Hunting with big bore airguns: What to expect

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This was originally published as “AirForce Texan big bore rifle: Part 4” because I was writing about that big bore rifle at the time. It doesn’t really apply only to that model, so the title was changed.

AirForce Texan big bore rifle: Part 1
AirForce Texan big bore rifle: Part 2
AirForce Texan big bore rifle: Part 3

Texan big bore
The Texan from AirForce Airguns is a .458 big bore to be reckoned with. The scope and bipod are options.

This report:

• Today’s report is different
• What constitutes a big bore?
• The one unified law
• Respect for game
• Big bore airguns are very different
• There are exceptions
• A big truth about big bore bullets
• Hydrostatic shock
• Why you need to know this

Today’s report is different
Today’s report will be different. I put it in with the Texan rifle because that’s the big bore we’re currently looking at, but it really applies to all big bore airguns, alike.

I’m going to discuss how a big bore airgun kills game. This will be a detailed discussion that may not be suitable for people who feel uncomfortable reading about or talking about killing animals.

What constitutes a big bore?
I’m asked this question all the time. What makes an airgun a big bore? I started answering this question before many others even knew what big bore airguns were, and I’ll continue to answer it in this same way. There are 4 common smallbore calibers — .177, .20, .22 and .25. Anything larger than a .25 is a big bore. Sounds simple, but it invites the barracks lawyers to chime in. There are airguns today that shoot .257-caliber conical bullets, and isn’t a .257 technically a .25? Yes, it is. This is where my simple definition breaks down a little. If you can’t remember this one anomaly, I guess you’re lost.

But there’s more to it than that. A hundred fifty years ago, hunters had no difficulty understanding that a rifle that shot .40-caliber balls or larger was suitable for hunting whitetail deer. In a pinch, they would even use a .38-caliber rifle, but .40 caliber was the place they wanted to be for large, thin-skinned, non-dangerous game. You won’t find this written in any book that I know of; but if you read a lot of shooting history, it’ll come out.

So, the hunters of old knew that the bottom line for a rifle for larger game (the smallest you could use and expect success) was around .40 caliber. And .45 caliber was even better. When the ball got that large, there was no mistaking where things stood.

Then, conical bullets came along (1860?) and muddied up the water. Suddenly, a .32-caliber rifle shooting a heavy conical bullet (like the .32-40 in 1884) was sufficient for deer, but a .38 caliber shooting conicals (the .38-55, about the same time) was even better. And, just when that was being digested by the sporting public, smokeless powder came on the scene and bullet velocities doubled. At that point, .30-caliber rifles (like the .30-30) could take deer; and, soon, even .25-caliber rifles (such as the .25-35 Winchester) were considered marginal.

The one unified law
Many of today’s shooters don’t even know what a .25-35 Winchester cartridge is. Yet, they want one unified definition for a big bore airgun. Well, here it goes: There ain’t none! No single definition can be applied — especially, if the people applying it refuse to understand basic ballistics. If they think that the title “big bore” conveys some mystical killing power to any airgun, they’re sadly mistaken. Yes, I can tell you what a big bore airgun IS, but that, by itself, tells you very little about what it can DO. To know that, we have to understand how game is killed.

In the olden days, a .40-caliber ball was considered big enough to take deer — not because of its energy, which was almost nil, but because of its size. And projectile size is what I’m going to talk about today.

Respect for game
When I studied for my German hunting license in the 1970s while serving there in the U.S. Army, I learned how much the German hunters respect the game they kill. Besides learning a specialized vocabulary of German words that apply only to hunting and demonstrating proficiency with a rifle, we had to know how to treat game with respect. For example, whenever I killed a roe deer, I put a sprig of pine in its mouth as a ceremonial “last bite.”

Sure, such things are for the hunters and not for the game whose lives have already been taken, but what they do is remind the hunter that this was a living being that enjoyed life until the end. I think these small ceremonies keep most hunters from becoming crass. That has everything to do with today’s discussion.

Big bore airguns are very different
Most hunters are surprised when they shoot a game animal with a big bore airgun. They’re surprised because the animal doesn’t fall down at the shot. Typically, they stand for several minutes where they were hit…as they slowly expire (die) from blood loss. It’s so different from anything they may have experienced while hunting with modern firearms.

When a large game animal is hit with modern expanding bullets traveling at supersonic speeds, it can drop instantly in its tracks. Granted, that doesn’t happen often, but it does happen. At the very least, a well-hit animal that’s hit with a modern expanding bullet only runs a short distance before piling up. Thirty seconds is usually the longest you have to wait before it will drop — when the animal has been hit well. Modern centerfire bullets have caused hunters to expect quick results that big bore airguns do not give and cannot give.

Hunting with a big bore airgun is very similar to hunting with a muzzleloading rifle that shoots lead balls or bullets — not one shooting modern jacketed softpoints with sabots. It’s also similar to hunting with a bow. The game often stands in one place, looking around like it hasn’t been hit. Or if it does run, it runs fast and far and has to be tracked. The secret is to not follow the game right away. After the shot, wait about 10 minutes for the animal to stop running and start stiffening up. They will usually bed down at this point and will not be able to get up again.

There are exceptions
Of course, there are exceptions to what I’m saying about modern bullets and game. I’ve had them happen to me — animals that appear to be hit well, but last much longer than they should. The hunting archives are full of stories about game that refused to die. But you have to recognize these for what they are — exceptions to what usually happens. In general, a modern bullet of the correct size and power will very quickly dispatch an animal that is hit well.

A big truth about big bore bullets
Here’s a truth that escapes many modern hunters. A .45-caliber lead bullet generating 250 foot-pounds of energy will kill a medium-sized animal like a whitetail deer just as dead in the same amount of time as a .45-caliber lead bullet that generates 1,500 foot-pounds of energy. That’s because most of the more powerful bullet’s energy is not expended in the animal—it slips right through and keeps on going! Most of the energy is excess to your needs.

Unless there’s a large bone in the way, or the animal has a particularly tough hide, you don’t need to hit it with a lot of energy. These heavy lead bullets don’t kill with their energy — they kill with blood loss. This is why relatively light round balls kill large game so effectively.

New big bore hunters are fascinated with hollowpoint lead bullets — thinking that the expansion of the bullet inside game transfers more of the bullet’s energy to the animal. But it isn’t the energy that kills — it’s the loss of blood. So, a .45-caliber solid bullet will kill just as fast as a hollowpoint bullet that mushrooms out to .75 caliber. Once the hole in the animal is big enough, it doesn’t make much difference if it grows any larger. The damage has been done.

What I’m leading up to is this — a 405-grain .458 bullet is fine for the largest game. If I think I need it to penetrate a heavy bone or a thicker hide, the 405 is the way to go. But if I’m hunting thin-skinned whitetails or something similar (javelinas, coyotes, mountain lions, etc.) I want a much lighter bullet that has the advantage of a flatter trajectory.

