View Full Version : 17 hmr on woodchucks, possums, raccoons

Come and take it.
July 3, 2012, 04:37 PM
After some decent experience over time with the 17hmr I have been very disappointed with forward torso hits on animals of these sizes. When ever I aim for the head they go down instantly. I would say up to 50 percent of upper torso shots I have made on animals of this size have resulted in them getting away, sometimes leaving a huge bloody mess of fat and fur as if the bullet exploded before penetrating.

I remember one of the first times I used a 17hmr and took shots at some grackles. feathers flew but only a few actually died. When I use a 22 rifle almost all hits on birds result in quick kills.

I feel kind of guilty using the gun for any hunting unless I can make a head shot.

before I used hornady vmax. After research I switched to the tnt hollowpoints because I was told they would hold together better. no improvement.

I suppose the first step is for the designer and manufacturers of the cartridge to acknowledge they made some mistakes. Than perhaps they could rectify them. Rifling twist would be the biggest concern for the firearm manufacturers as the bullet needs to be a bit bigger. Perhaps the 25 grain range.

Or maybe they could have saved a lot of money on Research and development and just resurrected the 5mm rimfire.

July 3, 2012, 06:02 PM
I don't have a ton of experience with the 17hmr but a good friend of mine has used it to successfully take raccoon, rabbit and even coyote on several occasions. I was there to witness it most of those times.

Some of those shots were head shots but most were torso shots to the vitals. I recall he was using CCI brand 17hmr.

Brian Pfleuger
July 3, 2012, 06:31 PM
Between my uncle and I, we've killed a ton of woodchucks with the 17HMR. Any hit from the heart/lung area forward have always died instantly, even though they look uninjured. Usually can't even find the entrance wound.
Never, not one time, have I seen a confirmed vital zone hit that didn't immediately kill the animal.

July 3, 2012, 06:40 PM
disappointed with forward torso hits on animals of these sizes.
I find this interesting as I routinely take ground hogs with .22LR and shorts. I do not have a .17 or Mac-2 but a buddy of mine says that he literally destroys Ditch Tigers with one. .... ;)

Be Safe !!!

July 3, 2012, 06:59 PM
.17 HMR is my go-to property gun.
I have felled numerous raccoons, ground-hawgs, skunks, possums, feral cats,... and even coyotes.

I wished we had had these things forty years ago.

Now I bought this Savage 93R17, with a basic Bushnell 3x9 "weather-proof" scope, from a good buddy of mine on another forum, whom was doing ballistic testing. The gun and scope came with ammo. I used up the Win and Fed loadings similar to Hornady .17 gr V-max. I "may" have fired a few rounds of the 20 grainers in FMJ and "gamepoint".

Another buddy of mine, forum member, also uses a 17 HMR, and it was him and some other forum folks ( I should know better by now about asking whether I need to buy a gun...<sigh>
My buddy 25 minutes South of me, uses nothing but Hornady .17 gr V-Max.

Meaning, I also have chosen to stay with this loading. Granted I did well with the Fed variation, as I got one heck of a deal on a couple of boxes for $7 and $8 respectively.

Also, my experience ( and Lady Luck showing up) says this chambering is the bees knees when using a Hav-a-Hart live trap.
Too lazy to get one of the 55 gal drums out of one of the barns...and fill with water...
I can, and do, use the .17 HMR to...err..."dispatch" a critter in the Live Trap.
I have yet to shoot the trap, do any damage to it, and the critter is DRT.

I set the trap out, near the road, as I do not have a safe shot, or in one of the barns.
[With all the farm tractors and machinery, and I KNOW how much damage groundhawgs can do to said...]

Serious property duty business, and the .17 HMR has filled a niche for me.


July 4, 2012, 01:15 AM
Had pretty good luck with critter the size you talk about,Even a few pigs. But I must say I like the 22Mag better for hunting,just old school I guess.

