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.260 Remington Doe - Scientific Head Shot

ZeeZee Senior MemberPosts: 28,060 Senior Member
Rancher friend asked me yesterday if I wanted to bring a friend and cull a couple does today. As always, I was more than willing.

We showed up around 3:30 and gathered our gear to head out to the same knoll my boy had shot his buck from. We spread some corn in the road to stop the deer and got set up laying prone in our spot. My buddy was using a custom built Remington 700 shooting Hornady 168gr A-Max TAP ammunition. I was using my custom Remington XP-100 Specialty Pistol in .260 Remington shooting 130gr Berger Hunting VLD bullets.

Now, a little history on this XP-100. I've had it for a few years and shot a doe with this gun/bullet combination back when I first got it. In that instance, I shot her broadside at 100ish yards and the bullet pretty much penciled it's way through the doe. Only opening about 1-2" prior to exiting and leaving a 3" crater in the off side shoulder and hide. The doe ran a short distance into the brush and fell over. Leaving no blood on the ground. I did my full autopsy on the vitals and found little damage to the lungs. The saving grace being that I struck the aorta at the top of the heart and saw the doe go down.

I was very displeased with the bullet performance and shelved the gun until I could work up a load with 140gr A-Max bullets. Planning to use the rest of my loaded Berger ammunition as target ammo. Well, I finally worked up a 140gr A-Max load, but for my .260 Remington hunting rifle. Hoping the same load would shoot well in the XP-100. At the range last week, the A-Max load proved to not be as consistent in the XP as I would like. Crap! But, the Berger load shot OH SO NICE still!!!

Zero%2011-30-16_zpsa9uczuzd.jpg

I thought I'd give them another try for hunting. Maybe my previous experience was a fluke. So, I loaded them in the gun and waited for a doe.

We didn't have to wait long before several deer showed up. We picked out two lone does and the ready or not game began. We were going to try a simultaneous shot on the two deer. But, the rancher wanted them to be head shots as he didn't want the deer to run off. Trying to accommodate, my buddy and I tracked our respective deer as they meandered, fed, stood in front of, or behind other deer. It was a frustrating endeavor. When I had a clear shot, he didn't. When he did........I didn't. After about 10 minutes of this, I told my buddy to just take his shot. If my doe stuck around afterwards, I would shoot her then. So, his doe finally stood still at about 100 yards and he sent a 168gr A-Max bullet from his .308 Winchester into her head and God dropped a sledge hammer on that deer. The sound of the bullet impacting her head was akin to someone popping a large paper sack. With a resounding "POP", the hammer dropped and that deer hit the ground in an instant. I was impressed.

Deer scattered and I tracked mine. Stopping at the edge of the brush, like Lot's wife, she looked back at the carnage for an instant. And I sent a 130gr Berger Hunting VLD into her skull just below her right ear.

"She's running! You shot her in the jaw!"

What?!?!?

Recovering from recoil, I see the doe running to my left (she had been facing to my right) and entering the brush.

Son on a @#%&#!!!!!!

I was NOT a Happy Camper. I had just let the deer down. I had let my buddy down. I had let my rancher friend down. Piss poor performance is NOT acceptable!!!

I stood up, packed my gear, left the XP on the ground, grabbed my G40 and started for the brush.

"Where are you going?", my rancher friend asked.

"I'm gonna go get that deer", I replied.

"You know how thick that brush is on that hill. She's not bleeding. You'll never find her and if you do, you'll never sneak up on her in that thick stuff. She'll show up in a few days looking for water and I'll shoot her", he said.

"I can't do that. I screwed up. I can't NOT look for her. I gotta try."

My buddy asked if I wanted him to go with me.

"Nope. You take care of your deer. I'm gonna go find mine." With pissed off determination, I hunkered down and entered the brush, pistol in hand.