The 405-grain bullet would be perfect for American elk (wapiti), red deer and bison. We know from actual field experience that it will pass completely through even these massive animals when it impacts on one side, such as with a classic heart/lung shot. That happens even when the bullet is fired from a 500 foot-pound rifle. Then, the process of bleedout begins and the animal drops several minutes later, when blood loss has its effect. This is something archers understand all too well. But many who come into big bore airguns from the firearm side are used to hydrostatic shock.

Hydrostatic shock
Hydrostatic shock is the shock wave that passes through the liquid-filled tissues of an animal when hit by an ultra-high-velocity bullet. This shock wave is devastating to the animal’s nervous system and can sometimes cause near-immediate death. Many hunters are so accustomed to this effect that they cringe when they see how long it takes a bullet from a primitive rifle or an arrow to drop an animal. That slow performance is exactly what you can expect from a big bore airgun bullet.

Why you need to know this
Today’s report is one I’ve held off writing for a long time. I know that many people feel they would like to learn to hunt, and big bore airguns are starting to appear like an easy way into the sport. That’s fine — as long as you know what you are getting into. At the end of your hunt, an animal is going to die and it’s going to take a long time to do it — especially if you’ve hunted only with modern centerfire rifles, or the only hunting you’ve ever seen is what’s on television.

Believe me, the hunting shown on television is heavily edited! If the game happens to drop instantly when shot, they show it — but if not, they edit in some tracking, along with conversation to get your mind off what’s really happening. If it takes 12 minutes for an animal to die, you will only see about 20-30 seconds of that. I happen to agree with that approach, because people don’t need to see the suffering in their living rooms.

But, if you decide to go out into the field to hunt, then I want you to know what you’re going to see. I hunted extensively when I was younger, and everything I’ve described in this report I’ve seen many times over. But I’ve also seen a first-time hunter confronted by the truth. And he was shocked. That wasn’t pleasant.

Talk all you want about hunting with a big bore airgun — we won’t limit that in this blog. Just understand that when you do decide to hunt with one, the results will probably look a lot different than you might have imagined.

102 thoughts on “Hunting with big bore airguns: What to expect

  1. This report is well written and very well presented! Explained as well as ever I read! And I might add very important and timely! Until a person experiences death by any means? Hunting or otherwise? Respect for the dead game is a lasting reminder of life itself! Semper fi!



  2. I am getting a little bit lost regarding barrel length. The AirForce Texan Big Bore uses a 34″ barrel to optimize throwing the lead slug out the barrel. From previous experiments you have determined that a .22 cal pellet powered by CO2 only needs a 18′-19″ barrel. From the Cardew’s experiment a spring piston powered air rifle uses only around 10″ of the barrel. So why are spring piston barrels still being offered at longer lengths than that like the Diana 34?


    • Siraniko,

      If you have a break barrel air rifle, grab it about 10 inches from the breech and cock. it. What you will find that even with a wimpy powered air rifle, it will not be easy to cock. The long barrel gives you leverage. Diana makes the Pro Compact that has a 10 inch barrel, but they put a long “muzzle break” on it so that you still have the mechanical advantage of a long lever.



      • RidgeRunner,
        I do understand the need for leverage. It is just that the specification on the Diana 34, the Crosman Trail NP2, Walther LGV and the FWB Sport Rifle show barrel lengths longer than optimum.

        B.B.
        Using style for marketing to justify the use of longer barrels leading to lower velocities seems to defeat the engineering put into them.


    • Siraniko,
      Spring guns are only gonna push so much air unless detonation occurs and the barrels must be short enough to not create too much drag on the pellet but long enough to keep the cocking effort reasonable,while pneumatic guns actually benefit from the extra length.

      Reb


  3. BB,
    I’m glad you wrote this article. Particularly, I’m glad that you wrote about respecting the animal–and I hope that some people will realize that hunting/killing is not for them.

    I think that some people feel they must do this to impress themselves or others, and force a smile while doing it. I’m not in that camp. I’ve had to kill animals in the past… and now I feel lucky not to have to do that. That’s why I hunt walnuts now. It’s great to shoot, and that’s a sport that doesn’t have to end in an animal’s death.

    Anyway, I’m glad you are keeping the blog level mature, thoughtful, and informative.
    Rob

    Before someone asks. Yes, I eat meat–and I 100 percent of the time think of the animal that gave it to me while I’m eating it.


  4. The bigger the animal usually the heartbeats slower. They take longer for the blood loss to take effect.

    And said this before when the subject of big bores came up. The small bores can be looked at the same way of how the pellet works in the different calibers. They are scaled down big bores and can be related to the same way the pellet works.

    A .177 caliber dome pellet will usually pierce through the smaller animal with higher velocity pcp gun. The .25 caliber gun has the bigger mass of weight and diameter when it hits with the dome pellets. A .25 caliber pcp that is making good power has that shock value along with penetration. Again on a smaller animal.

    But BB I think there is one thing you forgot to talk about and that is the distance that a particular shot will be taken at with whatever type of gun you use.

    Distance will change the way the projectile will hit. What happens when a gun is shot at a animal at close range is different than what happens at a long distance.

    At the closer distance a projectile will pierce through the animal but at a longer distance the retained energy will in a sense have that hydrostatic shock value. Obviously the big bore would be on a different scale than a centerfire projectile. But both rounds could have similar effects. They would just be scaled down on the big bore projectile.

    And I totally like what you told about your German hunting exsperiance.

    Respect.
    We have people at work that I have been friends with for a numerous amount of years and they came from Bosnia and places in that general area. And respecting the ground that they live on was very big deal for them and taking a animal was almost as if it was a celebration. It meant food for the families in their village.

    My dad was a hunter and he always said that there should be a reason for whatever life was taken. Be it a deer for food a coyote that was taking the chickens or a ground hog that was destroying the leavy that protected the water from flooding the farm or the rats that would kill the new born piglets. Its probably hard for some people to understand that but if that’s how your making your living is with crops and livestock and chickens an so on. You have to protect those things. Same as going to work at a office everyday and projecting your job. Your not going to let something mess up your job or your families way to survive.

    There is a book I read that says there is a time for everything. And respect has to play a part also.


    • GF1,

      OK, I am going to play ” the Devil’s advocate here. In what sense would the big bore air rifle projectile have hydrostatic shock value at long range, most especially since it will be shedding energy as it travels. True, the larger projectile will retain more energy at longer distances, but that will help to insure it penetrates to and through the vital organs. The 45-110 did not kill bison with hydrostatic shock, it shoved a big chunk of lead through it’s lungs and heart.


