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I first started reading Doc "The Hit Man" Rogers articles in J.D. Jones publication "The Sixgunner" back in the early 1980's. He has always fascinated me with his "body count" .. the autopsies.. and the detailed reports of how each load and gun worked in the field. He does not write about theory. He writes about what he has done, how it worked in real life, and he reports factually.
He is literally a "hitman for pests". Farmers who are having problems with crop depredation by deer obtain crop damage permits from the state and then hire him to deal with the critters. All the deer meat is used. Doc does quite a bit of work with the needy in his area, not only medical, but supplying food. He also does other types of crop damaging varmint control (such as marmots or ground hogs).
To date (this was written in 2000) Doc Rogers has taken over 900 deer with a handgun, 260-some of them with a revolver. He keeps accurate records of each caliber, bullet, load, distance, effects etc. He has proven what works in real life.
He has also taken over 9000 groundhogs with handguns. Again, he keeps detailed records.
The following is a compilation of several articles. The data on how some of the guns and loads work will be of interest to hunters who have not yet ventured into the field with their handguns.
GROUNDHOGS - 1981
My 9mm Browning Hi Power (that I bought for $103 retail) has accounted for only two Ďhogs. Years ago, I settled on a load of 6.0 grains of Unique and the 115 grain Sierra Hollow Cavity bullet for best accuracy. One hog was hit in the head at five yards and the other in the shoulder at nine yards. Both ran about five yards to their holes and died in the entrance. The 9mm is definitely not a dependable one shot stopper. Iíll let NATO and our services use it. I pass.
Again, I have limited experience with rounds. Iíve burned two Ďhogs with my hideaway gun, an S & W Model 15, 2". I use 6.0 grains of Unique under a 148 grain Hornady Hollow base wadcutter Ė hollow point forward. Both Ďhogs were hit through the shoulders and were instantly killed. The would channels were tremendous for the size of the bullet. This is one .38 Special load that I find socially acceptable, if you get my drift.
Iíve used a 6" Ruger Blackhawk, a 4" Python, and a 6" Python. The loads used were 14.4 grain 2400 and a 158 grain Hornady hollow point, 15.5 grain 2400 and a 146 grain Speer hollow point, 15.2 grain 2400 and a 158 grain Hornady flat point, 16.5 grain WW 296 and the 150 grain Sierra Hollow cavity, and 18.2 grain WW 296 and the 125 grain Sierra Hollow cavity. All of these loads have killed equally well if placed in the shoulder-lung area. They are about 85% one shot stoppers. Placed outside this vital area reduces stoppers to less than 10%.
The 4" Python just doesnít balance quite right in my large hands. The Ruger and the 6" Python balance perfectly, especially when Pachmayr grips are used. Any Ďhogs in their sights (and two deer in the past) are in mortal danger. Iíve shot four or five Ďhogs running with the 6" Python. This revolver is simply without peer as to balance. Itís just a shame thereís not a bigger hole in the barrel. The Ruger could be just as good if I could get a decent trigger pull on it. It did give me one remarkable shot. I saw a smart Ďhog in a hole under an old log cabin. He would peek at me every once in a while. This game lasted for over 30 minutes. I got bored and decided to chance a shot. I took careful aim on his nose when his popped out. As the gun recoiled, all I could see was a cloud of dust at the Ďhogís hole. I figured I shot low in the denís entrance. After walking the 46 paces to the hole, I found Mr. ĎHog dead. The 146 grain Speer Hollow Point had entered the Ďhogís open mouth and removed the entire back of his head. That has been my longest .357 Magnum kill.
The only .45 Iíve owned Ė a nickel Mark IV Ė is more of a story than the kills it has made. I was shooting with a boy one day when he pulled this one new out of the box. He immediately ran a clip full through it and only kept one round on a 25 yard target. He declared the pistol to be a piece of junk. I offered to relieve him of it. Not wanting to take advantage of me, he sold it for $130. Since then, I have shot 1-1/2" groups at 25 yards and a high of 92% on a PPC course. Its performance on groundhogs, however, has been a puzzle to me. Iíve only killed three Ďhogs with it, probably too limited experience for a fair appraisal. Two Ďhogs took three hits and one took four hits in the lung-chest area. All Ďhogs were hit equally with Sierra 185 grain Hollow cavity 7.5 grain Unique and lead 200 gr. SWC 7.5 gr. Unique. I know these loads should be better than my experience and I really canít explain the results. Iím a revolver man and I hate to chase brass. I really havenít tried all that hard to develop other loads or look into this matter any further.
This is the caliber that has been my number one groundhog hit getter. (That is, until this year, but that story comes later.) Killing groundhogs was very difficult with a .44 early in my career. I started with a stock Super Blackhawk. This is not exactly the easiest gun to start shooting. The trigger pull was miserable. After a year of practice and a new trigger spring, I managed to get a few hits out to 40 yards. Three summers ago, I was walking through a field of 18" to 24" grass. Rifle shots were out of the question, so I figured a stalk might scare up something. Suddenly I had groundhogs everywhere. I pivoted and shot the Ruger as fast as possible. After just a few seconds, I had three Ďhogs down and saw three more running away. Apparently I had stumbled on a den of groundhogs. Thatís the most furious shooting Iíve ever had. Iíd give anything to have that situation over again. With a few years experience, all of those hogs would be in mortal danger now.
My standard load in those early days of the Ruger was 21.5 gr. 2400 and a Hornady 240 gr. Hollow point or a Speer 240 gr. Hollow point. All worked equally well and all proved to be about 95% stoppers even on non-mortal wounds.
