High Shoulder Shot question

greenejc

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not the spine but the central nervous system.
Both the spine and the cns were probably effected. The hydrolic shock of the round passing under the spine but close to it would have disrupted the spinal cord, and you probably passed through part of the CNS, and maybe severed or damaged the main nerves going to one or both of the forelimbs. Also, nerves to the lungs and heart are in or near that area, and could be damaged. A hit in the high shoulder may not be instantly fatal, but it will be incapacitating nearly every time.
 
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greenejc

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Long but INFORMATIVE!! Thanks...I needed that. Answered many questions. Should be required reading for all hunters...IMO.
Its a really good site. Read the parts on effective calibers, ranges and velocities. Especially the parts on bullet caliber and real world effectiveness. It makes you think favorably about rounds such as the 338-06 and 35 Whelen.
 

jrock

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Should add that the cow I referenced in my post was shot with a 338 NM, 300 grain Berger VLD at 700 yards. I found the bullet tip in the spine and some fragments in the off side shoulder as it passed through. As I said, no damage to lungs and very little bleeding. My take away for my experience is if you miss your POI on a high shoulder shot, you do have some risks involved but as greenejc stated, its probably not going anywhere.
 

DrillDog

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I will have to disagree with you on that from personal observations.... I have never personally had this issue. ....
So you disagree, but have never experienced this as a problem??? :confused:

Well I have hit the "void" a few times with Berger Hunting VLDs. Nobody makes perfect shots all the time. Dont care how good a marksman a person thinks they are. However, the shoulder blade provides more than enough material for the Berger to begin expansion upon entry and create violent and explosive terminal damage on the vitals after penetrating 4"-5". I assure you that the animal will go down and die when you accidentally shoot just below the spine. There is not enough space for the spine and/or lungs to avoid damage when hit there. The bullet may enter in the area of the void, but it's like a bomb going off inside the chest cavity once it breaks through the shoulder blade. Even with the shot a little low below the spine, I have witnessed vitals liquified by the bullet shrapnel and shockwave.

Watch a slow-mo video of a Berger hunting VLD from a high powered magnum rifle entering ballistics gelatin. The terminal blast energy after initial penetration is impressive.
 
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Alex Wheeler

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Theres a difference between incapacitating an animal and killing it. High shoulder and spine shots are good for dropping an animal, and I understand the need in thick cover. In an area where a 50-100 yd run is not a problem, I highly recommend a killing shot like the heart/lungs. I look at a high shoulder as a wounding shot, hopefully with a follow up. If it takes 30 minutes to hike to the animal you may assume its a killing shot. Just avoid the Montana heart shot at all costs.
 

bigngreen

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Shoulder shots are crap on elk, hands down the most common wounding and loss of elk are guys targeting the shoulder! A bulls spine over the shoulder is 10 inches down a cow about 7 and you have a three inch target to actually be lethal not just immobilize them. I've seen quite a few elk with the tops of their spine blown of get back up and get mobile, I saw one bull take a 210 from a 300 RUM that wiped him of his feet but he worked his way back up while everyone was loading up and no one could get another round in him, I finally got him dead three days later. I've cut a pile of elk with the top blown of or the shoulder healed from a shoulder shot. If you hit back you just knock the back wheels out, if you hit forward you clip the top of the spine, it's all crap except a perfect hit. Drop down a foot and back in the crease you now have a 10 inch diameter of nothing but lethal zone with a few inches around of lethal but not the best.
 

257RobertsMan

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I love to shoot the crease 1/3 up from brisket and into/out the opposite shoulder. It gives a few inches of room for error and they don't go far if anywhere at all.
 

lancetkenyon

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So you disagree, but have never experienced this as a problem??? :confused:

Well I have hit the "void" a few times with Berger Hunting VLDs. Nobody makes perfect shots all the time. Dont care how good a marksman a person thinks they are. However, the shoulder blade provides more than enough material for the Berger to begin expansion upon entry and create violent and explosive terminal damage on the vitals after penetrating 4"-5". I assure you that the animal will go down and die when you accidentally shoot just below the spine. There is not enough space for the spine and/or lungs to avoid damage when hit there. The bullet may enter in the area of the void, but it's like a bomb going off inside the chest cavity once it breaks through the shoulder blade. Even with the shot a little low below the spine, I have witnessed vitals liquified by the bullet shrapnel and shockwave.

