High Shoulder Hits, be ready to finish the job....

Discussion in 'Long Range Hunting & Shooting' started by Fiftydriver, Nov 29, 2009.

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  1. Fiftydriver

    Fiftydriver Official LRH Sponsor

    Jun 12, 2004
    Well, I spend this past week hunting pretty hard to fill my 2009 deer tag. It was a hard year. Very warm, VERY VERY windy and spent more time running tresspassers and poachers off the property then hunting. Thats for a different story though.

    My story here is about my actual kill. Wednesday night, the night before Thanksgiving day, I had a decent 5x5 mule deer come out of a draw or should I say pushed out of a draw right at last light. I was set up with my little green 7mm Allen Magnum. I ranged the buck which had settled in a shallow draw with a hot doe after being pushed out of the creek bottom. I ranged him at 685 yards. Found the proper hold and held the 2 moa for the windage. I was trying to make a high shoulder shot to pin both shoulders and put the buck on his nose where he stood.

    At the shot, the 175 gr SMK launched at over 3400 fps landed true and the buck folded on the spot. Just like you see on all those shots on TV about long range hunting. I set and watched the buck for several minutes and he never moved a bit. The hunters that pushed the buck out of the bottom came up and asked if I had seen the buck and I replied that he was dead over on the hill side. They asked who shot the buck and I said that I had with a bit of a smile on my face I am sure.

    I talked to them for a few minutes but then told them I better get started on getting the buck packed down to where I could get the truck in. I hikes back to the truck, shed all of my gear and took another look at the buck through the spotter. Still had not moved, dead as could be.

    Left the rifle in the truck, grabbed my knife and game cart and was on my way.

    When I got over to the buck, it was getting pretty dark but I could still see pretty well. The buck was still in the position he was when he took the shot. As I always do, when I approached the buck I let out a few sharp yips which I have always found to get some reaction from a still alive big game animal even better then touching them. Nothing. I walked up, grabbed one antler and the huge bodied buck jumped up and stumbled up the hill. He was not moving well but he was moving nad he was far to mobile to try to wrestle him down and cut his throat.... Not want to do. I was pretty discusted with my self for not bringing one of my handguns to finish the job but the buck had not moved for nearly 30 minutes from the shpt, I was sure he was dead.

    The buck struggled up the hill roughly 50 yards and fell. I backed out, ran back to the truck which was only around 800 yards away and grabbed my 1911 in 400 Corbon which luckily had a set of night sights on it. My load drives a 180 gr XTP to just shy of 1300 fps so it works well for a big game back up pistol.

    By the time I got back to the buck it was really dark. I could see shadows but that was about it. I knew where the buck was if he had not moved so I worked wide around that location and got above the buck. I came over the hill and could see what I thought was the buck in the same location. I will be honest, for that first shot I held center of mass and let one of the 400s go. The buck jumped from his bed and ran to my left at around 20 yards. I fired again and the buck stumbled, fired again and the buck fell and rolled down the hill. I ran down the hill and caught up close to the buck as he made it to the bottom of the hill. He tried to get up again but I was close enough now that I could see well enough to place a shot at the base of his skull and the fight was over., Finally.

    Things had gotten pretty "western" for awhile and it was my fault for not taking a firearm to finish the job in the beginning.

    It was to late to get the buck back to the truck and to be honest I was pretty whooped. I got the buck down to the creek and dressed him out and left him low right next to the creek where it would be very cool for the night. I would come back in the morning with more muscle and pull the buck out of the creek bottom.

    All night I wondered why the buck did not die. The chest cavity was FULL of clotted blood. Certainly he would have died or was that caused by one of the 400s bullets??? The morning light would tell the tell. I was also worried that the 175 gr SMK just pin holed through the buck doing little damage. Several questions to be answered.

    The next morning we arrived on the sceen and I started the inspection. The 175 gr SMK had hit on the onside shoulder, a hit ahead of center and exited through the offside shoulder just back of center. IT had passed roughly 2" below the top of the chest cavity. There was a good exit wound through the offside shoulder, plenty of damage. The bullet had clearly opened up and done its job. The shot landed slightly higher then I wanted but not by more then an inch or two and still very much in the right area.

    So why did the buck not die quicker..... Not sure. I suspect his adreniline (sp) had been reved up getting bumped out of the creek bottom and he was just reved up.