After a year of using the Ruger, I really got hooked on .44s. I bought an 8-3/8" and a 4" Model 29. The sights of the 8" seemed to be glued to all targets it faces. I dropped the fast draw Ďhog mentioned earlier the first year I had the 8". A source of fantastically beautiful 240 grain lead semi-wadcutters opened up. After much experimentation, I settled on a load of 24.0 gr. WW 296 under this bullet as my standard .44 Magnum load for the 8" Smith. I use it to this day. It seldom fails me. Iíve managed to kill 26 groundhogs with this load. Twenty-five of these have been one shot kills. Most of these have come by my multiple field walking technique. Several kills stand out.
Iíve already mentioned my fast draw kill and the around the corner shot. A kill this summer demonstrated the accuracy of my standard load. One day after sitting and glassing a field. I sensed something watching me. Glancing to one side, I noticed a groundhog eyeing me. He was only 50 or 60 yards away and had only his head and shoulders out of his hole. It was too easy a shot for my 18 power scoped .243, so I decided to wait for him to come out of his hole. And waited I did. After about 20 minutes of peek-a-boo, I decided this fellow wasnít coming out. I rested my elbow on my knee and slowly squeezed the M29ís trigger. The Ďhog disappeared at the shot. I figured I missed him so I sat a while longer and watched the field. Later, I walked 65 paces to the hole and found him with a .44 caliber hole through his neck and spine. That is MOA accuracy.
The 8" Smith also demonstrated the toughness of groundhogs and the not quite perfection of the .44. I was walking around a field and spotted a Ďhog feeding in the middle of the 150 yard wide field. I decided to see how close I could get. At 25 yards, the Ďhog saw me and started running. I shot double action twice and single action four times. He died at the entrance of his hole. A postmortem showed two hits around the diaphragm, one in the abdomen, and one behind the shoulder. Four of six hits and he ran about 50 yards to his hole and never lost stride. So much for 100% stoppers and easy killing groundhogs.
My 4" Smith is much harder for me to shoot. Mag-na-porting and a trigger job havenít helped me too much. Iíve killed eight Ďhogs with it, but probably have missed twice as many. The 250 grain lead bullet always shot too high. The Hornady 200 grain Hollow point with 12.5 gr. Unique has been my most accurate and controllable load. Forty-five yards has been my longest kill. All hits have been 100% stoppers.
Larry Kelly worked over my Super Blackhawk. He cut the barrel to 5", Mag-na-ported it, and Metal-lifed it. I added a set of Pachmayr grips and a trigger spring. This gun has become my most frequent carried .44. Just this summer, I made kills at 42, 44 and 47 yards, all with the 250 gr. Lead load Ė all fired offhand. Thanks, Larry.
My only other .44 Magnum is my HHI Super Blackhawk. Itís still sealed and in the box. Iíve been tempted to shoot it. Iíll look at it a while longer.
_ ** _
Deer - 2000
The Millennium was only a so-so year for groundhogs, but turned out to be fairly good for deer. After a year of constant rain and heat (1998) and a year of constant dry and heat (1999), it was nice to have a more normal year weather wise. There were a few very wet weeks, but over all 2000 behaved like a more normal year.
The snows came early to Grant County and, predictably, the deer started eating the Christmas trees very early. I took my first deer on January 15, the earliest ever. I saw over 40 deer that day. It was a good sign.
The next three weeks saw snow several days a week. I ultimately hunted in two feet of snow for two weeks. Drifts were four inches above my knees. I continued to wear my hip boots during this time and stayed reasonably dry. Itís hard walking in that much snow. I had to do a mile in each of two plantations. I was a sweaty, smelly guy at the end of each day, but it was an excellent work out.
The only blip in the weather scene was mid-February to mid-March. It got hot- 50į and 2/21, 77į on 2/24, 45į and 30 mph winds on 3/2, 60į on 3/15, 70į on 3/16. There was 6" of snow on 3/21, then 70į on 3/23. The deer acted as weird as the weather. I saw few on the hot days.
I finished the campaign in the trees with 12 deer. This was especially remarkable due to a major problem. A hunting club has a right-of-way through the tree farm. One member got wind of my permits and started driving through the trees each day I was there at 4:30 P.M., prime time. I had to get smart and change my tactics. The sucker even went to the head game warden (my good friend) and complained that I was killing all HIS bucks. He was informed that if his group had done their work in season there wouldnít be that many deer in the trees. (They donít believe in killing does). For the record, in my 10 years in the trees Iíve killed a total of 2 buck fawns and no adult bucks. After this fiasco I got permission to light the deer. The fool thought he scared me off. He didnít know my chosen second profession and determination. The deer stayed out of the trees.
No further permits came until June 10. Weíd had plenty of rain. The corn was really growing fast. Several farmers called me for work. I took 16 deer in June.
Business in July picked up. Rain continued fairly regularly. The corn was quite tall earlier than usual. There were 7-8í tall stalks this year. Good for farmers. Bad for the hitter. Last yearís 3í corn made my job easy. I had to work harder this year. The month ended with 28. I had 56 now. 100 looked possible.
August was my downfall. Two weeks off for Alaska did me in. I only took 16. 72 and counting.
I needed a very good September to get triple digits, but Mother Nature was against me. Acorns started falling in the woods. The deer started getting erratic in their behavior of eating corn and acorns. Hunting was hard. I needed 24 does to get to 100. I only took 21. I was skunked several days.
I did manage to get both my allowed bucks and both does during season, but really had to work hard for them. The weather in deer season was brutal this year. The first day had mid 20ís, 30 mph winds and horizontal snow. I got a buck at dark and had feeling in my hands. The third day had temps in the low teens with 30+ mph winds, making the wind chill well below zero. I got one this day, too. I wanted to see how tough I was. I guess I passed the test.
