View Full Version : One shot stops

November 11, 2000, 10:52 PM
I shot a 6-point last month with a 150gr Ballistic Tip from my .30-06 and for the first time ever, I saw a deer drop and not take a step. He didn't die immediately (that took a .45 to the brain), but he didn't get up or even seem to try. I know he wasn't shot in the spine, but through the vascular area of the neck (carotids particularly). I initially thought he jumped into the creek he was standing next to, but then noticed he was laying on the ground quivering and vaguely moving his legs (something I would normally associate with a nervous system injury - but again, no spinal cord injury). After talking with a couple of ER and Trauma MDs about shock, the only thing I can determine is that the shock of the round was the biggest factor in actually stopping this deer in his track. He was not big (only about 150lbs)and the bullet was not recovered as it passed completely through leaving about a 2" exit wound (after skinning). Any ideas, because this is quite new to me.

November 11, 2000, 11:17 PM
What part is new to you? A .30-06 is plenty adequate for 150lb deer. I wouldn't be surprised if a shot to the neck dropped it. Generally a well placed bullet will put a deer down for good. Exspecially a shot to the neck, even though the spinal cord wasn't damaged a shot that tears through muscle and tissue and drops it is probably going to immidiatly cause shock and hemmoraging. Usually if a deer runs very far after being hit it is
A. Hot hit very good.. Maybe fatal, but not immidiatly.
B.Shot in the lungs. a good shot, but they can run quit a ways before all the oxygen in their blood is exausted and they go brain dead from lack of oxygen while still running.
Sometimes deer run aways after a heart shot, but I think this is pure instinct and muscle spasms, because this deer doesn't know he's dead yet. Congratulations on your deer. Do you have a pic you can post? What kind of deer was he? I'm not real sure what the question was, hope this helped though :)

November 11, 2000, 11:34 PM
It was a whitetail shot in the South. The question should have been:

"Does anyone have thoughts about what caused the animal to suddenly drop?"

I can only assume the initial shock from the bullet to the vascular system causing a sudden drop in blood pressure (something that does not always happen in a heart or chest shot). The carotids were shredded, most heart shots I've seen aren't completely destructive, rather cause a slightly delayed response from the body.

I'm also more accustomed to watching them run for a ways before stopping. I am just surprised a bit because it's unusual from my experiences and the hunters I know.

Sorry, no pics. stopped that a long time ago, but I did keep the antlers for the kids to play with. I'm just sorry neither one of the boys were with me that day.

November 11, 2000, 11:45 PM
Ive had several deer drop on the spot. There have been no observable similarities in any of the cases I can think of. They were all hit well, thats it. There may be some medical reason behind it, don't know. I like it though, no tracking.

November 12, 2000, 05:13 AM
ER - I've had similar results shooting 180 gr. Barnes X-bullets from my 30-06. Most deer have dropped in their tracks even if the spine wasn't smashed. I don't know why this happens, but I attribute it to hydostatic shock knocking them cold.

November 12, 2000, 08:55 AM
If both of the carotid arteries were destroyed, while hydrostatic shock may have been present, it is not likely that a pressure wave started in a small vessel (compared to a heart chamber) would be devastating. Instead, near the head on the carotids are pressure sensors called baroreceptors. It is their job to try to regulate blood pressure. In the event of sudden pressure drop, an instant attempt to correct will occur. When all else fails, since the head is critical, the animal may drop or essentially pass out . This is a last ditch effort to improve blood flow to the brain by lowering the head to a point at or below the body. It is reflex controlled. If I'm not quite correct on this, please let me know...school was a long time ago.

Art Eatman
November 12, 2000, 10:41 AM
My father is a lot better offhand shot than I am; he has killed most of his deer with neck shots. I've killed--I ain't sure--maybe ten or fifteen, that way. "Hit 'em in the white spot!"

They always drop and stop. Sometimes they'll quiver a while, but they're paralyzed.

I've just taken it for granted that the physical shock of impact screws up the nerves of the spinal cord, whether the actual bone is hit or not. Whether or not that's true, doesn't matter. A 150-grain '06 in the neck is as good as a ton of anchor.