    Seeing this I wonder how many of those PERFECT, long range, one shot kills through the shoulders turn out to be much more then this which is edited off TV.

    I reinforced a lesson I already knew but needed a reminder of apparently. No matter how dead the big game animal looks from a distance, take at least a side arm with you to finish the job if needed.
  2. Troutslayer

    Troutslayer Well-Known Member

    May 12, 2005
    Very strange. What's the law on polishing off game animals after legal light? If there's one thing I've learned this year it's that bureaucracy trumps common sense and ethical reason every time as far as FWP is concerned. Wouldn't want you to get in trouble over something that every one of us would have done.
  3. Jumpalot

    Jumpalot Well-Known Member

    Oct 3, 2005
    Pretty much mirrors my experience with the high shoulder shot. Glad you're ok!
  4. Buffalobob

    Buffalobob Well-Known Member

    Jun 12, 2001
    If you look carefully at the picture of the antelope in the thread below you will see that the bipod covers the cut throat. This antelope dropped like a rock with a broken offside shoulder and had a huge exit hole through that shoulder where the Berger expanded. What I found was that when it had hit the ground that it landed on the exit wound which sealed it off. The hide probably moved on the entrance wound and sealed it off. Consequently, the chest was not open to the atmospheric pressure. Contrary to popular opinion, the lungs themselves may not bleed very much from a bullet hole. Much like you, I goofed around because the animal was "obviously dead" and when I finally got to it 45 minutes later it was very much alive but unable to move.


    I do not understand how some people ALWAYS get "'bang flop". It just doesn't happen that much with me.

    One thing that seems to happen when the bullet lands high is that the shock wave hits the spinal column and knocks it unconscious for a while. Sometimes it dies while unconscious and sometimes it gets up after a while and runs off (that was really disconcerting when the dead animal was not where I saw it drop.)
  5. kiwi3006

    kiwi3006 Well-Known Member

    Aug 1, 2007
    I had a similar thing happen a month or so back, posted it here http://www.longrangehunting.com/forums/f17/red-hind-594-yds-unusual-shot-47571/

    Long story short, shot a hind at 594 yds, bullet hit high in on-side shoulder and then range forward, went overtop of spine and exited high shoulder on off-side. Hind dropped on the spot, but was still alive 45 minutes later when we got to her. The bullet had not entered the chest cavity, however there was a huge amount of blood in the chest.


    HUAINAMACHERO Well-Known Member

    Oct 16, 2008
    Congrats on the hunt. That is one of the things I love about hunting, it is full of surprises. Would like to see some pictures of the buck. Take care and thanks for sharing.
  7. Chas1

    Chas1 Well-Known Member

    Feb 15, 2009
    Good, HONEST story Kirby. An example for all to follow when it comes to sharing their hunt. Due to your honesty, I for one learned something I didn't know...yip instead of poke with the gun and irregardless of time since hit assume the animal is alive...one could get injured or worse yet imagine if it were let's say a bear. My hats off to several others that responded to your post for their honesty about their less than 1 shot kills. PS, TV-of coarse the edit some of that stuff-IMHO.
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2009
  8. jwp475

    jwp475 Well-Known Member

    Feb 4, 2005

    If one hunts enough and shoots enough game I can assure you that they will not all be 1 shot drop in thier track kills, no matter what the cartridge bullet combo is.
  9. Shawn Carlock

    Shawn Carlock Sponsor

    Jun 11, 2007
    I have shot a pile of stuff high in the shoulder. I all instances they dropped to the dirt and never moved. On 99% when I arrived to recover them they were grave yard dead where they lay. I did lose one animal a black bear to the high shoulder shot, totally my fault I placed the shot slightly to high. I didn't take into account how thick the bear fur was when aiming. Long story short unable to locate, unable to recover despite and exhuastive effort. The video told the story, putting the shot slightlyover the spine. I suspect it is like anything else nothing is fool proof. These are inrteresting experiences and they do renforce certain lessons like never be in the woods for any reason without a firearm.

    Kirby was the spine broke but the lungs untouched, due to the high through the cavity hit?
  10. blipelt

    blipelt Well-Known Member

    Apr 5, 2008
    anchoring an animal to the ground is nice but hard to do. Having some education(EMT) and experience on how the human body works when severe blood loss is ocurring the human body will cut blood flow off to the skin(pale,cool, clamy=signs of shock), digestive system, brain and finally the heart before death will occur. To put it simple the body will make the container smaller and smaller until you don't have any blood left and expire.