Doe season saw snow high winds, and slightly warmer temps (low 30ís). I persisted and got both my does at 1less than 100 yards with my new .454 Super Redhawk. The state wide buck and doe kills were down. I guess my persistence (or pig headedness) paid off since I got all four deer.
The yearís total was 97, same as 1999. Boy, did I feel like a failure, again (youíd better laugh. Thatís a joke.) That gives me 194 deer the last two years. I read an article of a staff writer that had done 16 or so with handguns. I was in awe. I really learned from his experiences.
The numbers this year look like this: 78-single shots, 19-revolvers. Lifetime totals: 682-single shots, 149 revolvers. Grand total 831 handgunned deer. Iím getting close to the magic number.
I tried to be a little more well rounded this year by spreading out my kills more evenly among my different guns. I did better. Hereís the story.
.44 Magnum Ė1 (26 lifetime) Iíve ignored my .44s for several years. I have this .454 thing going on due to new guns and big game hunts needing their power. Iíll get back to my roots eventually.
The lone doe I took was early in the summer. I was hiding in a ditch next to a corn field. I caught the little lady sneaking out of some brush at 29 yards. She never knew I was there. I put a 320 gr SSK FP over 21.5 gr. WW296 out of my 5" Redhawk through her shoulders. She stood still about 3 seconds and dropped dead. There was a 1 Ĺ" exit hole in the rear edge of the right shoulder with 2 Ĺ" of bloodshot tissues. Bone fragments from the on side shoulder helped cause all this trouble. This heavy bullet in stronger quality .44 puts the .44 Mag. in .454 territory.
.454 Casull Ė18 (101) A! HA! 100 deer with one caliber of a revolver. Thatís cool. Itís really a no brainer. The best quality revolvers are .454. Good bullets of all weights exit in .454. My love affair with the .454 is in full swing.
The best all around whitetail bullet is the 260 gr. Speer HP over 32.0 gr. WW296. You have to keep the velocity below 1600 fps so the jacket doesnít stick in the barrel. Rob from MS says he can get 34.0 gr. to do less than 1600 fps.
I caught one doe quartering away at 45 yards. I hit in the left mid abdomen and exited behind the right shoulder with the Speer. There was a heavy blood trail for 20 yards, a 1" exit, and 3 Ĺ" of bloodshot tissue. This was an extremely large doe. Good performance!
The next Speer bullet was used on a broadside doe at 76 yards. She was in an alfalfa field and I was hiding, as usual. (Iím a sneaky sob.) I hit her behind the left shoulder. There was a 2 1/2 " exit hole behind the right shoulder. There was 4" of bloodshot tissues. She was instantly knocked down and dead.
The final doe taken with the Speer stepped out of the corn as we surprised each other. I put the 2-6X Bushnell scope set on 3X on the FA 7 Ĺ" on the shoulder and fired. She ran 10 yards and died. The bullet hit the right mid abdomen. It was under the skin. There was 3" of bloodshot tissues and a big mess in the abdomen. The bullet expanded to .693" and weighed 191 grains (73% wt. Retention). This is the first Speer Iíve recovered.
I had a desire to use a .454 on my sheep hunt. I figured most flat point bullets would be too tough with little shock effect, so I got some 260 gr. Nosler HG-PTs (HPs) and put them over 33.5 gr. WW296. It shot great in my Raging Bull and Super Redhawk. It shoots just 2" below the 300 gr. Nosler at 100 yards. The HP in the 260 causes more shock damage than the flat point of the 300.
I took two Christmas tree deer with them, one at 72 yards, and one at 74 yards. Both deer were broadside. Both were hit in the tail of the lungs. One ran 80 yards and died. The other dropped at the shot, got up, ran 75 yards and died. Both had 2 1/2" of damage and 1" exit holes.
Two deer were taken at 96 yards with the Nosler 260. The one hit in the shoulder dropped dead at the shot-2 Ĺ" exit hole, 3 1/2 " damage, lots of bone fragments. The other was quartering slightly away. She was hit behind the right shoulder and exited in front of the left shoulder. She ran 100 yards and died. 1 Ĺ" exit hole, 2 Ĺ" internal damage, and a good blood trail. Hitting bone is still the best way to go for best bullet performance.
I wasn't totally satisfied with the Nosler performance so I got some 265 gr. Swift HPs. I immediately liked them. The HP is huge. I figured it would perform better than the Nosler. I was right. I put the bullet over 33.5 gr. WW296. The first deer was in barley as I was walking to a corn field. I fired off hand at 76 yards with the Raging Bull. She dropped at the shot. I hit the neck/shoulder and exited in the right shoulder. There was a 1" exit hole and 3" of damage.
Deer #2 was at 116 yards quartering away. I hit her high in the back and she dropped. Two vertebrae were taken out and there was a 2 Ĺ" exit hole. Bone fragments were everywhere in the 4" of bloodshot tissues. I really like this bullet. Iím just wondering if the large HP will prevent penetration and give poor performance on large animals. It should be greased lightening on 400# animals and less.
The final .454 bullet used was the 265 gr. FP Kodiak from Alaska Bullet Works. I put it over 34.0 gr. WW296. This bullet looks a lot like the FA FP, but itís meplat is slightly larger. I know itís very hard since it didnít expand a bit in the zebra. Iíll be using it on some large and dangerous game next year. I wanted to know exactly how well it shot in my new Ruger. The combo gets an A+.
