Written in Tribute to Dominic Pasquale
The concept of long-range hunting is one of the most controversial topics in the hunting industry. The term “long-range shooting” is defined simply as “any time a hunter has to compensate in order to engage the target.” Born from necessity in the Western United States, the expansive and unforgiving landscape often demands hunters to pioneer the limits of their skills, gear, and physical capabilities. Long-range hunting can be not only a demanding hunting method, but also the thrill of a lifetime.
While the knowledge of ballistics, quality of sub MOA-rifles, and advancement of long-range optics have evolved since the idea of long-range hunting’s inception, the debates and exhilaration that come with it are still very much the same. In this article, we’ll examine the ethics, benefits, training considerations, necessary equipment, and environmental elements of long-range precision. These ideas will help us explore the combination of long- range shooting and big game hunting, which we would consider our obsession.
As we’ve pointed out, this topic is controversial. Can you really be an effective hunter at 700 yards? What about 1,000 yards? Would you just injure an animal and lose it to the wilderness? Understanding your personal limitations and the abilities of your equipment are key elements to answering these questions. Just because you have a setup that’s sub- MOA at 1,000 yards doesn’t mean you’re proficient at shooting at that distance. Perhaps your decision-making skills and shooting abilities are the determining factors on solidifying an ethical and meaningful hunting method.
We can absolutely agree that if it’s possible to get closer to an animal you’re stalking, by all means, do it. Long-range hunting is not for bragging rights, and animals are not for target practice. This is a hunting method that is based on a deeply personal decision and should only be practiced by those who are ethical, proficient shooters with the right equipment.
Increasing Effective Range:
Increasing Effective Range is one of the biggest benefits of long-range hunting. While a 300-yard radius covers an area of 58 acres, 700 yards covers an area of 318 acres. The effective range of coverage increases by 548%, which drastically increases your chances of seeing and taking higher quality game. How many times have you seen game just beyond your effective range only to have them disappear into memory?
Better Shot Set-Up:
Another benefit is having the time, cover, concealment, and ability to set up your shot correctly. From long-range distances, game is typically unaware of your presence, allowing you the opportunity for perfect shot placement. Rushing a shot because you’ve been winded or seen is the primary cause of wounded animals. Many of us know the heartache caused when a wounded animal disappears and is never found again. Effective long-range hunting ensures that you have time for proper set up and that you can take a shot with confidence.
Capitalizing on the Moment:
It’s happened often, the only shot you have is from a very long distance as the animal travels from bedding to feeding or mating areas. Your opportunity may present itself only once for a brief moment at 750 yards. Having the skills, practice, right setup, and confidence to effectively take that animal with precision can mean the difference in walking up to a lifetime trophy or going home empty handed.
Optimal Table Fare:
One last benefit worth mentioning is better meat. Game’s awareness to your presence is typically non-existent. As the animal carries on with its usual routine, adrenaline levels are normal and stress levels are generally low. Taking an animal in this state protects the flavor and tenderness of the prized cuts of meat. An animal that dies with high stress and testosterone levels uses up glycogen and doesn’t produce enough lactic acid, which is the key ingredient to preserving the muscles postmortem. It’s easy to see why long-range hunting is our preferred method for guaranteeing the finest cuisine possible.
Have you been convinced yet? If so, let’s look at a few tips, tactics, and drills that will solidify your path to effective long-range hunting. While you’re probably a solid shooter already, some of these will still be of value to you.
Establish a Starting Point:
Perfect a 300-yard shot with tight groups using your preferred hunting grain and stick to it. Once you’re comfortable, move to 500 yards, then 700 yards. If you’ve mastered these distances in ideal conditions and have the facility, try for 1,000 yards. Then, go on a day where there’s a notable crosswind and practice at these distances yet again. Gaining proficiency within these factors will lead to the next step.
Train with the Elements:
You’ve mastered the 700-yard shot. Great! Are you proficient at 700 yards with a 17 mile-per-hour crosswind, beating rain, and a rocky 32-degree angled mountainside? The elements will be the determining factor in success or failure. Go to the range when the conditions are not ideal. Look for days when most others have opted to stay home. You may be the only one out there, but you’ll want to train like you hunt, and we all know that game doesn’t wait for sunny, windless days and flat, green pastures.
