I was taught from a youngster to use a premium bullet and always shoot for behind the front shoulder (through the lungs) But if i was in a situation where i needed to Anchor the animal, Then take the high shoulder shot. Neck shots are great, but it was something i NEVER practiced, i have killed a few deer over the years with neck shots but it was either a really close shot looking straight at me, or i had no other options. My dad taught me as a kid not to trust a Neck shot, especially on Elk, if they are broadside they have that Mane that hangs from the under side of the neck and it can be tough to center a neck shot due to that.
I believe Barnes X Bullets are absolutely awesome on BIG stuff like Elk where the Bullet has such a large cavity to ‘Dump it’s Energy’ inside. But i am not convinced on deer? At least with the smaller Calibers. .24, .25, and .26 Calibers come to mind here in my opinion.
I took a guy deer hunting 3-4 years ago that had never shot a deer, the rifle was mine, a .257 Weatherby Magnum. During load development for my .257 i had made up my mind i wanted a bullet that would hold together and not blow apart, otherwise i would end up with an animal destroyed from bloodshot damage, The .257 Weatherby Magnum is a SERIOUS Firecracker! I chose the 80 Grain Barnes TTSX as i was confident it would hold together in true Barnes fashion and i wanted a SUPER FAST bullet. During load development I had shot and recovered MANY bullets from Snow and Ice banks to check performance, 9 out of 10 bullets recovered had performed flawlessy, and retained 95% or better of their weight. I worked up a reload for that rifle that would truly shoot a dime at 100 yards if you did your part. I Chronographed that load at 3,650 FPS! SMOKIN!! I felt like i had the PERFECT setup for Whitetail deer? So i offered to let this Guy that had never shot a deer use this rifle, The morning of our hunt was cold and it had lightly snowed that night, the ground was slightly covered with a blanket of snow, ideal weather to track an animal if needed, It didn’t take long that morning and i was in deer, this guy didn’t care if it was a Buck or a Doe, it was all about the meat (which it ALWAYS should be!) I spotted a big lone Doe standing in an old logging grade about 75 yards away, she offered a Perfect Broadside shot, the guy took the shot, i seen her Jump, Mule kick, and head in the thick brush. The guy was super excited and started to head that way, i made him stop and wait, we waited 10 minutes or so and i told him to go ahead but to NOT walk in her tracks, i wanted to see the blood trail without it being trompled through, it wasn’t long and the Guy yelled from a distance ‘I got her!’ I got on her tracks where she was standing when she was hit, perfect light blanket of snow, no blood? I tracked that deer to her death (a good solid 75 yards from the shot) and not 1 single drop of blood was found?? When i rolled her over there was a decent amount under her, but she had not bled a single drop that i could find in her 75 yard or so dash shot through the lungs? I even back tracked and looked harder, NOTHING? Upon gutting her, He had made an absolute perfect shot behind the front shoulder, even clipped the back edge of the entrance shoulder, above the leg joint, couldn’t ask for a better shot.
I abandoned that entire setup after that deal, i am confident a lesser bullet would have left a blood trail, but also a bloodshot mess with the extreme Velocity of the .257 Weatherby Magnum. I ended up selling that rifle. In my opinion the Barnes X bullets are ABSOLUTELY Awesome in .28 and above Calibers especially for Elk size Game, but i am not sold on them for smaller deer size game, i feel like they are to much of a good thing for deer in the smaller calibers, if that makes sense? They Zip right through
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