The deer taken with the Kodiak were at 38, 40, 42, 63, 64, 92, and 106 yards. Those hit behind the shoulder ran from 30-100 yards. Those hit in the shoulder dropped at the shot and died immediately. I did a great 1-2 on two deer feeding beside a corn patch. I was well hidden. Doe #1 ran 30 yards and died. Doe #2 didnít know where I was. That gave me enough time to get on her. She dropped at the shot. Getting two deer like that is scarce in summer deer hitting.
All damage with the Kodiak is similar despite the different ranges involved. Exit holes were about 1 Ĺ". Internal damage was 2-3", depending on whether bones were hit.
A side note here is worthy on the Super Redhawk. The detachable scope mount really gives this gun fantastic versatility in the field, but carrying is a problem. My custom holster maker fixed that. I had an idea and he made it work. He fixed a holster that has an open front from the back sight to 4" above the muzzle. He made two covers for the open area that have large snaps on each side. One cover is small and conforms to the original holster for use with the gun with open sights. The other cover is custom fitted for the new Bushnell 2-6X Elite scope. Now I have a convertible holster that can be changed in 20 seconds. The quality of workmanship is equal to all the biggie holster makers. Heís a true craftsman.
I really had a lot of fun shooting as many deer as I did with revolvers this year. I love getting up close and personal.
To be a very successful hit man, though, long range gun use is mandatory. Most deer get very wary after a few weeks of shooting. Shots of less than 150 yards are rare after midsummer. Single shot handguns become a necessity.
SINGLE SHOT HANDGUNS
6.5mm JDJ Ė5 (72) Old dependable. This barrel is over 20 years old. The original 2 Ĺ -7X Burris scope is still on it. Low recoil, extreme accuracy, and decent power makes this the original SSK masterpiece. I donít use this barrel as much as before, but it has a secure place in my arsenal. Iíve done turkeys, foxes, long range bucks, and my largest buck, a beautiful 130 point local whitetail.
I use all 120 gr. Bullets over 33.5 gr. AA2520. 34.0 gr. Makes cases stick in my barrel.
The first deer, a broadside doe at 164 yards, ran in a 60 yard wide circle at the shot and dropped. The 120 gr. Nosler Solid Base (NSB) hit in the right shoulder and exited behind the left. There was 3" of damage and a ĺ" exit
The next night I used a 125 Nosler Partition (NPT) on a doe at 181 yards. She jumped 3í at the shot, ran 80 yards, and died. There was 2 Ĺ" of damage and a ĺ" exit.
The 120 gr. Nosler Ballistic Tip (NBT) is the best bullet for the 6.5. It has a little more violent expansion than the SB, and seems to kill a little more quickly than other 6.5 bullets. One doe at 176 yards and one at 212 yards were quartering away. Both were hit in the shoulder with exits in the neck. They were dead instantly with 1/2 " exit holes and 2 Ĺ" of damage.
The final deer taken with a BT was a beaut. I was invited to a farm by a friend. He had three redneck teenagers there to see the pistol guy perform. Deer started coming to the corn before dark. We had a lot of elevation on them so we could see a long way. The rednecks kept pushing me to shoot at very long range. I resisted a while, but finally say what the heck.
I ranged on large doe and laid down behind my backpack. I could see the boys snickering, knowing it was too far for a pistol. I really regretted having the 6.5 right then. I held at the top of the doeís back and fired. I heard the bullet hit and saw her stop and stiffen up. After a few seconds she took 3 steps and dropped over dead. I was a little surprised, but the rednecks were speechless. I showed them how to use the rangefinder. Their mouths needed wired shut when they saw 349 yards on the screen. I just acted like it was routine.
The bullet hit the top of the right shoulder blade. The jacket, without lead, was under the skin of the left mid-abdomen. There was only 2" of bloodshot tissues, but it was enough. Iíve always said the 6.5 was a 300 yard gun, max. I guess I need to revise that a little.
.309 JDJ Ė6 (116) I used the .309 as a change of pace in midsummer. Itís as good as the 6.5 with a little more recoil, but another 75-100 yards range.
I caught doe #1 going into the corn at 105 yards. I put a 150 gr. NBT over 46.5 gr. AA2520 behind one shoulder. She dropped at the shot. The exit was behind the off shoulder, with a 3" exit and 6" of internal damage.
For less damage, but nearly equal bullet performance, use Nosler Solid Base bullets. I put a 150 gr. NSB low in the shoulder of a doe at 211 yards. I heard the crack of bone at the shot. She ran uphill for 50 yards and dropped. The exit hole was 2 1/2" at the edge of the off shoulder. There was 4" of internal damage.
Another doe at 164 yards jumped 2í at the shot of a 165 gr. NSB over 45.0 gr. AA2520. She ran 10 yards and was dead. Entrance and exit was in both shoulders. There was a 2 1/2 " exit hole and 4" of damage. These different weight solid bases perform about the same in deer. The 150 shoots a little flatter.
The 165 gr. NBT over 45.0 gr. AA2520 is J.D. Ďs choice. Itís not bad. One doe at 179 yards was shot in the base of the neck. Three vertebrae were taken out. There was 5" of damage and a 2" exit hole. She was DOA.
I took my .309 to one of my tougher fields that offered no short shots. I caught a very large doe going to the corn at 334 yards. I held 1/3 the way up her shoulder. She jumped 2í at the shot, ran 7 yards, and died. Both shoulders were hit, but surprisingly, there was only a 1" exit and 3" of damage. This was not typical of past performance. I think the .309 is useful to 400 yards if youíve got what it takes.
