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Thank you for your excellent reply! I'm too lazy to find a picture of the heart of a buck I killed in '11 who had his heart torn apart by my 295gr .50 cal bullet but also nearly got away. No exit, no blood at all, but he did make it into the frying pan and the back of my truck :D
We had the same problem with .50cal muzzleloaders a few years ago... all the bullets we were trying rarely exited. Where we hunt, if the deer doesn't drop in its tracks (not always guaranteed unless a CNS shot), you may have a heck of a trailing job on your hands... swamp and cockleburr fields... and in some places, swampy woods full of cockleburrs... thick as anything, you have to fight your way through it. It's hard enough trailing them when they bleed good sometimes. No blood trail means a heck of a lot more work (and a lot more time). I won't use a bullet/cartridge that won't give me an exit hole practically every time.

I tried a number of different bullets (so did my uncle and cousin) and we eventually found some that shoot good and gave us two holes. We gave the ones that we didn't like away or threw them in the trash.
 

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Nonsense

you wanted to hit a deer behind the shoulder in order to avoid ruining ANY meat and NOT have to chase down a wounded animal because the bullet had just passed through without doing any significant damage because there wasn't enough energy transfer during impact.

Most people don't "get it" till they have to chase a few wounded animals.
The most meat damage I have seen were from the light n fast types. Bullet wt has nothing to do with where the bullet is placed if you are ANY KIND OF SHOOTER and know your weapon & how to use it. IMO poor placement & poor penetration have lost more deer than anything else. Not giving them a chance to die & chasing/spooking them too soon is right up there.
 

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I have gotten much better results with...

my .54 cal using 230gr round balls over 120gr of FF than with the 430gr maxi-ball conical slugs over the same charge ---- the 430's exited--the 230's did not but flattened to about the size of a quarter
(3/4 inch)
I believe the North American deer have lower blood pressure than comparable African game because they just aren't "as tough or live a softer life style and don't tend to pump as much blood out the exit wounds, making the exit wounds much less important than the damage caused by hydrostatic shock.
maybe one of our African experts could jump in here ? please..
 

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I have cleanly anchored a fair number of deer using my 280Rem. loaded with Nosler 120gr. Ballistic Tip (Hunting) bullets. Originally, I went down to the 120gr. weight, because I wanted a flatter shooting bullet for mule deer and pronghorn in Wy. That bullet has killed white tail as well, here on the east coast. The most distance any of them have gone, after being hit, has been 30 yards. I have built up a lot of confidence in that little bullet.

This year, I joined a new club in south central Ga. Over the years, the club has been run very strictly to make every attempt to only shoot 4 year old bucks, or older, going more by mass of antler. As a result, I agree that these more mature bucks may be tougher to knock down, than are small antlered 2-3 year old bucks. However, I do not believe that these older bucks are bullet proof.

The land owner, along with a number of club members have encouraged me to not use any bullet lighter than 150 grain, because, "You'll find out! These bucks are 'northern variety' and very tough! Hit with your 120 gr. bullet, you may well lose them!"

Okay, I am brand new to this club. I previously killed bucks farther east in Ga. in sandier areas. This area is red clay and perhaps, even adds something to the bucks toughness. I have no knowledge of that. I do know that like some of the big mule deer that I have killed, these Ga. white tails will die cleanly and quickly if I punch hole in the correct spot.

One issue that has come up is shooting distance on deer in this area. I have not seen anywhere on the place, where I will take deer under fire at a distance greater than 300 yards, and that is stretching it. Most stands showed fields of fire inside 200 yards.

My question is: Should I heed the warnings of the local "experts" who have taken deer in the area, and go to a heavier bullet, or even use my 7mmRemMag, instead of my 280Rem? Or should I stick with the 280Rem. with the 120gr. Nosler, and continue to have confidence that if I put the bullet where I want to put it, the deer will not go far, if he goes anywhere at all?

Best,
Steven
Back on track, I have not had good luck with the 120grain ballistic tip from a 7-08 or 7 short mag, they come apart rather dramatically at short range on deer or antelope, enough so that penetration can be a problem if the front shoulder is hit. The 140bt is my favorite bullet for the 7-08 and the 150 for the 7 short mag.
This year I'm testing the Nosler 140 E-tip in both cartridges, shot an antelope on sunday with one but it was rather inconclusive as a test, I prefer a shot behind the shoulders because it ruins less meat but I hit this one square through front shoulders, I have 4 more licenses so there's plenty of opportunity for a textbook shot or two.
 

