No exit wound.


Dan Tanna
November 6, 2006, 08:20 PM
I took a shot on a partially quartered-on mid size Texas 8 pt. whitetail over the weekend. The bullet I used was a .30-06, 150 gr. Winchester Power-Point. The impact broke the front right shoulder and the deer hobbled about 20 feet before he dropped. When I went over to check him out, I was amazed to see there was no exit wound. I felt around the rib cage and there was what felt like a marble under the hide behind the front left leg. I cut it out with a pocket knife, the bullet was mushroomed perfectly. This was my first deer taken with a .30-06, as most of my other ones were taken with a .243. The .243 always left an exit wound. I've seen a .30-06 blow a hole completely through a good sized hog. I'm just in disbelief that there was no pass through. Could this have been an under-powdered bullet, or is this not that uncommon? Please share your experiences.

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November 6, 2006, 08:53 PM
I had a 8 pt shot with a black powder rifle that didn't have an exit hole tonight. First time for me. With a 30-06 though? sounds funny to me. Anything with a rifle always had an exit hole for me.

November 6, 2006, 09:35 PM
It can happen with a bullet that readily expands and is not a bonded core or otherwise expansion limited bullet. And, 150 grains is a little light in the caliber, but I shoot 'em, too, in .308. You'll get more penetration with a Federal Premium load using the Nosler Partition or you can go to a heavier bullet like a 180.

I've had one instance where my .257 Roberts didn't exit. It wound up as a little pancake under the off side skin. He was quartering toward me left shoulder forward. I put it right on the scapula from 150 yards, it busted through the scapula, ricocheted up into a vertebra which it smashed, and down into an off side rib which it broke. The skin kept it from exiting.

The deer drop like a sack of taters and I was sort of amazed. I mean, he didn't flinch, he didn't twitch, just dropped completely dead. Of course, after butchering and finding the smashed vertebra I understood why the quick kill. I also understood why the lack of full penetration. I was shooting a 100 grain .257" game king at 3150 fps muzzle velocity and it hit and broke bone on its zig zag course all the way through the animal. Had it not smashed that vertebra, it'd have exited, so no problems that I worried about. I would go for my 117 grain Hornady interlock load on heavier game like hogs. I had one of those fail to expand on a nice, big 7 point once, then shot an 8 point that turned away just as I squeezed the shot, hit him in the butt and the bullet penetrated and expanded nicely and exited the throat! :what: It penetrated a ham and broke a pelvis on the way through. But, I don't use that bullet on deer because it will fail if you don't hit heavy muscle and bone. That deer it failed on, it went behind the shoulder between two ribs and exited the off side toward the last ribs. I couldn't find the exit hole because it was exactly .257" diameter. That deer went 75 yards before it dropped and didn't leave a blood trail.

Anyway, you've got to choose a load that expands. You don't want too much penetration. The best, most sure fire way to get the best of both worlds is to go to something like the Barnes or Nosler Partition. I don't know about the Barnes, I handload, but the Partition is available in Federal's Premium brand. I really like the Barnes bullets. They're solid copper, expand at low velocities readily, but only back to the base of the hollow cavity. They have a couple of other advantages, boat tailed with good BCs, and they are longer for their weight which means they act like a bullet with higher sectional densities. My 140 grain Barnes 30 cal I load in my .308 is actually longer than my 150 grain Nosler Ballistic tip bullet, yet I can drive it faster because it's lighter and it's a great penetration bullet. I've used it on one big hog and it went all the way through the animal which had a pretty good gristle plate. I'm not sure if you can get the Barnes bullet in a factory load, another bonus for the handloader.

The old time way to insure you use a bullet that works is to use a 200 or 220 grain round nose in .30 cal. It will expand and it will penetrate, the same reason the .30-30 has been do good all these years, that big, blunt nose. But, you are working with a pathetic BC in such a bullet. However, if you're not shooting over 200-250 yards anyway, it don't matter. But, with the Barnes bullet, you get your cake and can eat it, too.

Anyway, I think you probably just hit a lot of bone. 150 grains is normally a good deer sized bullet in 30 cal and what I use normally on deer. If I were still hunting instead of stand hunting, I might want a heavier bullet or to use my Barnes load shooting at game running away, but I'm usually on a stand with the gun. Still hunting isn't too productive around here, too much thick vegetation and the deer hole up in it during the day. You have to ambush 'em moving in the mornings or with a feeder. Stand hunting, I can wait for my shot.

CSA 357
November 7, 2006, 06:40 PM
i shot a 8 pt a few years ago about 175 yards with a 7mm mag it went in his left front shoulder, came out his left front shoulder, about 4 inches from where it went in,i guess it hit the shoulder bone and turned the bullet, i have shot sevarald with my 4570 that didnt come out, 300 gr hp but man do they make a mess! csa

November 7, 2006, 11:07 PM
165 grainers zip right through in my limited experience - maybe i oughta go down to the 150 if it's going to expand better... nah, i like being on the overkill side :D

November 7, 2006, 11:13 PM
Those 150's are very fast, and they are meant to dump all their energy in the animal as quickly as possible. You don't need to go heavier when it comes to deer. 150's seem to work fine on deer

Art Eatman
November 8, 2006, 09:04 AM
Hitting bone will definitely slow a bullet down. Penetration at an angle means a longer travel distance through meat than a cross-body shot. Then the sowed-down bullet hits stretchy hide with a very blunt front end.

