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Old November 9, 2013, 03:50 PM   #1
reynolds357
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.243 Winchester on Whitetails

Dusted off the old .243 Win this season for deer hunting. 90 gr deep curl slightly over 3100 FPS. I have probably shot 15 or so deer with the .243 over the years. Got it back out just to mix things up, and honestly, I wanted to see if the Deep Curl was all it is touted to be. After today, remember why I retired the .243 Win. Had a nice buck walk out at 120 yards. He was in some brush, but I was able to get a clean shoulder shot on him. I hit him perfectly in the lungs. He hit the ground. Jumped up, and ran through the thick brush out of sight. I walked to where I shot him. No blood. No hair. Only thing I saw was disturbed ground. I walked around and found no signs of the deer being hit. Being 100% sure I hit him, and hit him where I intended to hit him, I left and got my tracking dog. 60 yards through the deep brush, the dog found the deer. The deer's head was laying in a pool of blood that came out his nose (head slightly down hill from body) but other than that, not one drop of blood anywhere. The deer never bled from the body until I began to drag it, and then blood began to bubble from the entrance wound. There was no exit wound.
The .243 killed the deer. The Deep Curl did an impressive amount of internal damage. It lacked about 3" exiting. Turned both lungs to Jello, but no blood trail.

I have had this (no blood trail) happen to me countless times with the .243. I have tracked a multitude of other peoples deer with my dogs that were shot with the .243 that did not bleed. Is it just me, or have others had the problem of the .243 not giving adequate blood trail? Have the "big guns" spoiled me?

I am not complaining about the deer going 60 yards. 30 to 150 is expected for lung shots. My complaint is no blood trail.
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Old November 9, 2013, 04:14 PM   #2
Brian Pfleuger
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.243 Winchester on Whitetails

I use bullets that penetrate completely. We've taken a few deer with the .243. Never had any trouble finding one, never didn't have a blood trail. Entrance wounds don't bleed well. You need an exit with any rifle. A .308 entrance wound will bleed little/no better than a .243 entrance.
Short answer, seems like a Deep Curl problem more than a caliber problem.
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Old November 9, 2013, 05:04 PM   #3
jmr40
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Hit em in the right spot with good bullets and you don't need a blood trail. A 243 is proabably all the gun anybody ever really needs for deer, and will work quite well on even larger game.
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Old November 9, 2013, 05:36 PM   #4
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I haven't used a .243 on deer personally but I did let youngsters use mine many years back when I lived in Nevada. Usually was their first deer and they used a stiff loaded Hornady 100 gr. Spire Point bullet. Had one deer drop on the spot and the farthest one ran was a bit over 200 yards before hitting a fence, backing up and hitting it again twice before expiring. One of the things I had the kids do was even though they could see where the deer fell, I had them look for any sign of a blood trail and tracks, cut off hair, all the things necessary to confirm a hit. The sad thing was even on through and through shots, blood trails wee quite sparse and if the ranch we were huntin on had been more brushy, that 200 yard runner would most likely never have been found. Low open sagebrush with small batches of willows allowed us to see where they ran and where they fell. There we all goodly sized Nevada Mule Deer BTW.
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Old November 9, 2013, 06:39 PM   #5
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Two .243 bullets that worked for us were/are the Nosler solid base and Speer Grand Slam-both 100 grains.
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Old November 9, 2013, 07:18 PM   #6
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I haven't killed any deer with the .243 but I have shot hogs. I use the Barnes 80 gr. TTSX handloaded over Superformance and it is a shoot-through with a 1" exit wound and goo between the holes. Works great.
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Old November 9, 2013, 08:15 PM   #7
reynolds357
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Definitely not a Deep Curl problem. Perfect mushroom and over 90% weight retention is about all you can ask for. Thats the same experience I had with every other bullet, save the Barnes X, that I have used in the .243 Winchester. Most of my hunting bullets do not exit. My favorite recipee for devesdating whitetails is a 140 VLD screaming out of a WSM and on occasion a RUM. Never exits. Entrance wound ranges in size from golf ball to baseball. Usually drop in tracks. When not, a blood trail that looks like you sprayed it with a spray can. My "other load" is a 150 Ballistic Silver tip. Usually exits from the WSM, never exited yet from the RUM. Always yields blood trail either way. I do hunt with various .30's .33's, .325's, and .35's. Of course, they all exit. I am mainly trying to figure out why the .243 so consistently never yields a blood trail.
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Old November 9, 2013, 09:20 PM   #8
Brian Pfleuger
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.243 Winchester on Whitetails

