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Brush-buster myth

02 Oct 2019
@ 06:47 am (GMT)

Scott Struif

This site is the best on the Internet. I'm on here to learn. My hunting experience is limited to 2 rounds: the 12 gauge 1 oz. foster slug, and the 30-06. Until recently, I lived in Illinois, a "slug-only" jurisdiction. That's all you're allowed to use for deer. The 30-06 I used for pronghorn in Wyoming. In his 35 Whelen knowledgebase article, Nathan refers to the notion of brush-busting, but says he is "dubious" of the concept. In his 280 Remington article he states that spritzers are just as good as round-nosed bullets at brush-busting. I think I have something to add here. I can say with absolute certainty that brush-busting is a myth. While still-hunting the wooded edge of a clearing in Illinois, I had a clear, 25-yard, 30-degree downhill shot on a feeding doe. She was facing me, head down in the grass, unaware of my presence. I aimed right between her shoulder blades. At the shot, which should have broken her spine or crushed a shoulder, she took off in the direction of my hunting partner. His shot rang out. I was glad he had finished her off for me. Incredibly, my shot had only grazed a 10 inch strip of hair parallel to her spine, impossible from the angle of my shot. I walked back to the spot I shot at her, so I could try and recreate the mishap in my mind. She wouldn't have had time to crouch after hearing the shot, but that's all I could figure happened. As I walked down to where she was, I saw the severed stub of pencil-diameter twig about 10 yards from where she was standing. On another occasion, I shot a pronghorn in the head from 75 yards with a 180 grain 30-06 bullet. My buddies were impressed, but I had to confess I was aiming behind the shoulder. The animal was standing in sagebrush, but I could see its entire body clearly. I didn't look for the twig the bullet hit, but I know that's what happened.


04 Oct 2019
@ 04:22 am (GMT)

Paul Leverman

Re: Brush-buster myth
There was an article written last century sometime about brush-busting. Not sure who the author was, but he took several common bullet/calibre combinations, set up targets and spaced different size twigs at various distances from the targets. Lots of rounds, lots of pictures. He came to the same conclusions - it's a myth.

I have the magazine somewhere and if anyone wants to see if they can find it online, I'll dig it out and give them the info to look it up.
04 Oct 2019
@ 09:14 am (GMT)

Mike Davis

Re: Brush-buster myth
yes and no on this one....
a 400grn cast load doing 1300fps HAS to deflect less than a 87grn doing 3000fps
why??? because its got more momentum...more push in direction of travel and I thinkmore importantly the projectile itself has more structual integraty....the discussion on bush bucking is sort of the polar opposite of what varmit round is safest..... in varmit senario you want projectile to blow up/break up/stop as soon as it hits if it hits a twig the projectile will break up/deform and do weird n wonderful things.
a big heavy slow round nose hitting same twig..SHOULD maintain same shouldnt start to break up and shouldnt slow down much.
I nearly shot myself in the leg years back.....and I hit what I was aiming at. being young fella killing big rams for dog tucker was hard work so I used the .12ga with a solid,shot ram through head inside shearing shed,the slug then bouced all around the walls of shed coming to rest...on the grating beside me.
needless to say I didnt do that again.
I honestly believe its the type of projectile that matters more than anything else. one of Nathans long range still mushroom projectiles by its very nature shouldnt stand up to same punishment as a more robust stouter loading. at low velocity the difference should be less. if theory was completely wrong on this then projectiles wouldnt pass through animal,they would bounce off ,yes sometimes they do deflect inside animal,but not the higher % of the time.
I will stick to my big fat slow round nose loads for bush end of day it gives me more confidence which is half the battle won.
04 Oct 2019
@ 11:36 am (GMT)

Scott Struif

Re: Brush-buster myth
Were I hunting a brushy area, in a downpour, where I knew no shot in excess of 75 yards would present itself, I might be tempted to carry the 12 guage with iron sights, rather than a scoped rifle . . . but not for its brush-busting capability, nor for its knockdown capability. I've shot small deer at close range with that thing that ran 50 to 100 yards. I didn't know about the shoulder-shot, though. I learned about that on here. My point was that you have to thread the needle, regardless of the projectile.
04 Oct 2019
@ 03:39 pm (GMT)

william badgley

Re: Brush-buster myth
My understanding of the physics involved are that the faster, lighter, or smaller the diameter somethin is, the more prone to deflection it is. Everything is relative. A cannonball hitting a pencil size twig isn't going to deflect much at all. The question really is, if I'm hunting where twigs may be encountered am I better off ( have higher odds ) with a large diameter, heavy, slow 500 gr. 45/70 bullet or a small diameter, light, fast 80gr. .243 ? Sure both can be deflected if they hit something large enough but given the physics I'll take the large and slow every time. Having done hundreds of test shots shooting through heavy brush at targets bore out the that the odds, though not 100%, are certainly way better. If you have a choice of weapons play the odds.
16 Oct 2019
@ 05:21 pm (GMT)

Joel Macha

Re: Brush-buster myth
might i suggest you gentlemen go on youtube and watch a video done by iraqveteran8888 called "what is a brush gun". a real world test on this very subject with some interesting results.
21 Oct 2019
@ 01:03 pm (GMT)

Scott Struif

Re: Brush-buster myth
Hi, Joel. Thanks for the reply. I watched, and enjoyed, the video you suggested. I thought I had an obstruction-free shot on that deer at 30 yards, but witnessed first-hand the effect of a small twig on a 12 gauge slug. If Eric, of iraqvet8888, is confident shooting 10 MOA groups with his beloved 45-70, more power to him.
27 Oct 2019
@ 07:38 pm (GMT)

Phil Van Zuylen

Re: Brush-buster myth
Well I have had it happen only once but I shot a fallow yearling at 220m downhill and couldnt find it that night in the fading light. I found it the next morning by locating the matagouri branch my projectile had passed thru before striking the deer! Rifle used 270wsm and 150 gr sst. No photo of deers shoulder but I do have photos of inch thick branch broken on way thru. Unable to post but can txt to someone more tech savvy so they can!
10 Nov 2019
@ 07:27 am (GMT)

Nathan Foster

Re: Brush-buster myth
Phil's photos:

10 Nov 2019
@ 08:03 am (GMT)

Ryan Nafe

Re: Brush-buster myth
Wow. So basically what I would take away from all this is that the hunter should (obviously) avoid hitting any branches or brush if at all possible, but if the bullet does strike one and has enough energy and toughness of construction, it’s probably still capable of making lethal wounds.

Very interesting.
10 Nov 2019
@ 04:53 pm (GMT)

Scott Struif

Re: Brush-buster myth
I stand corrected. I'm going to my LGS to buy that over-priced Browning X-Bolt Stalker in .270 WSM tomorrow!


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