Two feet into the brush, I saw a bright drop of blood. Then..........another........and another........and another! With increasing volume, I found more and more. Then, 10 yards into the brush, it stopped. What?!? Ain't no way a deer bleeds that much bright blood and stops! I pause and look at the sign. Looking at the blood splatter, I see the spray arching in a fan to my right. Looking behind, I see the same fan.

Ha!!! She stopped and spun around here!!! Going back the way I'd come for about 3 yards, the trail dog legged to my right. The doe had back tracked and taken another trail! Now, it looked like someone had taken a sports bottle full of blood and just sprayed it frantically all over the brush. 7 more yards down the trail, I see a white tail laying on the ground. And.........it ain't moving. crouching down on my hands and knees, I see the doe laying on her side. Dead.

Piecing the mad dash together, the doe had made it 10 yards into the brush and her brain said, "you're done". She stopped, and in a faltering determination I know many have seen a deer do, she spun around and stumbled the last few yards in sheer determination. Hitting the ground as the last swath of life's blood spewed from her throat.

I called my friend on the phone and said, "Dead deer."

I heard him tell my buddy in the background, "Load up. We gotta go get another deer. He found her." It had taken me about 10 minutes.

Now the science.

My buddy and I had taken almost the EXACT same shot on our respective deer!!! Facing to our right and slightly away, we had BOTH placed our rounds at the base of the on side ear and about 1" below. Trying to take out the brain stem and off side of the cranial vault.

His deer's entrance wound:

IMG_0565_zpstujqa8oj.jpg

My deer's entrance wound:

IMG_0566_zps5uf78hgm.jpg

His deer's exit wound:

IMG_0569_zps31icbfsd.jpg

My deer's exit wound:

IMG_0567_zps7gndt6fa.jpg

What..........the........HELL!!!!

Now, granted there are probably some minor differences in the angle. Mine appears to exit slightly lower than his. Or, at least, I ASSUME!! Seeing as his deer is missing the ENTIRE off side of her skull! I can only guess at the exit trajectory of his round. But, mine..........in quite mundane fashion..........poked a hole through her with little fanfare other than a quarter size wound on the off side.

It's kinda obvious what killed my buddy's deer. She had no BRAIN left!!!

On research, I discovered that I had severed the on side carotid artery and the windpipe. Possibly even the off side carotid artery being damaged as well due to secondary trauma. She had bled more than any heart/lung shot deer I've ever taken and had run 28 yards total. In comparison, my boy's deer over Thanksgiving had run 137 yards with it's heart blown up (literally).

So, what went wrong?

Well, I obviously could/should have hit her maybe 1" higher and actually bisected the brain. That's a given. But, the same shot placement from my buddy's .308 Winchester and A-Max bullet LITERALLY blew his deer's brains out!!!

Expansion? Hydrostatic shock? Velocity? All the above?

I do know that his bullet blew her brains out and mine penciled it's way through. Fortunately taking out the most important arteries on the way. I am not happy with my shot. Conversly, I am not happy with the performance of the Berger Bullet..........again.

I will not lay all the blame on the bullet. Had I actually hit the brain, I could have used a FMJ and ended this right there. But, one inch low and my round acting like a FMJ just poked through her like an ice pick while the A-Max caused catastrophic trauma.

Maybe I'm not pushing the Bergers fast enough? Maybe I got a bad batch? I don't know. I do know this is the second case of penciling a round through a deer with this load. Burn me once......shame on you. Burn me twice............shame on me.

I knew better and I did it anyway. I'm a fool. I'm just glad it worked out in the end.

I know Berger makes some good bullets. An acquaintance uses them with resounding effect in a 7mm STW that I load for him and is very pleased. This is my 3rd bad experience with Berger (6.5cal x2 and 7mm x1). I love ya, Berger. But..........piss off! I have 150 rounds of target ammo for my .260 Remingtons.

A-Max it is.

I am more than willing to discuss any theory you guys may have in this case. I'm all ears.

