Caliber for elk

I killed a cow elk in New Mexico last year that field dressed over 400 pounds. She was weighed on certified scales at the reservation. I shot her at 614 yards with the guides 6.5 Creedmore. I did have to put a finishing shot in her once we got there. My wife killed hers with a 280 with 165 grain Nosler Partitions. Shoot the gun you are most confident in and at a range in which you are confident.
 
I shot a real nice 6x6 with a Slug and an 870 Pump.
Grouse hunting the High Country..never know what your gonna run into...
 
have friends in Oregon that use .270, 30-06 , .308 and 30-30...Between 4 family members they have killed over 35 Elk.....Grandpa hunted them with a Savage 30-30/12guage over and under because Grouse are legal during Elk season....they hunt heavy timber/mountains along the Columbia River ...I killed a Blacktail deer with a 30-06 one year i went out there and hunted with them...
 
Look up own your own adventures ( hunttalk forums ) tons of the elk hunters on there use 308 and a 7mm-08 is very popular as well. They will get the job done. With any rifle for big game bullet selection is almost as important as the caliber or gun. JMO
 
I just moved back to GA after living in NW Wyoming for 4 years. There is no reason that you can not kill an elk with a 308. We have killed them with 6.5 creedmore, 6.5x284 and 7WSM. All three killed them dead as a door nail. Your effective range will be farther than you can probably shoot unless you are can shoot long range. I would think you could shoot one the 308 out to about 800 yards and possibly a thousand. If you want a larger rifle buy one. I personally ordered a 338 lapua a few months ago.
 
Like others have said. Unless you just want a new rifle the .308 is fine.

Heres another thought. If you don't have a quality scope on that .308. Upgrade it.

A western guide will tell you he would rather you bring a $200 rifle and $600 scope than the other way around.

If you have a quality scope. What about Binos? Quality glass is important on a western hunt.
 

jbogg

Senior Member
I recently sold my Model 70 in 300 Win Mag with 26” barrel. Great shooting gun, but at almost 10lbs with ammo and scope it was a pain to carry for any length of time in the mountains. I replaced it with a Savage Lightweight Hunter in 308, and at just a hair over 6lbs it feels like carrying a pellet gun compared to my 300. Wish I had made the switch sooner.
 

deadend

Senior Member
My thought process is that coming on a hunt from out East I'd rather take something with enough horsepower that I'm not concerned with shot angle. They don't pose on public ground like they do on the television shows. If I only have one shot opportunity I want to make it count. The elk I've shot with a .338win out to 700 yards have been drt. The one elk I shot in the lungs with a .284win made it into the timber and a blowdown and elk track Hades. They have a lot of hair and may not give a great blood trail without an exit. I never found him and most likely walked right by him in the 6 hours I looked for him. All of my buddies that live out west tend to have more shot opportunities due to the amount of days to hunt and knowledge of the country.
 
My thought process is that coming on a hunt from out East I'd rather take something with enough horsepower that I'm not concerned with shot angle. They don't pose on public ground like they do on the television shows. If I only have one shot opportunity I want to make it count.... All of my buddies that live out west tend to have more shot opportunities due to the amount of days to hunt and knowledge of the country.
Well put. Also, elk and moose, and other animals where these caliber conversations typically come up, often live in areas where there are grizzly bears. When you are in grizz territory and go after stuff that the bear eats, you take bullets for the bear. I have come face to face with grizzlies with a pack full of fresh bloody meat on my back, and I can promise you there is no such thing as too much gun when that happens.
 

175rltw

Senior Member
Sounds like a bad shot.I always use my 7mm08 on elk. The last few anyway but I’ve used a 308 in the past and once a 300 wsm. Never lost an elk with the 7mm08 . Have lost a whitetail doe with it though. Made a bad shot. Still wish there was another reason. Take whatever rifle you want to out there but don’t fall into the trap of justifying marginal shots because just because it’s an away game. I’m doing ID and MT this year with antelope on the front end in on the way out. Do yourself a favor and forget about points and just go hunt. Leftovers and OTC will make for more hunting in a year than most can afford or have time for. Obviously the guys who hunt landowner tags in NM every year are the exception- they can afford to do whatever they like.
 
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godogs57

Senior Member
My thought process is that coming on a hunt from out East I'd rather take something with enough horsepower that I'm not concerned with shot angle. They don't pose on public ground like they do on the television shows. If I only have one shot opportunity I want to make it count. The elk I've shot with a .338win out to 700 yards have been drt. The one elk I shot in the lungs with a .284win made it into the timber and a blowdown and elk track Hades. They have a lot of hair and may not give a great blood trail without an exit. I never found him and most likely walked right by him in the 6 hours I looked for him. All of my buddies that live out west tend to have more shot opportunities due to the amount of days to hunt and knowledge of the country.
Lots of great info on this thread. This post was probably the best and most sensible. I've shot elk with a 270, 300 Win, 300 RUM and a 338 Win Mag. My 338, a 1968 Sako, Mcmillian stock, is my default go-to rifle now.

I am very risk averse when it comes to a five day elk hunt. I dont have the convenience of hunting "all season" like the locals. I have to make the best use of my time, and be absolutely prepared for the worst in terms of weather, shots, etc. Like others have said, many elk will not stand there broadside, posing for you, like they do in TV Land. I dont take risky shots, but need to know my rifle will get the job done if the shot angle is not perfect. The 338 will get the job done, without fail, if I do my job. It packs a whollop and puts a big bull down with authority.

The 308 will certainly kill elk. Pick your shots carefully (as anybody should!) and make sure you have a good cooler to take home the best meat on four hooves.

Make sure you use a well constructed bullet as well. Nosler Partitions, Swift A Frames, etc work great. I hand load North Fork 225 grain bullets for elk and never look back.

Best of luck on your hunt.
 
Funny, no one offers up the 30.06, which has probably killed more elk in the past 75 years than any other caliber.

If you were hunting in grizzly bear country, I’d say .338. Not sure about grizzly populations in Utah, probably not an issue.

As stated several times, your ability to hit a 18” circle at 300 yards consistently without a bench rest is probably the most important thing. I personally don’t like shooting any further than that, it is shooting and not hunting then.

Elk hunting is tough and you’ll have acclimate to the altitude, too. Start walking now and carry a pack and ten pond weight. You’ll hunt like you practice.

Looking forward to the hunting story!
 
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