      • RR
        Hydrostatic shock probably wasn’t the word to use in my explanation. But it was a way to relate to what we are talking about.

        What I’m trying to point out is that a projectile (I don’t want to say bullet or pellet) can have different effects at different ranges.

        I’m going to use a .22 long rifle and a rat out on a farm for a example. If I shoot a rat that came out from around the corner of the barn at 10 yards that projectile would go right through that rat.

        Now let’s say a rat is out at 25 yards when that projectile hits the rat it looses some of its energy. Now there is a moment of push before penatration so the animal could be knocked back as the projectile penetrates and then passes through. Now let’s say that rat is at 60 yards. Now projectile lost more of its retained energy. So when it hits the rat it starts pushing before it penatrates then it makes it inside and can’t make it through but does keep enough energy to knock the rat back a foot from the energy that was left. At the other two closer distances the projectile may have passed through so fast the rat just had a little bump when it hit.

        So the .22 long rifle didn’t have the same energy as the 3000fps projectile that ways twice as much and is twice as big that is used on a deer that does create the hydrostatic shock.

        What I’m trying to say is there is a point in time at a certain distance that the energy that is retained will hit the animal and knock it rather than hitting and piercing right through like a needle does in fabric when sewing.

        Distance is a very big deal on the out come of the energy that is left and the way a projectile will hit the target.



        • That one squirrel I took last year with Kodiak and my 392 at 15 yds with 10 pumps that took the tip of his heart off flew straight back a couple feet and had expired by the time hit the ground, he was still bleeding out but it was all but instantly fatal. My brother told me the other day that he wanted some. I told him he could have what’s in my freezer and if he still likes it to wait til next season, after I get my 2400KT and I’ll get him plenty!


        • Thank you Gunfun, I’ve dispatched a couple rats but never gave second thought to .22lr v rat terminal ballistics. I agree with you, with subsonic bullets I want every bit of energy transferd to the target. That is why I shoot JHP 9mm instead of FMJ. That being said, my opinion us based on theotetical information alone in this case as my 9mm is for protection and I’ve never had to use it. And I hope I never see what those rounds will do to living tissue. Don’t count out that 3000 fps second round passing through though. Bullets moving that fast can cause immense amounts of tissue damage from the hydrostatic shock wave, a 50 grain varmit bullet causes massive trauma, a 200 grain nosler partition that enters through a rib bone also is amazingly devastating at that kind of speed. So is about anything going that fast but those are the two that have impressed me the most over the years.


          • Ben
            Yea I used the .22 long rifle rimfire gun as a example because that was a gun that I got when I was around 10 years old.

            It was a Winchester model 190 semi-auto 22. And I can’t count all the field mice and rats I took out with that gun.

            I almost got in trouble one time with it when I was a kid out on the farm. We had a farm duck that was setting on some eggs to hatch in the dog house. I shot a rat out side the dog house and the cat came and took the rat. There was blood outside the dog house from the rat.

            Well my dad came and asked if I shot the duck. I said why. He said the baby ducks should of hatched already and he saw the blood.

            Come to find out my dad pulled the duck out and there was bite marks in the back of the mother ducks head and neck.

            Rat bites. The mother duck wouldn’t leave the roost and protected the eggs from the rats. The eggs did hatch they were still warm so I must of shot one of the rats when it was comming out of the dog house.

            I got more stories of what I seen growing up out on the farm too.

            But what I just talked about is pretty much what I still do today at farms in my area. But now I use air guns. And its very important for me to know if I will have a pass through with the pellet and gun I choose or if the pellet will dispatch the pest and not exit the animal and cause damage to the surrounding farm equipment.

            I have to know what combination to use to get the job done. Its very important to me that even when I shoot a pest bird or a rat or mouse that the pellet does the job quickly.

            But also the farmer is happy and confident that I will eliminate the problem and not mess up his equipment or surroundings.

            So for me its important that I know my air guns when I shoot. If I miss my shot I could damage some expensive equipment or property.

            And I do it for free. Not because I like to kill but because I like to help and I know the damage that can be done by the pests.

            And the farmers do allow me to shoot on their property if I want to bring my kids out. And most of them are happy that I ain’t using noisy firearms. Matter of fact some the farmers that have horses are very happy with the quiet air guns.

            I look at it as a way for other people to see what air guns are about. And see that they are a safer option that can be used once they learned how I can control the gun more precisely as far as shot placement and power choice is concerned.

            It all boils down to knowing your guns projectile ballistics no matter what kind of power plant the gun has. Firearm or air. You got to know how the projectile will fly. And not at one fixed distance.


    • GF1,

      Sometimes, man MUST step in. For example, the feral hog situation. There’s no way their population can be controlled other than hunting by man. Eat them, if you like, but by all means shoot them on sight. At this point, even the introduction of the pork choppers (shooting feral pigs from helicopters is allowed in TX) won’t be enough to seriously reduce the proliferation of feral hogs. They’re producing much faster than they’re killed. They’re destructive — ruining land wherever they go. They’re the prairie dog of the 21st century.

      Edith


      • Feral pigs are fantastically destructive in Kauai and nearly any other place they’ve become established. Guam has a real snake problem as does Florida now. The Australian adventure with rabbits is well known and pest starlings in the US came about because some idiot thought it a charming idea to import all the beasts mentioned in Shakespeare’s plays.
        Sometimes it’s just nature happening, but all-too-often it’s us humans, mucking around with good if ignorant intentions to “improve” the “situation.”
        We all share the responsibility to do what needs to be done, and if that means potting pigs or pythons, than do it. You need not smile but be glad you can. The other responsibility we have is to block or throw out the politicians, proposers, and opportunists that cheerfully advocate projects that are poorly thought out, and/or irreversible.
        (Try not to mix the pigs/python/etc group up with the politician/proposer/opportunist/etc group.)


      • Edith
        That is exactly the point I meant.

        Why do they put limits on size and weight of fish and how many can be taken. Same with deer. Its to control the population.

        If man didn’t step in and control certain aspects of wildlife things would get out of hand. Certain species would overtake others.

        All the way from rats up to coyotes to now the pig problem. Even the certain bird species that take over and chase off the song birds.

        Before you know it your spending more money on feed. Then the animals your spending time and money on start comming up missing. So there is a time to eliminate.

        Just imagine if the rats weren’t controlled and they eat all the new born pigs the farmers are raising or the coyotes don’t get eliminated and then there’s not as many chicken being raised. What about the calf’s that get dragged off by packs of coyote’s.

        If the farmers didn’t eliminate those threats and the preditirs got out of control there would probably be a cost increase or shortage if meat in the stores or eggs and so on.

        Look what would happen if man stopped taking care of grass cutting. What would happen if the weeds weren’t eliminated. What if brush was allowed to take over.

