As the doe walked, this "thing" was swinging beneath her head. After her taking a couple of steps, I then realized she had been shot in the head, or more specifically, the lower portion of her head. It took me fraction of a second to realize what I had to do....forfeit my chances for shooting a buck with this tag and use it on this doe. The tag was good for either sex.
At 135 yds, she had turned broadside to me and I held for a double lung shot and gently squeezed the trigger. The 6.5 Grendel's mild recoil allowed me to watch her in the optic while she took off running towards the woods. A typical deer has about 50 yards of oxygenated blood in her leg muscles and her path would take her over about 75 yds of open field before she got to the edge of the woods. After 50 yds, one would expect to see the deer start to stumbled and drop before quickly expiring. I've shredded enough deer lungs over the years to pretty much call that every time. I called good shot but was still very worried about her getting away and into the woods. If something unknown to me had gone wrong with my 1st shot placement, I just couldn't afford for her to get away. I triggered a 2nd shot, with her then running at about 160 yds away. Approximately 50 yards from where she stood when my first shot hit her, she piled up on my hay field, about 10 yds short of the woods....thankfully. I sat down for a couple of minutes before packing up my gear and heading over to where she lay.
What I found was about a 5+ pound ice block, appearing to be mostly saliva and blood from what I could tell. It also included her detached tongue and lower jaw bone. The massive block was connected to her by just her skin and a couple of small tendons. So yeah, she is wandering through the woods with this swinging under what used to be her lower jaw. It was sickening to say the least.
Upon field dressing her, I noticed two things, no feces in the lower intestine and no urine in the bladder. I'm guessing she had been wandering around for at least a day and perhaps two or more. To say she was dehydrated would be an understatement. It was impossible for her to drink or even lick some show. The frozen mass was probably the result of her lying down for an extended period of time when the weather was still well below freezing.
My first shot had indeed found its mark, passing through both of her lungs. The second shot was also true, a running shot at 160 yds which struck the 2nd rib behind her diaphragm. Even if the first shot had completely missed, the 2nd 120 gr Nosler Ballistic Tip had begun to cause ample bleeding in the abdominal cavity. I would venture to say she never would have made it more than 100 yds.
It is most likely that someone hunting in the local area was stupid enough to think that a head shot was necessary so as to not "spoil" any meat. You hear those idiots bragging at work about how they shot their deer in the head and it dropped right on the spot. What you never hear is them talking about how they screwed the pooch and caused this to happen. When you are shooting a white-tail with a .30-06 pushing a 165 grain bullet, one can certainly ruin a lot of meat and I get that. But the average weekend deer hunter simply doesn't possess the skill set necessary to pull it off....and the evidence is right here to back that up.
If the head shot wasn't intentional (not likely in my opinion), I also hate to think that someone is in the woods with such poor shooting skills. Blowing the lower jaw off while trying for the vitals (lungs & heart) is inexcusable. I realize anyone can be an inch or three off target when the trigger is pulled, but a foot or two? Again, there is no excuse for such a thing.
The takeaway from this story, aside from the obvious, is that AR rifles do make excellent hunting firearms. While it was not needed, I never would have made that 2nd shot had I been using a bolt action rifle. She would have made it to the woods and disappeared before I could have cycled the action for that 2nd shot. And for those that think hunters carrying an AR platform into the woods carry around 30 round mags, well, not this one. Note in the above photo....that little 10 round capacity magazine protruding from the receiver. It only had 5 rounds in it when I climbed into the stand earlier that afternoon and loaded a round into the chamber.
Moving on to something less disturbing.
Donna and I finished our season with this fork horn buck. It was a good shot taken at just 80 yds. One shot from my 6.5 Grendel AR-15 style rifle. The buck made it the short distance to the other side of the field before dropping 10' into the tree line. Once again, the 120 gr Nosler Ballistic Tip did its job. My nephew was hunting about a quarter mile away and came over to assist after hearing the shot. It wasn't very long before the buck was field dressed, fixed with a tag, and loaded into the back of the Polaris for the trip back to the homestead.
Donna spent several days processing the meat and it is all now in the freezer. Looking forward to the many good meals we will have eating the fruits of our labor.
My nephew and I have invested quite a bit of time and money since I've retired here on the homestead. We now have 3 food plots and the necessary equipment to maintain them. We'll continue to add more as time goes on so that the local herd can improve and produce quality deer.
4x4 Off-Road Homestead Firearms RC Flying