Location: Sagauache County, Co...3170 sq miles, not a single stop light!
Re: Why I don't shoulder shoot elk!
Wow!!!! this thread has gotten into more of a pissin match that my comment about religion on the wolf issue! Put me down in the category of shooting behind the shoulder...UNLESS there is a good reason to anchor the critter right where he stands., IE: on the edge of a deep canyon that he is likely to fall into. And yes, I know all about anatomy. Peacock is right, elk do not drop in their tracks unless they are shot in the spine (and the spine is broken). They are big tough critters that can absorb a lot of lead without even showing signs of being hit, but my issue has always been saving meat. a shoulder shot wastes a lot of meat and is not condusive to letting the carcass hang for 10 days without skinning, which is how i do it. There, now you all have something else to whine about!!!
good post B&G, AJ
Big.....sure wished you would have just written your post like you did your second reply and this deal would have been much shorter. Atleast your revised story sounds somewhat plausible. Even still before the neck shot, I think the bull would have piled at the bottom of the hill atleast enough to be shot again...I don't believe he would have run and run for miles. One thing is for sure, and you've already stated it is that the bullet was "new", and a poor performer. With that I would agree. With the very small entrance and exit holes it appears it did very little expanding, and certainly broke very little bone, which means it couldn't have imparted very little energy to any part of the animal as it poked a neat hole through the shoulders. As a meat cutter you won't need mythbusters to show you that if you poke a fillet knife through an elk roast it will go right through with very little effort, and very little meat damage, while a larger frontal area knife will require more energy to pound through the meat (also imparting more force), and subsequently creating more damage. Mythbusters also cannot perfectly replicate the fluid hydrodynamic changes vs shock of a creature with real blood pumping through its system. You're not going to see the coagulation, clotting, and bruising in a dead animal from a bullet strike that you will with a live one. It doesn't take but the flick of a human finger on a spine to create an involuntary muscle movement, so what do you think a bullet would do?
I shot a bull this year at 787 yards, and hit it within 1/2 inch (higher) of what your picture shows, and it was DRT. The barnes ttsx bullet at 160 grains out of the 8 mag was bullet diameter going in, and left a dime size hole in the entrance shoulder with a bruise circle about the size of a baseball on the meat, leaving about a ping-pong size hole in the blade, breaking a single vertebrae (never broke the spine), and exited the off blade with about another ping pong sized bone hole, bruised meat about the same , and left the hide with a neat little hole, and also went completely through a small aspen tree on the back side. Last year's bull was shot a little lower at 618 yards, and while the bullet did not sever the spine, it dislocated the vertebrae killing the animal instantly. Hitting the spine is only one component of the shot.
The muscles you're shooting with a high shoulder shot control backward pull and forward control of the front legs. If you choose a bullet that adequately incapacitates muscle ON BOTH SIDES (which means complete penetration), then in the very worst case scenario you have an animal that only has its back legs, which means it can go forward by use of its back legs, but cannot turn, and certainly cannot run.
When we examine what happens with the shoulder shot, with a proper bullet, we get the following: On entrance of the hide the bullet upsets with controlled expansion, losing little if any of its weight. The bullet has nearly doubled in diameter from expansion, on the exit of the hide on the facing shoulder the bullet tears through the meat with bullet contact imparting massive hydraulic shock to the muscle tissue on the facing side. It contacts the bone and breaks a hole roughly 5X the diameter of the bullet sending bone fragments inward. The bullet then goes through Loin material imparting the same massive hydraulic shock, and LIKELY breaks a vertebrae or two on the way through, sending small amounts of bone through the opposite shoulder bone, and back side of the muscle tissue.
If you've ever suffered major dibilitating back pain due to a muscle pull in the tissue surrounding your spine, then you can imagine how shocking it is for an animal to have this tissue essentially destroyed (regardless of if the spine is hit or not).
Now I believe it is completely plausible for an animal to survive this type of wound, but circumstances need to be nearly perfect. The caliber is small, which means the frontal area is small. The bullet for some reason does not upset correctly, the bullet does not completely penetrate (which means it only immobilizes the facing leg). Or the distance is tremendous and the bullet did not impart its force properly (regardless of bullet or caliber selection).