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" ... because it ruins less meat.."

Exactly why the heavier bullet is preferred as it will not cause unwanted meat damage. A well constructed bullet of sufficient weight at lower impact velocity going through both shoulders will ruin very little meat.

Very rarely will you see animals in that weight class being shot with lighter than 150gr bullets here. Low through the shoulders to take out the heart is the standard placement. I mentioned before that amongst the younger generation of hunters the move is increasingly towards the heaviest bullets in the range for any calibre when good quality cup and core are used. The ten species of elk sized game are hardly ever shot with lighter than 180 gr bullets (or 170/175 in the 7mms) and more and more you will see the younger, thinking generation using 200gr in their .308W and 220gr in the 30-06 with good quality cup and core bullets.

With the Peregrine series one can step down even two weight offerings compared to even our strong PMP ProAmm bullets. The Peregrine is a step up from the Barnes' as they have none of the Barnes'shortcomings and all its good features and benefits.

Bullet construction is as important as its weight. It must be able to maintain an appreciable value of sectional density by not mushrooming too much to prevent it from being slowed down too much. Slowing down is what causes the release of its kinetic energy into itself. The SD values of so many US made bullets are simply there for the show while they are in the box - in practice they have no meaning as the moment it touches the first obstruction that SD is immediately in tatters.

I'll post photos shortly of what entry and exit holes and wound channels should look like after shots with bullets of proper construction (Peregrine) that killed big game in their tracks.
 
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i'd say use what you want. personally i like 139-140gr whatever floats my boat. i've used a 7-08 and the 7x57 and they were all one kills. some ran, some drt. some in the shoulder, some behind the shoulder. it didn't matter, everyone of those deer met their Maker.

my son(7x57, 139gr hornady fn) shot a doe at around 20-25 yards and then she ran. i came over and found the blood trail. it was bright red, so i knew it wouldn't go far. unfortunaly it did go far. after crashing thru the brush for 100 yards i came out to a quad trail. looking at the blood, i knew it could go two ways. one is right back into the brush/jaggers/you name it, two it goes to open woods. thank God it chose to go the second. the doe happened to crawl in a hole and die, it was about 150+/- yards from it was shot. i couldn't see it till i was right on top of her. it was a real good sized doe(around 200-220 lbs, usually they go around 150 lbs) and i seen where he'd hit it. it was a little too far back and it was half way between the chest cavity. while he was gutting it out, the bullet trail stayed inside the chest cavity. i just decided it was one of those things that happen.
I'm afraid I have to say it again, the word ALWAYS unfortunately does not apply to shooting at deer or any other animal for that matter. I must have had a hundred different times I have had to traul a deer , even one or two of our small roe(50lbs) which took off after the shot and didn't know they were dead. I think I did put it on here a few years ago but a good friend shot at a roe buck and thought he had missed. Came back to the car looking very sorry for himself. I took my viszla out to the spot and my dog immediately went into track mode before I could put on the tracking leash so we trotted along behind him. He turned into some thick stuff and a few moments latter I heard him growling and puffing. When I got to him there was a very dead roe buck, perfect shot big exit hole 120yrds from the point of impact. One of many such incidents over the years I have been killing deer and in the early eighties I was killing probably close to 75-80 a year. ALWAYS DOES NOT APPLY.

Pleased you had a good blood trail and that is why I always insist that a big exit hole is essential, but there again with the above example there was no blood trail we could see but my dog could smell.

Interesting on afterthought many of my big runners have been sub 50yrd shots.
 

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Never say Never

As Sus alluded to above, a nice exit wound can be a huge help in finding an animal that runs off. A hunt a few years back and described here: https://www.shootersforum.com/game-pole/75783-tennessee-m-l-hunt.html had me some kind of perplexed. Moist early morning air and the smoke cloud from my M/L made it impossible to know which way the deer had gone after the shot. When shot he was no more than 75 yards from a very large river, was he floating away?

If I was not absolutely certain I'd heard the bullet connect, I'd have chalked it up as a complete miss with no hair or blood to confirm ever found at the spot of impact. I'll admit I was lucky (and grateful) to have found him and I spent another 15 minutes trying to locate any blood between the site of the "hit" and the spot where I found him over an hour later. Never found a drop of blood until I flipped him over and then, only a small spot.

