Guns > Muzzleloaders

When Shots Go Wrong

These blunders happened to us. Here’s what we learned and what you can do to avoid them. 

We go to the range all year to get comfortable with our gear and confident with our skill to put a bullet or a broadhead into the vitals of our prey. But sometimes things still go wrong: Wind drift fools us, tricky angles send a bullet or arrow astray, mental lapses occur ... . Even the savvy and practiced hunter can make a bad shot because, well, stuff happens. But because good hunters also pick apart their mistakes so they hopefully avoid them in the future, we've spent time analyzing our bad shots. Read on as we commiserate about some of our errant shots and explain what we learned from our mistakes. Maybe our lessons will save you from learning the hard way.

Frank Miniter, Executive Field Editor

What Went Wrong: We landed in Namibia and checked the scopes on our muzzleloaders, a Knight Long Range Hunter and a Knight Vision. They were sighted in dead-on at 100 yards. We knew that with 150 grains of Triple Seven the 325-grain Hornady LEVERevolution bullets we were shooting would drop about 12 inches at 200 yards where they would still pack 1,150 ft.-lbs. of energy-roughly the ballistics of a .45-70. The Long Range Hunter grouped at 1.5 inches at 100 yards and 3.5 at 200 yards. We decided 200 yards would be our cut-off point.

The next morning we spotted a group of kudu. We stalked to 400 yards, then started crawling. Janneman Brand, our outfitter, used his wooden shooting sticks to part vegetation as we stalked. When at 210 yards from the kudu, a bull caught us. Janneman put the shooting sticks up and I came up behind him in a maneuver we'd practiced. "Shoot if you can," he urged, "the bull won't stay long."

The crosshair was steady, the drop just 12 inches, the wind negligible.


Smoke washed over the Kalahari and the kudu went down, but then was up and running. I was baffled, though not upset. The shot felt good. Then Theo Kwe-Kwe, our tracker, was at the spot where the kudu had fallen. He was frowning. Theo showed me the track and Janneman translated-he thought I'd broken its left shoulder, that the bullet had hit too far forward. I felt the wind in the bottom. We'd shot from the protected shade but I noticed that in the sun it was gusting to 10 mph. At 200 yards that would blow the 325-grain bullet about 10 inches. I hadn't compensated enough.

I reloaded, feeling sick. Theo pointed with an up-and-down motion, indicating the kudu's line of travel, and we were off. I could see hoof prints in the sand and then Theo found specks of blood that continued in a trickle. We followed through a maze of brush and grass and walked up on wildebeest and springbok and herds of hartebeest under the hot, midday sun and it would have been glorious if I didn't feel so stupid. Hours later we slipped up on the bull. We could just make out its backline in the thorns and I sent a bullet smashing in and the bull bolted out dead on its feet.....

Get the full scoop—Scott Olmsted's three-shot buck woes, Kyle Wintersteen's shooting-angle struggles, and more—as well as the full story by clicking the PDF link below.



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