260%20Rem%20with%20130gr%20Berger%20H-VLD%2012%20-%20Copy_zpsyvitzhgd.jpg
"To Hell with efficiency, it's performance we want!" - Elmer Keith

Replies

  • Ernie BishopErnie Bishop Senior Member WyomingPosts: 8,566 Senior Member
    Make a switch or start annealing the Berger's.
    I already know what the answer will be :)
    Ernie

    "The Un-Tactical"
  • JermanatorJermanator Senior Member Posts: 16,244 Senior Member
    All I can think of is that the jacket is too thick and they are not upsetting at all.
    Reason obeys itself; and ignorance submits to whatever is dictated to it.
    -Thomas Paine
  • ZeeZee Senior Member Posts: 28,060 Senior Member
    Make a switch or start annealing the Berger's.
    I already know what the answer will be :)

    Yeah. Annealing ain't happening. Not when I have 1,000 perfectly good A-Max bullets ready and willing to please sitting on the shelf.
    "To Hell with efficiency, it's performance we want!" - Elmer Keith
  • ZeeZee Senior Member Posts: 28,060 Senior Member
    knitepoet wrote: »
    And good on you for recovering her :up:


    Thanks. I had to try. I couldn't just assume it was a lost cause.
    "To Hell with efficiency, it's performance we want!" - Elmer Keith
  • ZeeZee Senior Member Posts: 28,060 Senior Member
    knitepoet wrote: »
    Well, after my blow-up with 30 cal-155gr I remember Ernie saying something about them having issues and were working on them. Possibly they worked on it "too well" and went from making bullets that blew up on contact to not expanding at all???

    This is an older load I'm running. I think we probably got the bullets about the same time frame. Maybe they were off in their manufacturing back then. Either way, it'll take a bit befor I use Berger again. Mostly because they are twice as much as corresponding A-Max bullets and.............their performance on game.
    "To Hell with efficiency, it's performance we want!" - Elmer Keith
  • bullsi1911bullsi1911 Moderator Posts: 12,309 Senior Member
    well, that is interesting for sure. Good deal on finding the deer.
    To make something simple is a thousand times more difficult than to make something complex.
    -Mikhail Kalashnikov
  • Six-GunSix-Gun Senior Member Eastern NebraskaPosts: 8,155 Senior Member
    That's a wild disparity in terminal effect for sure. Obviously, you aren't the only guy with some gripes on Berger's hunting performance and this is just another vivid illustration. That said, I've never used them and doubt I ever will. If I need a high-BC, long distance game getter...you know it/I know it: the A-Max will do it.
    Accuracy: because white space between bullet holes drives me insane.
  • Farm Boy DeuceFarm Boy Deuce Senior Member Posts: 6,083 Senior Member
    I for one think you have all backwards. Your Berger hunting bullet preformed beautifully while your buddy's TARGET bullet hit the skull and shotgunned its way through leaving that HUGE MESS to deal with.

    :jester:
    I am afraid we forget sometime that the basic and simple things brings us the most pleasure.
    Dad 5-31-13
  • BigDanSBigDanS Senior Member Miami, FL almost in the USA ;)Posts: 6,992 Senior Member
    Another great story.

    Perhaps it isn't being driven fast enough?

    The Berger sounds like a good candidate to try in your 6.5-06 A Squared for comparison. 3100 fps vs 2600 fps.

