We’ve been hunting many days this season and only today took a buck.
It was pretty easy until the retrieval… We set up at the angle of an “L”-shaped opening with mature poplar on one side and immature poplar on the other. It’s a funnel for deer moving between forage and shelter in the coniferous forest nearby. This was a “bucks-only” season or we would have brought home a deer much sooner. We set up 30 minutes before sunrise and about two hours later the buck moved into the opening about 150 yards away and stopped, looked and listened. A Winchester model 70 in 7mm Remington Magnum spoke, delivering a 175 grain round nosed bullet through the rib-cage. The deer staggered and trotted to the far side of the opening, obviously not under full power.
The scene of the impact showed a lot of blood pouring forth and hair broken off by the bullet. The deer staggered once again before laying down to die within seconds of being shot. He didn’t travel 50 yards.
The 7mm Remington Magnum can do excessive damage to a deer at such close range, so I loaded it down to 7×57 Mauser levels. Even so, the bullet ripped a one inch exit hole and scattered bone chips from a rib on the way in. The load used was
|Winchester, 7mm Rem Mag||Hornady 175 RN .284||IMR7828||62 gr||3.28 inch|
My preferred recipe: 170 gr RN out of a Mauser 98 (8X57JS)
We carried some pointed rounds for longer shots with 175 BTSP and 65 grains of IMR7828 with LOA 3.29 inch. With that, a deer can be killed to 400 yards without adjusting the sights. The RN load is usable to 300 yards but probably best kept under 200 yards. This is powerful medicine for the biggest bucks. I expect we’ll move to lighter bullets sooner or later, to reduce costs and to avoid overkill. I’m thinking of using 139 SP for long shots and the same bullet downloaded and marked for identification for close-in work. I could run green nail-polish in the extraction groove to distinguish them. Those bullets cost 20% less and that matters when one shoots targets in the off season. 140SP is good enough for deer like this.
Shooting and waiting were the easy parts of this adventure. We then had to field-dress the deer and drag it up and down hills over a quarter of a mile. Both of us were dripping sweat and we took turns carrying equipment back to the car and dragging the deer there. It would not fit in the trunk of the car so the lid was tied down with four feet protruding. Now the buck is hanging in the garage all skinned and ready to butcher. We’ll save that for the weekend.
Hunting deer is an ancient ritual and part of our duty to keep the balance of Nature if we suppress natural predators and avoid hitting deer with cars. Agriculture and mild weather the last few winters has caused populations to grow rapidly after some deep snow starved many and delivered many to predators. I expect “bucks only” will not be the rule past one more year or the does will inherit the earth. This buck will supply a good portion of red meat for my family for a year or two. It’s all good.