:), Art

November 12, 2000, 01:09 PM
If you have never shot an Elk,Hit him solid Neck or Lung and watch him walk for miles sometimes bleading out most times he bleed internally Its amazing how far they can go,I guess it's because they just don't know how hurt they are. I have shot Deer and Antelope that when I skinned them very little damage(155gr 30.06) Just two holes in the neck. It seems that I kill them when I slit the throat or a .22 to the head The shock knocks them down and I think left long enough most would revover and move somewhere else to finish dying. Remember Muzzle Velocity = Energy ,and thats what does the damage,along with the bullet's mushroming. I knew a friend that hunted a few times with AP He hit a few but because no bullet mushroom no energy was displaced into the animal=no quick kill

Keith Rogan
November 12, 2000, 02:49 PM
Yeah, what Art said. I think many neck shots, even when they don't actually contact the spinal column, impart enough enough shock to the surrounding tissue (including the spine) to disrupt things.
The most instantaneous kills I've witnessed were with a .243 believe it or not. I was using a 70 grain Barnes "X" loaded to max velocities and no matter where I hit them, they went down right there - I say that with the understanding that all those hits were good ones, chest shots with the occasional neck shot here and there.

I must have shot 12 or 15 deer with that load and all of them were "one shot stops". Prior to that I had been using 100 grain Partitions (both Federal Premiums and later, a handload) and in nearly every case the deer traveled a short distance before keeling over.

In the real world, both of those loads were just fine. But, I think that 70 grain X at about 3700-3800 fps just had a hell of a wallop and that velocity (since it was incorporated in a good bullet) was responsible for the instantaneous nature of the kills.

Side note - those X's at high velocities leave you to do a lot of scrubbing with copper solvent. No free lunches here.

The Bears and Bear Maulings Page: members.xoom.com/keithrogan (http://members.xoom.com/keithrogan)

Art Eatman
November 12, 2000, 04:44 PM
Back when Roy WEatherby was first touting his high velocity rigs, there was a photo of a full-grown Eland which had been taken. I don't recall if it were the .257 or .270 Weatherby. Anyway, the shot was through the hams, side to side. A one-shot kill, it was said, with the animal falling where it was shot--not tracked and found after bleeding out. The exit wound looked to be maybe 8" or 10" across, with a really deep crater.

Animal behavior after being shot with a high-velocity bullet is definitely different than when hit by a slow-moving bullet.


Nevada Fitch
November 12, 2000, 06:11 PM
There are lots of variables involved when you shoot a deer.It is most anoying when one runs after being hit,causing you to have to go look for it.lots of hunters with little experience will shoot a deer and watch it run off and think that they missed.I have seen lots of deer run 50 to 100yds with a perfect lung shot.If the nervious systen is hit they will usually drop in their tracts but might require a finishing shoot.With gut shots you just never know.Shoot a leg off and you may never find them.I have started shooting them in the shoulder more often, because you have a fair size target.The deer will go down right there usually,but not always.I don't like neck shots unless they are very close and sure.Aim for the shoulder even if you are off a little you still got a dead deer maybe not right on the spot but he will be close by usually.

November 12, 2000, 07:04 PM
Like many Australian shooters I have shot kangaroos and pigs in the thousands and I suppose these would be similar in size to your deer.

Large quick expanding bullets are the most destructive and lethal.

In terms of velocity, if you think about it, a 400 grain Speer from a 458 will have much higher velocity as it travels thrugh the animal than say a 243.

I think Weatherby was right in an way, but it is velocity through the animal not velocity at impact.

Also, it seems to me that momentum from both observation and theory is a large contributor. Bullet momentum will cause more flesh to move or the same flesk to move out of the way quicker.


November 13, 2000, 01:18 AM
I have never had a deer drop in its tracks until this year. I've shot them with 270s and 25-06 and they have always run at least 20yds, even a young doe last year that only came in at 90 pounds gutted.I've always taken heart shots.

This year I used a 30 caliber Sako chambered in 782 Warbird. I loaded it with a Sierra 165gr spbt. A good size doe, about 130 pounds gutted, popped over a hill about 20yds away. I shot here through the heart as I always do and she never took a step. The only move she made after she hit the ground was an ear twitch. I was expecting better performance than my other rifles but this to me was really impressive. I'll get another chance in January to see if I can do this again.

