- Created on Friday, 24 June 2011 08:06
- Written by Cliff St.Martin
What gun is best for my sheep hunt? This is a subject that could cause some hunters to get into a seriously heated debate. If I was asked this question 40 years ago, I would have been one of those hunters siding strongly toward the pre 64 Model 70 in 30-06. Back in those days I felt anything else wasn't worth having. My Father bought me my first 06 at age 10 which was his caliber of choice. So there you have it.
Don’t get me wrong, I still believe that the 30-06 with a 150 gr. bullet is a hard cartridge to beat, but my mind is much more open today than it once was.
Over the past 45 years I have been experimenting with different loads in practically every caliber that exists and I have come to one conclusion, a good number of calibers with proper ammunition would do just fine on a sheep hunt. Personally, I would choose a caliber of 6.5mm (.264 Dia.) or larger.
Although a .257, especially in an Ackley Improved or Weatherby Mag. wouldn’t be a bad choice either. I prefer staying away from the lighter calibers mainly because wind conditions can be extreme during your sheep hunt which will cause havoc with such a light bullet. Not to mention that you would lose a lot of energy with a light bullet at ranges beyond 300 yards.
Generally speaking sheep are not too difficult to put on the ground but they are like any other game animal, if not hit properly they can pack a lot of lead and travel into another time zone before slowing down. I like to tell our hunters that in most cases, if we can’t get them within 300 yards or less of the target, we aren't doing our job. Granted, we have had a few exceptions when our hunters felt confident to take a shot up to 400 yards, but only because getting closer wasn’t an option. A 200 yd. shot or less is the norm for us.
Over the many years that Tim and I have been involved in sheep hunts, the most popular rifles used have been the 270, 7mm, 30-06, 300, and 30-378. All did the job just fine with excellent results.