4 Ways to Choose the Best Elk Hunting Caliber
Among the world’s elk hunters, we’d bet more than three quarters are proponents of shooting big, magnum calibers – rifles that rattle your teeth, and for days after the shot cause your ears to continue to ring. Some of us have been in camp with guys shooting shiny .338s or .300 Remington Ultra Mags that have wounded elk never to be recovered. Among those hunters there is one commonality: they made bad shots.
This doesn’t mean if you hunt with one of the aforementioned calibers that you are a bad shot. We don’t mean that at all. Those are great, flat-shooting, hard-hitting rounds. However, some of us aren’t built to handle a rifle of that magnitude, and knowing so, it creates a mental deficiency that could be avoided by shooting a small, more sustainable caliber.
Consider this. What would you rather spend a day shooting – a .22 LR or a .375 H&H? Exactly. And because you’ll be more comfortable shooting a .22, you’re going to get better throughout the day assuming your scope is sighted, you’re using proper technique, etc. The same principle applies to shooting an elk.
As we discussed in a recent blog, one of the most important factors to successfully kill an elk requires you to get great with your gun. If you make a poor shot, it doesn’t matter what caliber you’re using. In order to become confident, you must be comfortable. This, too, will tie into your personal preference and your ability to remain diligent in a practice regimen, which will also help you figure out the range in which you’re most comfortable shooting.
What rifle caliber do you use to hunt whitetail deer? A .30-06? .308? .270? .300 Win.? Even a .243 will kill an elk as long as you can make a great shot. Again, personal experience has taught us that bigger is not better. A big caliber hunting rifle is capable of burning bullets through an elk’s body without slowing him down until he’s long gone and the chances of recovery are slim.
Get Good Ammo
You get what you pay for. Just the other day someone stumbled across an old box of .270 shells. They fired just fine and proved accurate, but at $11 a box, they couldn’t be of the 21st century. Be prepared to spend a little money to get the best ammunition for your rifle. Do some research or reach out to one of our customer service reps to find out the bullet and cartridge that flies best out of the rifle you’re shooting.
You know what that means. And it really ties into the points above. If you don’t feel like shooting your elk hunting rifle because it beats the tar out of you, sell it and get something else. Simple as that. Shoot from every possible scenario you’re likely to face on an elk hunt. And yes, this might include sprinting for 50 or so yards and then making a freehand shot. It will definitely include shooting with every type of wind and weather condition. Remember, hunting typically doesn’t take place in a controlled environment, so understand what your bullet does at certain distances in every climate. Exude safety no matter where, how or when you’re practicing or hunting.
As long as you’re capable of making a great shot every time despite the caliber you’ve chosen to use on an elk hunt or the weather condition, then there’s nothing more to worry about. Pay the extra money for good ammunition and optics to remain confident in your skills and equipment.