The final deer taken with the .309 was an exorcism of sorts. Iím not very superstitious, but Iíve not used my .309 in buck season since I was shot. I took it this year on the first day at a very large, private farm. I braved the brutal wind, snow, and cold all day without seeing any deer. At sundown I saw 7 does come off a hill. Several hundred yards behind was a deer with itís nose to the ground. Show time!
I leaned toward a tree for a rest and the deer caught my movement. He faced me up a steep hill at 110 yards. I shot at the center of the chest. He ran at the shot. There was very heavy bleeding, but he ran 100 yards and bedded down. I jumped him and he ran another 100 yards. He was staggering as I finished him. The first shot hit dead center in the chest and exited in the abdomen just a few inches in front of his scrotum. There was a 5" exit hole with 1/3 of his intestines out of his body. The large spike was sex starved and high on adrenalin. A normal deer would have dropped. The demons are gone.
.338 JDJ Ė8(115) The 200 gr. NBT used to be THE bullet for this caliber until it was toughened up. A thicker jacket and harder alloy causes higher pressures than with the old bullet. Powder charges have been reduced. I only use 50.0 gr. AA2520 to keep things happy in my Contender.
The closest deer taken with the BT was at 177 yards. She was sharply quartering away. She dropped at the shot. I hit her behind the left shoulder and exited in the right neck/shoulder junction. There was 3" of bloodshot tissues and a ĺ" exit. Bone fragments caused most of the damage. The other deer taken with the BT was a ways off at 329 yards, then downhill 100 yards, and dropped. There was a ĺ" exit and 1 Ĺ" do damage. I wish I had some of the old BTís.
I used a Sierra 225 gr. SPBT over 47.0 gr. AA2520 during the summer to reacquaint myself with this bullet. I hit a large doe broadside at 147 yards. She jumped at the shot, ran 70 yards, and died. The tail of both lungs were hit. There was a 2" exit and 4" of damage. This bullet is not too bad, but will that jacket shed on big game? I donít know. Iíve never recovered one from a deer.
This was to be my backup gun this year. I wanted a bullet that would drop a sheep quickly so I wouldnít have to chase it all over the mountain. A review of my old records showed the x bullet was probably the way to go, but old or new style?
I used the old style once. The doe was broadside eating corn at 227 yards. She jumped 3í at the shot, ran 30 yards, and died. This was a perfect broadside shot in the shoulders. There was a ĺ" exit, 3" of internal damage, and massive external bleeding.
I used this bullet again in buck season the day the chill factor was well below 0. I saw about 20 deer feeding on a flat in heavy wind. A look through my binoculars showed no horns so I relaxed. A few minutes later the sun sparkled on top of one head. I confirmed a buck. After several anxious minutes I found a 6" window in the trees and fired as the buck entered it (97yards). He hunched, ran 60 yards downhill and dropped. The bullet went in the left shoulder and exited just in front of the right shoulder. There was a 3" exit and 5" of damage. This was a typical WV buck very heavy body with only 3 points. Iíve about forgot what a big buck looks like. Theyíre rare here.
I originally thought the Alaska weather would be hot, so I decided on the new style X with itís boat tail, sharp pointed nose. There is less bearing surface than the old style, therefore lower pressures.
A 170 yard doe was broadside. It was knocked down and dead at the shot. There was a 1" shoulder exit and 3" of damage.
A 187 yard doe was sharply quartering to me. I hit her in the right shoulder. She dropped at the shot. Low and behold, I recovered the bullet in the left hip joint. It expanded to .630" and weighed 174.6 gr. There was 3í of penetration. Internal damage was 3" all through the deer.
A final doe was broadside at 204 yards. She ran uphill for 30 yards after the shot with her tail up in the air, downhill 50 yards, then bedded down. I jumped her and she ran 30 yards uphill, then 70 yards downhill, then dropped. I hit the tail of both lungs. The exit hole was 2 Ĺ" with 4" of damage.
Thatís the only bad performance Iíve seen in this bullet for several years. Overall, these drop deer faster than any other .338 bullet. Notice I didnít include load data. After Crazy Manís blown barrel I beg off. I still want to be able to deal with J.D. Load the sucker down, .05" off the lands, and donít shoot a lot of them, especially in hot weather.
.330-06 JDJ -34(99) Iíve expressed some reservations about this round in the past. Now that Iíve spent a lot of time with this barrel I think the .338 Encore is the closest thing to a best all around light/medium/ medium heavy game handgun. Yes, Iíve had bullet problems. No two shoot to the same point of aim, but each brand is accurate.
The power of this gun is close to the .375 JRS, but itís a more compact gun and much easier carried than the large XP. The muzzle break on mine puts recoil in the .309 and .338 JDJ range.
Bullet trajectory is unbelievably flat. I have extreme confidence in this gun at very long range most of the time. It does get weird and changes point of aim several times a year. Like J.D., I think itís the Burris Posi-Lock scope. I really donít like it. The Posi-Lock adjustment knob is thin and easily damaged during adjustment. Itís on itís second turret now and is getting close to needing #3.
But when this gun is on, it canít be beat for long range use. Thatís why I chose it as my primary on the sheep hunt. Bullet choice was critical because I didnít want to chase a wounded sheep all over Alaska. In the early days the 200 gr. NBT would have been the choice. Itís too hard and not dependable now. I put these over 60.0 gr. IMR4064. I took four deer with it after my return.
One doe was broadside at 167 yards eating corn. She ran into the corn at the shot. There was a very small blood trail 70 yards into the corn. Believe me, 70 yards in the corn is quite a walk. Dragging it out is worse. Itís like walking through a maze blindfolded. It hit and exited behind both shoulders. There was a 1" exit hole and 2" of damage.