Your experiences are all different than mine. I've never seen any cartridge with any bullet, including shotguns, muzzleloaders and various rifles that produce entrance wounds much larger than their caliber. I've had no trouble following blood trails left by the .243, nor any other round when proper hits were made.
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Old November 9, 2013, 09:27 PM   #9
tacticalgoldaxe
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From what I have seen, it totally depends on what kind of ammo you use. 100 grain delayed expansion bullets (like Hornady Interlock) work well on medium sized game.
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Old November 9, 2013, 09:29 PM   #10
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Your comparing a 243 to various short magnums with allot more bullet weight, I would think it might come up short in this comparison.
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Old November 9, 2013, 09:59 PM   #11
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Just watched my little second cousin bag a small 8 with the .243 this morning. Pulled a neck shot. It was a through and through but the buck stopped there. Entry and exit wounds would be invisible if it weren't for the blood. Not sure what kind of bullet he was using.

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Old November 10, 2013, 01:15 AM   #12
THebear_78
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.243 Winchester on Whitetails

Probably piled up 25+ whitetails with the 243. Almost all of them were shot with the Sierra 100gr sbt gameking. Shot a couple with Sierra 85gr hpbt gameking and 100 winchester power points.

Never lost a deer and generally had sufficient blood trails. I can only remember having a couple of bullets fail to exit . I have had worse results with a box of 165 gr PP winchester 30-06.
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Old November 10, 2013, 02:29 AM   #13
FrankenMauser
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Quote:
Your experiences are all different than mine. I've never seen any cartridge with any bullet, including shotguns, muzzleloaders and various rifles that produce entrance wounds much larger than their caliber. I've had no trouble following blood trails left by the .243, nor any other round when proper hits were made.
I've seen both scenarios.

I've shot plenty of animals, myself, that had no more than a single drop of blood coming out of an entrance wound the diameter of the bullet. Two years ago, I shot a doe antelope with a .277" 140 gr Partition, that had a closed-up .27 caliber entrance with ZERO blood, and an exit wound of about .35 caliber, that had a piece of lung plugging the hole (and maybe a teaspoon of blood lost, total).

Even my bull elk, last year, really didn't bleed out of the entrance wounds, and they were .44 and .58 caliber.

But... I've also seen big game (mostly antelope) that had massive entrance wounds, after being whacked with something that was "overkill". I think it was in 2009, that one of my uncles smacked an antelope right in the butter zone with his .338 WM, with an Accubond (250 gr, I think). That antelope had an entrance wound that I could put my fist through (and continue right out the even larger exit wound). One of my brothers has a picture of him holding up the antelope, looking right through the chest cavity.



Exit wounds are great, if you feel like tracking. But if you have a bullet that will drop them in their tracks, without exiting... that's even better.
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Old November 10, 2013, 07:32 AM   #14
Guv
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I've never seen such massive entrance wounds, why would a 338 do this on such a thin skinned animal? I haven't seen everything by a long shot though.
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Old November 10, 2013, 08:31 AM   #15
Bezoar
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you have to match the bullet to the velocity and the target. NO offense, but i had to make the switch to GMX this year for similar reasons.
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Old November 10, 2013, 09:02 AM   #16
CDW4ME
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We have shot a few deer with 100 gr. Soft point (Remington) 243 and obtained satisfactory results.
If an easy to follow blood trail is desired, a 1 1/8 - 1 1/4" four blade broadhead thru the lungs typically delivers.
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Old November 10, 2013, 10:32 AM   #17
Sea Buck
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The .243 is a great,but underrated round.Shoots fast and flat.Took a nice 150 lb 4 pt. last year with my .243 with Rem 100 gr core lokt.Hit him in the chest at 100 yds. He took one jump forward and piled up.I have shot deer in the same spot with a .30-06 with the same results.Any bullet with the velocity of a .243 plus bullet design to hold togather after impact will punch through to down a thin skinned animal such as a Whiitetail,IMHO.I used 100gr Hornady RN reloads for years but cannot find them anymore.I liked the expansion and exit hole.
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Old November 10, 2013, 10:57 AM   #18
BumbleBug
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Quote:
Originally Posted by reynolds357
...I have had this (no blood trail) happen to me countless times with the .243. I have tracked a multitude of other peoples deer with my dogs that were shot with the .243 that did not bleed. Is it just me, or have others had the problem of the .243 not giving adequate blood trail? Have the "big guns" spoiled me?...
This has been my experience over the years too. Having shot some deer with the .243 & 6mm Rem (same bullet about 50fps faster) & seen a number shot by others. I've helped find several of these deer. That being said, I never experienced a deer hit that was not recovered.

