Updated: Aug 28
What Keeps That Gemsbok Alive Before It Is Shot?
Oxygen keeps it alive. Nothing else but oxygen. The main concern for a first responder at a patient with severe bodily trauma is: "Is he breathing?" The second determination is: "Is there a heart beat?" Both these are the life-sustaining functions executed by organs to supply oxygen to the brain.
When a lion kills a gemsbok in the Kalahari he knows nothing about hydrostatic shock or kinetic energy. Instinctively he knows to stop oxygen flowing into the lungs and the heart and brain by biting into the larynx and holding his bite, thereby blocking the trachea and thereby blocking oxygen into the lungs. So less and less oxygenated blood goes to the heart. The blood from the left atrium pumped into the left ventricle and from there being pumped via the aorta artery to the brain now has less and less oxygen. Before the gemsbok dies its brain loses its faculty of motor function and he falls down - or in the case of having been brought down by a lion or leopard, it stops fighting. Then, after about ten minutes he dies from a very bad case of advanced obstructive pulmonary disease (AOPD) that had suddenly become acute.
The hunter does not have the luxury of pinning his gemsbok down and obstructing the pulmonary passages so he must make a surgical incision into the oxygen supply line with a long distance scalpel to directly cut off oxygen to the brain by cutting off the blood supply to the brain. He must mechanically cut of the blood supply to the brain like in the case of the open heart surgery done with a 165 gr Federal Fusion bullet from a .308 Winchester from exactly 233 yards away shown in the bottom photo:
The heart's top chambers (left and right atrium) are exactly behind the red dot on the photo on the right. The bullet "scalpel" has to first cut though the skin over the humerus-scapula joint (the shoulder), then has to penetrate the joint, then cut through a rib, then cut open the heart. From there on it penetrates an opposite rib and the opposite skin, and is uselessly wasted into the distance somewhere beyond the oryx.
Long distance open heart surgery with a .308W and a 165gr Federal Fusion scalpel. The hunter / surgeon's right thumb is above the opened right atrium and his left thumb is on the left ventricle. The left atrium together with the aorta artery group was cut away. Blood flow to the brain was cut off in a single instant, motor function was lost within two seconds and the animal's brain died from lack of oxygen within ten seconds.
So: The hunter's gemsbok died from a lack of oxygen because the bullet-scalpel cut the heart open and severed the aorta. It did not die from any kinetic energy which the bullet magically ejected in a cloud of K.E. "vapour", or from a force-field of kinetic energy in front of the bullet that it projected ahead of its approach and which magically did all that scalpel work.
A bullet-scalpel by design is rather blunt - so like with a blunt knife some mechanical force is needed to push it through the resistance of the shoulder bones. Force equals mass times acceleration (or in case of the force that the bullet experiences it is decelleration). The .308W scalpel-bullet experienced this vector quantity as a force of resistance it encountered but was able to overpower it by its own adequate impulse force (the rate of change of its momentum). The bullet-scalpel maintained sufficient momentum to cut open the heart and an opposite rib, cut through the skin and fell to the ground some distance behind the animal due to gravity.
It may be interesting for some readers to note that the only difference a .300 Winchester Magnum or a .338 Winchester Magnum would have made in this surgery process would have been that their bullets may have been discarded into the dust respectively about 19 and 39 yards further than the bullet from the .308 W. There would have been no added value of neatness to the scalpel cut due to the massively larger amount of propellant contained by those high volume cases.
No scalar figure of joules of kinetic energy, no vector number of kilogram.meter per second of momentum can kill an animal. The impulse force that the bullet retains during its deceleration through the animal allows it to mechanically penetrate all the way through - or at least deep enough - to mechanically cut the blood supply to the brain. That's it. The bullet makes a mechanical incision like a surgeon's scalpel does. No more, no less.
I wish I could have published some new, exciting physics information to prove that the impact dynamics from a .300 Winchester Magnum or a .300 Remington Ultra Magnum or a .338 Winchester Magnum would have cut open the gemsbok's heart any neater than the .308 Winchester did. Sorry.