Two other deer at 176 yards dropped at the shot. One was hit in both shoulders, one behind the shoulders like the previous deer. Go figure. The shoulder shot deer had a 1" exit and 2 Ĺ" of damage. The other had a 2 Ĺ" exit and 4" of damage. Both bullets were out of the same box. Nothing is ever totally predictable when shooting game.
I wanted to do a very long range deer and got a chance at 291 yards. The deer was broadside. I hit low behind the left shoulder and exited low behind the other the other shoulder. She ran 80 yards and dropped. There was a 1 Ĺ" exit and 2 Ĺ" of damage. We need the old style BT back for handguns.
X bullets were my choice for sheep. The question was 185, 175 old style, or 175 new style. I shot a number of deer with these. I feel quite confident in saying Iíve taken more deer with X bullets than anyone. That small hollow cavity creates great tissue shock resulting in knockdown or short runs most of the time.
Three deer were taken less than 200 yards with the old style 175 X (flat base, heavy, sloping nose) over 62.0 gr. IMR4064. One at 142 yards was broadside and dropped at the shot with a bilateral shoulder hit. There was a 2" exit and 4" of damage.
Another doe was quartering sharply to me at 146 yards. I hit her in the right shoulder and she dropped. The exit was in the left hip, 2", with the entire ham being bloodshot. This deer was in heavy brush. I saw brush explode at the shot. I hit where I aimed. No deflection trouble here.
The last doe was taken at 179 yards using a new gadget. This year, with all the rain, weeds, grass, and thistles grew like crazy. Most of my deer were being shot from pasture fields as they ate corn. Trouble was, the grass was so high I couldnít lay down and use my backpack.
I got this bright idea of tying a broomstick to the upper edge of my pack frame and setting it upright on the ground making a tripod. This way I was about 3í high and could sit, rest on the upper pack (filled with pillows), and shoot over the grass. Voila! West Virginia Tripod, Hit Man Edition. It worked like a charm. I probably killed 40 deer off this setup. I WILL conquer any problem that interferes with my business.
Anyway, this deer was walking when I shot. She ran 50 yards and dropped. I hit the tail of both lungs. There was a 1 ľ" exit and 2 Ĺ" of damage. I love it when a plan comes together.
Four deer were taken between 200 and 300 yards with the old style X. I pulled one shot off my tripod at 236 yards. She jumped 3í at the shot and ran 60 yards into the corn and died. I hit her low in the chest behind both shoulders. There was a 1 ľ" exit and heavy blood in the corn. The heart was in shreds.
Another doe was broadside at 239 yards. She ran 20 yards at the shot and dropped. Again, the tail of both lungs were hit, with 3" of bloodshot tissues and a 1 Ĺ" exit.
Deer #3 was broadside at 243 yards. A center shoulder shot knocked her down. There was a 1 Ĺ" exit and 4" of damage.
The final doe taken with the old style X was at 244 yards quartering to me. I hit just inside her left shoulder. She ran downhill 10 yards then dropped. There was a 1" hole in the right shoulder and 2" of damage.
I knew I didnít need this tough bullet on 300# sheep. I concentrated more on the new style 175X.
The shortest shot with the 175X over 62.0 gr. IMR4064 was 96 yards. She was broadside. I hit and exited on the edge of both shoulders. She ran 5 yards and died. 2 Ĺ" exit, 4" damage.
I caught one doe in the Christmas trees coming to me while I was hiding. With no place to rest, I took her offhand at 108 yards quartering to me. She ran uphill 20 yards, sidehill 20 yards, then rolled downhill. I hit one shoulder and exited in the opposite hip. I barely hit one lung and all but destroyed the ham. Even when youíre off this bullet gives you an edge.
The first deer of the year was bedded beside a Christmas tree. I laid down in two feet of snow and shot from under a Christmas tree. She just rolled over at the shot. I hit at the base of the neck with exit in the left mid abdomen. There was a 1" exit with 4" of damage. The entire right lung was destroyed.
A doe a 156 yards was hit through both shoulders. She ran 10 yards and died. 1 ľ" exit, 3" damage.
Another doe at 189 yards jumped 2í at the shot. She ran 60 yards and died. The tail of both lungs were hit. 1 Ĺ" exit, 3" damage.
A doe quartering to me at 167 yards was hit in the center of the chest with exit in the right shoulder and exited in the front edge of the left shoulder. She ran 50 yards. 1 Ĺ" exit, 3" damage Again.
I finally caught a deer facing me. I hit the center of the chest. She dropped at the shot, got up twice, and died in 15 seconds. This was the first X bullet Iíve recovered from the Encore. It was in the right hip joint. It expanded to .620" and weighed 175.9 gr. The only difference between it and the X recovered from the .338 Contender was a shorter shank and greater petal peel back on the faster Encore bullet.
200-300 yard deer were shot at 207, 212, 227, 264, and 269 yards. All these deer ran at the shot from 40-80 yards. All were hit in one shoulder or behind both shoulders. All showed 1 ľ" exits and 3" damage. This bullet is predictable.
My longest deer taken with the 175X was the night after my long 6.5mm JDJ shot with the rednecks. I knew I needed a little more power on this farm since the boys were pushing for long shots.
The boys were there again and were really razing me about my lucky long shot. Bad move. No deer were seen before dark. Twenty minutes after dark there were 5 deer in the alfalfa. I put the guy with my 1,000,000 candle power light beside me, just in front of my scope. The glare of the light when the light is behind you prevents a good scope picture due to glare. I held on the largest deer and fired. It was like a Chinese fire drill with deer running everywhere. The lighter flinched so we couldnít follow my deer. They said I missed. I said weíd better check. I heard the bullet hit.
