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Just how tough are groundhogs?

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Old 09-20-2011, 09:32 PM
Junior Member
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: NE Tennessee
Posts: 14
Just how tough are groundhogs?

Last year I spotted the biggest groundhog I've ever seen at an old barn. I tried for the rest of the season to get a shot at him, but never saw him again until today. I spotted him as soon as I pulled in at 150 yards, but he went into his hole. After waiting for over an hour, he finally emerged atop a pile of stacked logs. I fired one round of 50 gr blitzking and he turned slightly. Just to be sure, I shot again and he never moved. Certain that I finally got this monster I drove down, but to my amazement he was still alive. I could barely see him under the logs slowly moving around. I went back to the truck to get my rifle but he was gone. I've yet to have one crawl away with two shots. Anyone ever see a hog this tough? Just to be sure, I went home and repeated the shot at paper and the rifle was dead on. Really bummed out that I didn't get my "bigfoot".
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Old 09-20-2011, 10:07 PM
Gold Member
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Northern Utah
Posts: 832
Re: Just how tough are groundhogs?

My buddy shot a 14 pound rock chuck this spring and it took 3 arrows to stop him. It seems like if they don't pop when you hit them, they don't know they're dead yet. I've seen them shot and just flip over dead with a 17 HMR but I've also seen them take a 55 grain vmax and try to run back to their holes with half their body dragging behind them. Sorry you didn't recover your varmint trophy

Just how tough are groundhogs?-big-boy.jpg
Here's the 14 pound monster.
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Old 09-20-2011, 10:19 PM
Junior Member
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: NE Tennessee
Posts: 14
Re: Just how tough are groundhogs?

That is a big one for sure! Nice pic. I will be looking for him again tomorrow. I'm not an expert, but I rarely miss at that distance. I even thought I heard a thump when when it hit him. I will definitely weigh it if I find it.
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Old 09-22-2011, 07:28 PM
Bronze Member
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: Medina, Ohio USA
Posts: 85
Re: Just how tough are groundhogs?

Ohio chucks are big and tough. Seldom have I been able to stop one in it's tracks, no matter what I hit them with. I once whomped a chuck with a 55gr Speer SP from a 22/250 at 300 yards. I heard the bullet hit and saw him tumble over, but he still made it into hisnhole where he died.
Member: Orange Gunsite Family, NRA--Life, Varmint Hunters' Assn., & South Cuyahoga Sportsmen's Assn

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Old 09-24-2011, 06:33 AM
Silver Member
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Carlisle, PA
Posts: 478
Re: Just how tough are groundhogs?

Ground hogs are apparently remarkably tough for their size. i started with a .,17HMR and worked my way up through the Hornet, .223, and .22-250, to a .243. My go-to ground hog rifle for South Central PA (most shots are 225 yards or less) is my .223 CZ527 American shooting the 40g NBT @ 3650 fps.

How much gun is needed to leave them DRT? The answer is it depends on how old and how big they are. I have the most DRT kills with my .223 shooting the 40g Nosler Ballistic Tip @ around 3650 fps MV - that bullet just destroys them - they are dead before the sound gets there.

I've dropped young ones just out of the nest in the spring with the .17HMR DRT (Dead Right There). I like that cartridge around the barn and in the back yard of the house. Much bigger than that and the .17HMR will often leave them crawling off to die which I do not like.

Up to to ~9 or even 10lbs the Hornet with the 34g Midway DT (pushed into tiny groups by 13.3g Lil'Gun) kills them DRT hit in the boiler room. Heavier than that and the Hornet needs a head shot to avoid them crawling a few feet before the salute.

Up to 12 lbs (the biggest I've actually weighed) the .223 with a 40g NBT leaves them DRT out to 254 yards (the farthest I've shot one with it). The 40g NBT leaving the muzzle at 3650 has amazing terminal performance - when I see the hit (mostly at close range with the scope power at 4.5X) the ground hogs whole body expands like a grenade went off inside, then it collapses right in it's shadow. Not even a wiggle. When I get there they are usually ripped open from end to end like the interior pressure just burst them. Out at 225 to 250 yards the bullet doesn't take them apart that much but it leaves a softball size exit hole on 10lb and smaller GH. Bigger ones are just DRT.

That seems to be the optimum speed for that bullet. Out of my .22-250 (4,200 fps) it doesn't do as well. The 55g NBT (also at around 3650 fps) works well out of the .22-250. I'd rather shoot the 55g V-Max but for some reason I can't get the accuracy with that bullet that I can with the NBT.

The biggest ground hog I ever saw I shot with a 55g NBT @ just under 4,000 fps out of my .243 at just over 200 yards. I know I hit it hard, there was plenty of blood, but it crawled to it's (huge) hole and out of sight rather quickly. The rifle is dead on, I had a rock solid hold and the hit had to be right through the boiler room, but it did "not" drop where I could retrieve it, darn it. I "really" wanted to weigh that critter. I'm pretty sure it would have run to 14 or 15 lbs. It was huge.

I shot one (around 11 lbs - an estimate) with a 95g NBT out of the .243 while out Coyote hunting. It took two shots to make sure it was dead. The bullet is a poor choice for ground hogs, it didn't expand much at all, but I took the shot anyway.

"For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled." R. Feynman. (Last sentence of the Feynman appendix to the Space Shuttle Challenger Report.)
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Old 09-24-2011, 08:45 AM
Bronze Member
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Las Vegas, NV
Posts: 49
Re: Just how tough are groundhogs?

Go back and check all of the area - I have shot them in the past, where they went back into their holes and the next day you could see them dead laying in the bottom. Check the main entry and exit's holes.

The Hogs can be tuff, with anything else it's all about good shot placement. I have had several runs offs ( they were dead, still running ) my buddy has a 98% DRT rate, but he made all head and neck shots!
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Old 09-24-2011, 10:26 AM
Silver Member
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: alabama
Posts: 125
Re: Just how tough are groundhogs?

I doubt they will travel far with a well placed head shot.
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