Best gun for elk and mule deer

Discussion in 'Cast & Blast' started by Andrew Shoemaker, Apr 22, 2014.

  1. So I'm thinking ahead towards fall and am wanting to get back into hunting. I havent gone hunting since I was 17 and growing up in TN shooting whitetail with my Ruger M3 .270win...that was 7 years ago. I no longer have that rifle and am looking at buying a new (or used) one before Sept. Ive never hunted elk or mule deer before and I'm wondering what the best/most versatile/popular gun up here in the PNW is for both. I'm thinking another .270 would be just fine for mules and elk but maybe I need to bump up the caliber?
  2. Several of my buddies have taken lots of elk-according to them anyway:D with .270's I suppose it depends on what you put on the business end of the cartridge though. For modern rifle, I pack a .300WSM. I prefer a shot that'll both anchor the elk, and he'll never know what hit him. My elk round is a Hornaday SST in 180gr, but the 700 really doesn't like those 150gr SST's all that well. That being said, i expect one hole in the paper with a 3-shot group from my loads and rifle. it's likely I haven't found the perfect combination with a 150gr bullet yet. I could drop the weight down somewhat, but don't want to burn out this barrel, so I'm looking for around 3,000fps, maybe a little less with the lighter projectile.

    This year however, we're all going with muzzleloaders, so the .50 Hawken is my rifle of choice.
  3. I have my father in laws Model 62 Winchester in 30-30, that rifle has killed moose, elk, deer, bear, cougar, and anything else that he wanted to kill. Proper bullet placement and animals drop. I used a 30-06 for years and he always told me that I was way over gunned.:D Miss the guy he was my best friend.
  4. The .270 is a fine cartridge & has accounted for lots of deer & elk, but I'd suggest a .30 caliber something; there are a bunch of them from which to choose. The venerable .30-06 is a great elk rifle; when I hunted big game back home, I used a .300 Win Mag with 180-grain bullets for elk, but if I resumed hunting big game, I'd probably go with an '06 . . . factory ammo is normally readily available and recoil is manageable.
  5. Agree on all points. The .270 is flatter shooting but the .30-06 is probably the most versatile caliber ever made.

    Sent from my little square phone thingy...
  6. You'll probably shoot more mule deer than elk, so go with the .270. The 160 grain Nosler Partition in a 7mm will shoot thru almost every North American animal so a slight drop down to a 150 grain in a .270 would probably do the same. A blood trail from both sides of an animal makes for easier tracking.
  7. So do you guys find .270 or 30-06 ammo to be consistently cheaper and more available?
  8. Cheap ammo isn't necessarily the best for elk hunting. Doesn't make much difference for the smaller mule deer. Besides you will find ammo to be the cheapest component of your trip once all costs are considered.
  9. I'm not asking which caliber has the cheapest brand of ammo. I'm asking which ammo tends to be at a less inflated cost. For instance, when we had the "ammo crisis" months ago the cost of certain ammo spiked while others stayed relatively base.
  10. I can't answer that, as I haven't priced '06 ammunition. Buying any ammo can be a crap-shoot at present, however it is also one of the more commonly-stocked rounds & "most" stores in "most" locales typically stock it (a consideration if one doesn't handload).
  11. The best gun for elk and deer is the one you shoot the best. Now, which caliber is the best is a discussion that takes place a thousand times in hunting camps and dinner parties around the year. Here's my $1.02 on the issue:

    I've shot big game with .270, 30.06, 300 Win mag, and .375 H&H. My favorite caliber is the .375 and here's why, it will kill everything in North America from Alaskan brown bear to cottontail rabbits and, if you shoot it correctly (accurately), you won't damage much meat, even on the rabbit. African guides have their clients shoot everything from elephants down to duikers with .375's since they never know what is going to pop up out of the bush.

    As for accuracy, there are two parts of the "accuracy" game.

    The first part is how matched your rifle is to the rounds you are shooting through it. Alex probably knows as much or more about this than anyone else on the forum, surely much more than I. As he indicates, producing consistently small groups with your hunting ammunition gives a hunter confidence in the rifle and round.

    The second part is how accurate YOU are with the rifle. Personally, I think bench shooting is useless and has little to do with hunting other than verifying the rifle works the way it should. It is the shooter that typically has issues. GET OFF THE BENCH as soon as you know the rifle/ammo is accurate. Start throwing rounds down range, off hand, at targets out to 300 yards (measured distances) and you'll get an idea on where the work needs to be done. It is vital that the hunter know himself and his limitations if he is ethical.

    I also believe that shooting at photographic targets of the species you plan to hunt is immensely helpful (note: the military changed from 'bullseye" targets after WWII and have evolved their shooting/marksmanship training now to 3D targets of humans for the same reason). Plus, looking through your scope at a photograph of a buck or bull will help build your excitement and anticipation for the upcoming season and your hunts.

    Like I said, this is my $1.02 of opinion, if I overcharged, I'll put balance toward my future comments.

    I wish you great hunting with wonderful scenery, good companions, and maybe, if you're good/lucky, some excellent eating and a trophy on the wall.

    Correction: add .243 to the list, shot a bunch of Georgia whitetails with that one.

  12. Spot on Upton.

    I agree 100% on a rifle you shoot best. Pick a caliber you deside on and go through various bullets to find what it likes. Get behind the trigger and get comfortable shooting it. A well placed shot is what you want no matter the caliber. I'm like Alex, I like my rifles to shoot well below sub moa groups and I work real hard to make them that way. I would look for something that wouldn't beat the piss out of me also! I hear people are doing amazing things with a 7mm.....

  13. I think your going to find that all ammo has gone up in price. It may just stay that way... You can beat that by reloading if your into it.
  14. thanks, Karl! You're dead on target here. Benching should only be done to zero the weapon at your preferred shot range. After that, it's a waste of time! It comes into play again when you're working up the perfect load for your particular barrel, but it's a tedious and involved long process, requiring a lot of record-keeping and some pretty precise measuring tools. And plenty of shooting!
    Bob Rankin likes this.

  15. You got that right!
  16. Lots of good opinions/advice here. I went with a 30.06 due to the variety and availability of ammunition. My rifle is a Savage 116 with a stainless barrel and a 3x9-40 Nikon scope. For mule deer I am shooting the 160 grain Winchester Power Max ammunition.

    I also considered this rifle in a 7mm-08 but decided against it. The ammo costs more and I wanted to be able to buy ammo in pretty any small town hardware store since I am not loading my own.
  17. Sporterized 1903A1....:rolleyes:
    Alex MacDonald likes this.
  18. Thanks everyone for the advice

  19. I've got two of them (03A1) along with an 03A3 and an 03A4. Very accurate rifles.
  20. Tikka T3 Hunter in .300 win mag
    jasonj likes this.

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