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by James from Jersey a.k.a. jamesfromjersey Last updated: 2014-01-16 12:14:52
Let me start this article with a little background information on Gold Mine Ranch located in Midland, North Carolina and run by a Mr.Gerald Almond. This operation has been running for almost 40 years and has hosted a number of legendary hunting and firearm writers as Clay Harvey, Ross Seyfried, Bert Carey (writer for Gun World), Finn Aagaard, Rick Jamison and Bob Grveson from Springfield Armory. I was introduced to Gold Mine by member David Ihrie (aka Franchase) with whom I`ve taken a number of different animals and also enjoyed hunting there with fellow members SChunter, Kral, Annie X and Jeff X.
This was the fourth time hunting with David who was using his Competitor single shot with a new barrel in 475/350 Remingtom Mag. He was testing a 400gr XTP on a very large feral boar in the 800lb range. He has posted a number of photos on the bragging board which show the effectiveness of his new large bore hand cannon. I, on the other hand, have never taken an antelope native to India known as a nilgai. I researched as many video nilgai hunts as possible and found this animal to be very hard to put down, even with good shot placement.
There is not much reload information on the fairly new Freedom Arms 500 Wyoming cartridge and I used data supplied by Brian Pearce. I purchased a number of different 50 caliber bullets including Sierra`s 350gr JHP and 400gr JSP, Hornady`s 350gr XTP, Swift`s 325gr A-Frame and Woodleigh`s 400gr Weldcore Flat Nose.
After talking with David, who had already taken a nilgai with a Freedom Arms in 50 AE using a heavy cast bullet, I settled on the 400gr Woodleigh. This is a bonded jacketed flat point bullet originally made for the 500 S&W. Recommended impact velocity is 1500 to 2000fps. The crimp groove on the Woodleigh is much to low to properly fit the Freedom Arms cylinder so I ran a new cannalure into the 400gr jacket which, after seating, gave me a LOA of 1.712" that was enough to properly fit the cylinder. In Pearce`s article he uses 34.0grs of H-110 under a 400gr Sierra JSP for 1446fps which is a little to stout for my taste so I dropped his other load, of 31.0grs of LilGun under the 400gr Sierra for 1123fps, to an even 30.0grs of LilGun under the 400gr Woodleigh for an estimated velocity of a little less then 1100fps. The charge was ignited by a CCI- large rifle bench rest primer. I tacked a C-more target on a North Carolina pine at 25 yards and put the first shot dead center from a rest and iron sights. The 2nd dropped a few inches but, after some concentration, the 3ed hit close to the first and I was satisfied on its hunting accuracy.
The nilgai are a large antelope species, native to India, that stand 4 to 5 feet at the shoulder with the males growing sharp devil-like horns that grow up and curve slightly forward with average horn length in the 6 to 10 inch range. Bulls have a unique beard of hair that hangs from their neck with males weighing up to 675lbs. The bulls also have a unique way of fighting for dominance by dropping to their knees and smashing their foreheads together with their muscular necks that often leads to injury or death. The nilgai can take plenty of punishment, a fact well known throughout the game ranches of Texas. The only bull instantly dropped in the video`s I watched was hit with a 416 caliber bullet from a necked down 50 BMG case. I knew shot placement was to be of extreme importance requiring total concentration.
As a handgun hunter I use every field rest available and for years have carried a small leather sandbag that has given me a stable platform to make my shot. The sandbag accompanied me along with my iron sight, six inch Freedom Arms 500 Wyoming, the 400gr JFP handloads and Mr. Gerald Almond as we put a sneak on an excellent nilgai bull. We kept inside the treeline with the nilgai 25 yards or so away in an open field keeping his eye on us when Gerald motioned for me to try and make the shot. I plopped down against a tree placing the sandbag on my drawn up knees when the bull started to move away from us. I had to repositioned myself when the bull stopped at 40 or so yards giving me a broadside.
Concentrate, this is a tough animal to put down, I kept telling myself and as if by magic the front and rear sights aligned just behind the front leg allowing me to make one of the sweetest trigger pulls I`ve ever experienced. I can`t remember the sound of the 500 going off but I do remember seeing the nilgai jump almost double his height and making a dead run across the field to the opposite treeline.
Watching him through my 10x Leica binoculars I noticed the bull start to hobble after his 100 yard, open field, dash to the safety of the heavy woods. He stopped 20 or so yards into the trees and just stood there. "Give him a few minutes".... How many of us have heard those words from our guides after what looked like a good shot. I was beginning to see the well deserved reputation these antelope have as being tough customers because my first shot was good but this critter would not give up the ghost. Any whitetail or boar hit with that bullet in the same place would have expired long ago but our nilgai pulled his four legs under him and dropped to the ground with his head up just like any deer laying down for a rest while keeping an eye out for danger. Again we put a sneak on him stopping about 20 yards away allowing me to put another 400gr 50 caliber bullet into his shoulder which instantly rolled him on his side. That's it.... its over... Not quite yet.
Amazingly he tried to pull himself up when I hit him again in the shoulder with another 400gr bullet and then another when his head finally hit the ground. However, when I walked up on him his eyes were still blinking so I put a 22mag solid into the head to end the life of a magnificent animal..
Are nilgai antelope a tough animal to put down?? YES... I can only hope that if you should choose to hunt one in the future that you make certain that your first shot is in a vital area. My first shot was in the right spot but it took four more bullets and a 22 to the head to finish him off. As for the Woodleigh bullets, I can say with certainty that they are top quality and worth every penny you pay. They were driven 400fps below recommended velocity yet the average expansion size for the four recovered bullets is
0.806" while the average recovered weight for the four bullets is 397.4 grains. The weight retention is fantastic. However, it must be remembered that these bullets were made for much higher velocities and how they will perform at 500 S&W velocities I cannot say but I can say that they have found a home in my 500 Wyoming regardless what speed I run them at...
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