Shot Placement: "a bullet's home is where the the heart is"
Lightly constructed, too lightweight bullets for their velocity and kinetic energy brought to Africa by visiting hunters gave the .300 Win Mag and 7mm Rem Mag the bad name of "wounders" out here.
The ”behind-the-shoulder” myth.
In the beginning was the forty-four. And the forty-four was with the pioneers. And one could say the forty-four was the pioneer. It was with the pioneers in the beginning. “It won the West” it was said. One can say it did that because it shot a strong, heavy bullet that had lots of momentum going for it - like the pioneer columns it kept in food and alive in fighting.
From the 1873 Winchester a 225gr bullet at 750 ft/sec killed deer by going right through the shoulder into the heart and cut it open. Behind the shoulder into the lungs it did not do much other than make a neat little hole and the heart kept on pumping and the deer ran away and died some time later. But there were many deer and many Forty-fours so nobody needed to learn to follow tracks unless there was a hallway of blood ahead to show the way; but from a high lung shot it is not possible to pump out lots of blood to follow. That stuck and son's were taught to do heart shots.
Then, after the 30-30 and 30-40 and 30-06 which were all good at heart shots through the shoulders came Winchester’s Two-Seventy and Two-sixty-four, the prophet and messenger of the new gun religion which was based on the trinity of Lo-Weight and Hi-Vel and Kay-Ee. And little 130 gr bullets were born that broke up on a deer's shoulder and never actually reached the heart despite the big holes it made sideways and not penetrate - and the deer limped away and died in the brush because the heart kept on pumping for a long time, filling the chest cavity with blood that seeped through cuts in the diaphragm. There were also cuts in the trachea from little slivers of copper and lead and the deer kept on inhaling and drowning in their own blood. But there were many deer, and Jack O’Connor sold many Two-Seventies for Winchester. Sometimes a hallway of blood followed the deer’s tracks over the early snows so deer with big blown out holes in the shoulder were found and folks coined the term “meat spoilage” and that was seen as the norm when shot placement was to get to the heart. Everybody hated heart shots through the shoulders.
Some folks started to try and put the bullet to the rear of the bullet-breaking-bone-and-meat of the shoulder - but the 130 gr Winchester “silver tip“ (only thing that could kill Count Dracula, remember?) oftentimes zipped through, so there was no blood trail reminiscent of a crime scene to follow. Then Nosler made bullets even lighter-to-go-even-faster and the front end jackets by necessity got thinner and was even assisted by a plastic tip for explosive expansion on first contact. Air ballistics became more important than on-buck ability and entry wounds progressed from:
Visiting hunters brought their .300 Win Mags with 150gr “ballistic tips” at 3,200 ft/sec and 7mm Rem Mags with 130gr ”ballistic tips” at 3,400 ft/sec to Africa because gun writers wrote that “Africa game are tough to kill” and the dogma that faster killed better was believed in.
They did not know the PH in Africa was a heretic and demanded old time heart shots. So the “flat shootin’ 300 Winnie” and the “even flatter shootin’ Sevumag” did not kill the wildebeest or oryx or blesbok or whatever - because the Bee-tees could not reach the heart because they broke up into little fragments.
We prefer entrance holes to look like this - and exit holes like this - because they kill quicker
With a proper heart shot through the shoulder using a well constructed bullet you do not need a crime scene blood trail to track it because it will be dead in its tracks where it stood - or not more than a couple dozen yards further on if it had seen you before the shot.
So, not only on Africa game, but on every wild animal you want to kill, please show respect for your beautiful beast and let it still look good in death. Put the best quality bullet into its heart as shown in the following photos. Take note: Africa game have very little, if any lung behind the shoulder - look at the anatomy of the gemsbok, kudu and buffalo. From a high lung shot they live very long as they are not so dependent on oxygen due to the low elevations where they live, namely 500 - 4,000 ft above sea level. And please bring the best constructed, heaviest bullets your magnum calibre can manage because "rainbow trajectory" is also a myth in Africa: heavy bullets fly just as straight as the lightweights do.