        Like I said there is a time and reason for things that take place.


      • I would say close to the same thing with the snake & snakehead problems in Florida and maybe add armadillo here in our region.Right at dusk walking the creekbanks will generally turn up one or two. And watch out for the skunks and snakes!


      • Edith
        It was the same way back in the 70 with alligators in Florida as they went on the endangered species list and by the 80s they were selling alligator permits because they had reproduced so fast that they were being found in peoples pools and on golf courses and most anywhere there was water and a food supply.

        Now they are as over populated as feral hogs are and are no longer endangered and hunting is allowed most everywhere by permits only but still they cannot keep up with them multiplying faster than they can be controlled.

        BD



          • Reb
            I have been camping on lake George in the Ocala Florida national forest for many summers at Silver glen springs which is a fresh water spring that flows 72,000 gallon of 72 degree water per hour year round and empties into lake George. I had been out in the lake in a 16 foot canoe along the shore line and came up on a gator that was longer than the canoe I was in and his head was at least more than 1/4 the length of the canoe or over four feet long and we did not see him until we were about 30 feet away as he was in some saw grass and water lilies. I knew not to make any thrashing or loud commotion in the water trying to paddle away from him as that invokes their instinct to think it is an injured animal and an easy meal.

            It is the biggest gator I had seen in my 25 years in Florida out on the numerous lakes and rivers that I fished and water skied on for years. I always new that the gators were there but they were people shy until they started to overpopulate again and therefore the competition for food and territory was making them more brazen and less fearful of man.

            BD


  5. B.B.,

    Very well written and gives “would be” hunters something to think about it. Gunnfun brought up a good point about (range). Whatever caliber your hunting with, and whatever the animal,…one should be aware of what the effective range would be. That,.. combined with personal skill level. How well can that person repeatedly shoot a tight group and at what range.


  6. BB,

    Very well written. This should be read by any who would hunt, not just airgunners.

    I grew up hunting. It was necessary for us to eat. When it was no longer necessary for me to hunt to eat, I quit hunting. If I need to once again hunt to feed myself and my family, I will.

    I do not understand trophy hunting. I really do not understand why anyone would want to hang a carcass on the wall. The only possible explanation I can give is that they somehow feel inadequate and need to display their manliness.



    • It can be in the right situation. I personally think that a neck shot is better. The target is somewhat larger and you also have major arteries and veins there in addition to the spine.

      Mike



      • BB,

        I have only killed two deer in my life by shooting them behind the shoulder. I would have to be pretty hungry to ever do that again. A deer’s heart is about the size of a fist. How often do gut shooters hit it? Do you think it is humane to shoot a deer and have it slowly drown in it’s own blood?


      • BB,

        I am sorry. I feel very strongly about killing animals. I cannot stand to see an animal suffer. As I have stated, I have hunted in the past and will do so again if I need to, but I always do my absolute best to dispatch my quarry as quickly and painlessly as I possibly can. I learned at a young age that body shots are usually slow deaths and quite often ruins meat.

        As far as shooting large quarry in the heart / lungs, Jim Chapman wrote this week about wild hog hunting with his new .451 Brushbuck that develops 600 FPE. He shot a wild boar in the heart / lung area and then found it necessary to shoot it in the head as it was charging him.


        • RidgeRunner, I don’t know precisely what you mean by “body shots”, but in my own experience and learning, at least on big game, I consider the complete-penetration heart/lung hit to be the most humane shot available–where my definition of humane consists of two important parts: 1) the shot is unquestionably fatal, and 2) suffering is minimized.

          Thing is, it is possible to fixate so much on #2 that one fails to accomplish #1–and for me that is even more horrifying than needless animal suffering. I have seen enough head/neck/spine shots that failed to kill the animal–producing hideous, stomach-turning results–that I simply will not take one on an undisturbed critter.

          I can imagine your visceral reaction to the hog incident, and I have a peculiar soft spot for hogs. (As a kid I was witness to the extermination of several trapped and caged hogs; it had nothing to do with the hunting we were there for, but that was still not okay by me.) For what it’s worth, though, I think feral hog hunting is in a slightly different category. I admire any animal that will turn and fight when attacked, and a charge is a different challenge than an undisturbed hunting shot. With the latter I want to ensure as quick a kill as possible, but with the former the primary consideration is not killing, but stopping. And the headshot can certainly be effective for that–even if it doesn’t kill outright, it can often stop for long enough to supply a sure killing shot. In a charge, the headshot is also exactly what is presented, and so that is what most people take.

          I’m sure the headshot may have been the best way to handle a charging hog, but I don’t think that contra-indicates the heart-lung shot for hunting.


    • DS,

      Assume you’re referring to big game when you ask about head shots being humane. I’ve had some experience hunting big game.

      There are two major problems with head shots. The appropriate target area on the head is very small and the animals head is typically in constant motion even when standing still.

      For these reasons I’ve seen lots of novice hunters maim more often than kill big game with head shots. Think about a lower jaw blown apart on an elk. Not enough blood loss to kill the animal quickly, if ever, so recovering the animal is rare which relegates the animal to die a slow death from starvation.

      Many better options of target areas than the head.

      kevin


    • In the last thirty years I have only used head shot on deer or any game.I do this only with shooting sticks and only if everything is 100% for sure in my mind.I never shot or hope I can hit the brain at long distance usually at 120 feet and under. I cut a deer skull with a band saw to study the brain cavity and look for the thinnest wall area. the brain is the size of a lemon or close. I do not take the shot if the animal will not stop moving it gets a pass for the day.When you find a old deer skull cut it and you will then see a deer with a glass head and be able see the brain no matter how the head is positioned. There will be no meat destroyed and the deer will drop strait down were it stands, lights out.But ya don’t want to do this with a wall hanger and a 270 then go for the heart lung shot or neck bone.


  7. Ridge Runner- Collecting souvenirs is a trait shared by many people. For example, the glasses from the restaurant where I proposed to my wife, a link from the anchor chain from the submarine U 505, J.H.S. year books from the school where I taught for 29 years. Hunters like to remember their hunts with trophy’s. Some souvenirs commemorate personal events, and some historic events. Many museums are nothing more than a collection of souvenirs. The list of things people collect is enormous (I have a cigar tube filled with the whiskers that came from the 20 cats that were my pets). It is normal for hunters to collect trophy’s. I will stop here and let other hunters and collectors add their comments. Ed



  8. RidgeRunner, I really never thought killing a animal “just” for the mount was the right thing to do but, around here these hunters mount there kills because that’s the end they can’t eat. And being on a site that is target and “hunting” oriented is a little touchy to me labeling some as less a man or as you put it Inadequate. I have known one or more hunters that after there Doe kill then would only pull the trigger if its a trophy buck and they usually did not get to pull the trigger that year.And I don’t think I would label them as “inadequate” or lesser of a man because of there desire for a trophy. There are sports and all kind of things that men do that I don’t care for in this world but I would never put them below me and label them as less then a man. I know people hunt mounting loins and beautiful animals like that and you can’t eat them just cut there head off and mount them. Not speaking of the ones that kill livestock and such “even tho they were here thousands of years before us” they still must be managed I know”But I wouldn’t belittle a man or women as you have because they enjoy the hunt. I just keep it to myself because it just seems to stir up a unwanted stink.