    D
    "A patriot is mocked, scorned and hated; yet when his cause succeeds, all men will join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot." Mark Twain
    Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.... now who's bringing the hot wings? :jester:
  • Ernie BishopErnie Bishop Senior Member WyomingPosts: 8,566 Senior Member
    I believe velocity is definitely a part of this equation, but not all of it.
    Ernie

    "The Un-Tactical"
  • twatwa Senior Member Posts: 2,245 Senior Member
    Great hunting and great write up. 168 A-MAX .308 is a deer killing machine, it is the only caliber / bullet I ever use anymore for deer, you just re-enforced it for me! I like the tongue sticking out, its like she is giving you the finger in her last little way. :jester:
  • ZeeZee Senior Member Posts: 28,060 Senior Member
    twa wrote: »
    Great hunting and great write up. 168 A-MAX .308 is a deer killing machine, it is the only caliber / bullet I ever use anymore for deer, you just re-enforced it for me! I like the tongue sticking out, its like she is giving you the finger in her last little way. :jester:


    They have NEVER failed me in the accuracy department, nor the terminal performance arena. And I've used a couple of them. :guns:
    "To Hell with efficiency, it's performance we want!" - Elmer Keith
  • earlyearly Senior Member Thornton COPosts: 4,950 Senior Member
    Nothing is static in the field. A skull has a multitude of differing chambers that can differ from one time to the next on fluid content. Angles and point of impact can be seen inaccurately. Some things just can't be explained under such extensively variable conditions.

    This event combined with stories from other hunters , combat veterans, police shooting records, JFK's magic bullet theory etc., have convinced me of this.
    My thoughts are generally clear. My typing, not so much.
  • bobbyrlf3bobbyrlf3 Senior Member Renton, WashingtonPosts: 2,598 Senior Member
    Appreciate the write-up Z. Definitely interesting stuff. Seems like the universe's way of smacking you down for not going with your proven performers.
    Knowledge is essential to living freely and fully; understanding gives knowledge purpose and strength; wisdom is combining the two and applying them appropriately in words and actions.
  • Jeff in TXJeff in TX Senior Member J&D Ranch - North Central TXPosts: 2,548 Senior Member
    So when you gonna start writing a book on your hunts. You tell and detail them very well. I'd say that's a fine shooting rifle and great shot!
    Distance is not an issue, but the wind can make it interesting!

    John 3: 1-21
  • twatwa Senior Member Posts: 2,245 Senior Member
    Jeff in TX wrote: »
    So when you gonna start writing a book on your hunts. You tell and detail them very well. I'd say that's a fine shooting rifle and great shot!

    I guess you could call it a rifle in his hands...just as accurate. :jester:

    We have an alternative season here in Missouri late in the year where you can use "handguns" and muzzle loaders, if everyone shot as well as Zee with a "handgun" they would be outlawing this season real quick here!
  • snake284snake284 Senior Member Posts: 22,429 Senior Member
    Do they still make, or better still did they ever make, an A-Max 170 grain 7mm bullet?
    Daddy, what's an enabler?
    Son that's somebody with nothing to do with his time but keep me in trouble with mom.
  • Ernie BishopErnie Bishop Senior Member WyomingPosts: 8,566 Senior Member
    snake284 wrote: »
    Do they still make, or better still did they ever make, an A-Max 170 grain 7mm bullet?
    No longer make a 7mm A-Max.
    ELD-X: 162 and 175
    ELD-Match: 162 and 180 (These are basically an updated A-Max)
    Ernie

    "The Un-Tactical"
  • orchidmanorchidman Senior Member A true 'Southerner'. NZPosts: 8,402 Senior Member
    I can imagine your feelings when she ran off. Glad that you went straight in after her and found her dead............and I know how the feelings of relief felt when you found her. Have had something similar happen myself.

    Have you cut one of the bergers and measured the thickness of the jacket? Just curious.
    Still enjoying the trip of a lifetime and making the best of what I have.....
  • snake284snake284 Senior Member Posts: 22,429 Senior Member
    No longer make a 7mm A-Max.
    ELD-X: 162 and 175
    ELD-Match: 162 and 180 (These are basically an updated A-Max)

