Much has been written about the best gun for elk hunting and there are just about as many opinions as there are writers and shooters and I am not an expert, just a hunter with quite a bit of experience.
First, let me state, “I hate tracking wounded game” and the sick feeling that you get deep down inside when you think you might lose a trophy that you thought enough of to shoot.
Second, no gun or caliber can compensate for a poorly placed shot.
Third, “I do not like shooting a gun with heavy recoil”.
Fourth, “No hunter should like to talk about the one that was hit but not recovered”.
Best Caliber in my Opinion
300 Winchester Magnum, 300 Weatherby Magnum and my favorite the 300 Winchester Short Magnum. I feel that anything smaller is just not quite enough and any thing larger is just too much. I have hunted with a lot of guides, outfitters and ranchers that felt the same way. Many of you will beg to differ with me or just flat out disagree and that is your right. The 300 WSM is my favorite because it is a short action generally in a rifle that is not as heavy and the recoil is manageable even off of a bench. As far as which bolt action gun makes very little difference other than being in a gun that fits the shooter and they are comfortable and have faith.
A dead center shoulder shot is the BEST. Reasoning……..it allows for the greatest margin of error. If your shot is high you have a disabling spine shot, if your shot is to the right, it is a neck shot, a shot to the left is still a lung shot and if your shot is low it disables the front running gear. So worst case senario is you are tracking an animal with half of it’s running gear disabled. Now you might better understand my choice of calibers. Most any center fire rifle with a properly placed heart shot will get the job done but you are going to have that sick feeling for a while during the tracking process.
Practice, Practice, Practice…………
Give me a kid, lady or a man that can consistently find a target in a scope and hit the target with a BB gun, pellet rifle or .22 and I will show you someone who can make a clean drop in their tracks shot on big game. I have hunted with a lot of kids. I have three sons and a grand daughter old enough to hunt and they all honed their shooting skills with one of the guns listed above. You can shoot hundreds of rounds through a BB gun, pellet rifle or .22 for less than 20 rounds through a center fire rifle. Build on small successes with a small gun and gradually increase distance and size of gun till the shooter is confident. I would trust a youngster who could light a match with a pellet rifle to make a better shot on big game than most men that who had only fire a few rounds through a big caliber gun…….. even if the youngster had never fired a center fire rifle before.
You may have noticed that I did not address, “No hunter should like to talk about the one that was hit but not recovered”. Well, if you follow the information offered above, you will not have to worry about that little exercise.
Advice and opinions are free for the taking or leaving. Please do whatever you feel is right………….IT IS YOUR RIGHT.
MY FAVORITE IS A BOLT ACTION 300 WSM WITH GOOD OPTICS