We found the deer dead on the spot. The bullet entered the right shoulder and exited in the left neck. 1 ľ" exit, 2" damage. 367 yards. No one said anything else the rest of the summer.
The 175X looked O.K. to me. I tried some 185X over 61.0 gr. IMR4064 to see if they behaved differently.
Four deer were taken between 100 and 200 yards. Three at 103, 163, and 189 yards were hit behind the shoulder, ran from 5-80 yards and died. All had 1 Ĺ" exits and 2 Ĺ" of damage. This was about like the 175X.
One of very few deer to run from a bilateral shoulder hit was at 178 yards. She ran 40 yards and died. Internal damage was 6" with a 1 Ĺ" exit.
The second deer taken in the Christmas trees was facing me at 106 yards. I crawled under a large Christmas tree and caught her and 6 friends. She dropped at the shot. The others turned on the afterburners. I hit her left shoulder and exited behind the right shoulder. There was 4" of damage and a 1" exit. Nothing is ever the same in bullet performance and gameís behavior to being shot.
The first deer taken beyond 200 yards was at 212 yards. She jumped 2í at the shot, ran 70 yards, and died. This was another behind the shoulder hit in the tail of the lungs. There was 2 Ĺ" of damage and a 1 ľ" exit.
A broadside doe at 216 yards dropped at the shot with a perfect shoulder hit and exit. The exit was the usual 1" and internal damage was only 2". Go figure.
A large doe exiting the corn at 226 yards was hit behind both shoulders. She jumped 2í and ran 80 yards. ĺ" exit, 1 Ĺ" damage.
The longest shot with the 185X was 244 yards. She ran hard for 80 yards, jumped a fence, ran another 80 yards, and died. The tail of both lungs were hit. 1"exit, 2" damage.
Despite several of these deer running, the X bullet still does better than most others for faster stops in .338. The 175 and the 185X boattails shoot very close to BTs at long range and outperform the hard BTs by a good bit. They are my #1 big game .338 bullet.
.375/ .284 Ė14(115) This will be one of my guns next year. I tried five different bullets reconfirming what I already knew.
I I tried the 300 gr. Nosler Partition over 46.0 gr. IMR4198. Iím not a fan of PTs for really big game because of the penetration problems. I keep recovering them from our local deer. If one of these wonít penetrate a small whitetail from end to end then Iím very suspicious for use on really big animals.
A doe was facing me at 139 yards. She dropped at the shot. I hit her on the point of the left shoulder. The right femur (hip) was in many pieces with no exit hole. I couldnít find the bullet and the people with the meat havenít called me. It penetrated 3í. I pass on itís use.
Another doe at 96 yards was broadside and hit behind both shoulders. She ran 30 yards and died. There was a 1 Ĺ" exit and 2"of damage form the 260 gr. NPT over 48.0 gr. IMR4198. This is a good deer bullet.
A 196 yard doe was hit behind the shoulder with a 270 yard Hornady SP over 50.0 gr. IMR4198. She ran 70 yards and died. There was a 2 Ĺ" exit with ľ of the stomach and lungs sucked out the exit hole. There was 4" of tissue damage. This is a soft bullet. Our members have used it on a lot of big game, but Iím from the penetration over expansion school. Itís great for deer and Ďhogs.
I'm a big proponent of the Sierra SPBT over 52.0 gr. IMR4198. It shoots a lot flatter than any other. .375 bullet. The closest deer taken with this was at 168 yards. She was quartering sharply away. I hit her in the left neck/shoulder junction. She dropped at the shot. The exit was low in the right neck. Several vertebra were destroyed. 3" hole, 5" damage.
A broadside doe at 226 yards was hit behind the right shoulder and ran 70 yards. There was a 1 Ĺ" exit, 4" of bloodshot tissues and exceptionally heavy bleeding.
A 264 yard doe was knocked down and dead form a double shoulder shot. There was 5" of damage and a 2" exit.
The longest shot with the Sierra was 314 yards. The hit and exit was behind both shoulders. She ran 20 yards and died. There was a 1 Ĺ" exit and 3 Ĺ" of damage. This bullet is almost as fragile as the Hornady, but shoots a lot flatter. Itís a great small to medium game bullet.
Itís no secret that my favorite bullet for the JRS is the 250 gr. Kodiak by Alaska Bullet Works over 50.5 gr. IMR4198. Itís much harder than the Sierra and Hornady, but performs as well as they do on small animals and better on large animals. It also shoots about as flat as the Sierra.
Four deer were taken between 100 and 200 yards. The closest, at 110 yards, was quartering to me. I hit her on the point of the left shoulder. She ran 30 yards and died. There was a 4" exit in the right mid abdomen and 6" of bloodshot tissues. About Ĺ the stomach and liver were hanging out the exit hole. Thatís better than the soft Hornady and Sierra.
Another doe was quartering to me at 169 yards. I hit her on the point of the left shoulder with exit in front of the right hip. This time there was a ĺ" exit, 1 Ĺ" of damage and a 250 yard run. Same hit as above. Totally opposite reaction. Weird.
Another doe was quartering less sharply toward me at 176 yards. I hit the point of her left shoulder with a 1 ľ" exit behind the right shoulder. She ran 5 yards and died. Both lungs had 3" damage.
A doe at 179 yards stopped at the shot. She then ran 100 yards and died. There was a 1" exit and 2" of damage. You gotta hit some bones with this hard bullet.