July 4, 2012, 03:46 PM
My experience with 17HMR Hornady VMax on small birds is a puff of feathers and not much left. A hit almost anywhere gives the same results.

Come and take it.
July 5, 2012, 03:51 PM
I can only report of what I have seen and experienced myself, which is not a flawless record by far. The bullet is at times failing before it gets past the fat layer. If it strikes bone it easily penetrates just not wet tissue.

I remember specifically once shooting a possum at point blank range. At these ranges I hold the cross hair on the top edge of the body above the forward torso. this puts the projectile at about 1 and a half inches below my aiming point. I actually witnessed the impact and the blood but the animal ran off. After examining the mess I had to conclude bullet failure. There was fat, blood and fur splattered around.

There have been other instances, once with a raccoon where blood, fat and fur were at the location however that time the animal was a further distance and didn't witness a detailed impact.

I have shaken my head at hits on squirrels that should have been lethal. One squirrel in particular was covered in blood from the first hit but little penetration.

One of the crows I have killed with the 17hmr had a huge blown out cavity at the entrance of the impact but not very much penetration.

If the wound is superficial than it opens up the very real possiblity that the animal will not die any time shortly and may even survive the injury albeit the creature will be hideously maimed and scarred. A upper torso hit should result in death even if it doesn't happen right away, by penetration into the critical organs and blood vessels.

I find it rather hard to believe I would be the only one who has witnessed bullet failure from the 17hmr. A hunting projectile should be able to deliver damage predictably, not sporadically.

I bought some 20 grain gamepoints and will see if they rectify the problem.

Brian Pfleuger
July 5, 2012, 04:58 PM
I would not necessarily expect 100% "insta-kill" from body shots. Even though I have personally witnessed it nearly 100% of the time, myself, on woodchucks.

I have shot 3 woodchucks with 12ga deer slugs. Would you believe that every one of them escaped? It's hard for me to believe and I saw it with my own eyes. Trails of all manner of nastiness leading back to their holes but all 3 made it.

What am I to make of it? Bullet failure? 12ga isn't "enough" for woodchucks?
Sheer dumb luck and poor shot placement, intermingled unpredictably. That's what caused it.

Squirrels? Are you talking, like, Grey Squirrels?! There's no way a 17HMR doesn't kill squirrels with any kind of shot placement. The 17 will blow squirrels in half.

Crows? I've seen at least 3 killed with a 17. 3 is not a normal statistical sample but the effect has been so devastating that I find the idea of wounding them, again, with any kind of shot placement, to be pretty far fetched. For all intents and purposes, it blows them in half.

I/We have used Hornady and CCI ammo with indistinguishable results. When we make the shot, the 17 has never failed us, not once.

July 7, 2012, 02:54 PM
I have shot 3 woodchucks with 12ga deer slugs. Would you believe that every one of them escaped? It's hard for me to believe and I saw it with my own eyes. Trails of all manner of nastiness leading back to their holes but all 3 made it.

Last fall, before I had my .17HMR, folks came to deer hunt here on the farm.
All three were hunting with shotguns. They just arrived back at the farmhouse, when a racoon popped out of the barn and these three got to "steppin'-n-fetching" for shotguns and loads.

Well besides the misses...*snicker*...which did cause the racoon to scoot a bit faster, and do some jukin'-n-jivin"...

This coon took a hit with a buckshot load of some kind, and a hit with a slug, and kept going. One the boys took after him, and finally got close enough for a finishing shot with a 12 bore slug.

It was funny to watch.
I was probably not much help, when I informed them I arrived home to find 3 deer on the property. A buck, at corner of the yard where the main road meets driveway, and two nice doe, at the clothesline .

They hunted north of the farmhouse that day. I kept telling them if they wanted to walk the 90 acres is their business, still the deer are in the yard. *grin*

Two of these boys have been down since, and seen the results of the .17HMR, on various critters.

They are still scratching their heads as to how something "that small" can do what it does.
Including raccoons.