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heart shots vs sticking (using a knife)

15 Feb 2016
@ 07:21 am (GMT)

Thomas Kitchen

so i was having bit of a reread of the killing fundamentals in the cartridge book, as im trying to get my head around the 35 cals killing abilities.
was reading about how when an animal is shot in the heart it tends to run so you want to take out the lungs, fair enough.
now when your pig hunting and go to stick a pig if you get the lungs it'll take a lot longer to die then if you take out the heart.

what i can think of is when you heart shoot an animal the shock helps seal the arteries/ blood vessels when you use a knife it cut straight through without any shock leaving the ends open to bleed freely. i could be wrong but think of how much a razor or paper cut bleeds compared to knocking some skin open or a graze?

would like to hear others opinions on this? any thoughts?


15 Feb 2016
@ 10:34 am (GMT)

Warwick Marflitt

Re: heart shots vs sticking (using a knife)
Hey Thomas. Here's my understanding of what happens. I remember dad showing us all the organs in the dog tucker sheep after he'd head shot them with 22LR solids. I remember the smell and steam as he was telling my sister and I what was what and there function.

When you get a boar with dogs and stick the heart it' takes a time for the life to drain out of them stop grunting and they seam to quietly fall asleep never to wake-up !
The Pigs brain and mussels are full of oxygen and adrenaline. It's the chemical soup that let's animals fight and run so far once hit.. Fear is a very motivating force. I don't think the heart controls the rest of the body. It's a self regulating pump to move the blood around the body. I always thought it was amazing that a fishes heart will keep on beating after its been removed from the fish for quite some time. The heart has quite big chambers and if you destroy the main arteries into the lungs the hearts rate may increase from fear danger and shock from the impact and the undamaged heart will pump the blood into the chest cavity at full speed . If the bullet passes right through the chest. The lack of vacuum will stop the lungs from working and the holes in and out will allow the undamaged heart to drain the body pretty quickly.
I remember watching cattle hanging on the chain being stuck and the river of red gushing over the Sticker! They were in the days when your school class went to the Meat works to see where your meat came from. Coming from a farm it was all "Old hat"! Some of the town kids where traumatized after that.?
The bolt gun and reject chute to the Blood n Bone room ! Looked like a great place to put child molesters and murderers.?
If you destroy the heart all the blood gets trapped in the body like loss of oil pressure and the mussels have trapped oxygen to run them for the distance until the body shuts down.
Nathan has re written the Essentials of game killing in the KB on the home page. It's a good read! make a coffee before you read it as he gets right into it.
15 Feb 2016
@ 08:17 pm (GMT)

Martin Taylor

Re: heart shots vs sticking (using a knife)
One point of difference is that a heart shot animal is not held and free to "escape" or already running.
Where as a stuck pig is held to the spot by good bailers and yourself.

If you watch any animal doco where say lions or wolves take an animal once on the ground they normally just give up fighting.
15 Feb 2016
@ 08:45 pm (GMT)

Nathan Foster

Re: heart shots vs sticking (using a knife)

Thomas, you already know much of what I have written below so many statements are for the benefit of others.

Traditionally, pigs are killied in a manner that is akin to the "Roman soldiers death". If it were a sheep, we would just cut the throat. But on pigs, the frontal cut / stab preserves the integrity of the carcass for singing (sin - jing) and possibly whole spit roasting, plus taxidermy mounting. We must look towards these cultural aspects of our history and how we use pork to understand why things are done this way.

Fortunately, the pig bleeds out with a heart cut as a result of pressure differentials. Also, a number of arteries are severed, not just the heart (sticking from the front).

If you look in the book and then look at the pic of the narrow wounding bullet, you can see how a small wound (or shots that does not directly strike the heart can allow blood to stay locked in the muscles.

Helmut, my ever patient book editor (vet) has spent a great deal of time studying this with me. He has also spent time studying meat works practices versus the differences that can occur in the field in conjunction with my research. It has been a point of professional interest for him. In theory, the results should be the same whether using a knife or bullet but they are not. But then if you shot a pig from the front to the heart, the results would be different to shooting it side on. Killing is also fast if you shoot the pig side on and create a very wide wound which completely destroys the heart. Also, your point about pressures Thomas certainly raises more possible questions.

As for the lungs. If you stab high and rake all the way down, the bleed is extremely fast (though you can still at times hit the heart). I use this method when I have to tackle a pig by hand because it is extremely fast and safe, I do not have dedicated pig dogs and perhaps because I don't want to be boxed into a particular culture set.

Otherwise, I do try to cut the throat.

With a sheep, you can (in my case) gently take hold of it, lay it down (I normally thank the sheep at this point), extend its neck around your shin and with a sharp knife, cut the entire throat in one pass. A pig will not allow you to do this (even if you show gratitude towards it). It will fight to the end so as many of you know, it has to be shot first, then the throat can be cut. But instead of cutting ear to ear in one kind pass, you can be a bit more creative after the shot and cut a slot down more or less lengthways but with a slight diagonal until the carotid artery or jugular vein are hit. The pig can then bleed out (the heart keeps going regardless of the head shot) and after a lot of kicking from said pig who does not really want to leave this earthly plane, you have a carcass ready for singing (that being burning- not the Julie Andrews type of singing in the hills).
15 Feb 2016
@ 09:23 pm (GMT)

Nathan Foster

Re: heart shots vs sticking (using a knife)
A couple of points about your .35-303.

