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  • Writer's pictureJeff Rice

Long Range – Is it Time?- Larry Weishuhn



My goal as a hunter has always been to get as close as possible before squeezing the trigger.  I love the challenge of getting close to whatever animals I’m hunting. Maybe that’s why I have long been fascinated with handgun hunting.  I have hunted with a bow, but never became enthralled with archery.  I did bowhunt, but it has been many years since I shot an arrow at a deer. I do however appreciate when someone asks me if I hunt with a bow.  My response is always the the same, “Yes, I did!  But then I grew up!”  That said, I have great respect for those who hunt with a bow and arrows.

 

In trying to get as close as possible, sometimes I have come out on top, but many other times I have failed.  That was again the case this past hunting season on my lease in western Texas.  The southern half the property is essentially flat as the Rio Grand Plains, while the northern half is comprised of tall juniper, oak covered hills and deep brushy valleys.  Having spent considerable time in the past hunting the Brush County of South Texas, I find myself being drawn to “the flats”.

 

This past hunting season, from the top of the ridge overlooking approximately 4,000 or so acres of relatively flat land, using my Stealth Vision ED 25-63X80mm Mirror Erecting Spotting Scope (www.stealthvision.com), I spotted two big-antlered bucks.  One was an extremely massive tall-tined 8-point whose main beams appeared to spread at least 26-inches.  The other was a tall massive 10-point, not nearly as wide but with much taller tines, great mass and would easily score 160 B&C.  Both were with does near the center of an expanse where there were no roads.  I watched both for ten minutes.  Unfortunately, it was far too late to initiate a stalk. I hoped they would still be in the same area come morning.

 

Well before first light next morning, I grabbed my Mossberg 7mm PRC rifle, shooting sticks, and rattling horns and headed toward the middle of the flats.  I had only recently gotten my 7mm PRC and had not yet run it through a series of paces of shooting beyond 200 yards. I did know it was superbly accurate out to 200-yards.  Beyond that I had not yet “proofed it”.  I hoped I could rattle in either of the two impressive bucks.  If either responded my shot would be close.

 

Just before legal shooting light, I set up next to an opening in the mesquites atop a slight rise where I could see any bucks that might respond. A few minutes later I started meshing my rattling horns and grunting with my mouth.  Almost immediately I spotted movement coming my way.  No doubt it was a mature buck based on his darkly stained tarsal glands.  Mesquite limbs and leaves obscured his head.  I pointed the rifle toward the incoming buck and hoped it was one of the two big bucks I had seen the evening before. 

 

The buck stepped clear of the mesquites and stopped.  It was obviously neither of the two evening before bucks.  He was a nice 10-point but not the big one.  I watched him and continued rattling.  Two more nice bucks appeared.

 

Before the morning was over I rattled in seven additional bucks, nice but not “the two”. 

 

That afternoon late I again saw the big bucks again.  The wide buck as over a thousand yards away, the tall 10 just over 800 yards.  I decided to stalk the wide buck because the wind was such I thought I might be able to get within reasonable shooting range.  With my sight-in, point blank or “hunter’s zero” was 320 or so yards.  That being the case my bullet would not rise above nor fall below essentially 3-inches high or 3-inches low out to that distance.  If I could get within that range, I planned on taking a shot. It didn’t happen.  I eased onto a slight rise where I could see the buck. I ranged him at 602-yardsI   Farther than I felt comfortable shooting, having not shot my rifle out to that distance and beyond.  As I was trying to determine a route I might be able to take to get closer, he trotted into the mesquites and disappeared. 

 

I spent most of the rest of the hunting season looking for those two bucks.  Last hunt of the year I again saw both bucks.  The nearest I got to them, now both in a small bachelor herd, was 627 ranged yards.  Farther than I was comfortable shooting, not having spent time shooting at that range and beyond with the Mossberg rifle I carried, but especially the scope I had at the time.  Having shot the same Hornady Precision Hunter 175-grain ELD-X ammo in another rifle, I knew it was nicely accurate at that range and beyond; still producing more than sufficient down range energy to quickly and cleanly kill a deer.

 

As mentioned earlier, my goal has always been to get as close as possible before shooting.  But I have also long been shooting long range steel targets.  With certain rifles/ammo combinations I knew I could precisely place a bullet out to 800-yards and even beyond. 

 

I had taken animals at long range, most notably a huge Coues whitetail, that easily made the Boone & Crockett Record Book.  After spotting the buck we quickly realized no matter what, we were not going to get closer than just shy of 800-yards.  Having spent time with the rifle, scope and Hornady ammo combination at the FTW Ranch’s SAAM ranges (www.ftwsaam.com) I knew I could precisely place a bullet into an 8-inch gong at 800-yards. 

