Since Shawn sent me some Gen II 300gn Hybrids a month ago, we've been giving them a workout on the range and out hunting. I loaded them up to a very comfortable 3250 fps in my 338 Lunatic (our version of the 338/408 improved), and proceeded to shoot some pretty nice groups. The first and only one I shot at 1000 yards was way under half MOA, with the G7 working out to be more like .450 at this velocity and distance. (I know, I know, G7's aren't as velocity dependent, but in our experience, a significant velocity increase does seem to still raise the average BC somewhat). So I said that's good enough, no point punching paper any further - lets get them out hunting!
Under 4 inches at 1000 yards and all in the 8 inch bull - just!
We were heading to the Southern Alps taking our NZ Hunter rifle building team, Norm and Ian, for their first time Himalayan Tahr hunting. These animals are one of the premier alpine hunting species in the world, and can only be hunted truly free range and fair chase in our New Zealand mountains. The tahr were very high at this time of year, and we had to climb fairly high even to get within long range of them. They live in the vertical bluffs where the snow can't build up and the avalanches can't get them.
I spotted a good bull high up on the first morning, and we spent half a day climbing to a suitable snowy knob to shoot from. Norm settled in behind his Lunatic and proceeded to knock the bull off the bluffs high above us at 1065 yards.
Norm lining up on the biggest bull way up there!
Quartering front on from the right, he hit him squarely on the point of the near side shoulder. The bullet punched through taking out the bottom of the spine and exited through a large hole high on the offside shoulder. This bull was very dead!
Unfortunately what we couldn't see was the fact he fell backwards into a long snow shute, and actually tumbled over 1500 feet down the mountain. The next day we went to recover him, climbing for 4 hours including some serious snow and ice work, right up to the ridge top where he'd been standing. Then I spotted a blood stain and skid mark on the ice disappearing way down below us and realized we'd climbed about 2 hours more than we'd needed to!
Chopping and punching foot holes in the snow with ice axes we climbed all the way back down until we found him. Norm was very happy to find he was a very good bull that made it into the record book. Not bad for your first bull!
A record book bull, not bad for Norm's first!
We spent the following day glassing for a big bull for my brother in law and master machinist Druncle ( his real names Ian, but don't ask how he got his nick name!). We saw plenty of bulls, but nothing we felt was quite old enough. After another good climb up to get within range of a group with a prospective bull, we decided to take one of his nannies as he wasn't quite good enough. Druncle settled himself in behind my Lunatic and shot a quartering front on nanny crossing a snow shute at 1155 yards.
Druncle picking out an 1155 yard nanny.
This time we were able to see her slide way down following the shute through the bluffs until she disappeared out of sight underneath us. After dropping right back down to the start of the side valley, I made my way up until under where that snow shute hit the main creek, then climbed up for an hour until I found her. Unfortunately she'd got caught in a crevasse just below where she'd gone out of our sight and hadn't slid any further - typical!
The nanny after pulling her out of where she ended up. My chessie seemed to revel in this alpine environment despite the fact she only had claws instead of crampons, and someone had to wear the NZ Hunter hat for the photo!
After pulling her out and giving her a small shove, she slid all the way to the valley bottom.
The bullet had entered on the point of the near side shoulder again, smashing that shoulder joint, blowing a good hole through the ribs, then through the lungs and diaphragm, then had traveled pretty much right through the paunch before the full bag of vegetative contents had stopped it.
The entry wound.
With the shoulder peeled back, you can see the hole in the ribs into the chest cavity.
I was really pleased to see that the Gen II hybrids had still expanded even though they've beefed up the jacket. The lack of an exit on the nanny was due to the fact the bullet had first smashed the shoulder knuckle, then through the ribs and traveled the length of her body until the very large and full paunch had acted as a great bullet trap. Tahr have very large and strong shoulders due to the extreme alpine environment they climb around in, the shoulder knuckle is out of all proportion to what you'd expect by the size of the animal. This performance looked ideal for deer on up to elk sized animals at 1000 yards plus in my opinion. I know LTLR'er will probably want a tougher bullet on Elk
, but this was at Lunatic velocities and the Edge's etc no doubt won't show quite as much expansion.
We also did a little rock hunting at 1300 and 1710 yards just to check my calcs, and were very pleased with the elevation of all our shots being bang on. I use an Android phone with the Byran Litz powered "Shooter" app for all our dialing, and the 300gn Hybrid's at our velocity and G7 BC are proving very accurately predictable. This app taking into account angle, Coriolis, pressure, temp, spin drift, wind, ammo temp etc, is proving to be the ducks nuts at long range prediction!
We have more terminal testing on Red and Sika deer to do this week, but so far all I can say is go Berger go!!! Bryan, Eric and co seemed to have cracked it for the big 338's this time!!!
ps no pics of me cos I'm always behind the cameras! Got some great video footage of these tahr being shot that I hope you'll get to see some time...when my son Willie gets back from University to do the editing!