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#6257849 - 03/06/12 Handgunning for Elk
Robster Online   content
Campfire Regular

Registered: 01/02/09
Posts: 758
Loc: Central NY
I am not from the west so cannot realize what elk hunting is actually like. I hunt Whitetail in the Northeast and do so with a revolver.

Is it realistic to hunt Elk with a revolver? I am not talking about Encore's or Strykers, I am interested in revolver hunting. If so would you need some huge hand numbing .454 full house loads or would a .44 mag work just fine? I know a lot of guys bow hunt, and I assume it is like hunting where I do. Elk are not spooked yet from all the gunshots and guys tromping through the woods. But once gun season opens.....

Just wondering if hunting Elk with a revolver what sort of expectation you have with actually getting close enough.

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#6258098 - 03/06/12 Re: Handgunning for Elk [Re: Robster]
340mag Offline
Campfire Ranger

Registered: 11/12/03
Posts: 2340
just because you may not have killed an elk or know someone who has killed an elk with a handgun doesn,t indicate its not an effective choice in experienced hands
now theres some obvious differences required between use of a hand gun and a rifle, less range and proper bullet selection for a hand gun are mandatory
first Ive used a 445 dan wesson super mag that throws a 300 grain hard cast bullet at 1500 PLUS fps from a 10" barrel
the bullets don,t seem to expand a great deal but they do penetrate deeply.
Ive had freinds use a 260 grain hard cast bullet from a 8.3/8" 44 mag revolver.
both handguns and loads can shoot clear thru an elks chest from under 75-100 yards, sometimes the bullets exit sometimes they are located under the far side skin.
your definitely at a range disadvantage compared to using a 30/06 rifle with a scope, but a skilled handgun hunter can certainly kill elk within reasonable ranges with a 44 mag revolver with proper loads. concentrate on finding an accurate load and getting in the required FIELD practice not just shooting off a bench.

the Colorado hunting regulations, under legal hunting methods it states that a handgun load must produce a minimum energy of 550 ft-lbs at 50 yards to be legal for hunting.
think about this the archery guys would have a difficult time hitting an elk with a 100 ft lbs of energy an arrow kills by blood loss, a good revolver load can easily deliver 700-1200 ft lbs of energy and drive a bullet thru the vitals and in many cases exit even an elk.
you will need to practice until hitting a 4" target at 100 yards is reasonably easy and limit shots to about the range you can consistently do that, but a 44 caliber or larger caliber hand gun can be deadly in experienced hands, bullet placement and penetration has more to do with lethality than energy alone



http://forum.grumpysperformance.com/viewtopic.php?f=91&t=1864

http://www.handloads.com/loaddata/defaul...der&Source=

http://www.handgunsmag.com/2010/09/24/ammunition_44mag_081005/

http://www.midwayusa.com/product/506726/...utter-gas-check


Edited by 340mag (03/06/12)

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#6258930 - 03/06/12 Re: Handgunning for Elk [Re: Robster]
logcutter Offline
Campfire Tracker

Registered: 02/06/04
Posts: 5765
Loc: Central Idaho
I hand gun hunt almost every year in some form.Usually bow hunting in one unit and running over the divide to another for back country Elk/Deer/any weapon the 15th of September.

I chose to use the 454 Casull and BFR in 45-70...I have taken Deer with the Casull but no Elk.I only carry the BFR in 45-70 these days but I haven't ran into an Elk carrying it yet.



Jayco

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#6258953 - 03/06/12 Re: Handgunning for Elk [Re: logcutter]
bea175 Online   content
Campfire Oracle

Registered: 02/15/02
Posts: 28132
Loc: Kpt.,TN , Montgomery, Co, VA
I wouldn't hesitate on using the 44 mag with a good cast bullet and 2400 on Elk if it was the only Handgun i had, but since i have the Freedom Arms 454 it would be the Handgun i would take if going after Elk today. Like Elmer Keith always said , use enough gun.
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#6259289 - 03/06/12 Re: Handgunning for Elk [Re: bea175]
mudhen Offline
Campfire Outfitter

Registered: 05/30/05
Posts: 9985
Loc: Boot Heel of New Mexico
I have to confess that I did it one year (1988) just to see if I could. I used a Ruger Super Blackhawk with a 7-1/2 inch barrel and factory sights. I was shooting a semi-custom load with 300 grain JHPs manufactured by a now-defunct outfit in South Dakota (I think). I shot my elk, a 4x5 bull, at an estimated 75 yds (no range finder in those days, and it was downhill through some rocks). One shot into the near shoulder broke the front end down and he pushed another 25-30 yds downhill with his hind legs before somersaulting and expiring.

