It's not the amount of lead, it's where it lands.
I hunt in 5C, where flintlock and archery are both open until this coming Sat. (1/28).
Last Wednesday, I got out of work with enough time to scoot up a tree for the end of the day. I had a good spot selected, and I felt confident. I also knew deer may be there before me, so I was being awful careful coming in to the stand, watching where I was sure they'd be if they beat me to the spot. They weren't there.
Last 10 yards or so, I just eased up and started to walk, and of course, there were two deer watching me from a scant 30 yards away that busted out at that point. Of course.
I got settled in anyway and watched them trot off.
About 15-20 min before quitting time, deer were coming from my right, and I could not move to get a shot with how it all was situated in that setting. I had to wait it out. I eventually was in a situation where I had deer on three sides of me at distances of about 4 or 5 yards out to 30-35 yards. An interesting problem to have, for sure.
A big mama doe was in the clear at 15 yards, alongside another almost as big. I was able to cock the gun quietly (love a single trigger for this reason), and had it alllllllllllllllllmost in position to fire when one of the deer behind me busted me moving and blew. And off they all went.
The big mama doe I was almost in position to take stopped in an opening at 52 yards. I pulled the gun up on her, settled the sights, and broke the shot very cleanly. It felt really good, but a stout charge of 2F in humid weather makes a big cloud of smoke, and I wasn't able to see her reaction. Deer were running everywhere, and I didn't hear a crash. Crud.
I pulled out my rangefinder, got a fix on where the deer had been, and ranged it. 52 yards. Ok....went to the spot, found where I thought she was...range back...45 yards. Nope. Another likely spot, leaves tore up, range back...52. This is it. Looked about 10 seconds and found a spray of hair covering an area about 2 feet square. It was a LOT of hair. All grey/brown. Ok, good. About three steps and I saw a pin fleck of blood. A few more feet, another spot. Another....another...it started getting stronger. Dime sized drops, more frequently...ok, this looks good.
She went about 35-40 yards to a power line, and looked to head up hill and off the property. That would not be good, although I knew the neighbor and a phone call would almost surely get me permission to search for her.
She turned hard to her right and down hill. Whew. The blood weakened....small, infrequent drops. Ugh. What the heck happened...?
Followed it to about 60-70 yards from the shot where she turned abruptly off the open trail she was on and dove into a raspberry thicket. I often find when deer do crazy things like that...turn off a clear path into thick stuff with no path through it...they're about to drop. Not so.
She got into the raspberries and the blood faucet turned on. It was EVERYWHERE. high on the bushes, on the ground, on the stems on both sides of her line of travel. Just piles of it. Man, she's gotta be dead here soon, right? No.
Got through 15 or so yards of the raspberries and broke out into more open brush. She hit a trail, turned left, then right. Making conscious decisions like that makes me nervous. If they can do that, they're not close to falling over, usually.
The blood was heavy and led to a foaming puddle. I mean that literally. It was about as big as a dinner plate and probably an inch deep with pink bubbles. It looked like a pile of pink salmon eggs. It was just a big, foamy, puddle of blood. Wow. Soon...gotta be soon....
And then the blood petered out again. Took a few minutes to find small spots leading down a trail, then it opened again. soda can sized puddles one on top of the other...sprays on trees.....blood on muddy, bare dirt and so much it was easy to see. Still, it didn't take me to a deer.
Down the hill to the bottom and to the little creek down there. Then she crossed the creek. Ugh. This is going on entirely too far. I was now over 100 yards from where she was shot, and not feeling good. I had forgotten my good light and was working with my iphone flashlight. I was leaving bits of paper towel as I went to mark the trail, and thought, "If she crosses the creek, I better go home and give her some more time."
She crossed the creek.
But the blood was in quarter sized drops less than a foot apart, so I figured, "as long as it's good blood, I'll look some more."
She meandered down the bank of the creek....the blood wandered left and right haphazardly. Maybe...? Maybe...?????
After about more 30 yards, there she was, dead IN the creek. She traveled, as best as I can recreate the blood trail on GoogleEarth, about 175 yards.
The shot? Tight behind the shoulder. So what the heck...? And, this was with a 0.600" ball. Not that such a thing should make deer parts rain from all directions, but it's not a tiny projectile. It made a big freakin' hole!
When I rolled her over, the ball exited right behind the rib cage. I do not know how. The deer appeared to me to be quartering away, but it's possible she turned back toward me when she stopped. I strongly doubt it, but I can't say definitively that she didn't. I just really don't think she did.
I took the hide off and the ball hit the back edge of the front leg, just above the elbow. I'll check when I bone that leg, as there's a "scoop" out of the edge of it from the ball hitting there. It is POSSIBLE the ball clipped the leg bone just at the edge, and perhaps that turned the ball to the left and pushed it out that way? I don't know.
Post-mortem showed massive discoloration over more than 50% of each lung, but a hole through only one. No hole in the liver that I could find, nor the heart. While I didn't see a hole in Lung #2, half of it was dark purple instead of pink, like the "normal" half. Lung #1 looked identical, except it had a dill-pickle sized hole bored through it. And the hole wasn't near the edge of the lung...it was smack in the middle.
So...lots of questions, but the moral of the story is that shot placement makes the difference.
I shoot a 62 because, well, because I like to. But that big honkin' ball still needs to go where it's supposed to go. I do think the size and energy of that ball HELPED in the recovery of that deer. I will not speculate as to what a smaller caliber would have done as an end result, but I do think the big wound channel and big holes coming and going were a help on the blood trail.
Regardless, I figured I'd share to reinforce that it's all about where you land the ball and very little about how big a bore you shoot. If that ball had gone straight through and come out in the same relative spot it went in, that doe almost surely wouldn't have gone more than 30-40 yards.
Last edited by tdd; 01-24-2017 at 04:17 PM.