Huntin’ Ammo

No doubt about it, times are tough. Business is down in many areas, unemployment is way above where it should be and those of us who are employed have been cut back to the point that we have to squeeze a nickel so hard the buffalo squeals. We look for bargains and that’s a good thing, but when it comes to our hunting ammo it’s possible to squeeze that nickel a bit too much.

Say you are getting ready for a deer hunt, and you discover that you are a little short on your favorite ammo. You make a run to the sporting goods store only to find that your favorite brand with a 150-grain DeerStomper bullet is out of stock. Aww heck, here’s another brand of 150-grainers, and it’s a couple of bucks cheaper. Cool! You buy one box—because you are tight for cash—and go hunting. A buck steps out at 75 yards, and you prepare to lay him low. At the shot his head turns toward you, but he remains still. You crank another at it...then another…and another. Finally, after five or six shots the buck bounds away. Maybe he’s healthy; maybe he’s packing a leg, or maybe he’s gut shot. You’re astonished that your Ol’ Reliable deer slayer has let you down. But did it?

The plain fact is: Ammunition, even with the same bullet weight at the same alleged velocity, will print differently from manufacturer to manufacturer. Bullets of an identical weight and caliber vary in bearing surface and hardness, powders differ slightly in their burn rates and even primers have variances in their brisance that alter pressure within the case. All of these factors contribute to barrel vibration, and if the barrel vibrates differently from one brand of ammo to another, the bullets will likely not print in the same place. This is why it is imperative that you always sight in using the exact same ammunition with which you will hunt!

This is so basic to me that I forget that those who are casual hunters don’t know it. Last night I got a reminder. After the buck season is over I open up my place to a few folks who just want a meat doe. Youngsters get a preference. Anyway, this acquaintance brought his son over to shoot a doe. I let them use my blind and sent them on their way. After dark came a knock on the door, and they told me that the young man shot 16 times at deer approximately 100 yards away. It got to be too dark to determine whether he hit one so I had to suit up this morning and take the dogs down for a look-see. We found no dead deer or blood, so hopefully there isn’t a wounded animal running around.

I explained to the father and son why it is necessary to sight in with the exact same load you plan to hunt with, but I am afraid they didn’t believe me. When they come back I’ll ask them if they have done so, and if not, I’ll invite them to hunt elsewhere.

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3 Responses to Huntin’ Ammo

Rich carpenter wrote:
November 22, 2011

That lot number on the box is a good way to know your good to go. Buy two boxes.... zero in with one the other for the hunt!

Jon Edwards wrote:
November 22, 2011

I hunt with a .223 in my state, typical shot is no more than 100 yds. I changed ammo and handloaded for this year, the difference in bullet placement in sight in was a full six inches!

bob johnson wrote:
November 19, 2011

Great site! A friend recommend this to me and I'm glad he did, keep up the good work.