My father killed a heckuva lot more deer with an '06 than I have. He used 150-grain bullets exclusively; mostly Hornady Spire Points. My 20+ '06-shot deer mostly fell to 150-grain bullets, including Bronze Points, BT and FB Sierras and Hornady. Almost all were one-shot kills, but for the occasional coup de grace.

Funny stuff can happen. The last mule deer I shot in his swelled-up neck, the bullet didn't exit. According to the folks at Sierra, I was driving the 150-SPBT a bit too fast for the close-range shot; it blew up. Figures. 30 yards, somewhere above 3,000 ft/sec muzzle velocity. I've killed a dozen deer with that load, with exit wounds, but out around 100 to 200 yards or so. The Sierra folks said the bullet is really designed for MVs around 2,800 or so. Better for me to have used the flat-base.


November 8, 2006, 09:16 AM
sowed-down bullet hits stretchy hide

I have read about eye wittness reports of the hide streching out as much a 3 feet and popping back without the bullet exiting.:what: Tough to get through the far side when all the energy is gone.:cool:

November 8, 2006, 11:34 PM
What you described is, to me, perfect bullet performance. All the bullets energy is dumped inside the deer instead of on the hillside behide the deer. The shoulder hit was probably whay you didn't get an exit wound. I have shot a few deer with the 150pp and generally got a pass through. The only time I didn 't was a shot straight on at about 15 yards. That one broke his neck, shredded his right lung and was found rested against his pelvis.

Dan Tanna
November 9, 2006, 07:49 PM
Thanks for the info, guys. I guess it's not that unusual for a bullet to not exit. I'm going out again this weekend, so we'll see how it goes.

November 9, 2006, 08:24 PM
I've read in a couple deer hunting books that sometimes when a bullet strikes bone it will "follow the bone" - sometimes nearly the entire length of the animal in the case of a spine hit, and then not exit. If I remember correctly this is noted more with elk sized game than with deer.
Can't say this ever happened to me but a friend shot a small buck on timber company land near Lufkin, Texas - used a Contender in .30 Herret and claimed he shot quartering front and found the remnant of the bullet alongside the bone of the off rear leg. Knowing him, I believe him. But that would be something I never would have expected. :what:

November 9, 2006, 10:12 PM
You can also get secondary projectiles .I butchered a friends deer , shot in the shoulder with a 130 gr 270. A 1/8 " piece of bone from the shoulder was driven half way through the thickest part of the ham !!!

November 10, 2006, 12:20 AM
" under-powdered bullet..." Nope. It's a bullet doing exactly what it should do. Expending all of its energy in the beast. Mind you, breaking the shoulder slowed the bullet down a whole bunch.

Dan Tanna
November 12, 2006, 06:58 PM
Just a quick update here. I took a shot Saturday morning at a doe. The shot was a perfect broadside at around 85-90 yds. She fell like a sack of rocks. When I went down to have a look, I was in awe. I was using the same bullets as last weekend, but I didn't go for a shoulder shot this time. The exit wound was the size of a large lemon. There were red and pink splotches on the rocks on the ground for about 8 feet behind her. Talk about devestating.

Vern Humphrey
November 12, 2006, 07:56 PM
I'm not much on "energy dump." My theory has always been, it's the hole that kills. Within reason, the bigger and deeper the hole the better. (I say "within reason" because if I don't someone will claim I'm advocating the 8" howitzer for squirrels.):p

Consider a quartering away shot at the elk of a lifetime. The school solution is to shoot into the flank, with the bullet angling through the body to break the off-side shoulder. If you have a bullet and cartridge that will penetrate four or five feet of elk, you have a dead elk. But if you can only penetrate one or two feet, you have a gut-shot elk and you may never recover it.

November 13, 2006, 12:00 AM
The broadside shot if it contacts shoulder bone or ribs will usually lodge under the skin on the off side. This is not a casual observation but taken from years of deer and elk shot by a family of hunters shooting a variety of calibers and bullet designs. On the quarteing shot previously described pentration is greater because there is less or no bone to penetrate. The result is usually the same with the bullet lodged in the brisket or disabling the off sided shoulder and sometimes still reaching the skin. The typical shoot through occurs if hit is behind the shoulder bones on both sides and hits little rib bone resistance or the dreaded gut shot. We recover bullets from 25-06 280, 7mag, 300 win & wtby and 338-378 as that is what we typicaly shoot. Bullets range from Balistic Tips, Sierra GameGetters, Hornaday Inter Locks and some Partitions.While this is not a totaly inclusive list of hunting roundswe use it is the bread and butter list. Although varied the greater percentage of animals shot have the bullets recovered. My $.02

Vern Humphrey
November 13, 2006, 12:27 PM
That's why I like Bigfoot Wallace, my custom '03 Springfield in .35 Brown-Whelen. It drives a Nosler Partition Jacket an honest 2800 fps, and I broke both shoulders on an elk, plus taking out heart and lungs -- and the bullet kept on going.

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