The shoulder shot is still my preference, and always will be. And I think in your illustration seeing what that bullet did to the bones, that the elk would have made atleast a country mile if it had been double lunged with the same bullet, because it did not upset properly. I have no doubt if the bullet and caliber were correct for the shot in the shoulder, that you'd have never had the story to tell. IMO, a .30 caliber would be my minimal caliber choice (.32 and higher preferred), though both of us by the sounds of it have killed truckloads with smaller calibers. Being fair, you've likely had plenty of carcasses in your place that definitely survived internal wounds similar to a double lung or boiler room shot, or an antler impaling to a liver or lung, but never got to draw a fair conclusion about "how poor" those wounds were because the guts were already removed. Just something to think about.
Here is a good pic that shows the onside shoulder in relation to the spine. The spine drops even lower as it disappears behind the shoulder.
Using the picture on reply #17 what would be considered "high shoulder" ?
IMO, the shoulder is at the top of the leg where it joins the shoulder blade, so a couple of inches higher would be high shoulder ( low scapula ).
To me the picture in the first post is high scapula for lack of a better term, or am I wrong in my thinking.
Since my aim point is generally the heart I really have not given the high shoulder much consideration.
Thought I would revisit this thread with this years bull. This bull was shot 3 days before I killed it, the story I have it from a couple guys was the bull was shot with a high shoulder shot with a 300 RUM loaded with a Berger bullet but no one knew the weight. The bull dropped at the shot and looked like it was TKO'ed, the shooters left the blind to load up to retrieve the bull, they noticed it was moving again and getting it's front end under it. The shooter tried to put a second round into the bull but could not hit it again, and he was able to regain his feet and make it into the herd but there was no way to get to him. I tried the first night to kill him but in the terrain it's very hard to get a good range and his position was such that a short miss range would put a bullet into another bull.
Second night I tried to get the bull again but found him in the main herd so I belly crawled and set up to take him if he cleared, it sucked as the two biggest bulls that no one had gotten a shot on walked out at just 100 yards from my position, once in a lifetime bulls but the wounded bull never cleared, I was able to watch him and he didn't limp and moved very well, the only reason I could pick him out was the blood stain on his shoulder and a broken horn.
The next morning it took three hours to narrow down which herd he was in, spent the next few hours to find him, he would obviously live despite the wound, he was pushing another bull around a bit but not super speedy when the herd moved fast. I finally got an opening to get a good range and shot but it was fast, I lead him a little short and the first shot took his liver out and rocked him then he hit high gear I added a little more lead but still hit him back, the third hit I got dialed in and took the top of his heart of and he augured it! Haven't had to shoot a running bull in a while but it was the only chance I was going to get.
The first wounding shot blew a hole through the top of his back, the blood stain was the exit, had it been about 4in lower he would not have recovered. The first shot really jacked his spine up and kinda gave him a hump back look, it blew a nice hole through the top of one vertebra, I was kinda surprised that he was getting around as well as he was, judging by the wound and radiating blood shot and gore the bullet expended most of it's energy right on the spine but nothing damaged the core of the column.
High Fence, Low Fence, Stuck in the Fence, if I can Tag it and Eat it, it's Hunting!
Glad to see someone take the highroad in regards to putting down a Wounded elk. As a licensed professional guide i have seen my fair share the rodeos when it comes to elk hunting. Most hunters underestimate the Elks will to survive.
We all make mistakes as humans but as hunters we owe it to the game we pursue to do our due diligence. The biggest mistake I see in hunters is their preparation for a hunt. They spend the big bucks on obtaining tags,transportation clothing and entertainment but overlook the most important part bullet/arrow choice. It's last on a list by that time. I have spent enough money already. I'll just buy the cheap stuff.
There's nothing more satisfying than having to chase a wounded elk around the countryside. It's a royal pain in the ass, add a grizzly bear in the mix and it's just a ball.
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Good information in this thread.
No matter the critter I always shoot them in the lungs. Normally a short tracking job and doesn't ruin much meat.
Last critter I shot not in the lungs was a hog about 150 lbs and blew a softball sized chunk out of the top of his spine along with the top of one vertebrae. That had to hurt. I found him that evening feeding with a group of hogs. He wasn't even limping. I saw the hole in him and shot him the lungs.
Shot an elk quartering towards me a couple years ago with a 300 win mag and it destroyed his lungs and top of his heart and he took off like I missed. Crashed about 50 yards later. They are tough animals. Big gun in the boiler room does the trick. Leave the high shoulder shot to the tv guys.