November 15, 2000, 11:49 AM
Shot a doe 2 years ago at about 25 yds with a 150gr. 308. I hit a little high taking out the upper part of the lungs and breaking the spine. The deer stumbled and simply fell over. I would say that the temporary wound cavity caused by velocity must have broken the spine as the entrance wound was a few inches away from the spine proper. Possibly the shockwave can disrupt the spinal column enough to incapacitate the deer??

November 15, 2000, 03:17 PM
This is my first post.

I saw a doe drop in her tracks last Friday (11/10). The person I was hunting with shot a doe with a 150gr ballistic tip .270 at about 30 yds. He was aiming for the upper neck, but forgot to consider that the .270 will be an inch or so high at 50 yds when bullseye at 100 yds. The doe was hit an inch below the eye and never knew what hit her.

Later this season I will be out with my .243 and will report any results.

Art Eatman
November 16, 2000, 09:42 AM
Poodleshooter, you'll find all manner of medical experts who'll tell you that can't happen.

Trouble is, nobody ever told the dead deer.

Deer do weird stuff. I've seen some deer get hit in the heart, go down, and get up and run 50 or so yards. Others, also hit in the heart, flop over just like they're permanently dead.

And that's why I talk in generalities, possibilities and "maybes" and "mostlies" about what deer do and what bullets do and what happens when they get together. The only "always" I've seen is what happens when you hit 'em in the white spot--they tuck their little legs up and quit, right there.

:), Art

November 16, 2000, 12:44 PM

I agree with Art. Nobody told the dead deer they were/weren't supposed to do that.

Last year I shot 3 deer. One shot each.
First doe ran about 15yards and endo'd (chin down other end up.

Second shot 3 pt buck following a doe flat fell over.

Third shot fawn (Double lung) ran 60-80 yards and fell over in the woods.

Same rifle. same ammo. same aimpoint.

Distance 15-55 yards.

Different location for third shot.

Dead deer is dead deer.



(Sat opens WI gun season....)

November 17, 2000, 10:04 AM
I have only had 2 drop on the spot, both whitetail bucks, both shot with my .270. The first, shot at about 25 yds, hit in the heart and lungs, dropped in his tracks, and then slid and rolled about 40' down the side of a ravine. Talk about fun trying to drag him out of there, I should have let him take a couple steps closer away from the edge. The second buck was running at about 150 yds and I hit him too far back and high, but took out a hip and his spine and evidently some major blood vessels, he flopped over in midstride and stayed down. When I got to him he was still alive (could move his head and forelegs a little) so I popped him at the base of the skull with my pistol. I think if it had taken me another 30 seconds to get there he would have bled out and been dead anyway. As a contrast to this my buck this year ran full spead for at least 60 yds with his heart literally blown in half before he piled up.
Most that I have seen drop on the spot involved either central nervous system damage or were firmly anchored by a quartering shot passing through vital organs and taking out the far shoulder with all of the bullet's energy being transfered. I also believe that a calm, standing deer is much more likely to drop than one that is already pumped full of adreneline.

November 17, 2000, 01:21 PM
Dead is dead, as many respondants have written. Sometimes, the animal takes a lot of killing to get it done. I was on a hunt 10 years ago in the Texas hill country with a borrowed 270 Win. A doe crossing the fence at about 150 yards caught my eye. I put a handloaded 130 grain ballistic tip at the base of her neck, shattering the spine, with the bullet turning nearly 90 degrees and wiping out most of the back strap. She fell immediately. I waited 10 minutes to see if anything else would come along or if she decided to get up before I walked over. No movement. My friend came up with me, and about 30 yards away from her, she raised up on her front legs-I immediately put another 130 grain in the middle of her neck and she went back down. We put our rifles down and dragged her over the fence. As we crossed back over, she started to get up again. Being a safe hunter, we had put our rifles down so I drew my 45 Auto and put a 230 grain hollow point in the top of her head. Down she goes. Started to roll her over, and incredibly, she tried to get up again! Had my knife in my hands so I cut her throat to finish the job.
The wounds were awesome-8 inches of her spine behind the front legs was gone, the neck shot exit wound was the size of a tennis ball, plus a big vertical hole starting at the top middle of her skull and exiting out of the top front of her neck.
Learned two things-never borrow a rifle to hunt with, and don't believe they are dead until you have the gut pile at your feet!! I have since bought an exceptionally accurate M700 in 308 and make nothing but head shots, and have not had to make 2 shots on a deer since, but I am not certain I won't run into another one of those "assault deer" in the future......

