When it comes to “Fair Chase Hunting”, you may have heard that there is no audience to applaud our actions. This is most often true, however I believe that if every hunter behaved as if a full jury of not only his peers, but his critics were watching each action the image of the hunter would be a more honored one.
While it might seem like your Montana Elk Hunt is a long way off, don’t slack on your preparations. One of the first steps is sighting in your rifle. When hunting big game in the west, most shots are at extended distances, therefore we suggest sighting in 2 inches high at 100 yards. Once you’re confident where your rifle shoots, then it’s time for some realistic preparation. Remember, just about anyone can hit the bulls-eye on the bench, however there aren’t many comfy seats or rifle rests in Elk Country. As you begin to master your abilities, keep in mind that you’ll be faced with a multitude of situations.
A FEW REALISTIC SHOOTING SITUATIONS
- 235 yards 23 degrees downhill-resting on backpack and overcoat, winds at 25 mph left to right. How will you aim for accuracy? A decision you’ll need to make in 7 seconds or less.
- 125 yards in dark timber-resting on side of tree, bull elk mingling with cows, wind over your shoulder, elk on high alert…did you dial your scope down before heading into the timber?
- 200 yards uphill. You’ve just hiked and your heart feels as if it may burst out of your chest, try as you may you can’t seem to steady your rifle-is this a shot you should force?
- 325 yards level, no wind, ideal light. A bull elk is feeding broadside. Can you make this shot 99% of the time? What if you aren’t confident?
- 150 yards, extreme downhill angle. Do you hold high, low? Do you have the confidence in this shot?
- Distance unknown…where is my range finder?
Without intimate familiarity with your rifle, taking questionable shots are considered unethical and shouldn’t even be a consideration. All hunters should represent the privilege of hunting with the highest standards of integrity. There is nothing worse than wounding an animal. For some, it’s the very reason they’ve laid down their arms and will never hunt again. For anti-hunters, this just creates another (quite valuable) argument against hunting. There are NO EXCUSES. It’s time to throw out the bad apples.
Once your sighted in, it’s time to create some realistic situations, this is only the beginning. For example, your day pack may be your rest in the field, or perhaps you plan to use shooting sticks. No two situations will be alike, so put yourself in as many different ones as you can with hopes that when your opportunity comes, you will be ready.
I suggest researching in great detail the ballistics of your chosen caliber and load. Take this information out in the field to the range with you, test it, compare it. For example, if the statistics say that your 30-06 drops 18 inches at 300 yards, you will need to verify the accuracy of the numbers. In the end, you should have something analougous to a mini-spreadsheet with exact drops and drifts at distances between 50 yards up to 400 yards. You can then print this out and tape it right to the stock of your rifle. You’ll have enough on your mind in the field. This takes the guesswork out of one factor. An important factor. Squeezing the trigger with “hope” isn’t a good feeling!
Once you’ve shot enough to get a good feel then it’s time to add some factors. Do you plan to use a range finder? How will you use this in the field? When you’re out on the range, the distances are often marked, so you probably don’t even pull out your range finder. How will this work in the field? Will you depend on the guide to take this responsibility? It’s a good idea to implement your range finder into every shot you take, get a routine down, make it smooth, comfortable. Believe it or not, some technology can add complications while in the field, don’t let your gear get in the way, make it be an advantage.
Think about follow up shots. Elk are called the “toughest big game animal in North America”…and if you’re hunting anywhere near Dome Mountain Ranch, you’ll find out why these elk have earned the title of not only the toughest, but the wildest! You’ll definitely need to be accurate in your second shot, maybe even your third. Whatever it takes to ethically kill has to be prepared for. Implement this into your routine as well. Master it.
As you gain more comfort and confidence in your shooting, always be thinking about realistic situations. Spend some time reviewing the Montana Elk Hunting Journal. Take stock of the many photos and stories always with a disriminating eye. Give thought to the situations, how things may have played out, the weather, the wind, the terrain, the feelings and emotions any given hunter must go through in a multitude of situations. Remember, your shooting abilities may only be displayed during a few seconds of your hunt, however these few seconds may be the defining moment of your hunt of a lifetime.
If the true judgement of a man’s character is what he does when he thinks no one is watching, then a hunter must constantly look in the mirror and take full responsibility for all his actions. Please plan to attend JB Klyap’s seminars ”Keep it Real-Fair Chase Elk Hunting” in Reno, Nevada with the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. The National Convention for the worlds leading wildlife conservation group begins March 3rd. Hunter or not, you won’t want to miss this!
Please be sure to add your email to the subscription box in order to receive timely information, tips, news and more from the Montana Elk Hunting Journal.
Jim “JB” Klyap, Outfitter #7843
Dome Mountain Ranch
800-313-HUNTTags: ethical elk hunting, ethical hunting, gear lists, how to prepare to hunt, hunting in tough terrain, hunting planning, hunting preparation, preparation for an elk hunt | Categories: fair chase elk hunting, Hunter Ethics, Montana Elk Hunting, montana guided elk hunts, Montana Hunts, Uncategorized | Comments (0) | Permalink