Just had two similar instances on our patch in SW Scotland at the end of Feb within ten days of each other. Both animals were alive (amazingly...) but losing condition fast. From what we can tell, we have a character round here with a very small calibre rifle/brain.
I was set up on the sticks waiting for a doe to appear when the little yearling came trotting down through the wood - her gait seemed a bit strange she didn't look right and I decided to take the shot. She dropped on the spot. I waited to let things settle and the other deer move off. When I approached the doe my first thought was, "How the hell could I pull the shot that far?" Eventually the grey matter kicked in (it's slow these days....) and the message came in.....275, 140gr, 120yds...if I had hit the head there wouldn't be much left of it. The dog found the entry wound from my shot at the bottom of the chest, just where it was supposed to be. Upon examination of the facial injury, the bullet appears to have disintegrated on impact - it shattered the jawbone, blew the right eye out, severed the animal's tongue and left a number of small exit wounds on the left side. Miraculously this poor wee lass was still alive. The wound had dried and there was no infection evident, so we guess that the injury was no more than 24hrs old.
Ten days later we were in the same area and saw a doe with two followers out in the open. The doe was laid down, which is unusual in that area as it's really boggy. We waited till she stood up and then it was obvious that she was thin, and limping. The shot from the 275 felled her and when we got to the beast and rolled her over, there was the unmistakeable crunch of smashed bone.... Couldn't find an entry wound on first inspection, so we did the gralloch and brought her home. The photo tells much of the story - you can see the small hole in the skin. When I pulled the skin away, the knee came with it to reveal a pit - the joint was totally shattered as well as the long bone above. There was no exit wound.
We suspect a .17 round is the culprit, and to be honest, I don't want to say much more about the numpty behind it. Any comments would be welcome.
Doubtful if it's a stalker - these deer are from families we see regularly on our patch (well inside the march). Both of us stalking this area are not 'head shot' guys - we're a bit 'higher mileage' and our (equally old..) .275's mean a chest shot is the business 95% of the time.
We are however surrounded by fox shooters, rabbit shooters, and 'others' who all seem to favour the very small calibres. Either way, it's over to the gamekeepers and the local law now...