Heart destroyed, but no exit wound. No heart, no blood pumping, no exit no leakage. Give me two nice holes every time.
 

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I've seen little Pacific Blacktail deer shot with 180gr bullets from a 30-'06...that is NOT a good solution! Those bullets were too heavily constructed for the task at hand, penciling in one side and out the other. The deer gave no sign of being hit, went about 75 yards before laying down, and if we'd bumped it (fright and flight), that deer might have been a lot harder to find.

The same size deer, shot with either a larger diameter bullet, at a slower speed (big exit wound) or a smaller bullet at a faster speed (greater expansion/internal damage) would have killed more humanely. For all the advice to shoot a heavier bullet, or a slower bullet, or whatever...the key is matching the ammo in the chamber to the game being hunted.

This is where handloading really allows for a great deal more effectiveness, as you're able to create loads for plinking, smallish deer, or American Bison, all from the same cartridge. Doing that with factory ammo is either impossible...or impossibly expensive. :)
 
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you wanted to hit a deer behind the shoulder in order to avoid ruining ANY meat and NOT have to chase down a wounded animal because the bullet had just passed through without doing any significant damage because there wasn't enough energy transfer during impact.

Most people don't "get it" till they have to chase a few wounded animals.
Oh I'm not as dumb as you might think. The answer is to use the proper heavy bullet just as you would use the proper light bullet in this way you don't have to chase any animals. In fact not chasing animals is exactly why I use heavy bullets, and I always shoot through what would be center line just behind the front leg if the animal is broadside.
 

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120 grain or heavier load for heavier deer?

I would heed the advice you have received from the club members, and use 140s or 150s in your 280. Not because it is necessary, though. Hunting clubs in the South are notorious for their politics. You are a new member, subject to possibly unfair judgments by old-time members. You have to prove your mettle. The 120 grain pill in a 7mm diameter is adequate for whitetails and I have a favorite 120 7mm load I often use without incident. However, 140s and 150s will do anything the 120 grain load will do with more certainty, and without giving up anything meaningful regarding maximum effective range. In fact, heavy for caliber bullets retain energy and velocity better than lighter projectiles because of the higher ballistic coefficient. If you stick with the 120s and you do lose a deer, you will be judged harshly. better to play by their rules and go along to get along, at least for a couple of years, until you have been accepted. Then you can start to contest some of the accepted truths. And BTW, I don't think red clay makes deer hides tougher.
 

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IMHO ... go with what you are comfortable with .... my only concern with your "smaller variety BT" is in the smaller calibres 30 and less -- the jackets are thinner and a bone hit can cause rapid expansion too soon ... larger BTs (.338 & .358) have heavier jackets and won't expand as quickly .. I love BTs in my 340 and one did a marvelous job at 750 metres on an Antelope ..

I use 120 gr/ TSX's in my 6.5's on Moose and Elk and they are more than adequate ... consider a TSX in a Weight you like -- you will not be disappointed LRB
 

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right bullet for .280 for Whitetail?

Hello , If I have read this right your max range will be 300 yards, and you are shooting whitetails. From an anatomy standpoint this species heart and lungs shape and size has not changed in 12,000 years. If you shoot a bullet through the lungs, and it expands even a little, the lungs ability to work stops. If you shoot a bullet through the heart, even if the bullet does not expand that two "stage pump" quits working.= end of story.
I like my .280 and prefer it to any of the 3 7mm Mags I ended up with. If your load killed Mulies and Antelope and you are confident with it, use it. If you want to test 140's , or 150's that's not a bad option. If they are more accurate, Use them! Otherwise, stay with what you've got and good hunting to you!

Gene So
 

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If they suggested 150+ I would find a load of that weight. Not because the 120 won't do it, but their land, it is respectful to go by their suggestion. That way, if something goes wrong, they won'the blame an "underpowered" load.
Oh yes, oh yes, oh yes I would too. Already mentioned in SD's post as well. You may not think you're being tested, but I can promise you this ain't the only test you'll need to pass, but I'll also promise you it sure is the easiest. As the very old saying goes, "pick your battles". This is one that would be ultra silly to fight.
 
