Thursday, July 23, 2009

30-06 Springfield for Elk Hunting

Old Hunters with Old Rifles

For many years one hunter and I hunted extensively. With most hunters I didn’t take a rifle. I always felt it was their chance and packing a smoke pole would lessen their enjoyment. It must be noted that I had no misgivings while guiding grizzly hunters.
But this one hunter expected me to drag a shootin’ iron along. It was less like guiding and more like enjoying fellowship and companionship with a life-long friend. Since quitting guiding, I miss our walks, pontifications of world politics and killing two bulls along side one another.
Either he was good luck for me, I was good luck for him, or our lazy trips through the wilderness caused it, I am not sure, but we seemed to kill a lot of elk when we hunted together. In the edge of a meadow, in thick timber or sitting having lunch, the bulls would appear and we would drop two.
We carried very different weapons. His was a Remington 721 in 300 H & H Magnum with an older Redfield scope. Mine was an M1 Garand in 30-06 with stock sights. (It should be noted that M1 Garands are also chambered for 308.) For whatever reason, we both fired the same number of rounds at each occurrence, usually one, but sometimes two.
The only common traits of the two rifles was that both should have been in a museum, or in his case, at least in a display case, and they both fired old—and competing—cartridges.
Of course, my 30-06 was developed in 1906, but it also dominated 1000-yard competition until 1935. My friend’s 300 H&H was developed in the 1920s and made headlines in 1935 when Ben Comfort won the Wimbledon Cup Match, a 1000-yard any-sight National Match that is still shot at Camp Perry, Ohio.
Those old cartridges were left in the dust as larger magnums garnered 1000-yard honors. During the past decade, the magnums have wallowed in dirt as cartridges like the 6.5-284 win. Better external ballistics and lower recoil have supplanted raw power.
As the evolution of cartridges continues to cut paper at 1000-yards, those two one hundred-year old cartridges—the 30-06 and 300 H&H—continue to drop elk.
For an old outfitter and guide to promote a one hundred-year old cartridge is a useless exercise.
Useless—adj. not expected to achieve the intended purpose or desired outcome.
In my case, the intended purpose is to teach people that a cartridge with a large margin of overkill on elk, such as a 30-06, is superior to the new magnums, because hunters-experienced and novice—will benefit from it being more shooter friendly (read, less recoil). The desired outcome is to have hunters—new and old—to quit searching for the Viagra of shooting magnums and rely on their ability to shoot, shoot, shoot and learn to use the appropriate caliber for the animal being sought.
A 30-06 loaded with a 180-grain spitzer boat tail to 2800 feet per second has the minimum energy to kill an elk out to 750 yards, adequate energy to 300 yards, and preferred to 175 yards. For grins, the 300 Winchester Magnum loaded with the same bullet to 3000 fps has the minimum energy to about 800 yards, adequate to 475, and preferred to 200 yards. Not much difference when a shooter realizes that most elk are taken at less than 200 yards, and most hunters can’t successfully engage an elk—hunting conditions, not a bench—much beyond that range. (For more on energy)
It may be that my hunting friend/client and I were successful hunters because we were confident in using rifles that had killed elk for a century. We didn’t worry about flat-shooting, high velocity, bullet energy, fill the coffers of rifle makers and magazine writers newest, grandest super whazzooo elk blaster. We sat at the base of a tree munching a sandwich discussing the newest president and the latest from the Middle East. When the Director cued the elk, we calmly put our artillery to use, finished the sandwich, shook hands, slapped each other on the back, and caped our elk.
It doesn’t get any better than that.

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