    Why the buck survived I will give you my thoughts. The bullet struck in the no kill zone(no major organs were punctured). This caused the animal circulatory system to react vasoconstricting and shunting off the blood flow to the area to try to keep as much blood in the system as long as possible. Every animal will be different just like every person compensates differently.

    It is truely amazing how the body works, the defense mechanisms we have and don't even know it. I guess that is why I know evolution is impossible.

  11. phorwath

    phorwath Well-Known Member

    Apr 4, 2005
    Thanks for sharing the story. I don't particularly care for the high shoulder shot. I normally aim a little lower and at the back edge of the front legs to take out the lungs. I don't mind tracking the animal 50-100 yds, and I don't worry when I see the animal bolt at the shot.

    I shot a Bull caribou high-shoulder 3 falls ago with a 7mm RM 160 accubond - 850 yds. Paralyzed the animal but didn't hit vessels, arteries, or lungs to bleed him out. It would have taken about 45 minutes to get over to finish the kill. With the animal now on the ground, there was very little target left to engage. His head was propped up due to the size of the antlers, so I took a follow-up shot at the top of the neck where it connected to the top of the shoulders. Fortunately I connected through the CNS further toward the head than the first high-shoulder shot and the animal expired on that second hit. But I could as easily have missed and the animal would have lay there moving its head around for close to an hour until I could get down my hillside and over to where I could have finished the animal on the opposing hillside.

    Anyhow, I understand the appeal of shoving the relatively slow moving bullet at long range into the bone of the high shoulder area, but I prefer and tend to place the bullet through the center of the lungs - same location as I'd place a broadhead - right at the back edge of the front shoulder/leg muscle. The high shoulder shot seems to work more often than not. But even when it does work, I don't particlularly care for the excess meat damage the high shoulder shot typically causes. However I'm not about to argue with anyone about their preferred shot placement. To each his own.
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2009
  12. Rimfire

    Rimfire Well-Known Member

    Jul 14, 2007
    In my opinion nothing was wrong with the shot. You can never tell how an animal is going to react. Last year we shot two does back to back 320 yards I took the first small one behind the shoulder and it went 50-70 yards and fell. It looked like a crime scene, blood everywhere in the snow and its heart was hanging out of the exit hole with part of it missing. The second large doe was hit with the same rifle in the same place and dropped at the shot, go figure.

    I still stand by the high shoulder shot for long range hunting. Not because the double lung / heart shot doesn't kill as good, the high shoulder is a safer shot at long range. I the shot goes high you get spine or a miss if it goes low you get lung and heart. On a traditional shot you chance blowing a leg off if you drop it low.

    As for DRT I've stoned more deer with the high shoulder shot than the behind the shoulder. I've got many pics of deer I've shot and It would be hard to guess which ones were DRT shots and which ones ran.
  13. TH

    TH Well-Known Member

    Jan 22, 2003

    I had the same thing happen to me last year. I shot a cow elk with my 338 Lapua improved at 658 yards. I was shooting a 300grain SMK at 2950 fps. The bullet impacted above the front shoulder 1 inch below the spine. The elk dropped like a rock. I waited 15 to 20 minutes and drove over to the elk. I could not believe when I walked up to the elk that it got up and ran about 80 yards. I fired a second shot to the head and it was all over. When I skinned the animal out I also noticed the bullet did its job. The inside of the elk looked like jelly and had a 3 inch exit hole on the other side. I still to this day have no idea how that elk got up and ran. After that occurance I always aimed behind the front shoulder and hoped for a lung shot.
  14. blipelt

    blipelt Well-Known Member

    Apr 5, 2008
    Haven't shot enough animals at long range to give and opinion of shot placement that is why I didn't. Just some reasoning why the buck didn't expire right away.

    That being said I have a few questions. I am assuming the DRT acronym is dead right there(not a texter). On your DRT high shoulder shots was an exit hole present? Or was all the energy disapated on the animal? I am curious if the bullet fragmented in the body cavity causing extreme trauma throughout the organs. I haven't had much experience with DRT shots. They usually ran 50-70yds and expired. I would love to hear some experience on DRT shots and what you seen when field dressing the animal. Exit hole, fragmenting, etc.