Never shot another critter with that gun. I did take several whitetails in Texas and Nebraska with a .357 and 180 grain handloads when I was much younger.

Edited to add: the more I think about it, he was probably more like 45-50 yds away...


Edited by mudhen (03/06/12)
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#6261301 - 03/07/12 Re: Handgunning for Elk [Re: Robster]
Ranch13 Offline
Campfire Guide

Registered: 11/12/03
Posts: 3933
Loc: wyoming
It can be done. I've shot enough muledeer with a 44 to decide that 50 yds is about as far as I'ld care to whack an elk with a 250 gr keith cast bullet from a 44 magnum.
Still hunt the timber in an area with limited tags and you won't be at much of a disadvantage. But to go into a general license area with a handgun as your only option is probably going to about triple the chance you will be in the 60% unsuccessfulhunters group.
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#6261313 - 03/07/12 Re: Handgunning for Elk [Re: mudhen]
Talus_in_Arizona Offline
Campfire Regular

Registered: 10/28/06
Posts: 1051
Loc: AZ
Keep thinking MH, and you'll arrive at the real distance:)

Rob, if you want to hunt elk with a 44 you can sure do it. Like everything else, there are limitations. But like whitetails, the big boys like thick places late in the year, and if you can find them or stalk them the 44 will kill them. Or you can sit water with the same result.

If you hit them ...

I have not doubt but that a 22 LR would have sufficed for my last elk, a cow at 20 yards who was staring at me in wonder.

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#6261349 - 03/07/12 Re: Handgunning for Elk [Re: Talus_in_Arizona]
mudhen Offline
Campfire Outfitter

Registered: 05/30/05
Posts: 9985
Loc: Boot Heel of New Mexico
[quote=Talus_in_Arizona]Keep thinking MH, and you'll arrive at the real distance:)
/quote] Actually, I have shot several at ranges from 25-40 yds (with rifles) and that one was definitely more than 45. :>)
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#6262494 - 03/07/12 Re: Handgunning for Elk [Re: Robster]
Mauser_Hunter Offline
Campfire Guide

Registered: 09/28/11
Posts: 4195
Loc: Colorado
Originally Posted By: Robster
I am not from the west so cannot realize what elk hunting is actually like. I hunt Whitetail in the Northeast and do so with a revolver.

Is it realistic to hunt Elk with a revolver? I am not talking about Encore's or Strykers, I am interested in revolver hunting. If so would you need some huge hand numbing .454 full house loads or would a .44 mag work just fine? I know a lot of guys bow hunt, and I assume it is like hunting where I do. Elk are not spooked yet from all the gunshots and guys tromping through the woods. But once gun season opens.....

Just wondering if hunting Elk with a revolver what sort of expectation you have with actually getting close enough.


I'm trying to figure out exactly what you mean about guns going off and hunters stomping through the woods?

That's what you'll be experiencing here in Colorado. You can's use your handgun until the rifle seasons start. By then the bow hunters, muzzleloader hunters, bear hunters, and some deer hunters would be done hunting, and have alerted all game that it's hunting season, and you will be out during the most crowded season.
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#6262624 - 03/07/12 Re: Handgunning for Elk [Re: Mauser_Hunter]
340mag Offline
Campfire Ranger

Registered: 11/12/03
Posts: 2340
Id point out that the main potential advantage to use of a hunting revolver is a slight increase in hunter mobility, allowing you to get into places that might be a bit harder carrying a rifle and the ability to more easily pack out game once your successful but you tend to pay a price in that you really DON,T want to shoot an elk 5 miles down into some deep canyon that requires you to use both hands free to climb out of (ASK ME I KNOW ONLY TOO WELL FROM EXPERIENCE)yes hunting elk with a handgun can be done, and if you carefully pick the area "its a real HOOT!" but you also feel like a darn fool when your only firearm is a revolver and you see the first 6x7 elk ever on public land walk by at 300 yards and you know if you had carried a light rifle he would be yours.
IVE carried and used a handgun on dozens of hunts but its a secondary to a decent rifle, the handgun gets used in the thick stuff or when packing out game but I drive 2300 miles one way to hunt elk and generally have only 7-9 days a year to actually be in the field,I back pack into areas and camp cold in remote areas, Im successful frequently and costs average easily $2000 plus on a hunt, so Im not going to be watching the trophy walk by if I can avoid it



