I passed on hunting deer this fall. I was fighting off a severe cold in my chest with a lot of coughing that persisted for weeks. Yesterday, I did get out to the bush briefly. A hunter had bagged a large white-tailed deer and needed help retrieving it. When I got the call via smartphone, I was given the location and headed out. The deer was killed in the afternoon but by the time the task of dragging it out was fully appreciated it was dark.
The deer was a beauty, probably 250 pounds and in the prime of life. The shot had been perfect, through a rib on the left side, the heart and breaking the opposite front leg. Still the deer had to be tracked down in the forest. It must have died in seconds with such injuries but still travelled ~100 yards or so.
Dragging it out through a foot of fresh powder was a killer. Fortunately, by the time I arrived, the deer was at the vehicle. Since my SUV was easier loading we raised the head and slid the deer in a bit. With one pulling and me lifting we got it halfway in and then with two pushing finished the task. We skinned the deer and quartered it in my garage.
Today, we began to cut the quarters. In the front quarters we made a pile of ribs, steak and stewing/soup bones. The hind quarters remain while we reorganize freezer-space. After all this work we were rewarded by a steak dinner cooked by the little woman. It was excellent even though she cooked it rare and spicey. It was the most tender steak I have ever eaten. The deer was very fat, probably grain-fed over the summer, and the steak was supremely easy to chew. I think one barely needed to chew but it would fall apart with only a rub of the tongue…
The only downside to the whole affair was that the deer was shot at extreme range and the bullet did not expand promptly. It turned sideways to pass through the heart and break the leg. 100 yards less range probably would have dropped the deer in its tracks. Still it was a quick, humane kill, just not as quick as such an accurate placement should have been. If the heart had been missed the deer might have suffered long. A lesson had been learned for next year. The ammunition used was .308 Winchester 180 grain round-nosed. It should only be used within 200 yards. The shot was close to 300 yards. A 150 grain pointed bullet is the ticket for the situation at hand. It is no problem to carry two weights/styles of bullets for long openings and dense bush.
Ballistics of 150 SP and 180 RN from .308 Winchester follow. A 150 SP will have a muzzle-velocity about 2800 ft/s and have a 10 inch high trajectory with a 350 yard zero. The 180 grain RN will have a muzzle velocity about 2600 ft/s and zero at about 250 yards in the same rifle. The 150 SP will have about 1000 ft-lb of energy at 350 yards and be quite lethal on deer while the 180 RN will be down to that energy at 250 yards.
It is good to see young people learning the hunting craft and being able to feed their families by hunting. It definitely is the right way to get red meat… Some of the red meat sold in stores in Winnipeg was killed in Alberta and shipped by truck. It is within days of expiring even in a refrigerator. Still, hunting is not for everyone. There just aren’t enough deer in Manitoba to feed all of us carnivores.