What a pathetic year. WVs deer population has really deteriorated the past decade. We've gone from near 100,buck kills to 41,000 this year. Why? The DNR wanted dead deer to lessen complaints of farmers (crop damage) and insurance companies (WV is #1 in US in auto kills). I've done 40 in past 42 years. I saw 0 bucks in 13 days of season and got 3 does in 14 days of season.
I really didn't learn much this year, but reinforced beliefs on guns/loads. The 23 deer I took this year were exclusively taken with my single shots. None were taken with revolvers. Single shots- 23 (lifetime 2083); revolvers/autos -lifetime 286. Total 2379 handgunned deer.
My #1 deer gun is the 6.5/.284 cal.(14 this year). I have an XP that's taken around 375 (shot the barrel out at 2200 rounds) and a Encore that's done 20. There's not many bullets I haven't tried for these guns. The Encore has a 8" twist and only shoots 140, 130 gr. bullets. The XP won't do the 140s.
I was a little down on the 143 ELD-X last year because a 581 yd. kill showed about a 4" exit and 7" of internal damage. The front part of the bullet is very soft. It hit ribs and they increased the damage. I took 7 deer with it this year. All bullets that missed or barely hit ribs , including the longest shot of the summer at 401 yds., caused 3-4" of internal damage and 2" exits. A rib shot at 222 yds. Massive internal damage and a 8" exit with all the stomach and half the small intestines laying on the ground. Wicked little bullet. Hope to try it on bear next year.
The XP took 6 deer with the 130 AB, the longest at 389 yds. All showed around 3" of internal damage and2" exits. None ran more than 40 yds. Hit both shoulders or under the spine and they drop.
The one deer I took with the 6.5 129 LRAB reinforced my thoughts on it. Super accurate, perfectly useful on broadside shots. Angled shots are garbage. A doe at 279 yds. was sharply angling away. Only one lung was hit. She ran 80 yds. A jagged exit hole showed poor bullet integrity. I use this bullet mostly on groundhogs.
No other gun took more than 2 deer this year. Of interst, is the .308 HS shooting Lehigh Defence 115 gr. fracturing HP bullets. The nose is scored causing 4 pedals to break off and the base keeps trucking, giving 5 paths of damage. I played around with powders and found a load so the 115s shoot exactly the same as 150s out to 400 yds (my longest kill with it). A double shoulder hit showed 3" of internal damage. A severely quartering away hit in front of one hip, exiting in the opposite ribs showed a jellied insides (big mess). Oddly, the 140 gr. Lehigh did not do as well as the 115s in damage and performance. As far as I'm concerned, with Lehighs, lighter is better. Dave Frickie makes good bullets.
Another pleasant surprise is the Nosler 85 gr. PT in my 6mmAI Encore. I never was big on PTS, because I thought the flatter nose would mess with the trajectory. I used the same Plex on my 3-12 Burris BPlex with the 85 gr. as with the 70 gr. bullet on a 352 yd. doe. She dropped from a double lung hit with 1 1/2" of damage and 1/2" exit. Same results on a 90 yd. shot. I hope to use this on a smallish animal this year. Didn't want a lot of damage.
Other interesting finds. Lehigh makes a 250 gr. .375 bullet with a massive HP and scored nose. I literally cut a groundhog in two with it last year. A 110 yd. doe was violently thrown to the ground from my .376 Steyr Encore. Both tenderloins were torn in two from a too high hit. There was 5" of internal damage and a 3" exit. Love to see what this would do to elk and big African plains game. Accurate? I put this, one 260 AB, and one 250 Hornady GMX in .4" at 100. I do love .375 guns.
Many guns of past use did not get the call this year. Who can doubt the effectiveness of the 6.5 JDJ, .309 JDJ, all the .338 JDJ Contenders and Encores. Too much for deer? Sure, but perfect practice for up coming hunts.
Hopefully, 2018 will be a little friendlier and I can share more adventures. Thanks for "listening".