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Less meat damage - smaller calibre or better placement?

07 Apr 2015
@ 04:04 am (GMT)

Kerry Adams

This is as much internal musing for the day as it is an actual question - but would appreciate additional points of view / thoughts on the matter.

I hunt for meat - so less damage the better.

Generally, bush hunting, short range - i.e. always less than 100m. I don't snap shoot - and I am comfortable that a round is going to go when I want it too. I spend about 1 day a fortnight at the range.

Only two species - Fallow and Sika.

Normally shoot to the shoulder - they can't run and drop quickly.

With my 7mm08, I still generally lose the majority of both shoulders.

It's been suggested that I might consider a .243 - however, I see my other option as instead shifting aim to the head.

I figure even a .243 is going to cause some damage - that's how you put an animal down - and I don't ever want to risk not dropping the animal.

On the other hand - a headshot is less of a target and more margin of error.


07 Apr 2015
@ 07:27 am (GMT)

Mike Davis

Re: Less meat damage - smaller calibre or better placement?
or....go to a barnes type projectile so you can eat right up to the bullet hole as no risk of lead in food. what Ive seen of them in .223 has impressed me no end.
not a fan of headshots myself..neck yes definitely as a little room for error up n down the vertebrae from chest to head.
Im a .270 man myself and shoulder shoot but dont really loose a hell of a lot of meat....mince is good...chuck all the "pre tenderized" bits in through mincer. I have lost some offside shoulders in the past just too plastered with bone n blood bits. it SEEMS as if the barnes go other way and do damage to nearside more so.
shift aim to front of shoulder....right in the hillar/sweet spot.
08 Apr 2015
@ 07:47 am (GMT)

Thomas Kitchen

Re: Less meat damage - smaller calibre or better placement?
hi kerry have you thought bout slow bigger calibres?
have you got an old 3 oh in the safe to play around with maybe light load
08 Apr 2015
@ 08:54 pm (GMT)

Bob Mavin

Re: Less meat damage - smaller calibre or better placement?
Hi Kerry
I used a 6mm Remington on Fallow for a few years, head & neck shots as the body shots did massive meat damage. I changed to a 30-06 with 168gn Z-max pills hard to believe but heaps less damage.
Barnes do less meat damage but nock the pocket about a lot.

With your 7mm-08 I'd use a soft pill and hit them in the neck.
I keep the neck & shanks, makes the best slow cooker meals.

12 Apr 2015
@ 03:14 am (GMT)

Shawn Bevins

Re: Less meat damage - smaller calibre or better placement?
I'm a meat hunter too. Whitetails being the main quarry. I either take them in the upper part of the neck or double lung them. Have used 12 ga & 20 ga slugs (big & slow) and got the same meat loss as a 270 on shoulder shots when I connected with bone. The shot gun slugs don't blow apart. I try to stay away from the shoulder bone when they are close. Long shots in the north eastern US would be 250 yds with the majority falling under 100yds. [b]
30 May 2015
@ 02:15 am (GMT)

John Smith

Re: Less meat damage - smaller calibre or better placement?
Here in eastern Washington state I use my Ruger No. 1A in 6.5x55
with Nosler 140 gr. Partition bullets. I generally try to put the hit close to
the rear of the front leg. Although two years ago I had to take a
chest shot as the deer was walking toward me. I am also a meat
hunter and have found I don't lose much meat on the white tails
and mule deer I shoot. Yes, there is a lot of good meat in the neck
so I don't aim there. Every deer has been a one shot kill. Although
it's open grassland my furthest kill has been only 120 yards at a
standing deer.
The cartridge I use is thanks to Nathan's suggestion.

03 Jun 2015
@ 11:33 am (GMT)

mark whiteley

Re: Less meat damage - smaller calibre or better placement?
Hi Kerry,
there is nothing wrong with a brain shot or neck shot for a meat animal

the bigger one skin on was brain shot (between the eye and ear) but the other shot in in neck as she was looking straight at me so I couldn't take the shot to the head as I would have hit the nose,
the range was 250 and 275 meters

regards mark
27 Jun 2016
@ 12:44 am (GMT)

Rex Wahl

Re: Less meat damage - smaller calibre or better placement?
At generally less than 100 m, brush or open, why don't you try a muzzleloader? I started hunting with dad's 30-06 on western mule deer. Massive meat waste. .243 was nice, not as much bloody, bone fragment riddled meat. Then I switched to muzzleloader, been using it for over 35 years. Most shots under 100m or not much more. 30+ mule deer and 10 or so elk dropped nicely by 54 cal. Santa Fe Hawkin (Italian made). 220 grain patched round ball at about 1600-1800 fps., most all well within 100m does nicely. Sometimes ball is stopped inside skin on far side. Far less meat damage than cartridge rifles. Animals just as dead. Never had one hit that went over 50 m.

Due to eye sight aging (can't see iron sights), I switched to sabot loads in a scoped inline muzzle loader. 50 cal., 260 to 290 gr. sabot, all copper. Does a great job. My friends (die hard center fire rifle hunters--and good) who also took up ML routinely shoot deer and elk at 200 yds with inline ML rifles, but then they practice at that range (scoped rifles, high quality with best copper sabots).

For meat saving and just as lethal at near ranges, can't beat muzzle-loader. And here in the West US, much less competition for license, I draw every year for deer and elk. More hunting opportunity, more meat in the freezer. Now if I can just be as quiet as I was in my 30s....
27 Jun 2016
@ 04:32 pm (GMT)

Joshua Mayfield

Re: Less meat damage - smaller calibre or better placement?
Good Morning Kerry,
It sounds as though you and I hunt in very similar fashion on opposite sides of the globe. On whitetail deer I currently select bullets that will perform well on traditionally placed shots from 100 to 300 yards even though the overwhelming majority of my shots are at 100 or less. The reason I choose a bullet on that criteria is that whether it's from a .222 or a .30-06 or something in between I have never had a bullet of any type placed in the upper quarter of the neck fail to drop a deer instantly. That has become my plan A in 80 percent of my hunting scenarios - look for a shot from 100 or closer and shoot it through the upper neck.
29 Aug 2016
@ 09:13 am (GMT)

Dale Wilhelm

Re: Less meat damage - smaller calibre or better placement?
The head and neck are still my go to shots for when things are nice and relaxed. Only thing I learned years ago was that never aim for the head on an animal that is looking directly at you as dropping slightly low means a nose/jaw hit and can allow an badly injured animal to get away. Had this on a goat years ago and will never risk it again, luckily I managed to find it and finish it but the blood curdling noise was not pleasant and no animal deserves that. I have never been one for letting animals suffer even though I am trying to kill them, whether it is for meat, trophy or pest control, and I believe any true hunter should be the same.
As for neck remember that the top half of the neck is a quick kill but bottom half to the shoulders will put them down but not necessarily be instant kill. Had a red stag that had his head down feeding so put a shot through the neck and in to the lungs. He went straight down but on getting to him he was still responsive but not moving so needed a finishing shot. The higher up the spine you go the more vital organs are shut down instantly.
I regularly shoot with small calibres and use shot placement over brute force. The entry hole on a .222 leaves very little wasted meat, however there is no margin for error. If I suspect the shooting conditions may be less than perfect I always take the bigger gun.
So to answer your question, yes on both counts. Smaller will make less mess but so far I haven't met many people who eat brain so head shots waste no meat.


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