No argument from me, the .243 is a proven deer cartridge. All my early experiences have been with 100gr standard lead-core/jacket bullets. As in all cartridges for deer hunting these days, bullet designs have transformed the effectiveness in terms of range & performance. The right bullet is the key to the .243.

BTW: The .243 is one of the most accurate out of the box rifles that I have ever seen. With all the .224 cal's available, that is saying a lot!

FWIW...

...bug
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Old November 10, 2013, 02:04 PM   #19
reynolds357
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Brian, you get the massive entrance wounds from bullets that unload their energy quickly after entering. The shock wave actually travels back out the entrance wound and the blood and gelatinized tissue exits the entrance wound creating a massive hole. The first time I saw it, I mistook the entrance for an exit. It puzzled me because I knew the "exit wound" was on the wrong side of the animal. I started asking around, and that is the answer I got. You can look at videos on the net of match bullets hitting ballistic gelatin, and observe the return of the shock wave. You don't have free liquid in the gelatin, so you don't see the hole open up.
Make some VLD's scream and you will see it first hand.
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Old November 10, 2013, 02:15 PM   #20
reynolds357
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JMR40, the only guaranteed instant stops are the brain or smashing both front shoulders. I try to avoid the former for obvious reasons and the latter for meat preservation. I have seen white tails go over 50 yards with a huge hole punched in their heart. I have seen them go well over 200 with a hole through both lungs. I want a blood trail even though most of my deer pile up within 5 yards of where I hit them.
I want to get the .243 ready for my son to hunt with. I am wondering if it is forgiving enough for his first deer rifle. I want a blood trail 100% of the time.

Last edited by reynolds357; November 11, 2013 at 10:20 AM.
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Old November 10, 2013, 02:53 PM   #21
Major Dave (retired)
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Using Sierra 100gr Grand Slams, in my .243 (Win M70 Short Action Carbine)

I shot a small buck 30 yards away from a 20 foot high tree stand. Due to the acute downward angle, I actually hit him slightly off center, high on the back, and the bullet exited between his front legs.

He left 6 inch diameter blood splatters about every ten feet for about 50 to 60 yards, then piled up, dead. Thick underbrush and foot tall grass/weeds caused no problem following the blood trail.

Only one story, about only one deer, but it adds to the total picture.
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Old November 10, 2013, 03:53 PM   #22
Brian Pfleuger
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.243 Winchester on Whitetails

My uncle hit one from about 30-40 yards in the right rear hip with an 80gr TTSX from a .243win, MV 3450fps.
Shattered the hip and penetrated diagonally through the deers entire body, punctured the diaphragm, liver, left lung and stopped just inside left shoulder.

Blood trail started about 50 yards later (was on a dead run) but could have been followed by a blind man just by slipping in all of it.

That was a solid 3 feet of penetration.
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Old November 10, 2013, 06:37 PM   #23
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My family and I have shot over 30 deer in the past 15 years with .243 Winchesters, most with 95 grain ballistic tips/ Accutips..

We've never recovered a bullet- all were complete penetrations on corn fed deer ranging from 120 - 180 pounds. All of them dropped within 50 yards of where they were hit.

In our experience, the 243 works just as well as large calibers on deer.
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Old November 10, 2013, 07:58 PM   #24
Art Eatman
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Interesting. I've tagged some two dozen bucks via my .243, and none of them moved from the time they were hit--except to the ground.

I'm spoiled.
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Old November 10, 2013, 08:20 PM   #25
reynolds357
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Art, where are you hitting the deer?
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