Another Lesson or Two

KinleyWater

Handloader
Jun 15, 2019
1,040
1,364
I'm sure some of you have had this experience, but this morning was a bit odd for me. Had a couple of does bound into the clear about 45 yards from me. The first caught me off guard, and was running hard, flag up. The second, the larger of the pair, came charging in a few seconds later, but stopped to look back and see if she was being followed. I have no idea if she was, but I dutifully put my reticle over her ribs and pulled the trigger. To my amazement, she bounded off as if unhit, running some 80 yards before disappearing into some brush. Rather than waiting a full half-hour, I thought it was worth taking a look to see what sort of blood trail there was - I figured she'd run far enough that I wasn't going to spook her.

No blood where she was standing. None along the path she'd taken. It was, I figured, a clean miss. I was so upset by missing such a shot, that I decided to just hang up my rifle, at least for this season. I unloaded, put my rifle int he cleaning rotation, and unloaded and cased my revolver. An hour passes and I tell the wife I'm going to go have a look, just to be absolutely certain. I follow the path the deer took - t-shirt and jeans, now - and sure as muffins, there's a dead doe lying right at the property line. Well, I'm excited, and I get my stuff and start to work cutting away to begin pulling meat off of it. I'm doing my own processing this year, for a start (more on those poor choices later, perhaps). Anyway, I get one side done, flip her over, and start on the other side. I'm skinning when I find what is clearly much too small a bullet under the skin of one leg.

Oh, crud, I think. I'm cutting up someone else's deer. I really did miss and now someone is going to to be angry, or worse, their kid shot it and now I've ruined some first-time hunter's big day. So, I save the bullet and keep cutting, because now I'm thinking about spoilage and I want to get it done. I figured that if anyone came along later, I could apologize, offer them the meat, and ask if they wanted to tag it, or for me to tag it. I was really okay either way. But no one comes. Then I'm thinking that maybe they don't know they got a good hit - there was no blood trail after all - and they think it was a clean miss just like I did. So, I resolve to drive over to the neighbor's house and ask if they made any shots this morning. Come to find out they did not.

Okay, now I'm really perplexed. Well, I figure I've waited long enough and I call in to tag the deer, then I start processing the meat. As I'm cutting up the one leg, what do I find? A slightly mangled copper cup. That's when I figure out what happened:

I did make a good shot. The bullet tore up the liver, the lungs, etc., then passed into the foreleg on the opposite side. At that point, the bullet experienced core separation, with the jacket getting stuck in the muscle. While dressing, I found the bullet core, mostly just the shank, really, and mistook it for just a much smaller diameter bullet.

So, what did I learn? Always make sure; had I not taken the extra step, there would be a wasted deer on the back of my property right now. Deer sometimes do not leave blood trails; an exit wound really helps. Don't overstress a bullet. I was using the Hornady FTX bullet which was likely designed for much more sedate 35 Remington velocities. I am not a fan of core separation. Always be amazed at nature - I watched a doe run about 100 yards with no liver and two shredded lungs. That's pretty awe inspiring.
 
Some years ago I was doing crop damage work for a local farmer and had a doe broad side at 50yds with what I thought was a wide-open shot.
30-06 with a 165gr Hornady Spire point struck a small limb on a tree that I didn't see in my scope and the doe ran off like she hadn't been hit. At the time I didn't know I had hit a limb which was more like a twig and walked up to where the doe had been standing and found the limb, I had hit but no blood. There was a skiff of snow that mourning so I decided to track her and see where she went. 50yds into the track I found blood on bushes and farther on some in the snow off and on. She traveled several hundred yards before crawling under a multiple rose bush and laid down and died.
Dressed her out and got her home and hung up to skin and took the hide off for her to cool down.
The bullet entered her where I was aiming but there was no blood shot meat or bruise more or less just a puncture wound. During quartering her out I found the bullet had bounced off a rib and worked its way to the same side hind leg where I found the bullet heavily deformed.
The bullet must have tumbled after hitting the limb and then ricocheted off the ribs bouncing around inside going the full length of the body before coming to rest in the rear leg.
It never fails to amaze me how wild animals fight to live after being shot and are dead.
 
I shot a whitetail buck several years back. Double lung. Followed the huge blood trail for about 100-150 yards. There was a creek i had to cross or so i thought. I got across and there was no more blood. I looked up and down the creek and nothing. Went back to where the buck was shot and followed the same path. The blood stopped at the creek. I stood in the middle of the creek dumbfounded and wondering where in the world is the deer. As i was looking down creek, i noticed one side of the antlers sticking out of the water. The buck got carried away 20-30 yards and got hung up on some rocks. Boy did that sight give me relief. It amazed me how a deer went that far with a double lung shot with exit. Some deer sure have the will power to live!
 
Yesterday morning my oldest stepson shot a doe at 35ish yds withs a 35 Remington using FTX factory loads. He said she took off like a missile and he tracked her about 100 yds. When cleaning her we found the bullet had destroyed the liver and the rear portion of the lungs but, again, the ability of a whitetail to endure sometimes has to be seen to be believed.

Ron
 
Yesterday morning my oldest stepson shot a doe at 35ish yds withs a 35 Remington using FTX factory loads. He said she took off like a missile and he tracked her about 100 yds. When cleaning her we found the bullet had destroyed the liver and the rear portion of the lungs but, again, the ability of a whitetail to endure sometimes has to be seen to be believed.

Ron
Sounds like the shot was a little too far back. I doubt a 300 Win mag could do better.
 
Whitetails are hardy critters with an amazing determination to live.
 
As an outfitter told a group of hunters a few years back, "shoot for the shoulders because deer can be very hard to find in the dense vegetation." I tend to agree with the guy, depending upon the terrain. It's better to lose a little shoulder meat than an entire deer. Where I was hunting this year there was dense cover almost everywhere except on the walking/hiking trails. It's just amazing how a racked whitetail can move through that stuff at lightning speed and you can't get through without ripping your clothes to pieces. LOL.
 
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