Donny quickly looked through the spotting scope that had been sitting on its tripod behind me this whole time. “They are not the same bucks as before, the bigger one is a 4 by 4”, he said. With that encouragement, I decided to shoot. I quickly ranged the bigger buck and got a reading of 688, no, 690 yards. Too far for a seated shot, I moved back a few feet to a level spot and assumed the prone, Harris bipod position.
Targets and wind flags out to 900 yards
at my former Wisconsin hunting land
I looked at the drop table on the side of my stock, set my scope to 10.5 minutes and figured the wind for about 3 mph, sideways. The bucks were still standing still, broadside, unconcerned but looking right at us. I held about 6 inches of right windage and fired.
Donny was spotting for me through the scope and he called it as a good hit. I recovered from the recoil and looked through my rifle scope to see the buck hunched up and standing almost still. The smaller buck didn’t move. The bigger buck turned quartering away. Then after a total of about 50 seconds he laid down, head erect, now facing us again, as though bedded. After another 20 seconds his head dropped, he kicked twice and was still. The younger buck was unconcerned the whole time, at one point even put his muzzle down to the ground where I think blood had landed. When the bigger buck kicked, the smaller one finally spooked and ran off. It’s been my repeated experience that when a deer is hit at long range they simply don’t get very excited about the experience. Had this buck been shot at, say 100 yards, he would have bolted and run for sure.
We worked our way along a series of ridges and down to the fallen buck. The texture of the ground around and under the buck looked as though popcorn made of gray clay had been loosely glued to the top of a loaf of bread. It made slightly crunching sounds as we crossed it. The 2 year-old buck looked as if he had fallen asleep in his bed, head nodding off to one side on the ground.
The first shot had been a double-lung shot, broadside. The bullet was found just under the hide on the far side. The jacket was wrapped around a small bit of remaining lead. Probably less than 50% weight retention. I haven’t weighed it yet. The bullet did its job. It is not intended for deep penetrating, quartering shots.
Now comes the mental error analysis. Afterwards I realized I should have more accurately interpolated the drop table results to be ¼ minute more at that range. That would have meant a 2 inch higher point of impact. At the same time I made an error in the other direction that resulted from forgetting to use my wonderful new “Cosine Indicator” to account for the downward shooting angle. Again, afterwards, I realized there was about a 15 degree shooting angle. At 690 yards this would have called for a .4 moa adjustment downward. The two errors effectively cancelled each other out. Lucky.
The third error was in my follow-up shots. Donny had immediately indicated the deer was a goner and I shouldn’t bother firing again but I guess I was now a little pumped up. So…I took two more shots, somewhat hurriedly, at the by-now quartering away deer. One hit the buck on the rear legs and I think the other entered his ham and struck the guts. I say “I think” because we didn’t really look for this bullet hole very well. But I remember Donny commenting on the smell of the stomach contents when he dressed the deer. That was definitely not from the double-lung shot. So…today I am thinking that was a second decent hit.
Anyway---we never bothered to put a tape to the rack. This buck wasn’t a big one to be measured in inches but rather in yards---690 yards.
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