 

From a solid prone rest, my first shot went immediately over the buck’s back.  I quickly cycled another round.  My second shot was dead-on!  Would I have liked to have gotten closer?  Absolutely, there simply was no way to do so.  I also knew this was likely my once in a lifetime opportunity at such a large antlered Coues deer.

 

This past spring I had the opportunity to field test a scope created by a relatively new company, Stealth Vision (www.stealthvision.com).  Headquartered in Crockett, Texas, the new optics are the creation of Dr. John McCall, a world renown eye surgeon, shooter and hunter.  Dr. McCall invited his friend, Joe Cunningham a true authority regarding hunting optics and shooting, as well as a serious hunter, to help with their new optics project.  My partner in radio, podcasts and digital tv shows, Luke Clayton was responsible for introducing me to them.

 

It took but a few minutes and a several shots at the shooting facility on Dr. McCall’s ranch using their scopes to realize I was looking through the most innovative scope I had ever seen.  With their Tactical SVT 3-18X44 Illuminated scope mounted on one of their proprietary 7mm PRC rifles, shooting Hornady Precision Hunter ammo I shot 3-shot groups out 1,200-yards.  At 1,000-yards I shot a 2 ½-inch group.  At 1,200-yards my 3-shot group was just a hair bigger than at 1,000 yards.  What I also liked about their scope was the potential lighted reticle, knowing I would soon be hunting black bear in Alberta.

 

I talked Dr. McCall and Joe into lending me one of the SVT 3-18x44 Illuminated scopes to take to Alberta with me to mount on a .308 Win Mossberg belonging to Brad Fenson.  Frandkly, had it not been for the lighted reticle I would not have been able to precisely place a Hornady bullet into the monster black bear I took.

 

Back in Texas…in thinking about about the two big bucks I hunted on my lease, I decided going into this coming hunting season maybe I should rethink shooting some critters at longer range…those being one of the two big bucks that eluded me this past season. 

 

I bought a 6.5 PRC Mossberg Patriot Predator, while awaiting return of my Mossberg Patriot Predator 7mm PRC which will have a new 20-inch long with muzzle brake installed, Avient Heat Releasing Barrel Technology barrel.

 

Recently while at the Stealth Vision shooting facility Joe Cunningham mounted a Tactical SVT 3-18-x44 Illuminated scope on my 6.5 PRC Mossberg.  After “seasoning” the barrel I shot at ranges out to 800-yards using Hornady 143-grain ELD-X Precision Hunter. 

 

At 600-yards I shot 6-inch groups, no doubt easily within the vitals of any whitetail deer I might hunt, considering a deer standing broadside has at least a 10-inch diameter heart and lung area.   I am more than satisfied with that accuracy for hunting.  Now I am also anxious to see what accuracy I get out of my Mossberg with the enhanced Avient barrel, 7mm PRC, topped with a SVX 5-30x56, shooting Hornady Precision Hunter.

 

To me there are two things to consider when shooting long range, one of course is accuracy.  A rifle/scope/ammunition combination that shoot 1 MOA (1-inch groups at 100-yards) is a 6 MOA rifle at 600 yards.  Vitals on the deer I hunt in Texas are as mentioned about 10-inches in size, broadside, and 6-inches in size quartering to, away and straight on.  To me my Mossberg 6.5 PPRC is “600-yard deer hunting rifle”.

 

At 600 yards my Hornady Precision Hunters load is still producing in the neighborhood of 1,300 foot pounds of energy.  It does not drop below the 1,000-ft.lbs. energy level until about 800-yards.  The bullet and load are producing more than sufficient energy to properly expand the bullet upon impact and to drive forward with excellent “authority”.

 

Without going into detail, Dr. John McCall took what he learned regarding the human eye surgery and the technology he developed and designed, his years experience in shooting and hunting, using the finest optical glass known to man, combined with his patented anti-cant shooting technology, and numerous other rifle scope refinements to create his new line of Stealth Vision scopes.

 

That experience and technology coupled with a 34 mm tube and specialized lens coatings which promote light gathering combined with the potential lighted reticles has me thinking Stealth Vision rifles scopes are the way to go. 

 

In preparation to the upcoming hunting season, I’ll spend whatever time I can shooting from the bench and from real world, in-the-field shooting positions to determine the capabilities of my rifle/Hornady ammunition/Stealth Vision scopes and mine capabilities with them. 

 

 




If, I cannot get closer than 600-yards of either the two bucks I hunted last year this upcoming hunting season, they will be in trouble! 

 

**** Be certain to stop by to the STEALTH VISION and HORNADY booths at DSC ATLANTA 2025!

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