Rethinking my hunting loads, with dead deer pictures.

A couple years ago I decided to change up the loads I was hunting with.  Mainly because I wasn’t overly excited with the terminal results I was getting at the time.  The second part was actually considering the terrain I was hunting.  

I mostly hunt in wooded areas in the Appalachian mountains.  Where shots past 100yards are rare due to forest density unless I’m in a field.  Most of the whitetail deer I’ve taken have been 20-60 yard shots, with the longest at 372yds across a field, and the closest being somewhere between 18-24” off my muzzle.  I’m pretty sure that deer was powder burned.

Previously I had been shooting 150gr core-lokt bullets in a .308Win.  They worked, but I tended to either punch mediocre holes and/or leave lead frag in the venison, especially after bone hits. So the quest was on to find a load that better suited my needs.  Cause, deer are tasty, and lead is hard on the teeth.

My goals were to, find a bullet that would hold up well in game,  shoot sub-MOA, and do as much damage in the wound path as possible.  This directed to a maybe less conventional load than most would consider.

Light bullet weight for cartridge, pushed fast, with either bonded or all copper projectiles.

Opting for the handloading route, I was able to make a load around my Rem700 bolt gun.  What I ended up with are these fun death pills.980763F7-357F-49D6-9527-F83A77734B45

130gr Barnes TTSX bullets atop a heavy compressed Varget charge.  From my 26” barrel, the 3200+FPS made up for the .350BC.  These shot well after I got my barrel really clean, and seem to start dropping in precision after maybe 45-50rds from copper fouling. The long throat in the factory Rem700 barrel works well with these bullets that seem to do best with a jump.1D2E69D5-4B36-448A-A1D7-24EC0360A223

Not my best group but fairly average for 5 at 100. So, time to kill stuff and clean some pests off my brother’s farm.

Deer one was an easy 225ish yard offhand double lung shot.  Easy to follow 25yd blood trail.0103F7BB-3BC9-423D-8D52-10E6F0A50F1B

That’s me in the back dragging it back up to level ground to dress out.  So, once it was skinned out, with head up, entry hole behind shoulder:84E6253F-0F89-4300-9FBC-245912C33A01

Exit hole:C3276D3B-14F8-4500-9173-33A5760C26CA

Meat loss was basically zero, victory!  There were some ruptured capillaries as far as the neck.  Some blood vessel bleed can be seen in the thin muscle tissue under the exit canyon.  That deer didn’t run off or jump/kick like normal.  It just kinda shook, trotted off and fell over.  Lungs were kinda a mess.3A9ED6EE-D69B-4B7F-B341-BE988292EE71

No, it’s a lefty gun.   Now you don’t have to ask!

After this I kinda went stupid.  What’s the best way to really measure the ballistic effects of a load you worked up over hours of bench and range time?  Oh yeah, to shoot them in the head of course.  So, ambush spot behind a hay bail, blasting the evening feeders.

173 yards, and the loudest bullet impact I’ve heard to date from small arms.  Head was down eating dinner.  Note dinner still in mouth, wouldn’t be a bad way to go if you like grass.C1978C25-9E4F-4C51-9581-519D7A8BBBCC

The other deer only ran about 20 yards farther, and then stopped to look back, giving me about a seven second split.  Skull was broken.9E739586-1FCD-43B4-A52F-5356D0C746DA

Well, ok, glad I wanted to test these bullets out....  Well, I had another doe tag plus a buck tag.  So what do I do?  That’s right, try a spine shot.  I took the short bus that trip.  Stand up 60 yards from me while I’m sneaking through the high grass, well, works for me I guess.3B065D30-8DBE-4182-96C2-7E7AEA393400

Looks like I cut its neck.  However that was the exit hole.  The spine was, well, fragmented. The blood near the deer’s butt was from it sliding down hill.

Conclusions:

This load worked exactly how I wanted it to.  Very good precision that 200 yard headshots didn’t seem hard.  Damage to neck and lungs on shots was rather impressive.  More importantly, dropped four deer over 3 days with virtually no loss of meat from trauma or lead frag in the meat.  Yes, shot placement helps with that, but if these were 1.5-2 MOA, I wouldn’t have taken 175-200 yard headshots on deer and opted for conventional heart/lung or high shoulder shots, increasing meat loss possibility.

I have noticed a pretty dramatic difference in the amount of damage you get to a deer by simply driving a bullet faster.  Using something like a copper expanding bullet, the only reason to go heavier is for the better BC for range or deeper penetration.  If my shots are usually 200yd and in where I don’t need to penetrate into say, an elephant, I’ll gladly take the extra velocity over bullet mass.  Bullet placement will always be key, but a better bullet can still help and may give more options.

After that trip and a few more deer down with that load, I switched up my AR hunting load to 50gr TTSX bullets going stupid fast.  Similar results with smaller holes, so I spend a bit more time on shot placement.  I’ve yet to recover one of these TTSX bullets from the dozen-ish  deer I’ve taken with them.

Best part is medium rare backstrap grilled with veggies.

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Nice write up.

All pictures show “Image not found”. 

Mojo/Mark
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Vincent from "Collateral"
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You want the good life, you break your back, you snap your fingers, you snap your neck... Prong/Demon Hunter

Joined: 9/30/09
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I see the images, good shooting.   

I also hunt Appalachia, central WV in an area where shots over 100 aren’t going to happen.  I’ve pretty much gone the opposite direction using a .45-70 with 350gr cast flat points.   If placed just behind or thru the shoulder, the deer trot 20-40 yards and topple over.  No blood shot meat, no lead fragments like I got with jacketed 7mm or .30 bullets.   AND it’s fun to cast your own projectiles. 

If I travel where long shots might be required then the .308 loaded with Nosler Accubonds comes out.  I haven’t found any lead fragments in the deer we’ve taken with them. 

UVvis posted:

Sorry, should be fixed now.

Yup. All good now. Thanks. 

Mojo/Mark
__________________________
Yo homey, is that my briefcase...?
Vincent from "Collateral"
__________________________
You want the good life, you break your back, you snap your fingers, you snap your neck... Prong/Demon Hunter

Joined: 9/30/09
Location: Northern Nevada (Reno/Sparks)

Rick R2 posted:

I also hunt Appalachia, central WV in an area where shots over 100 aren’t going to happen.  I’ve pretty much gone the opposite direction using a .45-70 with 350gr cast flat points. 

Sounds like we hunt in similar areas.  I’m mostly hunting in Webster, Upshur, Harrison, Taylor and Barbour counties.  Those areas and the laurel and Rhododendron combined with green brair patches are thick and tough to get through.  I like your approach, and also have considered 12ga slugs as a valid option in the heavy stuff.  I like your option, and it makes sense.   I’m trying to work the compromise in keeping the 0-300 yard options open and ballistically simple while getting the most terminal effectiveness I can.  I feel I’m about there.

Your gun may be cooler, but mine doesn’t kick as hard!  Neener neener pumpkin eater!

Kanawha and Jackson counties usually, unless I decide to drive over to the Mong and slip into the big woods.   Shots are rarely over 60 yards.

I used Barnes TSX bullets for a while then decided the Accubonds dropped them faster and then decided cast bullets were more politician proof. 

Great information. I hunt Missouri soybean and corn fields, so I'm planning up to 300m shots. Im still working up my "regular" bullets, and have been wondering what hunting bullet I might use. Core Lokt would hardly group in my Bergara... Im talking like a 3-5MOA group at 100.

"Here I abandon peace and desecrate law. Farewell to treaties. Fortune it is you I follow... From now on, war will be my judge."

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