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Old November 17, 2005, 07:21 PM   #1
springmom
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East Texas buck, .243 Federal Vital-Shok

....Remington 700 with a nice accurate scope. And the deer, which I know I hit right behind the shoulder blade at the elbow at about 40 or 50 yards , has evaporated from the face of the earth. We've spent a total of 14 hours looking for that blinkin' deer and he is just NOT THERE. We found ONE DROP of blood and a chunk of flesh about a third to half inch. We have combed that blinkin' forest and we could NOT find him. I heard him for maybe 5 seconds or so and then it was quiet, so thought "hot dog, I got him" and then later, "ok, I know where he had to have gone to be that quiet". Wrong on the second part of that statement, although absolutely sure of the first.

The buck was 6-8 points, very tall, big guy, probably 3 years old or so, is my guess. Beautiful animal. He walked down the trail toward me (I'd been calling) and I was waiting for him. He presented a straight-on shot, but I'd always heard/read that broadside is better, so I waited. He decided I was no threat and started to turn into the brush, and I got the shot. Right behind that shoulder, just about elbow height, and I watched it hit through the scope. My scope is accurate (I took it back to the range today to make sure) but whatever, he did not bleed and all we found was that one chunk of flesh!!!!!!

Here are my questions:

1) Should I have taken the straight-on shot?
2) Is the Federal Vital-Shok .243 likely to have passed right through him?

Any insight and especially specific answers regarding Federal Vital-Shok ammo will be appreciated.

Springmom the deerless
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Old November 17, 2005, 07:44 PM   #2
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I have no special insights on your experience with the 243 (bullet or the "shot"). But, this is why I switched to a .270 many years ago. Even the 270 has little immediate effect if you miss bone in the shoulder. They bleed out, but they do run a ways. Last year's buck was an example of this. Deer ran about 75-100 yards through the brush before keeling over, and tracking him was not fun. Lungs were pretty much destroyed, but the bullet zipped right through.
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Old November 17, 2005, 07:51 PM   #3
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1) I prefer a face on quartering shot when I can get one. Putting the bullet on the near side inside the shoulder (just above what would be the coller bone if deer had collar bones which they don't) the bullet will pass through catty cornered. That gives three times the distance inside the deer as does a broadside shot.
2) It is possible that it managed to pass between 2 ribs, in which case it could have gone right through without opening.

One of the things I learned from Art is to try to take a neck/spine shot with smaller bullets. I hunt with a .243 if I am going to walk all day because I have a really light really accurate rifle in that caliber, but I prefer big slow blunt bullets like the .35 Rem, because if they hit they leave blood, buckets of blood.

Er, how long did you wait before going to check on him?

Meek, also deerless this week, with a miss from a .50 cal muzzle loader.
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Old November 17, 2005, 09:26 PM   #4
Art Eatman
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A deer coming straight toward me, that close, is one where I'd probably center-punch the chest. His head is mostly down with his neck horizontal, unless he stops and raises his head to look around and shows you the white spot.

I don't know that particular bullet that you used. I do know that the Federal Premiums with the Sierra 85-grain HPBTs are as accurate as my handloads; 1/2 MOA for three-shot groups. My experience with that bullet into the chest cavity is that you get a double-handful of Serious Yuck.

But it sounds like your bullet is sorta heavy-jacket for opening on meat, if you don't hit bone. If a bullet blows up inside the chest, it's rare for a buck to run much over 50 yards or so.

Regrets for ya,

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Old November 18, 2005, 12:21 AM   #5
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A straight-on shot will work, but it'll be a mess to clean. I probably would have waited for the broadside shot, too. Those head and neck shots can get dicey if you aren't right on.

Quote:
He decided I was no threat and started to turn into the brush, and I got the shot.
If you shot him while he was turning, I suppose it is possible that you clipped him instead of a solid broadside hit.

There should have been at least some expansion from the vital-shok even if you didn't hit a rib or some other bone. It could be that the deer was just tougher than heck, and ran a long way before curling up in a place that most humans would never find. I've had it happen with the .243 if the deer is gut-shot. I'm not castigating the .243; it just is not as forgiving as more powerful rounds seem to be with a less-than-ideal shot.
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Old November 18, 2005, 08:11 AM   #6
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What color was the blood?

Bright red to light pink would indicate a lung shot -- 30 to 50 yrs dead deer

Dark red would indicate a gut, nicked shoulder/ham etc. shot-- anyone's guess. Typically I do not find pieces of meat when tracking a deer. My guess would be a nicked shoulder.