The Prone Position and The Quarter Drill:
You can’t take the bench with you to the field, so bring a mat and practice your shots in the prone position. You can practice this anywhere. It might be uncomfortable to some, but every long- range shot should be taken from this position if possible.
Practice getting set up so your rifle is on target without you having to muscle it into position. Then, place a quarter on top of the barrel near the end of the stock. Push the bolt forward as if you were chambering a round. (Don’t chamber a round for safety purposes.) If you feel comfortable, dry fire your rifle. Now, release the bolt and bring it back as if you were ejecting the round. Do this without causing the quarter to fall off of the barrel. This drill will allow you to effectively chamber a round while staying on target, allowing for faster acquisition and more precision when shooting long- range. Practice produces precision.
WIND AND EQUIPMENT
There are several contributing factors that affect the flight of the bullet once it leaves the rifle – gravity, air density/humidity, and wind. The trajectory of your preferred round is greatly affected by these factors, but wind is perhaps the largest hurdle when considering long-range hunting.
Mind the Wind:
The wind at the barrel of the rifle will have the greatest impact on bullet flight. A 10 mile-per-hour crosswind 700 yards before your target will push your round drastically further off course than a 20 mile-per-hour wind at the target. With this understanding, having a solid wind meter is a key component in successful long-range hunting. Keep in mind, the direction of the crosswind is a large factor as well. For example, a 10 mile-per-hour crosswind at a 45-degree angle will have a similar effect on trajectory as a 5 mile-per-hour 90-degree crosswind. Understanding this concept and practicing within the conditions quickly become your keys to success.
Another key to success is your equipment and how well you understand it. As obsessed as our team is with performance and long-range hunting, we’ve developed a system that removes the need for the scientific knowledge and complicated math that goes with hitting targets at over 1,000 yards. While there are many highly regarded brands of scopes on the market, Huskemaw riflescopes help remove the guesswork from windage, grain, drop, ballistic coefficient, humidity, and other factors that determine a near miss or solid shot to the vitals. Huskemaw scopes are the only scopes that have the patented TrueBC®, the Rapid Field Ballistic Compensator (RFBC) Turret. In layman’s terms, the turret is customized to incorporate the ballistics of your preferred round and your typical hunting conditions.
Take a look at the scenario with the elk. The Huskemaw system lets the shooter range the animal, dial to yards, and in a 10 mile-per-hour crosswind, take a precise shot. This bull is at 600 yards, so you have a wind hold of three. You would simply hold three Huskemaw Hashmarks into the wind and take your shot. Notice that the turret also has custom bullet and environmental data printed on it. It’s a commitment to the idea of “Long-Range Shooting, Simplified.”
1/2 MOA Rifles:
Having such a powerful, yet useable system that Huskemaw provides coupled with a proven 1,000-yard, 1/2 MOA rifle, like The Best of the West rifles, undoubtedly makes this setup a top contender in the world of long-range. With fully customizable configurations, ultra-light platforms, and world-class components, we’ve proven ourselves to have a high performance, long- range hunting rifle that’s a must if you’re considering long-range hunting. Born in Cody, Wyoming, the heart of the western hunting world, we really have proven ourselves to be the “Pioneers of Long-Range Hunting.” Having a rifle that’s capable of 1/2 MOA at 1,000 yards is a must-have if you’re looking for success at these distances.
Is long-range hunting right for you? We believe it has many obvious advantages and comes with a great deal of satisfaction. Whether you’re hunting elk in the snowy mountains of Wyoming, Red deer in the lush greenery of New Zealand, or gemsbok in the vast landscape of the Safari, the long- range experience is one we think you should consider. When you’re ready to pull the trigger, the team at The Best of the West and Huskemaw will be here to help.
This article was written on behalf of a team member, husband, and seasoned U.S. Army veteran who is no longer with us. Dominic Pasquale was a trainer, coach, and friend of the long-range hunting community. His legacy will live on as many behind him will enjoy the absolute thrill of ethical long-range hunting success.