November 17, 2000, 07:57 PM
First Deer:

200 lb (dressed) 3 pt muley. One shot, low in lungs, behind heart, 120 yards. Deer kept walking as if nothing happened. I then heard him run over the other side of the finger and crash into some deadfall. Went probably 30 yards. 160 grain partition from a .280.

Second deer:

175 lb (dressed, estimated) 3 pt (barely) muley. Two shots: One through knee/dick/ham (ouch, can I write that?), he started walking just after shot, and he was way out there. I was holding about a foot and a half over his back (extreme steepness between us, good rest, though). Next shot high through lungs, and he dropped immediately, slid downhill 30 yards and piled up on a scrubby tree growing out of the scree, whereupon he emitted a sheep-like bleat. 140 grain partition from .280. Gutpile rolled about 100 yards further down the hill. A bit steep there.

Third Deer:

Bigger than first, 4 pt muley. Standing on extremely steep slope. Slope damp and covered with heather and grass. First shot behind shoulder: through back of one lung and liver. Hit a rib on the way in and blew a 2-3" hole through everything. Audible *smack* when bullet hit. Deer stands there kind of hunched over, probably would be groaning if it could talk. Second shot right next to first, deer drops and slides 40 yards downhill. 140 grain partition from .280. Would have ruined less (flank) meat if I would have waited out the first hit, but I could not be sure.


I don't know what to think, other than they sure tasted good.

November 17, 2000, 08:09 PM
While I do most of my whitetail hunting with a bow,( any good hit and you can usually watch them die from your stand) I have had running deer just pile up with one .308 shot, just like someone pulled the plug.

November 18, 2000, 09:17 PM
Out of 14 mule deer, I've only had one run off...a doe shot at 80 yards from above that destroyed the lungs. Ran off about 30 yards and I tracked it to where it lay dead. All others lay where they were hit, only about 4 or 5 were instantly killed. This, at ranges from over 300 yards to 60.
I use a 30-06 with Hornady 165 gr BTSP, medium load of IMR 4350.

November 28, 2000, 06:12 PM
I took my 1895G "Guide Gun" with me this year.

Friday morning, I fired upon my first deer I've dropped hammer on in 6 years. Deer was squarely facing me. Range was about 200 yards. I missed.

Deer ran away from woods and into field...and into the sights of a friend who hit it with a .35 Rem at about 50 yards.

I waited a while (10 minutes?), then began walking over to where the deer had been when I fired, to see if I could find a blood trail. My friend came down from the tree stand after a few minutes, told me that he had shot the deer, and that it was lying down. Elapsed time at this point was at least 15 minutes from 2nd shot.

When we walked over, Bambi jumped up, and hauled into the woods. Blood spot was about the size of a dinner plate. We followed, posthaste. (imagine men running for several minutes)

The deer had lain down again, when I fired into his chest from 15 yards with my .40. He did not expire, but he didn't jump back up, either. I waited a few minutes, keeping the pistol on target. He lifted his head far up and to the side, and I finished him with a middle of neck shot just under the head. Instant death spasm. Deer would have been a 4 or 6 point, but the tines had not diverged. The .35 had hit him through one shoulder, and exited through ribs.

When we were riding back to pick him up, I noticed my scope mount was loose. Damn! Between you and me, though, I forgot to aim high, and I was zeroed at only an inch high at 100 yards. I prolly would have missed anyway!

I shot a small deer from about 55 yards a few days later. I heard feet thumping, and thought for a minute she was running, till I saw the still form on the ground.