The following is MHO on shots.

Head on shot - No, bullet normally will pass though guts, a mess to clean.
Quartering forward - No, same reason as Head on shot.
Broad side - Yes, biggest vital zone, cleanest kill short of spinal/brain shot
Quartering away - Yes, smaller vital zone but bullet will not hit the guts.
Head/Neck shot - Up to individual, I do not take those shots.
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Old November 18, 2005, 09:11 AM   #7
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Hunting with a .243 requires very good shot placement. Practice shooting targets and get your shots placed very well. Next time shoot for the neck or lungs. Don't shoot for the shoulder. Not only do you run the risk of loosing the deer but also messing up meat. The .243 is the smallest round I would even consider for deer so It's all about shot placement. You could also move up to a larger caliber like a .270, .30-06, or .308.
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Old November 18, 2005, 10:16 AM   #8
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Quote:
Right behind that shoulder, just about elbow height
After rereading post, what are you calling the elbow. The third joint up from the hoof? If so the shot was the little low.

No matter what I'm hunting with (and I do use a 243 depending on conditions), I try to place my shot 6 - 8 inches up from the bottom of the belly and right behind the shoulder. This shot will aways hit the lungs and depending on shooting angle will hit the Heart/Kinney area.

I have taken dozens of deer with a 243 with no problem but a bad shot ( and we all make them) is a bad shot no matter what caliber you are using.
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Old November 18, 2005, 10:49 AM   #9
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Sounds like you hit him in the brisket, with little or no expansion. Your shot went below the boiler room and missed the heart lung area. This hit with smaller calibers can plug up with fat and very well may not be fatal. Aim a little bit higher behind the shoulder, or take a base of the neck shot, next time. Kudos for spending the time to make sure you didn't just leave a wounded deer in the bush. Better luck next time. Maybe the next one will be a monster.
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Old November 18, 2005, 11:16 AM   #10
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This is why I prefer 12 gauge slugs unless I'm hunting an open area which requires longer shots, beyond 100yards or so.
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Old November 18, 2005, 12:09 PM   #11
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Well let me get started, I had same thing earlier this month. (See 243 or 308 thread). I made good shots behind the shoulder on three different deer. One ran over 100 yards through the woods (was easy to track, bright red blood trail, when found lung hanging out the exit hole), the second was dropped right there, and the last was hit but seem to have run out of sight (little to no blood trail). That night I traded my 243 for a 308. Now I need to see how it does (so far the deer have all disappeared, I guess two is my quota this year.
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Old November 18, 2005, 10:28 PM   #12
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retrospection on the shot, the buck, the gun

Thanks, all, for your thoughts. A 'brisket shot' makes sense. Of course, I'd rather have the whole brisket rather than just one little bit.... Should have at least brought that bit home for the dogs.

The blood color? It was bright. But I can tell you there was no deer within 50 yards. If there had been he'd be at the processor and his head at the taxidermist now.

I am a very good shot with a rifle (wish I was that good with my handguns! but I'm working on it) and the lesson learned is, aim a little higher. The 'elbow' is that joint closest to the tummy, and I hit just above and to the rear of it. Had I taken the shot a bit higher, he'd be at the processor and his head at the taxidermist, too.

I love that .243, very unlikely to turn it in for anything bigger. I may take either the .30-.30 or the .30-06 over to the range one of these days and give it a "test drive" but my shoulders really can't handle huge kickback (puny me!) but I hit what I aim at with my Remington. Every time. I just need to aim differently, sounds like.

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Old November 18, 2005, 10:53 PM   #13
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I started out with a 243 when I was 15 (used a slug gun prior to that) after saving up the money for a "deer rifle". Based on my exhaustive research at the time, the caliber provided the flexibility that I wanted for both varmints and deer. It shot great and worked for me. Shot a couple deer with it and had one get away from me which really ****** me off. I spent most of that day after the shot trying to track that rascal without luck as the blood trail stopped. At the time, I could have shot a second buck that was with this one, but assumed the first would run no more that 50 yards or so. I bought a 270 for the next deer season and have been very satisfied with it for deer sized game.

I wouldn't take a frontal shot (head on) unless it was a really big buck and I thought I had no other likely choice.