Watch a slow-mo video of a Berger hunting VLD from a high powered magnum rifle entering ballistics gelatin. The terminal blast energy after initial penetration is impressive.
Re-read my post. I have SEEN IT HAPPEN (personal observations). But I have never had it happen myself.
Not hitting the scapula, nor a rib, nor the spine, nor the top of the lungs. With a 210 Berger from a .300RUM @ 408 yards. The same bull was shot 2 days later, and the previous entry and exit were apparent. Both about bullet diameter.
Bergers, while I love them, do not work in some instances. Just a fact. That was one occasion they did not expand and cause massive internal injuries to anything vital. If it works for you, great. Just saying it sometimes doesn't.
 

greenejc

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Shoulder shots are crap on elk, hands down the most common wounding and loss of elk are guys targeting the shoulder! A bulls spine over the shoulder is 10 inches down a cow about 7 and you have a three inch target to actually be lethal not just immobilize them. I've seen quite a few elk with the tops of their spine blown of get back up and get mobile, I saw one bull take a 210 from a 300 RUM that wiped him of his feet but he worked his way back up while everyone was loading up and no one could get another round in him, I finally got him dead three days later. I've cut a pile of elk with the top blown of or the shoulder healed from a shoulder shot. If you hit back you just knock the back wheels out, if you hit forward you clip the top of the spine, it's all crap except a perfect hit. Drop down a foot and back in the crease you now have a 10 inch diameter of nothing but lethal zone with a few inches around of lethal but not the best.
I'm not sure, but I think you meant that you've seen elk hit in the hump above the spine. If so, that's not a killing or incapacitating shot, and you're right. But if he's hit in the shoulder about 2/3ds up, that goes under the spine or hits the spine. The round will take out the nerve plexus or possibly break the back with impact. It will damage the spinal cord and kill or incapacitate the animal. The actual wounding data is present on BallisticStudies.com. That's what the guy that started this blog did. jrock said that part of the bullet was even lodged in the spine. Part exited the off shoulder. Hitting the spine with a 300 grain .338 bullet even at 700 yards should have either broken the spinal cord or crushed it from blunt trama, and probably didn't do the vertebra he hit any good, either. You may not like a shot like that, but sometimes its what you get, and its still a good place to hit, as long as its not too high.
 

greenejc

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Re-read my post. I have SEEN IT HAPPEN (personal observations). But I have never had it happen myself.
Not hitting the scapula, nor a rib, nor the spine, nor the top of the lungs. With a 210 Berger from a .300RUM @ 408 yards. The same bull was shot 2 days later, and the previous entry and exit were apparent. Both about bullet diameter.
Bergers, while I love them, do not work in some instances. Just a fact. That was one occasion they did not expand and cause massive internal injuries to anything vital. If it works for you, great. Just saying it sometimes doesn't.
No bullet works all the time. Just a fact. That's why I like large diameter bullets.
 

ATH

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An animal shot through both lungs likely won't stay on its feet more than a few seconds....but they can cover a lot of ground in that time if they want to. A shoulder blade hit will most often destroy the structure of the shoulder enough that the animal cannot physically stay on its feet so it goes straight down. Those last few seconds are spent on that spot.

I rarely intentionally take a shoulder shot as they ruin meat and I rarely hunt areas where a short run is a major issue. That said I have done so in situations where it may make a difference. This year I shot a mule deer in MT, it was up, potentially wounded (turns out it was missed) and could quickly get off public land. So I sent a 285gr ELD-M through its shoulders from my 338 Edge and it went 3 feet straight down. Both shoulder blades were in multiple pieces, bullet performed well, and lungs were hit. Fast kill on the spot. I lost some shoulder meat and the front of the backstraps, which was saddening but in that situation necessary.

I agree this shot is particularly dangerous on elk. Their anatomy is quite different than a deer. When I was new to elk hunting I arrowed a bull through the shoulder and was shocked that I hit the spine and incapacitated it; I was unaware how low the spine is in relation to the shoulder compared to a deer. I've not experienced, but have seen two others experience, lost elk by shooting them too high in the shoulder with a rifle.
 

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