Three deer were taken between 200 and 300 yards with the Kodiak. The closest was at 223 yards quartering to me. I hit behind the left shoulder and exited in front of the left hip. She ran 75 yards and died. Most of the intestines were hanging out the 1 Ĺ" exit. There was 3" of tissue damage and a big mess in the abdomen.
A broadside doe at 237 yards jumped 3í at the shot and ran 100 yards. There was a 1 Ĺ" exit and 2 Ĺ" of damage in the tail of both lungs.
The final deer taken with the Kodiak was at 244 yards. It hit and exited at the rear edge of both shoulders. She jumped, ran 10 yards, and went down. There was a 1 Ĺ" exit and 2 Ĺ" of damage. I still like this bullet for large game and donít feel handicapped with it on deer size animals.
.416 JDJ Ė2(23) I had thought early this year this would be my #1 gun for next yearís hunt, but the two deer I took convinced me I needed a little more power. The past two years the .416 has done great with the very soft Hawk HPs on deer, but Iíll be after bigger things. I needed heavier and harder bullets. The oneís Iíve used on deer donít show a lot of promise in the Contender.
I took two deer in the Christmas trees with the 325 gr. Barnes X. The first, at 104 yards, jumped 2í at the shot, ran 250 yards, and died. The tail of both lungs were hit. Internal damage was only 1 Ĺ". The exit hole was less than 1" and external blood loss was very slight.
The second deer was broadside at 76 yards. She ran at the shot, without any sign of a hit. I knew I had a good hold off a tree. Luckily, there was 18" of snow so I followed the tracks. There was not a drop of blood until 3í before she died after a 100 yard run. I hit her in the center of the shoulder and exited behind the other. 1" exit, 2" internal damage. I figured performance like this negated use on larger animals. I needed something more.
.416 Taylor -10 A phone call to J.D. firmed things up for this big boy. Same bullet as the Contender with another 600 fps velocity. Thatís a serious increase in energy.
.416 bullets are not popular in my neck of the woods. I have Hawk and Hornady bullets left form the Contender. I finally found some Nosler PTs, Swifts and Speers. I had intended using X bullets, but they shot way off everything else.
The 350 gr. Hawk SP over 71.0 gr. H322 was first up. A large doe faced me at 104 yards. She dropped at the shot. I hit the base of her neck. Three ribs on the right were destroyed. Internal damage was extensive. There was no exit, but I couldnít find the bullet in the intestines. This was a very violent takedown in the realm of the old .338 BTs.
Using the 400 gr. Hornady RN over 67.5 gr. H322 was a no brainer. This is the standard bullet in .416. It probably would do everything needed like Hornady bullets in other calibers.
The first doe was facing me at 86 yards, slightly quartering to me. I hit her in the center of the chest. She ran 5 yards, jumped a fence, ran another 40 yards, and dropped. The exit was in the left mid abdomen. There was massive internal bleeding, massive external blood loss, and a 3" exit.
Doe #2 was quartering to me at 96 yards. I hit her on the point of the right shoulder. She ran 60 yards and died in the corn. The exit was in the left hip. That was 3í of penetration, 2" of damage, and a 2" exit. This is an O.K. bullet. Iím sure Iíll use it next year.
The 400 gr. NPT over 67.5 gr. H322 was the next logical choice. The first doe was quartering sharply to me at 96 yards. I hit her in front of the left shoulder. She jumped straight up, ran 40 yards, and died. The bullet broke the femur. There was 2 Ĺ" of damage and a .416" exit.
Doe #2 was facing me at 121 yards, feeding, unaware of me. She dropped at the shot. I hit just inside the right shoulder. I found lead and jacket fragments in the abdomen. There was 1 Ĺ" of internal damage and no exit hole. I looked for the bullet the next two days without success. Any bullet staying in deer is automatically rejected for use in big game. Iíll use these for Ďhogs and fouling shots.
The 350 gr. Speer Mag Tip over 71.0 gr. H322 seems to be the choice for this round. The first deer was broadside at 116 yards. She jumped 2í at the shot and fell down dead. Both shoulders were hit. There was a 1 Ĺ" exit and 3" of damage. I liked this.
Doe #2 was broadside at 154 yards. She was knocked down at the shot. There was massive internal bleeding, a 1 ĺ" exit, and 3" of damage. The blunt nose of the Speer really helps create good damage.
The best test of the Speer was a doe at 206 yards. She jumped 3í at the shot, ran 50 yards, and died. I hit her left shoulder, both lungs, and exited behind the right shoulder. There was 2" of damage and a ĺ" exit. This is a very good bullet for the Encore Taylor.
The final bullet tested was the 350 gr. Swift SP over 71.0 gr. H322. The first doe, at 106 yards, turned away at the shot. She was violently knocked down. The hit was at the neck/shoulder junction. The entire neck was bloodshot. The exit was 5". She was almost decapitated.
The final doe was at 116 yards, broadside. She was also thrown violently to the ground. Both shoulders were hit. There was a 2 Ĺ" exit and 5" of internal damage. The nose of this bullet appears soft. The body holds together with the Hot Core process. It should be very useful on elk size animals.
I was very impressed with the effects of the Taylor on deer. I hope this translates to other animals. This gun is really a shooter, but itís not for the timid. I took most of these deer off my WV tripod while I was sitting. This helps a lot with recoil. Watch the muzzle brake though. I fired one shot off my backpack with the muzzle over the pack. It took over 100 stitches to fix it.
Deer 2000 was another good year. Three deer short of 100 two years in a row is a little frustrating. I just met the largest landowner in the area. That may take me over the hump.