  9. Hunting with large bore, black powder or bows is an ethical choice unless you are capable of guaranteed heart or brain stem shots. I say it’s an ethical choice because you have more humane projectiles these days and you aren’t hunting to survive.
    I hunt rabbits, with 12ft/lb, and if I get a “runner” I find it quite traumatic, 95% of what I shoot dies within 3 feet of where it’s hit….the day I can’t do that, I give up…period
    If I had to shoot it in the chest and then wait for it, suffering and shocked, to bleed out, it’s a no from me.
    And anyway, where’s the sport, the challenge, in shooting a whitetail in the chest at 200 yards?…if you can’t do that you need an optometrist.
    I see a lot of numpty’s shooting wild pig with big bore airguns at 60 yards, torso shots then tracking it screaming in the scrub, I can hit a rabbit in the brain at that range, let alone a hog….and if you are going to hunt without that capability, have a look at yourself


    • Dom,

      As you already stated, killing animals isn’t always a neat and tidy affair. 5% of your rabbits (your statistic) were runners. I admire your goal of eliminating these few that suffer but it’s unrealistic. It happens even to the best of hunters that are the best of shots.

      ps-for many folks, hunting isn’t just about killing. There’s much more to it than shooting their whitetail in the chest at 200 yards.

      kevin


  10. I know it can be brutal watching an animal die. I’ve had a few experiences, some none of my own doing and some I was directly involved in and it’s tough when you can’t do anything about it whether that could be a better placed 2nd round or intensive care. deer on the roads I’ve stopped to help others and make sure they don’t get too close before it’s over then drag it off the road and usually takes around 10 mins for trauma to finish the job or they could be flailing on you otherwise. I think that’s one good reason to have a firearm in a vehicle.


  11. B.B.

    Bravo Sir! What a super and timely article. I do admire your raw honesty. This is one of the main reasons your blog attracts so many good people. Thanks for the lesson is hunting ballistics. I have hunted since I was maybe eleven but, believe me ,I didn’t know most of what you just said.Hunting is in my family and my Dad taught us never to make the game suffer & also to take what is necessary for the pot and NO more. We try to apply these principles even now as far as possible.

    Errol



  12. “… such things are for the hunters and not for the game whose lives have already been taken, but what they do is remind the hunter that this was a living being that enjoyed life until the end.”

    B.B., you remind me of a man who came to speak to us when I worked for M.H.M.R. services. He worked a lot with disabled children.

    He told us of one, a boy who was blind, deaf and mentally retarded. Before entering the boy’s room he always stopped, knocked and waited a moment before entering. Some others didn’t comprehend why he would do this. He said, “I know that Tommy doesn’t even know when I enter the room, but I knock and pause because it is I who must remember that Tommy is a person who deserves respect the same as I”.

    I think something he said may apply to hunting almost the same as it applies to working with other people we are supposed to be taking care of. He said, “first careless, then callous, then cruel”.

    ~ken


  13. Hi BB,I first came too U.S. When i was 14.spent the next 5yrs between U.S. and Yorkshire.My first air rifle was a milbro g26 @ 11yrs old.Shot it thousands of times.Went through a few springs. I had a couple of owl,s and a kestrel.They were always well fed.Mice,sparrows,starlings.At 15 , living in Minn I got a Sheridan .Changed my life.Never pumped it more than 6 times.Rabbits,squirrel’s.I was in Heaven.At 17 I took several pumpers back too Yorkshire .At 19 I came back to U.S with HW35.I love your blogs.springers ,gas Rams.Old Bengys.Imagine carrying a scuba tank across the Yorkshire Moors? .177 for targets, .22 for hunting, .25 for bigger stuff and that is it. I guess I am a dinosaur.
    ATB,GAZ


    • Please leave the raptors alone.
      I’m privileged to have a daily observation of Kestrals, and a nightly observation of Owls. And an ongoing infestation of gophers. Given the chance, they’ll blessedly go for a gopher every time. I haven’t tried the “dress-up-in-a-gopher-suit” experiment to see if I’m in any danger, but I’m pretty sure I and even the terriers are safe enough, (except maybe from that yokel from Remington.) And our chickens, too. After 13 years bordering a large protected Regional Park, our chickens have been buzzed a time or two by Redtails, but even they show little interest if we’re responsible enough to wire-cover their run.
      Seriously, a Kestral is way too small to worry about your chickens or your siamese cat. Most Owls are also too small to be worried about the chickens or your house cat either. They’re interested in critters that we consider vermin…rats, gophers, even occasionally Bull Frogs, I understand.
      So shooting one is like killing one of your close allies. And ethically, morally, not to mention legally reprehensible, to boot.
      We can talk the dangers of other wild critters another time. Coyotes, Foxes and Mountain Lions (Really!) are a working possibility where we live, so just because I say “California,” in no way means you can’t be ‘et by a big cat. REALLY!
      So leave the rapters alone, (and the Gopher snakes, too.) They’re your friends.


  14. B.B.

    Thanks very much for writing this blog!

    I have been reading the blogs about the “big-bore” airguns with great interest in the advances in technology but also with great concern that people without understanding will use them for hunting.

    There is a strong parallel between bog-bore airguns and crossbows in that they are relatively easy to use and they have the POTENTIAL to be very efficient hunting weapons.

    As you point out, many hunters that are experienced with high-velocity center-fire rifles may not appreciate that hunting with a big-bore airgun or a crossbow/bow is a “surgical technique”. You need to hit a specific organ to do a humane job of taking game. This means you have to be knowledgeable of the physiology of the game, the capabilities of the weapon (range, accuracy and energy) and the effective range of the shooter. Most of all you have to have enough respect for the game that you will pass up marginal shots because there is no hydrostatic shock to cover for poor shot placement.

    As a side, before I started bow hunting I talked to my doctor about if taking white-tails with a broadhead arrow (which is essentially a flying collection of razorblades) was humane. The doctor explained that in most instances (not hitting solid bone) the cutting blades on the arrow would sever nerve-ends so quickly as to numb the area of impact and that the internal organs (heart, lungs) had minimal nerves that sensed pain. In my bow hunting experience I have had numerous deer stand or walk away a few steps before bedding down and expiring after a being hit so this seems to hold true.