That .45 caliber 300 grain Georgia Arms HP went through both shoulders, high on the entrance side, and a little lower through the exit. Instant kill. I classify the effect as "dramatic, but not excessive", and have decided to name my Guide Gun "One-timer", 'cuz I don't think I'll ever have to shoot them twice, if I get in a decent shot. Now, if I can just get a decent shot at those wild hogs next year...:)

November 28, 2000, 11:47 PM
I shot 2 deer this year. The first was a medium sized doe. I shot it at about 50 yds. with a .54 cal round ball. I hit it in the neck and it dropped on the spot. It wasn't dead yet but it wasn't moving much either.

I just shot a large buck on Monday. 2 180 gr. Sierra soft points (303 Brit) through the lungs at 100 yds. One of them broke the opposite shoulder when exiting. The deer kept running like nothing was wrong. It took a third shot that broke the pelvis to put it down.

Go figure.

Art Eatman
November 29, 2000, 12:06 AM
Long as we're BSing deer stories: I was hunting from a tree-stand, back when I lived just outside of Austintatious. A 90-pound (dressed) doe wandered by, ambling and nibbling. Meat fer the pot, sez I, and at maybe 40 yards held on her neck. I had the good old '06; I was handloading Sierra 165-grain HPBTs, then. Just as I touched it off, she took a step.

The bullet entered the top of the near-side shoulder, went just under the spine and with a Peckinpaugh-movie gout of blood and gore, took out the center of the shoulder-plate and the top of the off-side leg. She didn't drop; she instantly reared and spun on her hind-legs and three-legged it about 100 yards. The blood trail was over a foot wide. The exit wound must have been over four inches in diameter. About the worst mess I ever made.

But you wonder, some times, just how they do that sort of thing...


November 29, 2000, 02:18 AM
Meat fer the pot, sez I,

HEHEHE, That puts a grin on my face!!!:D

December 2, 2000, 04:14 PM
This is a great topic and I'de like to add a little something. I'm restricted to shotguns here but actually don't feel under-gunned compared to rifles because with a good 12 gauge set up with good optics I have a very formidable weapon. A lead projectile that's almost 3/4 of an inch in diameter and traveling somewhere around 1400 FPS will knock most any deer down to stay if it's hit right. I hit one once a little too high and back only to have it hump up and fall over. (liver hit). Any hit in the center of the neck or shoulders will USUALLY stop any deer in his tracks. The foot pounds and damage of a 12 gauge is awesome. This year I was hunting with my son-in-law and saw a deer standing broadside at about 80 to 100 yards, I put the red dot just behind the shoulder and squeezed. The deer's tail went up and it ran off with it's head held high--normal exit. My son-in-law said I missed because of the tail being up--I said I think I hit it, the shot felt good. When we got to where the deer was, the tracks (on snow) looked normal for a running deer, but after going only about 30 yards it looked like someone was throwing red paint all around. That deer went about 50 yards after a direct hit in the lungs with a 12 gauge and the tail was UP. I've heard that old wive's tale before about the tell-tale tail--don't believe it. willp58

Art Eatman
December 3, 2000, 12:49 AM
Hmmm. SFAIK, "tail up" means fear. I doubt deer think in terms of warning other deer of danger; I think other deer have learned to recognize the tail being up as a sign that deer #1 has found something to fear.

Seems to me that getting shot would tend to scare hell out of most deer.

:), Art

December 4, 2000, 08:56 PM
On the opening day of deer season this year I shot a six point whitetail buck with my M70 Winchester in .338 win. mag. using a noseler ballistic tip 200 gr bullet. I was headed back to my truck and and he came wandering down the side of the hill about 50 yards from me. He bent over to eat a leaf off of a small tree and I wacked him right thru the heart. He went down like his switch had been turned off. I mean he didn't twich, wiggle or spasm. When I got to him, he still had the leaf in his mouth. I know, way too much gun for whitetail, but I hate to have to track them down and it shoots so damn good.
Next time, I'm going to try my new 45-70 HR Buffalo Classic on one.

December 5, 2000, 06:34 AM

If the carotids were dthat damaged the answer is obvious.

instantaneous stroke dropped the deer.

The stroke could have been caused by a sudden drop in BP to the brain caused by occlusion/dissection of the arteries or by an air embolus to the brain sucked in through the hole.



December 6, 2000, 01:04 PM
Embolus... Good word.