It will render a wide wound and a large amount of nervous trauma. You will hopefully have little trouble stopping pigs with this- the .35 excels in this role, including shots that fall way back. The .35 can anchor game quickly (fast expanding bullets) and allow us to take a quick follow up shot.

You can run the 180gr XTP over bailers. It will however show some difference in vertical dispersion (rear locking / harmonics) with high velocity loads so best to just use a few grains less than you would use for a 200-225gr bullet. The load will be wide wounding but more mild in action than 200-225gr loads regardless of impact velocity (perhaps contrary to some expectations). If you go too slow, you will increase penetration so you need to find a balance of lowish noise versus enough velocity to prevent over penetration. Do not use the 158gr weight as this will sometimes fail to penetrate the shield and or fail to produce a fast killing wound on large boars.
16 Feb 2016
@ 05:06 am (GMT)

Thomas Kitchen

Re: heart shots vs sticking (using a knife)
thank you for your input gentlemen its always greatly appreciated.

its funny how certain things carry on even if no one know whys. i always carry my pigs out whole even if i know ill cut it up at home, tusks are still measured in inches and weight is done in pounds.

some very interesting points, i tend to either stick my pigs straight through chest if i can roll them onto there back or through armpit from the side if i can't roll them. sometimes in the heat of the moment through you miss the heart which you know straight away once you pull the knife out.
the pressure difference makes sense.
ill be a lot more aware of everything next time and be autopsying the pigs closely

a pig will fight you to the end, in my experience its the sows you got to watch out for, yes a boar will rip you worse but they seem happy to try and out muscle the dogs, a sow on the other hand will forget about the dogs and eye you up as soon as they see you.
think all females have a natural built in death stare. the look like "you just try it buddy" all married men will know this look.

if anyone is singing a pig with a gas torch next time try and wet the pig first with a hose or drink bottle, for some reason wet hair normally burns better, a wire brush is helpful to.

thank you for your advice Nathan ill try and track down some 180gr xtp for a while hornady had discontinued them on there website but looks like they are back making them now.

16 Feb 2016
@ 08:20 am (GMT)

Mike Davis

Re: heart shots vs sticking (using a knife)
Iv'e stuck a pig or three in my time.....the knife doesnt always hit the heart, infact I reckon its better if it doesnt as the major blood vessels around it get cut and it pumps like mad, Ive done this with knives ranging from too big to fit in the "notch" right down to pocket knives with 3" blade and you can do a great job with a small sharp knife(doesnt look as cool as a Croc Dundee special) going in behind leg wasnt something we did,I remember some major tussles trying to tip a boar with holders on both ears,till I learnt to get good grip on back wheels then use sole of boot to remove dogs from one side so you could tip it. also remember clearly a mats knife bouncing off as it had no tip.......made darn sure all mine were good after that one.
I reckon the best "dead run" from a heart shot just has to go to the humble hare shot with .22, they go from flat out to nothing very dramatically.
16 Feb 2016
@ 08:16 pm (GMT)

Nathan Foster

Re: heart shots vs sticking (using a knife)
While watching pigs on one of my observation runs....

Sow and piglets mooch along a ridge, feeding quietly. A huge boar trails them between 20 to 40 paces back. That's the pecking order set by the sow.

Sow decides it is getting late, nest time.

Boar follows them into the bush hollow, he's got swagger, he's Barry White.

Suddenly all hell breaks loose. A novice passing by and without binoculars might suspect an epic battle between two boars but no- this is the sound of a boar having his arse served to him by a sow.

A moment later the boar comes trotting out at a good clip, well chastised.

He is sleeping on the couch tonight.
16 Feb 2016
@ 08:42 pm (GMT)

Nathan Foster

Re: heart shots vs sticking (using a knife)
And yes, a knife tip does need to be very sharp at the tip to stab from the side (and stout). Even then, if you get too close the the shoulder (tucked too tight), the knife may not get through the shield and scapula as it would on other game so the knife may still bounce. I remember the look of surprise on one of my guys faces when it happened to him in a creek many years ago.

A steep downhill shot to a valley floor, the shot has struck high. If you study / recall the layout of pigs in the Game killing section of this site versus a steep shot- you can see how this can happen. The pig drops but is only unconscious from spinal shock (dorsal vertebrae destroyed). It plays possum until we arrive at the scene, the shooter is a few yards ahead of me, the pig is on the edge of a creek. My dog (meat seeking missile) hits the scent and off he goes, grabs the supposedly dead pig which wakes up and heads into the creek.

Picture a big strong builder, knee deep in water with the pig, its dark, a freshly sharpened buck bowie knife, massive hay maker stabbing motions, the knife bouncing off, lots of cursing. I expressly remember the fully worded version of WTF? On the fourth attempt he strikes back a bit, the knife gets through.

"You see what I mean now, this is why I ask folk to carry a decent knife, not some pissy folder".

The meat seeking missile looks on with an arrogant smile, full of his own self importance. He gets a pat on the head, 'whatever, I was here for me, you humans are just tag alongs. FYI, I just pissed on your day pack, it's mine now including the muesli bars'.


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