Today I got home from work with about 15 minutes of shooting light left. Since that is when I tend to see deer, I grabbed my gear and headed up to a vantage point on our farm. Within about five minutes I spotted three deer sneaking down through an apple orchard and starting to feed in an open field. They were ~650 yards from where I was glassing, and although many of you would be able to make this shot under favorable conditions, it is beyond my current responsible maximum distance (which I unfortunately have confirmed recently by missing at a slightly shorter range, but luckily, to my relief, it was a clean miss).
After inspecting them closely to determine they were antlerless (in PA special reg. areas during late archery you can use a rifle on antlerless deer only) I was able to relocate to a closer location. After picking a position and getting the bipod and sand sock (styrofoam bead sock might be more accurate), the Bushnell rangefinder gave readings of 305 to 307, which is a range I have confidence at.
At 300 yards my setup requires a 1.0 mil holdover, which, luckily, is rather easy due to the mildot in the 4.5-14 Buckmaster scope (Thanks B.J.!). Of course, I never would have developed my drop chart in mils except for the mildot.
Upon impact the deer I had picked out rolled onto its back, feet in the air. It slid 3-4 feet in the snow before coming to a stop. Its companions ran to the edge of the orchard and looked back at me. The thought of going for two entered my mind for a second (four more tags left, plus I have had the ďkill Ďem allĒ mentality drilled into me by my family due to crop damage problems), but before I could complete the decision, they helped me out by leaving the scene.
When I got to the deer, it turns out that it was a buck that had already (surprisingly) dropped its horns. Hasnít been a particularly stressful fall or winter so far (at least I didnít think), but I wonít argue with the evidence. I had trouble locating the entry and exit holes. I finally found the entry (caliber size) which appeared to be on the shoulder from how the hide was resting. I could not initially locate an exit, but I didn't look that hard due to the expectation that a ballistic tip wouldn't have exited if a shoulder was hit.
While dressing the deer I noticed that the bullet had just missed the shoulder on the entry side, and had broken ribs on both the entry and exit sides. Since I hadnít noticed an exit wound, I decided to dig through the shoulder to see if I could find the bullet. After breaking ribs on both sides that line up with each other, on the far side of the exit ribs the wound channel turns up through the shoulder meat for six to eight inches before what is left of the bullet exited in a slightly larger than caliber size hole. Jacket material was found throughout this last part of the wound channel.
I was surprised that the far side ribs were able to deflect the bullet to the degree they did. It made me wonder if the near side ribs would ever, in future circumstances, be able to deflect a bullet to the point it would miss the vital organs.
Here are some pictures to help illustrate:
Maybe this picture will visually explain it more easily.
This is the entry wound, the exit wound looks very similar, however it was not photographed to to its discovery only after hands were bloody.
I guess some equipment specs would be helpful:
Remington 700 in 30-06, stock aside from adjusted trigger and fire lapped barrel
Nosler CT Ballistic Silvertips, 168 gr
Estimated muzzle velocity based on empirical drop evidence: ~2850 fps
Estimated velocity at time of impact: ~2300 fps
I have had good luck with the silvertips before, and I believe they are a good choice for this setup. In this case they proved very deadly (the heart was severed almost in half), although slightly larger entry/exits would be my personal preferance in an ideal world. I have seen these larger wounds at closer ranges with this bullet, where presumably the higher terminal velocity creates a more violent expansion.
The deflection is still the issue I find most interesting. Has anyone seen deflection this radical before? Any input is welcome.