If you read Elmer Keiths last book, he said that the 6mm/243 was too small for deer (even in Texas). He was a fan of much larger caliber rifles in general and was obviously not highly sensitive to recoil. One of his perfect all around rifles was what became a 340 Weatherby Mag. He also liked the 338-378 Weatherby Mag. Interesting fellow. I think they are too large for general use, but he was an elk hunter and his caliber selection was geared toward elk and were also used for mule and whitetails. He actually had a wounded elk attack him.
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Old November 19, 2005, 07:34 AM   #14
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Sounds as if you did hit him a bit low, in the brisket. There may still be a chance that he is dead. Sometimes with this hit one or two bone splinters from the ribs or sternum will enter the lungs or pericardium. That can be fatal, but can take some time - a couple of the deer I've seen hit like this have been found half a mile away the next day. A dog is a good idea for tracking.
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Old November 19, 2005, 09:30 AM   #15
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22-rimfire, there's a lot of stuff that forlks like Keith have said, or Cooper have said, that I just sorta go, "Uh, huh." and then ignore. I've tagged around 20 bucks with a .243, and about the same number with an '06.

When I was doing a herd reduction program on my place near Austin in the late 1960s and early 1970s, I killed probably another twenty+ deer with the .243, but they don't really count. It wasn't "hunting" in the traditional sense; get home from work, change clothes, drive out in the jeep, sit and wait and then shoot any old doe that showed up. We were way, way "over-goated". Parks & Wildlife would have had a squallin' fit, but I wanted decent-sized deer, not greyhounds with horns. My idea worked; a 30% gain in average body weight. Parks & Wildlife discovered the same thing with their research project near Kerrville some years later, but I didn't have to spend tax dollars.

White spot, cross-neck, head, high-heart: Pretty much DRT with the .243. (Or anything else, for that matter, this side of a .22 rimfire.)

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Old November 19, 2005, 09:41 AM   #16
Gary Conner
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.243's

I've used my .243 on deer and turkey, and killed a javalina at 200 yards once(putting it in his head) and I have found that every deer I ever shot broadside with it in the heart lung area, was able to run anywhere from fifty, to a hundred and fifty yards or more.

(And I don't shoot til they are standing perfectly still, and as close as possible)

For myself, I don't think the .243 has enough punch for deer, unless you are shooting them in the head. But, the most flat shooting caliber in a rifle.

I've found, you just almost always have to put it in their head if you don't want to look for them for three to ten hours. The .308 is the way to go, if you are hunting bucks and don't want to chance breaking horns off with a head shot with a .243. But I sure do like the .243 for turkey, cause the model 70 .243 is the most accurate as far as groupings, that I have ever seen.
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Old November 19, 2005, 01:19 PM   #17
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taking a header?

Yes, for accuracy, I LOOOOOOOOVVVVVEEEE that Remington .243. The 700 series is just a flat out wonderful gun. (Well, if it has a wooden stock....but that's another thread....)

Now a second question: won't a slug just bounce off the skull of a deer? It would never in the world have occurred to me to try a head shot; not because I couldn't have it it (I could) but because I assumed it might not penetrate. Might knock him out, though....... Say more about how to do a head shot on a deer, please, guys.

And wouldn't that utterly ruin the trophy? This would have been one even *I* would have put on the wall of our house.

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Old November 19, 2005, 05:29 PM   #18
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I think that Art is referring to taking a straight-on shot at a buck's chest; if the buck has lowered his head, the round will penetrate the skull and travel down through the chest. A centerfire round should penetrate the skull, and yes, it may mess up the rack.

With regard to simply relying on a headshot instead of aiming for the chest or broadside shot, I'll share my only experience with it:

I was hunting a couple of years ago with our regular group. One of the guys shot a buck, which ran off. It was gut-shot. We tracked it for a couple of miles, and we were finally was able to get within about 30 yards of the buck, which was laying down and presented a broadside shot. The guy aimed his
.270 at the buck's head and fired.

The shot was a little off, and the .270 blew right through the buck's snout. The buck jumped up and started running away again, pumped up by the pain, and leaving a nasty bloodtrail.

An hour later, we finally caught up with the buck again, and the guy put it down with a good broadside shot. But I'll bet that the buck was in a heck of a lot of pain for that hour, which only motivated it to run farther instead of just laying down to stiffen up and die.