    The term “big-bore” is hard to define relative to large game because large game can range from hundreds to thousands of pounds in weight requiring weapons with appropriate energy. Maybe we should define “big-bore” as gun with an energy level that is excessive for small game.

    Vana2


  15. BB,

    Excellent article. I hunted with bow, black powder, and high powered rifle and have taken deer with all three. When I was growing up the rule was if you shoot it you better be willing to eat it (there were exceptions for varmints). I still follow that rule. Your comments on bleed out are spot on.

    For those who be live that it cruel to shoot an animal by whatever means when hunting then let it bleed out should check out modern slaughter house methods.

    Thanks,

    Jim




      • Edith: I have raised chickens since I was a child. I have always felt some remorse when culling the flock. When we slaughtered our own pigs I felt the same , my wife cannot bear the thought anymore , so we don’t raise hogs anymore. When I hunt I don’t feel the same way, because most of the time I don’t know the animal as personally. I think that most folks woulds stop eating meat if they were to vist, and spend a day at a slaugther house.


  16. Very well written and needed.

    It seems to me that those who hunt with big bore pistols share some of the same issues that big bore air gun hunters share. For one, they are not going to be making long shots and will limit their shooting distance in order to make a humane kill. I have witnessed my daughter take many South Texas whitetails with a .357 maximum Thompson Contender pistol and invariably the deer will run for a few yards before dropping. I have never seen her loose a wounded deer. As B.B. stated, you just have to wait a few minutes for the deer to bleed out.

    The same goes for archers who have to be even closer for a sure shot. They make their shot, wait for 10 or more minutes and go find their deer. I believe that many of the situations where deer are wounded and are not found are created by firearm rifle hunters who try to make the “impossible shot” and end up only wounding the animal. The serious archery, pistol and big bore air rifle hunters, are not going to blow a chance by taking a risky shot. If the hunter uses discipline, then the hunt should be a success.


  17. BB: Good blog today,but reading some of the the comments reminds me of far removed we have become from our hunter gather roots.Without the kill,or the expectation of sucess, there is no hunt.Hunting is not a spectator sport like some trivial game ,like football.When you are sucessful, you do not “score” .The kill defines the hours , the years, you have put into refining your skillset to enable you to take the game as cleanly as possible . How you conduct yourself during , and after the hunt defines you. I also trap animals as well, for profit, mostly the predators, something that puts you on a much more intimate level with your prey than even hunting. I respect them all.



    • I used to run traps with my Dad before I was old enough for 1st grade. Most of what I remember us getting was skunks but I got the hides from enough other animals to eventually afford my 1st RedRyder I didn’t like seeing them thrashing around and wished I had my own gun to end their suffering with, Sometimes Dad was faster than others but sometimes it was longer than I could really stomach.




      • Me and my oldest daughter call owls at night. Love hearing them answer back and then fly in closer.

        And love watching the hawks fly.

        Amazing animals. I have seen many mice and rats taken by the owls and rats out around the chicken and rabbit coops. They are very much a friend.


        • Gunfun,

          My dog loves sitting in the yard watching the hawks gliding in the summer sky. Not sure whether she wants to catch one or join them in the sky. Think it may be the second because small low flying planes and helicopters also fascinate her. 🙂

          David


          • David
            One minute they are just floating in the air in one spot.

            Then in a blink of a eye the hawk folds his wings and turns into a missle.

            How’s that for being able to change the Hawkes coefficient of drag.

            I stop and watch them whenever I get the chance to see them.


        • I had a couple owls in the tree of my front yard in Cedar Park. I always wanted to feed them but My 618 just wasn’t up to the task at hunting range unless I found a Mulberry tree.


    • Gaz, no offense meant, sorry for the misunderstanding.
      At one time, many years ago, I also was a “Godfather” to a pair of sibling Kestrals (AKA “Sparrow Hawks”). They were as charming a pair as you could imagine, brother and sister and would happily perch, side by side, on my finger. They were always fascinated by their own reflections in my camera lens.
      At this time, we also have an (apparently) mated pair of Kestrals having a wonderful time hunting gophers in our back-yard.
      They are trully gorgeous birds.


  18. By all my accumulated understanding and certainly personal experience, there is a whole lot of truth here–but ultimately the topic is way too large for a single blog post. (Kudos to B.B. both for even attempting it, and for his skills at distillation of a few key principles.)

    I’m in complete agreement that lots of well-intentioned people, badly abetted by years of marketing, have come to consider the idea of hydrostatic shock as somehow either requisite to any humane kill, or otherwise some sort of replacement for–or augmentation of–skill at shot placement. It is neither of these things, but I do like to think of it as a useful tool.

    I think of it this way. My ethical duty to the animal is to take it as quickly and humanely as possible, else I will simply pass on the shot. And so the first thing I want to do is to ensure that the first hit is positively fatal. The second thing to ensure is that the animal is not lost–that he cannot escape to die in a place where I cannot get him. And the third thing is to minimize his suffering by bringing death as quickly as possible. (You can see how these three things rather inter-relate.)

    Hydrostatic shock, by itself, may or may not kill the animal. When it does, it seems to do so in dramatic fashion. But what about the case of the “pole-axed” animal suddenly jumping up and darting away, seemingly unfazed? I’ve read too many of those stories–and even seen it happen myself–to bring myself to trust shock as a primary killing tool. Study into the effect seems to establish that there is absolutely something to it, but that it can be unpredictable, and for me at least, I’ll relegate it to the “nice to have” category. One thing I do like about it very much is that any sort of hydrostatic shock absolutely can help to keep the stunned animal down long enough to allow blood loss and (non-hydrostatic) shock to set in, which always helps my goals. But I don’t go out of my way to ensure it, either; it seems to me that the thresholds for producing the effect reliably, essentially require ballistics that start to seriously unravel the efficiency, portability, or “hitability” of any rifle it might be launched from. (That’s at least a bit of a personal matter, of course, but I tend to agree with the opinion that for most of us at least, if you can’t do it with a .30/06, you probably can’t do it with a .300 Trans-Galactic Magnumator, either.)

    I go for other goals that are more sure. First and foremost, I want two holes, an entrance and an exit. As the saying goes (I’m recalling Elmer Keith here, but it may well have been before that), big bullets and two holes let out a lot of warm blood and let in a lot of cold air. This implies penetration, which you absolutely can get more reliably than hydrostatic shock. You can even get reliable expansion with “plenty enough” penetration well below the level of hydrostatic shock, which can make that second hole a good deal bigger than bore diameter alone would suggest.

    And again, given the sum of my own experience and learning, B.B. is right on when he says that it simply takes some time for blood loss to cause death. Many animals will indeed just lay down and not get up when hit solidly, but not all do. Sometimes that is important, too. You don’t want the goat to jump off the cliff–the elk or moose to disappear into the thickest timber–the deer or pronghorn to make it across the land boundary you cannot cross. Losing the animal destroys the return on your ethical compromise of attacking the critter in the first place. So what do you do?

