Update: I was not clear on my emotions when I wrote this. Then I had to ask Hagar for the right words.

It is not that I feel remorse over harvesting that deer. It was done ethically. Nothing was wasted. It is that I feel the immensity of the life I took. I need to honor it.

I hope that helps clarify.

I’ve waited a bit before writing about this.

Earlier this season, I was able to harvest a deer. I’m not a great hunter, I just do my best.

The first deer I harvested was taken at about 500 yards with a 7.62×51 through a Remington 700. My hold point was about 8 inches over the deer’s spine. The round was a good shot. The deer stood there for a moment, then with the rest of its group bounded into the tree line.

I hiked out there, lugging that rifle. Three times I was about to give up when I finally spotted the blood trail. I followed it into the woods, found the deer. We used every bit of the meet of that deer.

This time was a little different. The shot was at about 50 yards. I was using a 30-30 out of a Winchester Model ’94. A 75-year-old rifle.

We talk about how a round performs into jugs of water. We talk about how rounds work in ballistic gelatin. We even use “meat targets” if we can afford them.

All of these are simulations. The only way to know is to see how it actually performs.

In this case, it performed amazingly well. The round entered between ribs a little higher than I wanted. It then traveled through the interior, tearing up everything except the meat.

The buck took one step forward and its left front leg gave out. It fell the rest of the way to the ground with a short scream. Its smarter brother had already taken off. Stopping at the 75-yard range.

By the time I got to the buck, it was dead. Almost no blood outside the body.

When I field dressed it, the main cavity was full of blood. That round did a number. One shot, one kill, about 30 seconds.

When I got to that left front shoulder, I found that the scapula(?) was cracked. I believe that is why it stumbled. No signs of bullet damage there.

The load was 160gr Hornady FTX over 33gr of LeveRevolution. DON’T USE OR TRUST MY LOAD DATA!

Bacon wrapped backstrap steak for dinner tomorrow.

I’m going to do a product review on the Weston #32 meat grinder soon. Having that tool was one of the reasons I went hunting this year.

Oh, why the wait? Because I am an ethical person. I can still close my eyes and see the sight picture, feel the recoil, hear the round going off. I can still see the ejected casing flying off to my right as a chambered the follow-up, in case it was needed. I can still hear the cry it made.

It took a while to be able to write about taking a life. We wasted nothing. The hide is going to a good home. The bones are being used by people that create things the “old ways”.

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By awa

5 thoughts on “Terminal Ballistics – Slight Update”
  1. I feel worse seeing a road killed animal than a car crash… the animal didn’t know the danger, the humans are just fukkin STUPID… you Sir, did ok. if and or when, I go hunting I will have every bit of that critter spoken for. Im still learning…

  2. I had a similar lesson in real world terminal ballistics once. I was using a Remington .270 Win loaded with a Nosler Ballistice Tip. They shot great in that rifle, and hey, they’re recommended for deer size game. Seemed like the perfect choice.

    I was hunting down in central Georgia many years ago over a green field that the Dad of one of my buddies owned. It was getting late. I hadn’t seen a buck, so I decided to take one of the bigger does that had been feeding in the field. Probably 125-150 yards out. Because I didn’t want to have track a deer into the woods as it was getting dark, I purposefully targeted the shoulder of the deer. I pulled the trigger, and the deer dropped like it had been struck by lightening. Patting myself on the back, I climbed down out of the tree and started off across the field.

    Got about halfway to the deer, and it started raising it’s head trying to get up. It did this a couple of more times. I stopped a little ways off and shot the deer in the head to end its suffering. I got to the deer, and it’s head was still making this kind of sizzling noise. That’s something I can still hear 25 years later.

    The lesson in terminal ballistics came when I field dressed the dear. That Ballistic Tip had impacted the shoulder blade of the deer, failed to penetrate, and then deflected up through the spinal cord. Cutting the spinal cord was the reason the deer had dropped like it did, but it would have taken a long time for it to die, if I hadn’t shot it again.

    That was the last time I loaded Ballistic Tips. What I had left was used to punch small (for me) groups in paper.

  3. I’m not going to deny your feelings. I enjoy your description of hyper awareness before,during and after the shoot.
    I have harvested many deer over the years. I have never used a gun. All my kills have been from a climbing tree stand with a bow. I have had kills so clean that I was able to harvest a second deer from a group of three. I have had gut shot deer that I have had track all night into the next day to recover.
    The choice of words however. I relish the adrenaline rush when a deer moves out into sight, followed by the hyper awareness of every movement taken to align my body and draw and release the arrow. I thoroughly enjoy every scrap of meat that I haul out of the woods on my back. Am I unethical because I feel no remorse? After I have had a successful hunt and the deer is packed out and hanging, I feel tired and thankful.
    Shucks, now I’m hungry

  4. Ethical hunting is using enough bullet to get the job done and NOT shooting beyond a range where you KNOW you can hit the target. Beyond that the morality and ethics of hunting become hypothetical.

Only one rule: Don't be a dick.

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