If you want to take the headshot, make sure that you can make a perfectly accurate shot every time. Personally, I'm not perfect with anything, so I'll avoid the headshot.
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Old November 19, 2005, 06:30 PM   #19
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Art, I feel Keith always leaned on the over-gunned side of things for traditional game (non-dangerous). Then he would comment about several hundred yard shots with a 44 or 41 mag revolver on a caribou or something. I find his life and vision fascinating, but I also just go "ah huh" but continute to read on. People said that he did not like criticism or challenges to his statements. I relayed his view as he was considered an expert and was a proponent of the larger than 6mm/243 caliber choice for deer. I used a 243 for a while, but feel more confident of a cleaner kill with my trusty 270. It could just as easily be a 308 or 30-06. I just chose 270. Guess I was a Jack O'Connor guy from his days at Outdoor Life and his books. Hech, this year I'm only using a revolver for deer (for better or worst). It is something I just want to do.

I would not take a head shot intentionally---Too small a target. the 243 would easily penetrate a deer skull (ie. blow it up). The 243 is a great caliber; I actually love the caliber as it is one of my favorites for long range varmints out in the country where the noise is not an issue and its okay for deer too especially if that is all you have. It is a far far better choice than the folks who want to use a 223 for deer where its legal.
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Old November 19, 2005, 07:41 PM   #20
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Quote:
I've used my .243 on deer and turkey, and killed a javalina at 200 yards once(putting it in his head) and I have found that every deer I ever shot broadside with it in the heart lung area, was able to run anywhere from fifty, to a hundred and fifty yards or more.

(And I don't shoot til they are standing perfectly still, and as close as possible)

For myself, I don't think the .243 has enough punch for deer, unless you are shooting them in the head. But, the most flat shooting caliber in a rifle.
Haw. Be careful of taking tooo much to heart from anecdotes. The same trip that my wife killed her first deer with a down-loaded .257 Roberts (100g Nosler BT at around 2500 fps[downloaded by a friend for low recoil for his daughter]), I killed two deer with my .300 Win Mag (180g Sierra GK at 3100 fps). Her doe dropped DRT, while my two ran over 40 yards before piling up. So what's the moral? That the .257 Roberts loaded below its potential kills better than a hot-loaded .300 WinMag? Not at all. Her shot raked the underside of the spine, while my two shots took lungs. Good kill shots can take a few yards to drop the animal. No big deal.

Seeing as how any 100g .243 is certainly on par with the 100g .257, I have confidence in it for Texas white tail, any day of the week. But that doesn't mean that I'll take any shot presented with one.
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Old November 20, 2005, 02:48 AM   #21
GUNSMOKE45441
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Gotta hit em where they live, I like the high shoulder shot, it anchors them where they stand.
In my area a deer that runs 50 yards, could be a 3 or 4 hour drag uphill
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Old November 20, 2005, 09:40 AM   #22
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Quote:
We found ONE DROP of blood and a chunk of flesh about a third to half inch. We have combed that blinkin' forest and we could NOT find him.
Springmom,

That sign indicates to me a brisket shot with a pass through no vitals hit. Either that or a leg shot with no bone hit. But in either case this is a lightly wounded deer. Not the calibers fault.

As far as a front on shot I'd be less than enthusiastic to pull that one off with a .243. The front on or front quartering shot is deadly and there is ABSOLUTELY no reason not to take it. Unless you are shooting a light caliber which may break up on bone.
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Old November 21, 2005, 07:22 AM   #23
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Quote:
The front on or front quartering shot is deadly and there is ABSOLUTELY no reason not to take it. Unless you are shooting a light caliber which may break up on bone.
No one said that a head on or a quartering forward was not a deadly shot, they are as deadly as a board-side or quartering away shot.

Uh.. I did state a valid reason why I do not take those shots. If you enjoy cleaning a deer that has its guts busted open, more power to you, I personally do not.
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Old November 21, 2005, 08:16 AM   #24
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Quote:
No one said that a head on or a quartering forward was not a deadly shot, they are as deadly as a board-side or quartering away shot.
Windjammer,

Sorry if you got the impression I was aiming that comment at you. I just went back and read your post I hadn't actually read what you'd written about front on shots before. My bad.

I was just trying to make the point that head on shots are just fine with the right equipment. And depending on what bullet a hunter is using they probably shouldn't be done with a .243.

You have a valid point about busting the gut on a straight head on shot. That can be a mess.

Greg
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Old November 21, 2005, 01:29 PM   #25
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H & H

No problem, I just wanted to make sure I had express my option clearly. Knowning how the written word can be misunderstood, I try to articulate my option without demeaning anyone.

Now, I'm not saying that if a buck of a life time walked out and I couldn't get nothing but a head on shot I would not take the shot. But 99% of the time I'm taking game its for meat and I want to save as much as possible, thats why I stay with the boardside and quartering away shots
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