    You try to stack the deck, of course. Hydrostatic shock can be helpful in “anchoring” the critter long enough for it to die, but ultimately it’s not reliable enough for me. I myself follow the “break bones” philosophy whenever I need an anchor. A hit in the boiler room, that penetrates, is nearly always fatal, but a hit that also breaks one or both shoulders on the way is even better. It’s not that he can’t go anywhere, so hit–I have personally seen feats I would not have thought possible–but he can’t get as far as he could with one or two more legs available. Again, this implies lots of penetration, and this is where offshoot conversations about bullet shape, construction, sectional density, velocity windows, and other factors can spiral nearly fractally out of hand. (And we should never forget that if a first hit fails to anchor when there is a need to anchor, the most important thing to do is to immediately supply another hit! 🙂 )

    Anyway, one might view both the bone-breaking strategy and the hydrostatic shock effect to be augmentations of the basic killing mechanism, rather than the primary mechanism itself. Neither is necessary for a humane, quick kill, but each can help. It might be argued that the bone-breaking idea is harder to employ because it is a harder shot to place; I certainly cannot disagree with that, but I both have not found it to be a problem myself, and personally welcome anything that focuses my mind on greater placement precision when making the shot.

    This is such an enormous subject. It still amazes me how much attention people place on kinetic energy as the solitary consideration of terminal ballistic performance. The old “one thousand foot-pounds for deer, two thousand for elk” rule still seems to hold a lot of sway, even though with any given example the cause and effect may be exactly backwards. And yet there is still a whole lot of mild-mannered, no-nonsense game taking out there, with “woefully underperforming” rounds like .35 Remington, pistol cartridges from lever carbines, and certainly the smokepole crowd.

    I suppose I should be happy that it won’t ever get settled. Whatever would we talk about then? 😀



      • I have had great luck with Partitions before, and still believe the concept is sound. I handloaded them nearly exclusively until Barnes upped the ante with the lead-less X-bullet concept, and now I tend to load nearly any hunting round either with one of Barnes’ banded (TSX) offerings, or with a super-hard-cast LBT design. I love the X design because it gives me lots of things I like in a small or medium bore: it absolutely will penetrate, it may well offer expansion while doing so, the expanded petals reliably cut a very leaky exit hole, the bullets are long for caliber, and the tips are highly resistant to deformation in administrative handling and in magazines. (The very-hard-cast LBTs also give me what I’m looking for in a large bore: straight-line penetration, the widest possible meplat, and lots and lots of mass.)

        Between the homogeneous X-bullets, the divided-core (partition) designs, and the bonded-core designs, there seem to be a lot of high-performance choices available, and even then these are not always necessary; if you don’t try to push your bullets too fast, even the vanilla designs seem to do just fine most of the time. (People like me tend to spend a lot of mental energy, and certainly funds, to stack the deck for what lies beyond “most of the time”. Just because we do it doesn’t make it necessary. 🙂 )


    • Hydrostatic shock is what you get with a .17 Remington hitting a prairie dog…

      I’ve seen footage of such — the PD puffs up like a lumpy balloon before collapsing…



  19. Very interesting. Not having ever hunted in my life doesn’t prevent me from weighing in. 🙂 This all makes sense, but I wonder if the distinction is quite so well-defined between killing with hydrostatic shock and killing with blood loss. Consider that certain kinds of 5.56 bullets used in war (was it the one with the green tip?) have zipped completely through their targets with apparently no effect. They were compared to poking tiny holes in the target. The same caliber with an expanding soft point bullet can take deer reliably I believe. Given identical energies, is the difference solely in blood loss caused by the larger diameter of the expanding projectile? That is certainly a factor. Whether it is the only factor is what I’m not clear on. Could it be that the degree of hydrostatic shock is influenced by projectile size and shape and not just energy? The fact that some non-expanding bullets create no hydrostatic shock despite their high energy seems to suggest the relevance of other factors like projectile size. If so, these would be coupled variables rather than completely independent.

    Matt61


  20. BB- I decided to re-read the books that were written by captain Crossman. When I got them out of my “archives” I noticed that the captain spells his name with a double S (Crossman). Do you know why the Crosman company uses 1 S? It might be an interesting story or just a mistake. Ed


  21. I have shot a lot of deer over the last 40 years. All but one which was a neck hit was heart/lung behind the shoulder.
    Most were down and dead within 30 yards. The longest run was about 75 yards. This works. BTW, I use either a .25-06 or 7mm Remington Magnum. I have never lost a deer I have shot.

    Mike


  22. BB,

    I, too am not a hunter. I have only used my air rifle(s) to cull the squirrel herd in the back yard and to assassinate one squirrel who came in through the chimney into my furnace. I didn’t feel good about these incidents but they were necessary (hawks or coyote hadn’t moved into the neighborhood to control the vermin population) to protect my property. I am very glad you did this blog to let me know what I might expect should I ever have the opportunity to go hunting for larger game.

    Now, I have to cull a chunk of meatloaf for dinner!

    Fred DPRoNJ


  23. To all,

    Great comments and a lot of food for thought. While never much of a hunter, more fisherman,..I do plan to give some groundhogs a “go”. I do understand there tough, so only the best shots at the closest possible range. TX in .22.

    After reading all the comments, I find it hard to believe that there was no comments on so called “canned hunts”. I’m not talking about where a trained guide leads you out into the wilderness,..I’m talking about where you pay to sit in a tree stand on an “enclosed ranch” and shoot a deer or bear thats feeding out of a food bin 30~50ft. away. I mean,…really???



      • B.B.,

        Thank you for the reply. I have the “Pursuit” channel on Direct TV and the episode I saw was a archer in a tree stand and he shot a bear that was eating out of a blue 55gal. plastic drum. He was close enough that it looked like if he jumped real good, he could land on the bear.

        I do not remember what show it was on, but I have seen the same episode several times, within the last month. Next time its on, I will note it and reply to you on the blog.

        It would seem that some outfitters are offering full tracking, video and subtitle services for anyone willing to pay their fee. Your “15 minutes of fame” so to speak, and shown on national TV no less.

        Deer “farming” also seems to be catching on as well. Penned up bucks that are fed special diets and then sold to anyone. The biggest racks you have ever seen. And just not one deer, I’m talking 20~30. Genetics they call it. I suppose one could “augment” there own herd on their own land and produce bigger bucks. I would guess that is the end goal anyways. And $$$ of course. They even track the “lineage”, as you would in race horses.