THIS IS A PICTURE OF THE AREA I HUNT FREQUENTLY FOR ELK, its easily a 3 hour walk out on each trip once you shoot an elk

LOWER CANYON

upper canyon


Edited by 340mag (03/07/12)

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#6262646 - 03/07/12 Re: Handgunning for Elk [Re: Mauser_Hunter]
mudhen Offline
Campfire Outfitter

Registered: 05/30/05
Posts: 9985
Loc: Boot Heel of New Mexico
Originally Posted By: Mauser_Hunter


I'm trying to figure out exactly what you mean about guns going off and hunters stomping through the woods?

That's what you'll be experiencing here in Colorado. You can's use your handgun until the rifle seasons start. By then the bow hunters, muzzleloader hunters, bear hunters, and some deer hunters would be done hunting, and have alerted all game that it's hunting season, and you will be out during the most crowded season.

I killed mine by hiking a half day into a wilderness area but not so far that I was in with the horse camps. I hiked in the first day and hunted that evening. I siwashed in a bivy bag overnight and hunted the next morning, then hiked out to the truck to spend the night and refuel the body. I repeated this routine for the next four days. On the morning of the last day, a group of hunters pushed a small band of cows and calves along with three small bulls up toward me. There was a well-defined trail up through the rocks below a bench and that was where I ambushed the bull that I killed.

On the private ranch where I now hunt in Colorado, I could kill a bull pretty easily with a pistol. As I mentioned, I have shot some at pretty close range, working the aspen thickets. However, I have hunted that ranch for over ten years and I know where the elk go and where they hang out during the rifle hunts. Doing it on a public land hunt would take a lot of scouting an familiarizing oneself with the country.
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#6262993 - 03/07/12 Re: Handgunning for Elk [Re: mudhen]
bwinters Offline
Campfire Guide

Registered: 02/24/03
Posts: 4835
Loc: Smoky Mountains, TN
Interesting topic.

I bought a Ruger SRH in 454 to try my hand at handgunning an elk. I'm waiting on some 340 LBT type hard cast bullets to arrive and do some load development. I've also developed heavy 300 gr loads for my 45 colt for the same purpose in the event I'm not enamoured with the 454.

I've killed a few deer with the revolver and various Contenders/Encores and find it real similar to bow hunting - except the bang part.............

I set my sights on getting a cow tag next fall to handgun. Every year I get close to elk and should be able to kill one with a revolver. Two years ago someone jumped a small herd in the timber and they ran to me and milled around for 15-20 minutes. I had cows within 20 feet - I could see their eyelashes. Getting a shot with so many elk that close may have been tricky but I assume I'd have been carrying my revolver in my hand rather than holstered.

We'll see how it works.
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Adversity doesn't build character, it reveals it.

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#6263030 - 03/07/12 Re: Handgunning for Elk [Re: mudhen]
Robster Online   content
Campfire Regular

Registered: 01/02/09
Posts: 758
Loc: Central NY
Quote:
I'm trying to figure out exactly what you mean about guns going off and hunters stomping through the woods?

In upstate NY, bow hunting starts in mid October. There are much less bowhunters than gun hunters, and bows are quiet. Opening day is not a big event like opening day of firearm deer season. Most bowhunters sit in trees, do not put on drives, are VERY careful about their scent and scent control. Sneak in and out of the woods. Opening day of gun season brings hunters out in droves. Hunter orange is seen in the woods, trucks parked up and down the roads, guys putting on drives etc. By the time opening morning is over, the deer are well aware it is hunting season, move less, and seem to go what seems like nocturnal awfully quick. Yes squirrel, rabbit and some bird seasons are open earlier than firearm season for deer, but the numbers of guys out in the woods for this reason is extremely small. I have only been to central arizona, and the feeling I get is the land is much more open than in the northeast and distances to shoot at game are much greater. I was wondering whether or not after a firearm season opens and the elk get spooky if it was even worth the effort to only hunt with a revolver. It seems quite a task to 1. even get within rifle range of an elk without spooking(sight, scent...) them and 2. Be able to use a revolver. In my limited knowledge if Elk hunting is anything like northeast deer hunting, the early season with a bow, before they are spooked by gunfire seems to be a reasonable proposition. But trying to get within the same range as you do with a bow to hunt with a revolver after they are spooked by the gun shots and masses tromping through the woods seems like an unreasonable proposition. That is why I asked the question. Knowing I have no knowledge of western hunting and wondering if hunting with a revolver would be a hopless hike in the woods.