    I've got about 60 Berger 168 Gr. VLD Hunting bullets. Now I'm scared to try them on game. I've heard so much about the A-Max I'm tempted to just use the Bergers for paper. What you think? Go for the A-Max? I've been using Nosler BT 150 grain bullets in it and had a failure on game with them. I've been wanting to try something else. I mean I want something that will kill DRT at 400-500 yards down the Sendero. I can't afford to shoot a nice buck at that range without it hitting the irt almost immediately. Because the sendera on my lease is not that wide, maybe 30 yards at its widest points and if you don't put the animal down almost immediately he can make it into some very thick almost impenetrable brush. Very few deer that have made that brush line are recovered. That's why I don't push it and usually won't shoot at a deer much past 200 yards.
    Daddy, what's an enabler?
    Son that's somebody with nothing to do with his time but keep me in trouble with mom.
  • Ernie BishopErnie Bishop Senior Member WyomingPosts: 8,566 Senior Member
    Amax.
    If you can place the bullet where it should go, the Amax will kill very well
    Ernie

    "The Un-Tactical"
  • ZeeZee Senior Member Posts: 28,060 Senior Member
    snake284 wrote: »
    I've got about 60 Berger 168 Gr. VLD Hunting bullets. Now I'm scared to try them on game. I've heard so much about the A-Max I'm tempted to just use the Bergers for paper. What you think? Go for the A-Max? I've been using Nosler BT 150 grain bullets in it and had a failure on game with them. I've been wanting to try something else. I mean I want something that will kill DRT at 400-500 yards down the Sendero. I can't afford to shoot a nice buck at that range without it hitting the irt almost immediately. Because the sendera on my lease is not that wide, maybe 30 yards at its widest points and if you don't put the animal down almost immediately he can make it into some very thick almost impenetrable brush. Very few deer that have made that brush line are recovered. That's why I don't push it and usually won't shoot at a deer much past 200 yards.

    How many different bullets have you experienced "failures" with? I seem to recall a few with Sierra? Hornady? Now Nosler?

    No bullet will promise you a DRT shot upon impact. Especially not at 400-500 yards!!! DRT requires high velocity, hydrostatic shock, and/or BULLET PLACEMENT in a central nervous system area.

    Snake, if you are concerned about an animal making it out of the narrow sendaro and into the brush at 409-500 yards...........don't shoot at it!!! I don't care WHAT you use, if it ain't in the brain or spine, there is no guarantee it won't run.

    Case in point........the deer above.

    If you dont don't practice at 400 yards on a relatively regular basis.........stick closer to home. I promise you, you won't like the results and you'll blame it on another bullet failure. Save yourself the stress.
    "To Hell with efficiency, it's performance we want!" - Elmer Keith
  • ZeeZee Senior Member Posts: 28,060 Senior Member
    snake284 wrote: »
    I've got about 60 Berger 168 Gr. VLD Hunting bullets. Now I'm scared to try them on game.

    My buddy that shoots the 7mm STW I load for him uses the Berger 168gr H-VLD and has had stellar performance with it. Rather large exit wounds and little running of game.

    I, on the other hand, had a Berger 140gr H-VLD pencil through a DOE from my .280 Remington. Wasn't happy about that. So, I switched to 162gr A-Max in all my 7mm cartridges (.280 Rem / 7mm Rem Mag / 7mm RUM) and haven't looked back. All have killed rather well.

    Not all Berger bullets are bad. Hell, maybe mine aren't bad. Maybe pushed a lot faster that would work perfectly. They just don't work well in my guns and I'm moving on.
    "To Hell with efficiency, it's performance we want!" - Elmer Keith
  • snake284snake284 Senior Member Posts: 22,429 Senior Member
    Zee wrote: »
    How many different bullets have you experienced "failures" with? I seem to recall a few with Sierra? Hornady? Now Nosler?

    No bullet will promise you a DRT shot upon impact. Especially not at 400-500 yards!!! DRT requires high velocity, hydrostatic shock, and/or BULLET PLACEMENT in a central nervous system area.

