Mistakes Ive made when taking shots.


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I find myself reading quite a bit on here trying to learn a bit more on the sport, but without a lot of shooting knowledge Im a "lurker" on here rather than a a poster of substance.
I thought I would post a couple of mistakes Ive made in relation to shots I shouldn't have taken.

This is in the hope that others may learn from them.

1) The first deer I shot was at last light and it was a bit rushed, the chap I was with said "quick shoot it you have only seconds" which was added a bit of pressure. The deer died 40 yards from where it was hit. More by luck than anything else. The deer was quartering and the liver was nicked and the kidney smashed so it bled out through its renal artery. Not a clean shot and not something I was proud of.

Moral of that one, never be rushed or feel pressured into taking a shot.

2) By this time I had my own rifle and had spent a bit of time on the range and had taken a few more deer. I heart shot a hind the day before at 175 yards and the keeper was keen that if at all possible I take 2 deer in quick succession if possible.
The next day we stalked up a gully onto 2 hinds and 2 calfs laying up 180 yards away. I got in position on a ridge and poked the barrel clear of the heather. Eventually one of the hinds got up and I dropped her with a heart shot. Once I was happy she wasn't moving I turned to the calf.
Boom not much response from the beast but sounded like it had been hit. Then it dropped down just the neck and head exposed. I went for a neck shot and no reaction. At this point I was worrying what was going on with my kit and me. Tried again and no reaction. The deer started to amble off up the hill.It wasn't moving well and left a sickening feeling in my stomach.
We got the deer but its a awful position to be in to chase down a injured animal and not something I ever want to repeat.

What had gone wrong?
1st shot clear of heather 2nd shot and 3rd shot I had turned slightly and hadn't realised I was shooting through heather (makes a big difference to POI)

Always make sure your barrel is clear of anything that might deflect your bullet.

I hope my tales help someone one day!

Anyone else with a stalking mistake we could learn from?


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DRN I don't think you are giving yourself enough credit. A heart shot at 175 yards is a tiny target. Add in that it's a live animal and there you introduce a number of variables, not the least being that a slight movement by the animal at the time of the shot can result in a complete miss of the heart but still make good contact or a complete miss on a small deer like the roe deer.
Maybe that's what happened with the 180 yard shots.
On the larger deer like the Reds and the Sambar that I hunt, even a heart shot can see the deer take off and run 100 yards before expiring. I read an article on this a while ago which explained that the even if the heart is no longer working, the amount of oxygen in the blood of the large animals allows them to keep moving. They are essentially dead but just don't know it.
You're right about deflection and rushing the shots though. I reckon the way to learn about these things and improve your hunting is to get out there and keep hunting with these things in mind and everyone will improve.
Another way to become aware of course is to read and absorb posts like yours. Well done.


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It's an easy mistake to make, I did the exact same thing on a buck earlier last year.
My bullet struck an unseen nettle and the buck danced away quite the thing.
It's amazing how little it takes to deflect a bullet.
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We all make shots that turn out to be less than accurate if enough deer are shot. I haven't been stalking for decades but although take great pride in always trying to make good shots have still managed a few bad ones. Luckily I've never lost a deer to one, or completely ruined a carcass but still not hit where I was aiming.
One such time was with a fair size fallow buck on a guided stalk. After a short stalk out the seat to the deer I was in the open and could make no more ground. So at 160 yds was up on sticks for a chest shot. However just in the edge of the scope I could see the blur of a big cow parsley. So purposefully aimed a little more to the right to ensure this was missed. The animal was looking straight at me so no chance of moving the sticks. The shot went off and felt good. Buck dropped on the spot, but was kicking for a while. Turned out the shot had clipped the parsley leaving a little bullet size crescent in it. Then continued the 140 yds and hit the buck in the neck. Bullet travelled along the spine and exited out of the ribs as if a heart lung shot taken. I couldn't believe how much that bullet had deflected. Still buck was down and lesson learned.


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Could be Sharkey.
This bullet shaved a tree and still killed a sambar calf. 180gr Corelokt I believe.
GrantView attachment 52470
Not meant to be directed at you mate. It's a mistake many of us make or have made. Even for culling captive animals these days I use a 270 as the minimum for all our deer species ( I never use head or neck shots), & the smallest on sambar & red stags now is 180grn projectiles in a 30 06. The last time I chased sambar in Vic, I carried a 375 wby with 250 grn X's, & yes still had a bit of a run from one, from a behind the shoulder chest shot. I also am guilty of shooting a few deer with the 458 lott & for those who argue that large calibers damage meat, you can eat right up to the hole if using this or a similar big bore.

