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Re: Neck Shots on Medium Game With Frangible Bullets

20 Jan 2018
@ 04:52 am (GMT)

Joshua Mayfield

I'd like to add a couple thoughts to the discussion.

The first is that it's a wonderful rarity to engage in an online forum wherein we can discuss topics that will produce some strong and differing viewpoints and to actually see the participants remain civil enough that nuances of the discussion can be examined. I checked on a forum last week that I participated in a couple of years ago. As the membership has grown the forum's capacity to pursue a topic before things devolve into the online equivalent of monkeys throwing feces at one another has disappeared. I'm grateful for the participants in this forum and particularly for our hosts in New Zealand, who set and maintain a standard of civility without pretending that nonsense is anything but nonsense.

The second thought is that this discussion highlights something that I believe every outdoorsman needs to evaluate throughout our lives, the gaps between what we were taught and what we want to teach. I've said this before and at the risk of being redundant, will say it again - my grandfather and father are my two great heroes in life and taught me most of what I know about hunting. Grandpa was born in 1917. He learned to hunt during the Great Depression. Hunting was done to put food on the table and/or to protect livestock. He was fortunate in that he loved it, but that's not why he did it. My dad was born in 1944. He grew up hunting also and the game he harvested was a welcome food source, but not necessary for survival by any stretch. Both men were well above average in marksmanship and had reputations as excellent hunters. I was born in 1978 and when I moved back to the US from Chile in 1992 I wanted to hunt largely to prove to my grandpa, my dad, and myself that I could measure up to them. So while the men who taught me to hunt were both adamant that the game must be treated with respect and kills must be as clean as possible, there were different layers of experience, perception, and motivation built into both of them as hunters that I continue to be affected by, and in some cases, have had to decide not to carry forward in my own hunting. And that decision to make a change is not always simple when the change is to set aside something your hero taught you.

So here's where I'm going with all my rambling. Grandpa left the house one day in the 1930s with his Winchester 97 intending to shoot a fox that was killing chickens. He had a couple 00 buckshot loads in his pocket. He saw a deer, was able to get a buckshot load chambered, and shot the deer. I don't recall the range but he knew he'd be tracking the deer. He tracked it a long way and eventually got a second load of buckshot into it. The deer died shortly after and grandpa had meat. Even if the law permitted, I would not hunt that way. But I do not feel Grandpa was wrong for doing so. That's a more extreme example but there are many things I learned and heard that I've had to evaluate and eventually say "I'm blessed with the tools and opportunity to do it a better way, so I will."

It's entirely possible that in twenty years my boy will think through a conversation where I told him I neck shot a deer with a .222 and say "Dad should have had his knuckles rapped for that." It's possible that in ten years I'll say the same thing myself. What I do not want my son to do is become one of those who simply says "If it was good enough for Dad, it's good enough for me." I hope he engages with different hunters who have different approaches. I hope he educates himself solidly enough in fundamental concepts to be able to sniff out marketing fluff and fads. I hope he never takes an irresponsible shot and if he does I hope it makes him sick to his stomach like it did me when I was 19. I hope his understanding of what's responsible and what's not is so clear that he'll have the confidence to set some of my understanding aside if he sees that it's faulty.

As to the thread topic, I stand by my original response as all I did was relay facts and invite countering thoughts. Will I ever neck shoot a deer again with a .222? I can't rule it out, having done so previously within parameters that I believed were sound and seeing instant kills. Will I teach my boy to do so? Probably not. There was a time when the .222 was my available tool so I did what I could with it. When my son goes into the woods on his own he'll have a tool that fires a larger diameter, heavy for caliber, frangible bullet. Whether he places it in the neck or body I will leave to him, having made sure he understands the ramifications of both.


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