    Snake, if you are concerned about an animal making it out of the narrow sendaro and into the brush at 409-500 yards...........don't shoot at it!!! I don't care WHAT you use, if it ain't in the brain or spine, there is no guarantee it won't run.

    Case in point........the deer above.

    If you dont don't practice at 400 yards on a relatively regular basis.........stick closer to home. I promise you, you won't like the results and you'll blame it on another bullet failure. Save yourself the stress.
    OK my bullet failures have mostly been inside 200 yards. Nosler Ballistic tips failed me a couple of times, once at about 80 yards and once over 100.

    The other failure was with a Hornady Interlock at about 150 yards. I actually thought my rifle was off because I shot that deer 3 times as he was trotting along and I believe I hit it all three times. I had a good rest and put the cross hairs on this front shoulder and had plenty of time to shoot. Then when I took the rifle to the range I found it was still dead on.

    I have never had a failure at over 300 yards because I haven't shot at that many animals over 300 yards. I've killed a couple at 400+, but they were both at the same time in a wide open field. BTW that was with a 6mm Remington with a 100 Grain SGK.

    I guess I worded things wrong. I really wanted to know your opinions about whether you think any bullet would do what I require to shoot at that range in a sendero like I hunt. I have heard the verdict from you two authorities of long range shooting. I will follow your advice because that's what I was asking. So thanks.

    I know several people who would take a shot like that with ANY bullet and not lose a minutes sleep when the deer would run off in the brush unrecoverable. That is not me. I want a fair chance of 90% recovery of game I shoot, and I guess that's not gonna happen in my Sendero.
    Daddy, what's an enabler?
    Son that's somebody with nothing to do with his time but keep me in trouble with mom.
  • snake284snake284 Senior Member Posts: 22,429 Senior Member
    Zee wrote: »
    How many different bullets have you experienced "failures" with? I seem to recall a few with Sierra? Hornady? Now Nosler?

    No bullet will promise you a DRT shot upon impact. Especially not at 400-500 yards!!! DRT requires high velocity, hydrostatic shock, and/or BULLET PLACEMENT in a central nervous system area.

    Snake, if you are concerned about an animal making it out of the narrow sendaro and into the brush at 409-500 yards...........don't shoot at it!!! I don't care WHAT you use, if it ain't in the brain or spine, there is no guarantee it won't run.

    Case in point........the deer above.

    If you dont don't practice at 400 yards on a relatively regular basis.........stick closer to home. I promise you, you won't like the results and you'll blame it on another bullet failure. Save yourself the stress.

    Of course I believe this. That's why I put a 90% success qualifyer, which may still be a little naive and overly optimistic. But what you told me answered my question that even a bullet like the A-Max or a whatever Berger is up to that task.
    Daddy, what's an enabler?
    Son that's somebody with nothing to do with his time but keep me in trouble with mom.
  • ZeeZee Senior Member Posts: 28,060 Senior Member
    cpj wrote: »
    Fixed it.

    Glad I have a veritable lifetime supply of 7mm 162 grain A-max.
    "To Hell with efficiency, it's performance we want!" - Elmer Keith
  • BigslugBigslug Senior Member Posts: 9,696 Senior Member
    Too bad you don't have a video of your buddy's deer. We could dub in Kevin Costner saying "Back, and to the left. . .Back, and to the left. . .Back, and to the left". I'm guessing a European mount is out of the question. :tooth:

    The age-old history of the 6.5mm is that it's more drill than hammer. Seems like that Berger's following that mold.
    WWJMBD?

    "Nothing is safe from stupid." - Zee
  • JeeperJeeper Senior Member Tampa, FL areaPosts: 2,954 Senior Member
    FWIW, the 150 grain Hornady .308 SST's I've used to shoot deer have ALL performed like your buddy's shot did. Absolutely DEVASTATING damage resulting in DRT.

    Luis
    Wielding the Hammer of Thor first requires you to lift and carry the Hammer of Thor. - Bigslug
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