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#6263133 - 03/07/12 Re: Handgunning for Elk [Re: Robster]
Mauser_Hunter Offline
Campfire Guide

Registered: 09/28/11
Posts: 4195
Loc: Colorado
Originally Posted By: Robster
Quote:
I'm trying to figure out exactly what you mean about guns going off and hunters stomping through the woods?

In upstate NY, bow hunting starts in mid October. There are much less bowhunters than gun hunters, and bows are quiet. Opening day is not a big event like opening day of firearm deer season. Most bowhunters sit in trees, do not put on drives, are VERY careful about their scent and scent control. Sneak in and out of the woods. Opening day of gun season brings hunters out in droves. Hunter orange is seen in the woods, trucks parked up and down the roads, guys putting on drives etc. By the time opening morning is over, the deer are well aware it is hunting season, move less, and seem to go what seems like nocturnal awfully quick. Yes squirrel, rabbit and some bird seasons are open earlier than firearm season for deer, but the numbers of guys out in the woods for this reason is extremely small. I have only been to central arizona, and the feeling I get is the land is much more open than in the northeast and distances to shoot at game are much greater. I was wondering whether or not after a firearm season opens and the elk get spooky if it was even worth the effort to only hunt with a revolver. It seems quite a task to 1. even get within rifle range of an elk without spooking(sight, scent...) them and 2. Be able to use a revolver. In my limited knowledge if Elk hunting is anything like northeast deer hunting, the early season with a bow, before they are spooked by gunfire seems to be a reasonable proposition. But trying to get within the same range as you do with a bow to hunt with a revolver after they are spooked by the gun shots and masses tromping through the woods seems like an unreasonable proposition. That is why I asked the question. Knowing I have no knowledge of western hunting and wondering if hunting with a revolver would be a hopless hike in the woods.


Kind of what I thought you meant. Elk will bed down in timber. If you have any skills in still hunting. You can get close after rifle season is underway. It's the only way I hunt, and even though I use rifles I get very close to the game.

You hardly ever hear about that type of hunting, and never see it on hunting shows, but we have more timber than open areas. Close hunting is alive and well here.
_________________________
Money can't buy you happiness, but it can buy you a hunting license and that's pretty close.

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#6263184 - 03/07/12 Re: Handgunning for Elk [Re: Mauser_Hunter]
Robster Online   content
Campfire Regular

Registered: 01/02/09
Posts: 758
Loc: Central NY
Thanks for the reply. Western hunting seems soooo much different than what we do in the Northeast. Especially if the only contact you have with it is on a forum like this one.

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#6263203 - 03/07/12 Re: Handgunning for Elk [Re: Mauser_Hunter]
saddlesore Online   content
Campfire 'Bwana

Registered: 06/22/01
Posts: 11634
Loc: Colorado Springs, CO, USA
Probably about 75% of my elk kill s could have been just as easily accomplished with a 44mag.
Since my handgun weighs 4Lbs + though,I'd rather carry the Model 70 at 7.5 lbs and increas my odds. I hunt to fill the freezer and have had ample opportunity to comlete any challenges of other methods of kill in my lifetime.
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If God wanted you to walk and carry things on your back, He would not have invented stirrups and pack saddles

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#6263222 - 03/07/12 Re: Handgunning for Elk [Re: saddlesore]
Robster Online   content
Campfire Regular

Registered: 01/02/09
Posts: 758
Loc: Central NY
I have been hunting whitetail for 23 years. I dont trophy hunt, just want one for the freezer. I'm the only one in the family that really eats it but like to bring it when I take the horses and camp. Tastes great in a dutch oven as stew, or a roast on the smoker. I haven't hunted with a rifle/shotgun since 2000. Bow or handgun only. Reason is I could care less if I got a deer or not anymore. I just enjoy getting out. i have been fortunate to get one every year with either the bow or the handgun, or even both. Knowing i hunt only with a revolver during firearm season, I wondered what it was like out in the western states....if it was as different than here in the NE like it seemed. That was the reason for the question.

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#6263285 - 03/07/12 Re: Handgunning for Elk [Re: Robster]
saddlesore Online   content
Campfire 'Bwana

Registered: 06/22/01
Posts: 11634
Loc: Colorado Springs, CO, USA
No differnt Rob.You find them close and far and what ever the firearm is, they each have thier limitations. If you have been killing whitetails with a handgun, you can kill elk.