I'll be culling a few chital stags out of largish mobs this weekend & a couple of 2yo persian bucks out of my breeder enclosures (only about 80 acres each but it's easier than trying to catch them).I have lots of control & lots of time & I'll use a 270win in both situations . I don't want complete penetration on the chital as they mob up when pressured & there are bodies, heads, hinds & fawns milling about in & out of the view. I need to thread a shot through the mob & smash the shoulders of the culls, then let the mob runoff settle down & do it again & again. Chital are much tougher to kill than fallow kilo for kilo, as are sambar compared to reds, & reds to elk (elk are the softest deer to kill I've ever encountered & I'd consider using the same gun on them as a chital (90kg) or rusa (140kg). Its "the size of the fight in the animal, not the size of the animal in the fight", I usually roll my eyes when folks compare animals of equal size when discussing suitable chamberings, some species require much more than others of equal size to kill humanly, try picking up the bone of a sambar & then a similar bone from a red, you'll notice the difference in density & strength immediately. The projectile on the chital this weekend needs to break the shoulders but remain inside the skin from a distance of around 150m. I will shoot the fallow behind the shoulders & want a nice hole on the other side. The chital will need to receive much more damage than the similar sized bucks for a humane death, the difference in the strength, the will to live & the ability to absorb miss placed shots in chital can not be matched by a fallow or red.

At the end of the day we need to use enough gun, & I like animals & want to minimise suffering, so I use a bit more when I can these days. There is nothing worse than the "reverse machoism", where folks brag about killing animals with the smallest possible caliber they can, especially when there is no medical or physical reason to prevent them using something better.

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They say that you learn from your mistakes. If that is the case I should be brilliant. :oops:


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There's a saying I have read it on here in the past "You haven't shot many deer if you haven't wounded one" I think this is very good philosophy it will happen to most of us eventually regardless of the calibre of rifle used (deer legal of course) so be prepared for it and what will your action plan will be if/when it does, I believe it to be a learning curve that will make you a better hunter in the long run I know it has for me.....good luck bud.


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the first deer I ever shot, perfect broadside, about 80 yds, behind a stock fence,

yup.......... the deflection meant instead of the heart shot I planned, I hit it in the rump. it fell over and I neck shot it.


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I once laid my .22 on top of a 50 gallon steel barrel to take a shot without thinking of the rim. The bullet hit the rim & disintegrated. The resultant clang scared the living hell out of me, & the subsequent realisation of what could have happened left me shaking like a leaf :eek:

Not a mistake I'm ever likely to make again


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The last time I was out stalking, I came across a doe with two followers. They were out at about 200yrds from me with a young plantation tree line as back stop. It was was an old fell site and there was no cover for me to get any closer (or so I thought). After about 30 mins of waiting to to see if they would move any closer to me, the doe and one of the followers moved into the tree line about 30 yards to the left of the second follower. I decided to take a broadside shot but missed on the first occasion. There was fortunately a second shot presented and he fell about 20 yards into the tree line. When we retrieved the follower I found bits of skin and some entrails which was clearly from the doe (the colour of the fur was much lighter). We could never track her down inspite of using dogs.
Two lessons learnt - If you have more than one beast in sight, take a better look into the tree line (the doe was probably only 10 yrds in) if some have moved into it and scout the place before you stalk to learn the rides well (I found out that I could have got closer but realised this only when we were searching for the doe). This was only my second outing and it is about 4 hrs from home, so I had not walked the place enough.


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Sika Stag a few years back. It was on/off, on/off about 4 times as it was walking across the hill back to the wood and we were trying to ambush it on the way. Unable to get a shot off on the first 3 occasions I got set up as it wouldn't stop I was dropping the cartridge below the bolt before we moved off at the trot between firing points. On the 4th set up he stopped, just before entering the wood. Crosshairs on his neck, pulled the trigger, click........Had not reloaded the round.

Not made that mistake again, but have made a few more.


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Really good thread to read for a newcomer to the game. Making me feel extra cautious which can't be a bad thing!