New member Erich sent me an email which I am copying here. It is about hydrostatic shock but the original author refers to certain parts of an animal's anatomy, and because this chat forum is exactly about bullet behaviour on an animal I decided to have the discussion here. Member fnhunter13 who hunted blesbok, black wildebeest, kudu and blue wildebeest with me during July 2017 may wish to add his observations.
Erich wrote: I've been reading through your myths and had a question regarding hydrostatic shock. The gentleman at basllisticstudies.com has an article called "Effective Game Killing". I'll try to paste the link here: https://www.ballisticstudies.com/Knowledgebase/Effective+Game+Killing.html He states that the "shock" is transmitted to the CNS via the ribs and spine. The actual effectiveness of this transfer is proportional to the proximity of a rib or other structure capable of transmitting the shockwave. I'm not enough of a biologist to concur or not but he claims that this shock causes the brain to temporarily shut down and the animal goes into a coma. Assuming a proper cartridge and shot placement, the animal dies from the mechanical wounds (heart, lung, etc...)prior to regaining consciousness. He states that this coma is what produces an immediate stop on game. The example is a deer with the classic double lung shot. He may run 100 yards or he may drop right there. This author says the ones who drop right there are due to this shock effect on the brain. He has some qualifiers with caliber, velocity and such. I'd be curious to get your take on this. Please bear in mind I've only presented a basic summary.
I read your blog entry on the giraffe culling operation and people using bows. I can't quite understand the desire to use bows on large game like that. I understand the challenge but is it ethical to the animal? I'm curious what the original inhabitants did prior to firearms. Everyone in the southeastern US is taught to shoot a deer just behind or in the front shoulder about 1/3 up from the bottom. This gives the double lung shot. Ideally the round will exit the animal after passing broadside through both lungs. If you take out the heart, that's a bonus. I'm curious to get your opinion on this. In the giraffe article, you seemed to feel that a heart shot is really the most ethical shot (assuming the CNS is not an option) in that it kills more quickly than any other shot. What's your opinion on the double lung shot?
Does it vary depending on the size or type of game? I look forward to hearing back. I've got a question too on African hunting preparation but it will have to wait till I get back from the range today. I might post that on the forum at your website.
o Erich's questions are always interesting as clearly he is an objective reviewer of presented information - a man driven by logic. Let me go to the giraffe question first: The culling does not take place by cross bow or compound bows but typically we use .375 H&H or 9.3x62. Giraffe has unique challenges which I shall come to shortly. The landowner needed to remove 8 bulls for the reasons explained in the blog here:
PH friend André and I quoted to do the job and we arrived at the property in the pristine savannah of the Limpopo province by noon on a Friday, hoping to maybe get one of the bulls down by that evening. One hour before sunset we had only located some cows and young bulls and decided to stop hunting.
Giraffe have very good meat and the butchery owner who was going to buy the meat arrived and asked if his 17 years old son could shoot one of the 8 bulls under our guidance the following morning. Then André received a phone call from another outfitter who said he heard about our culling operation and that he had five US clients who wanted to shoot giraffe and would André and I accept to guide them to hunt a bull each. So the cull became a hunt. We arranged for the Americans to come by noon the following morning and at first light we set out with the butcher and his son.
We found a big bull by about 10 a.m. and the 17 year old kid who had never fired a .375 H&H before used André's beautiful lightweight SAKO Forrester and put the 340 gr Rhino solid shank bullet within 1/2 an inch from where André had directed him. We were still skinning when the six (not five) Americans arrived - a young couple and an older friend from the US Embassy in Pretoria and three hunters from The New York area - the latter three armed with triplets of brand new .300 Weatherbys and 150 gr Nosler Ballistic Tip bullets. 3,300 ft/sec I was told.
At 50 yards the kinetic energy in that fragile bullet will destroy the bullet the very moment it slows down and KE is released as heat into its already 400 degrees F. It will not even penetrate the 1"+ skin of a giraffe but break up before meeting meat and the densest bone on the planet, then the waiting 3/4" thick rib - cut the heart, break through another rib, break the opposite humerus and stop against the skin. The recoil on the rifles was heavy and none of the three (let's say rifles!) could group into even 6" at 50 yards off a rest, shot by their owners.
I explained my issue with the bullets and André offered his .375 to the three hunters for the cost of a packet of ammunition. We wanted a sure shot into 4" at 50 yards from shooting sticks. The general feeling was that I insulted them by not accepting the Weatherbys and they left in disgust. There are really very valid historical reasons why I decline to let certain brands and style of bullets be used on hunts - whether it is a local novice hunter or a visitor.
The Embassy marines then told us they wanted to hunt their giraffe with a crossbow and a 65 lb compound bow. André is an accomplished bow hunter and said 65 lbs is too weak and asked about the arrow weight which was 550gr without the three bladed heads. He declined and said minimum 900 gr arrows and a two-bladed broadhead of only one design. The blog relates the deal he struck with the bow hunter and the outcome.
We looked at the little bolts from the crossbow the girl wanted to use and had huge reservations. André set her up with a 4" target at 55 yards and asked her to hit it with the first shot. She was calm and confident, smiled, and from prone she hit it centre centre. Grudgingly we accepted and she did a perfect shot as directed on her giraffe into the hollow of the throat the following morning. It went 200 yards before dying. So - I still shall not allow any type of bow hunting on giraffe and Cape buffalo.
Then: my response to Erich's other question: Lung shots simply do not kill Africa animals. Period.
On hydrostatic shock and the opinions in the link - I shall work through that and dedicate a new thread to it. I have never observed the phenomena as proposed in the link and as summarised by Erich; I can only relate 55 years of big game hunting:
A bullet behind the shoulder as described does nothing but cause possibly a week suffering and slow death for kudu, wildebeest, gemsbok and every other of the 12 elk size species in South Africa. Behind the shoulder there is nothing of importance - there is no lung or large blood vessels. The diaphragm may be perforated assisting in a quicker (by one day) but exceedingly suffering death. If it is a Cape buffalo he will kill maybe the hunter during follow-up, and everybody else he encounters in the week he lives.
A bullet hole through two ribs - if it misses the heart - does not even cause the animal to miss one step in its flight, let alone fall down from neurological shock.
The object of an ethical kill is not to cause the animal to become dizzy and then die from blood loss while thankfully being .under an anesthetic. The object is to knock it down and kill it hopefully in its tracks - and do so with the least amount of physical trauma to the meat and related blood vessels.
For the animal to fall down the central nervous system must be permanently stopped from functioning and not simply a neurological slowdown while it dies from internal blood loss - thus a brain shot, or the rapid and complete physical removal of blood (oxygen) from the brain is required. The atrium (top chambers) of the heart must be flared open to prevent blood to the brain so we aim for the top of the heart - and not just for the heart. Even the little springbok may run for 300 yards with the bottom of the heart shot away.
Member frhunter13 knows how a blue wildebeest and even blesbok will just soak up bullets unless the heart is stopped.