Finding them is the hard part.The killing is easy.


Edited by saddlesore (03/07/12)
_________________________
If God wanted you to walk and carry things on your back, He would not have invented stirrups and pack saddles

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#6263287 - 03/07/12 Re: Handgunning for Elk [Re: 340mag]
K_Salonek Online   content
Campfire Regular

Registered: 05/11/09
Posts: 871
Loc: Base of the Rockies, Colorado
With the hope of staying more on topic, then this sounding like a hi-jack.

I hear a lot about stout cast-bullets , it would seem you could get a lot more powder behind a jacked bullet? I wonder what the advantages would be over say a hefty jacketed soft point or hollow-point?

I Will bring my Super Blackhawk (.44mag) and a Thomson Center Contender with a .44Mag Super (14") barrel this year. I hope to develop a load that they could share.

I would consider carrying the Blackhawk for elk, if I were only going to be riding/packing out elk. Or an extremely wet and foggy day making a scope nearly impossible to hunt.

I did hunt a day last season over my bull's gut-pile for bear, with my Contender.
What would be the best bullets choice for elk in a .44M?
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Clinging to my God, and my guns!

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#6263309 - 03/07/12 Re: Handgunning for Elk [Re: K_Salonek]
Mauser_Hunter Offline
Campfire Guide

Registered: 09/28/11
Posts: 4195
Loc: Colorado
Robster.........I should have mentioned that I was born and brought up in Mass. I'm sure it was very similar hunting to what you're doing. I learned to still hunt in those Mass woods. I've never had to change my way of hunting when I came west.

I just look for similar terrain, and do my thing. I just pass up long shots. Some guys wouldn't think of passing up any shots. I find it easy. It's a different mindset, but seems natural after awhile.
_________________________
Money can't buy you happiness, but it can buy you a hunting license and that's pretty close.

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#6263310 - 03/07/12 Re: Handgunning for Elk [Re: K_Salonek]
saddlesore Online   content
Campfire 'Bwana

Registered: 06/22/01
Posts: 11634
Loc: Colorado Springs, CO, USA
I have only used a std Speer 240 gr semi jacketed flat point.Used it in a 44 mag marlin carbine though ,but it killed the elk,one shot, DRT. Only a sampling of one though.
Ditto with a 45-70, same typeof bullet,only 400 gr.
_________________________
If God wanted you to walk and carry things on your back, He would not have invented stirrups and pack saddles

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#6263355 - 03/07/12 Re: Handgunning for Elk [Re: Mauser_Hunter]
Robster Online   content
Campfire Regular

Registered: 01/02/09
Posts: 758
Loc: Central NY
I get most of my deer here, bow and handgun, by still hunting. I just cant seem to sit still in a treestand anymore. I'm good for about 15minutes, then cant stop fidgeting so I get down and do some slow walking/still hunting. Sure I see flags, but as I said.....it aint about the killing anymore.

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#6263471 - 03/07/12 Re: Handgunning for Elk [Re: saddlesore]
K_Salonek Online   content
Campfire Regular

Registered: 05/11/09
Posts: 871
Loc: Base of the Rockies, Colorado
Originally Posted By: saddlesore
I have only used a std Speer 240 gr semi jacketed flat point.Used it in a 44 mag marlin carbine though ,but it killed the elk,one shot, DRT. Only a sampling of one though.
Ditto with a 45-70, same typeof bullet,only 400 gr.


Thank you!

You mentioned Speer bullets a while back and on the recommendation I tried a box in .223, and really like them!
I can't remember why I quit using them?

Is there a considerable difference for big-game (elk) or personal defence, between the JHPs or JSPs ?
_________________________
Clinging to my God, and my guns!

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#6263518 - 03/07/12 Re: Handgunning for Elk [Re: K_Salonek]
saddlesore Online   content
Campfire 'Bwana

Registered: 06/22/01
Posts: 11634
Loc: Colorado Springs, CO, USA
"Is there a considerable difference for big-game (elk) or personal defence, between the JHPs or JSPs ?"

I can't say as I have never shot anyone.I use HP in my carry guns though. I don't think its going to make much difference if you put a 44 or 45 cal hole thru a human though if it is a JHP or JFP.
Lot'as experts on here though that will give about a gazillion different opinions.

Rob. Load up them ponies and come out some year to tag along. Might not find any elk, but the possibility is good.


Edited by saddlesore (03/07/12)
_________________________
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