand flinter may be my next go to hunting rifle. 48 inch long barrel with increased sighting radius and nice balance in the hand.

Always wanted to try hunting with a .451 caliber Whitworth civil war era repro rifle but local state game laws may invalidate it during muzzle loading seasons. Length of conical bullet can not be twice the diameter. Round ball weights have minimal mass restrictions. There is evidence of an original officer's Whitworth rifle made in .52 caliber. They are more efficient with the hexagonal bullets than round ball and with the addition of a scope might be legal to use in high power season.
 
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With any iron sighted gun (including non muzzle loaders as well). I try to keep my shots under 100 yards. Out west where I live, 3 to 400 yard shots are there, but I pass on those. Stalking game in the thicker trees and brush with a short range muzzleloader etc. is where the fun is for me.
 
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I am seeing claims of harvests at 550 meters, 400 and 300 yards. Are the respondents sure they are being asked about their harvests with a muzzle loading rifle and not modern center fire and bow and arrow? I would like to know the particular rifles, calibers, loads and situations that these out of the extra ordinary long range shots were attempted and made. Also if they had to take multiple shots and where the animal was hit and how long before it expired.

The majority of my big game harvests in Colorado on deer and elk are under 100 yards using a flintlock .54 fullstock Hawken. Patched .530 round ball on top of 70 grains of FFFg black powder and sometimes .54 percussion rifles. All but l cow elk and one 7 x 8 mulie buck required only one shot. My .73 caliber or 12 gauge smoothbore with a Curly Gustomoski barreled shotgun/trade gun used a .715 patched round ball on top of 120 grains of FFg black powder accounted for four whitetail bucks at 30 yards and under. All one shot kills with no travel after the hit.

A pronghorn doe at 200 yards was a one shot kill through the heart. It was an uphill shot with the .54 flinter and only attempted because of confidence in the rifle and shot from practicing long hours on steel gongs offhand at a similar angle of inclination. The shot was doubly verified by pacing and using a laser range finder against a reflective CD at one end of the shot. I would not attempt this same shot today though our range has an up hill gong at 184 yards and 3 of my 1st 5 shots will hit the gong. I am reluctant to talk about it as I don't want others to try harvesting at this distance unless they have a lot of practice. A lot can happen between the muzzle and animal - wind, movement of the animal, unseen branches or twigs. The closer the better. That is the main challenge in primitive season hunting, whether with primitive wood or sinew backed bows or muzzle loaders. The primary goal is a safe, humane shot that results in quick kill without lengthy tracking or loss of animal and minimal suffering. I have to question my own hunting ethics of taking long shots. Close range shots on pronghorn don't usually require but one shot.

Am finishing up a .62 caliber "super" flint Hawken with 42 inch barrel and very heavy. More likely a chunk or bench rifle. It was inspired by William Ashley's rifle built by Sam Hawken for firing at Arikaras on the banks above their keel boats at long distance. Will be too heavy to carry in the woods for elk, bear or deer. A .60 caliber Getz swamped barrel eft hand flinter may be my next go to hunting rifle. 48 inch long barrel with increased sighting radius and nice balance in the hand.

Always wanted to try hunting with a .451 caliber Whitworth civil war era repro rifle but local state game laws may invalidate it during muzzle loading seasons. Length of conical bullet can not be twice the diameter. Round ball weights have minimal mass restrictions. There is evidence of an original officer's Whitworth rifle made in .52 caliber. They are more efficient with the hexagonal bullets than round ball and with the addition of a scope might be legal to use in high power season.
the op was NOT asking for muzzleloading takes alone. the point of the thread was to show that most game taken with any means is taken well within the useful range of a muzzlestuffer. or I could be wrong. I have been before. :dunno:
 

Zonie

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This is a muzzleloading forum and the rules say we don't talk about self contained cartridge guns.

Based on this, it would be best if we kept the discussions directed towards muzzleloading guns.

There are some muzzleoading guns that shoot elongated bullets very accuretly and I'm sure some of these can be used at great distances. Idaho Ron's hunting has proven this is possible.
 

gustrolland

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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.
The longest shot that I've ever had to take with a front stuffer was a just a tad over 70 yards, and that with a .45 caliber flintlock and 80 grains.It did the job, but I prefer at least .50 caliber and up when using a round ball. Really like my .58 using 100 grains. I didn't do this, but I watched and old friend (now passed) that had this .58 of mine take a nice bench leg at 200 yards up in the Bohemian range of the Cascades.
 
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Eyes being what they are at any kind of "long range" I'd need this rig.
And I might, except our yard just ain't that far.
.52 work up.jpg
 
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Most whitetail Cervids , perhaps 50 ish or so , have been killed between 10 and 100 yards. Longest shot on deer I ever made was a Hale Mary in an open field with a .62 long rifle @ 200 yds. Had witness's,and to make the story more doubtful , the cervid was trotting, held the front sight on her nose and swung with her. Heard the ball hit her in the neck and she disappeared. We went to where we had last seen her ,she was laying in a hole very dead. Looked at my rifle ,and said , now ,just look at what you've gone and done...........( I always blame the rifle, 'cause every one knows , I couldn't have done that.) ...........oldwood
 

Eterry

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My very first deer was my longest shot, she was walking away and got to the fence line, stopped and looked back. I didn't know I could miss, so I held between her eyes and touched the trigger. Later measured at 340 yards, with a bolt action unmentionable.

Closest was at 12 steps with my bow. Average under 50 yards.
 

Loyalist Dave

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I want to know how the other posters know the shot distance to everything they've killed without that technology.

The area where I hunt is on a farm, and is an few acres of land that was going to be grape vines, but they all died off. It's relatively clear, and surrounded by hedges, and I used a tape and measured, from the place where I planned to conceal myself to the edges of the hedges. Then during hunting season, it was a pretty simple thing to determine where the deer was standing when it was shot, and then figuring out the distance from where I was located.

Prior to laser range finders I had a device that gave a double image of what a person looked at, and if you knew the height of that object, and adjusted the dial so that the double images of the object touched, you could then use the gauge on the side to determine the range within a few yards. I used it in the military to get accurate distances for the my Marines who were manning anti-tank missile systems, so that's a story for another forum, but one doesn't need a lazer range finder to get pretty close to the correct distance. ;)

LD
 
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Fly103

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Loyalist Dave,
Coincidence rangefinders give me a migraine, but they do work!

Ive never measured the distance on any shot but I can say with some certainty that i've never taken a whitetail beyond 30yds with anything. My longest shot with a muzzleloader was with my traditions hawken at a coyote a far piece off. I was holding about 4ft over him and the ball struck just behind and below his left shoulder. Someone who knows how can maybe backwards figure the range, gun was zeroed for 30yds.

Chris
 

Zutt-man

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I have no discrepancy with weapon use on game. I generally hunt most available open seasons. Most of my archery shots on turkey and deer are within 40 yds, however I have had a couple at 50. 4 deer with my .40 PRB percussion have been taken at 40 yds or less, 1 at 60. 1 elk with a .270 at 350 yds, 1 elk at 80-90 yds with a .54 percussion PRB, and dozens deer from 50-400 yds with a center fire rifle. Countless turkeys with a shotgun from 2-70 yds. Hogs are in the dozens from knife to center fire, most under 100 yds
 

Stony Broke

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Hunting in the area of Texas like I do, there are very dense woods with clearings here and there. I hunt hogs on a regular basis, and deer during the season. I have killed 797 hogs on one piece of property and I doubt any of the shots were over 50 yards. Whitetail deer about the same distances as a rule with maybe a few out to 100 yards over the years.
 
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