Recovered Bullets by Larry Weishuhn
“Poke those coals one more time! Send embers skyward! Discussion time!” I proclaimed.
Across the fire my campmate pointed his blue enameled cup, filled with I suspected something a bit stronger than coffee and asked,
“What do you ask of your hunting bullets? Pass through or found just under the skin on the opposite side? What’s your preference?”
Without hesitation I responded I subscribed to the FTW Ranch Sportsman All-Weather All Terrain Marksmanship’s mantra (www.ftwsaam.com),
“It is the hunter’s job to cleanly kill an animal with the first shot!”
And when it comes to pass through or retained in the body, I tend to go either way depending upon the circumstances of the angle of shot, the surrounding vegetation and terrain. If I have to follow a blood trail, admittedly I prefer having an exit hole. But, I also truly like being able to recover spent bullets. I like looking at nicely mushroomed spent bullets, where all down range energy was absorbed by what I was shooting.
For my past two hunts, one for Transcaspian urial on the FTW Ranch and more recently for scimitar-horn oryx on the H. Yturria Ranch with Wildlife Systems (www.wildlifesystems.com) I used my Ruger M77 Guide Rifle in .375 Ruger, topped with a Trijicon AccuPoint scope and shooting Hornady’s 250-grain GMX Outfitter ammo. The combination is sighted-in to be dead-on at 50 yards and again at 200 yards, and only 3-inches low at 250 yards. With that sight-in I essentially do not have to be concerned about hold-over or dial-up, out to the latter distance.
I shot my Transcaspian, which weighted around 175 to 200 pounds at 125 yards. He was slightly quartered toward me. The beautifully mushroomed 250-grain GMX (all copper) bullet was found just under the skin of his right hindquarter, after it has passed through about 26-inches of large bones, vital soft tissue, through the rumen and heavy muscle. My scimitar-horn oryx, weighing something over 300 pounds. It too, was quartering to me. The bullet passed through heavy muscle and bones, lungs, more bones before lodging just under the skin. It too, was nicely mushroomed, but lost a couple of petals which I found about two inches to the left of the spent bullet. This after traveling about 20-inches. The oryx ran less than twenty steps. At 125 yards those bullets were delivering about 3,700 foot pounds of energy! In each instance the animals received the full extent of that down range energy.
I have used Hornady’s .375 Ruger, 250-grain GMX while hunting African antelope from eland on down; on reindeer, red stag, alpine ibex and roe deer in Europe, as well as on several animals here at home from elk to whitetails. All dropped in their tracks or ran no more than 25 steps before going down. In most instance I did not recover bullets, those which I did retained most of their weight and were beautifully mushroomed. Regardless, they did their job.
Now I ask you, “Do you prefer your hunting bullets to pass through an animal, or, deliver all a bullet’s down range energy into the animal and find the spent bullet just under the opposite skin?”