        • Chris,

          I don’t think the theme of that show was very moral. After all, Teddy Roosevelt named the Teddy Bear for refusing to shoot a tied bear. It’s just not right.

          In Germany you are not supposed to shoot a deer near a feeding station. I thought that was just common sense. I guess not.

          B.B.


          • B.B.,

            I scanned the channel as far forward as I could go. Seems to be more fishing shows on now, as normal hunting season in most areas is over. I may not see it again.

            And , it took to well after dark to find the bear. It ran quite aways from the shot sight.

            And yes,..it did not look very “moral”. I really could not believe what I was seeing. While I suppose that a hunter could justify in any number of ways, I could just not see it.

            ***As for ground hogs, I would REALLY value your opinion on hunting ground hogs with the TX .22. Shot placement, range, pellet type, etc. Do it, don’t do it, only at X range or less, only if you can hit X spot, etc. I am really trying hard to learn and “catch up”. MY ability to shoot a 1/2″ group at whatever yardage is my determining factor. Of course, FPE at impact is the end factor.

            Thank you, Chris


  24. B.B.,

    As a non-hunter I truly appreciate your remarks today. As I have said before, I have nothing against hunting or hunters it’s just not for me. I went squirrel hunting with my stepfather the day he and my mother gave me a Winchester .22 Magnum for my birthday. My very first shot I killed a squirrel and my first instinct was to run over to where the squirrel fell out of the tree to make sure it was dead. I found the whole experience, except for hitting my target, unnerving. My stepfather ate the squirrel (he loved squirrel) for which I was thankful. I never hunted again. I simply didn’t enjoy it. But I do love target shooting.

    I can see, or better yet feel, how someone could react poorly to watching a large animal die slowly from a big bore airgun shot. Thanks for alerting those who may never have given this a second thought. By the way, I read the condensed version of this post in the article you did for P.A’s catalog. I liked it then just as much and even thought about writing you to say so. Sorry I didn’t.

    G&G


  25. B.B. Interesting article, one that everyone should read no matter their experience level in hunting. I believe you should have a respect for your quarry/enemy and dispatch them humanely. Nothing should have to suffer before death, make it as quick as possible and show dignity in doing so. Ricka.


  26. Matt61

    Good points.Some things seem obvious to me,but that doesn’t mean they are true.I think the larger second hole does of coarse make enough difference to tip the scale.But first of all the projectile must have high enough velocity to be able to induce hydrostatic shock,then it must be able to transfer that energy .Projectile shape must matter in conjunction with its material makeup.And I believe these two aspects must be viewed in relation to the flesh the projectile will encounter.That’s why we need so many kinds of bullets and different loads.The Pb hunter has a lot of data to work with.The airgunner, not so much and a more narrow range of choices.

    What doesn’t seem so obvious to me is what situation is more valuable to the airgunner.Should he try to put the projectile through the animal to get as much blood loss as possible?Or is one hole good and then as much trauma as possible from a projectile that, either doesn’t make it out ,or maybe just barely does so.It just seems that transfer of all energy is useful and if the projectile slices through and keeps going,then the air gunner has lost out on his narrowed down list of effects.

    Tin Can Man


    • The ideal condition would be for the projectile to make it through the second layer of hide… and fall to the ground.

      I’ve been looking at various reloading manuals (disgusting — out of three recent [?] editions, only one still has ballistic tables in the back, and even its “short range” table is muzzle/50/100/150 yards — not too useful when intended usage is more like 25/50/75 yard). One of them suggested that a (hunting pistol) bullet impacting at >1300fps should be a solid for penetration, but if impacting at <1300 it should be a hollow-point for expansion damage. Naturally, the .44RemMag, from a rifle tends to cross that 1300fps at… 50 yards; the middle of my envisioned usage range (from pistols it is already below 1300fps).


  27. BB, Excellent article on the Big Bores. Being an avid hunter myself and understanding ballistics, it’s hard to explain that these Big Bores are NOT like conventional firearms when it comes to “dropping game in it’s tracks”. I scream at my television watching some shows where it’s made to look like a quick dispatch of the animal. This article should be attached to all the Big Bores we sell.


  28. I take mule deer in the back yard with a crossbow in order not to disturb the neighbors. The post itself and a couple of the comments (eg, quoting Keith about letting the blood out and the wind in) are spot on. I would supplement by noting that with a broadhead what you want to hit is the aortic arch. This causes blood pressure to drop instantly to 0 over 0; vision grays out; there is a moment of dizziness; the animal lays down. While bleeding may continue for a few moments, it takes about 7 seconds to de-oygenate the brain. While I have had a deer go 200 yards when hit in the lower ventricles with a .30-06, those taken through the vessels above the heart with a broadhead have never gone more than 8 – 10 yds, and often have laid down on the spot. They also appear to have a far more peaceful death than animals taken with a rifle; this is confirmed by the behavior of their companions, who generally continue to feed near the down animal for up to half an hour before ambling away. To hit that point requires some knowledge of the interior of deer, and patience to wait until an animal presents a perfect shot at a distance of not more than 20 yards. Sometimes it has taken half an hour or so before the right shot comes; if it doesn’t I don’t shoot and there is no meat in the lodge.


  29. I love this series of articles. I am a huge proponent of airguns and airgun hunting in Hawaii, which we are again going to try to get acknowledged by DLNR to at least give it a shot as we did with handguns if not an outright adoption of use.

    I am very fond of muzzleloaders, and am trying to get caliber restrictions lifted as well. We have 44 caliber minimum caliber restriction on bore diameter, but nothing on bullet diameter. A 44 caliber sabot, shoots a 40 caliber or smaller projectile, so why not let me shoot my 1-18 twist .41 with a Sharps 400 grain bullet, as you aptly pointed out in your discussion. While I don’t doubt any dying animal suffers, I’ve never witnessed the suffering with any of my roundballs or .41, for that matter, that an animal goes through with a pack of wolves, wild dogs, or actual predators like lions or bears.

    Early in my experience as a hunter, I rushed a shot on a running doe and spined her. Our entire party heard the result of that shot, some being almost a half a mile away. Suffering comes from poor woodsmanship in the preponderance of cases. What few other incidents that result in “suffering” can still be argued as poor woodsmanship, but animals are animals, unpredictable and subject to all kinds of influences we could only guess when the shot goes astray while steady on target.

    These airguns, in my opinion, are as you say, very akin to muzzleloaders and some are so supremely accurate that it astounds the mind. In my opinion, airguns are for the right sportsman, are an extraordinarily well suited implement for hunting, and since I shoot the 45 caliber muzzleloader as well with the exact same bullets you, tried, I find that the versatility of the 45’s are exceptionally for hunting.

    Please don’t take this as a criticism, but I think that suffering was just the wrong connotation for such an outstanding article.

    Much Aloha,

    Tom Lodge


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