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I've opted for heavier bullets (traditional) when hunting with my 7x57 because I've experienced
so much 'bullet failure' with 120 thru 139/140 grs bullets on deer. That said, I don't hunt that much
with traditional bullets but switched to 120 Barnes TSX bullets and never looked back.
Before anyone panics, my 7x57 Mauser cartridge is chambered in a Win M70 action, and that 120gr
Barnes TSX steps out at 3,000 fps MV from a custom barrel. Accuracy is great. Terminal performance
couldn't be better, a couple of steps and collapse.

I've also tried Hornady's 139gr GMX bullet with similar results. Accuracy is also great.
 

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It isn't the weight specifically, but the construction of the bullet. How well they hold together.

Which 120g bullets are you using? What are they intended for? If they were built to anchor varmints, they will expand rapidly and man not penetrate to the vitals but instead cause a large wound in the muscle. That's why several states prohibit .22 cal centerfires for deer. Too many deer were being lost from being shot with 45-55gr bullets which only caused flesh wounds. Now the newer 70-90gr bullets in .224 are built more strongly, and will do much better on deer sized animals. Not the weight, but the construction.

Heavier bullets in the caliber are usually intended for bigger animals and will mushroom after a bit of penetration. As a generalization, the heavier bullets in a caliber are more strongly built, and will penetrate deeper. But what is the bullet intended for and how was it built? A 120 gr bullet in .243 probably has a heavier construction than one in .308

I think the advice to use a heavier bullet for your 280 is based on the idea the the 120gr is most likely intended as a varmint bullet and may not penetrate. That you have had success with it in the past speaks to your shot selection and placement, but in a situation where these were not optimum, you may lose the animal.

I would go with a 140-160 gr bullet. You will lose very little in velocity and/or range and it may save your hunt.

The 175 gr bullets in .284 are the most strongly constructed and would be the choice for moose, bear, etc.
 

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Dont rock the boat.

My only concern for you would be the animosity of the landowner and other hunters in the club if you loose a deer using a 120 grain bullet. Is it worth it to lose your privileges over using a 140 grain bullet instead of a 120? The 280 is my favorite caliber. Right now I own three of them. The newer ballistic tips hold together and put deer down. I have also used the Accubond and the Barnes TTSX. They pass through completely. You wont even notice a difference in the recoil going with the heavier projectile and keeping everyone at camp happy (including you continued privilege to hunt there) is well worth moving up in weight.
 

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I loved the .280 until I shot a huge doe at over 200 yards with the 139 Hornady. There was snow and where I hit her, there were splatters on the snow from fragments. Killed her alright but I don't want another job cleaning another one like it. Bloodshot head to tail. I never liked BT's because a friend used them all the time and made a huger burger then I ever did. I never seen any sense in ruining meat.
 

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The OP said in the opening post it is a 120 grain ballistic tip he has been using. Yes, construction (or more bullet weight) means SO much in adding margin for success as has been mentioned a bunch in this thread.

I too have gone with lighter bullets at a higher speed (2970 fps MV, 270 Win, 140 Hornady BTSP) and even with perfect broadside, there is considerable bloodshot going in and going out on a muley doe relative to a heavier or better constructed bullet (Barnes X) of the same weight. Heck, even a .308 200 gr Speer Hot Cor at an MV of 2800 fps from my 300 Win Mag broadside on a fork horn muley at 100 yds blood shot meat going in and a whole lot more going out when simply hitting a rib. Show me a hunter that can deliberately slip any bullet between a rib going in and pick that same path going out in the field and I will be very impressed.

I didn't pick up on any possible loss of hunting privilege, just sage advice being offered. However the 120 ballistic tip (at 3280 fps MV as per Nosler manual, granted in a 26" bbl, but these numbers are relative) is great when long-range shots are necessity like the open prairie for Pronghorn or western states deer hunting where shots can be long. Knowing shots are 200 yards or thereabouts as stated by the OP, that makes it a no-brainer to go with a heavier bullet. There will be no decrease in on game performance at those distances with muzzle velocity still being 3150 fps with the 140 ballistic tip and over 3000 fps with a 150 gr ballistic tip.

As a great bonus, Nosler also makes a 140 and 150 gr Accubond which instantly turns your 280 into a legitimate elk rifle. Trust me on that one as I have seen many elk taken with similar weight bullets of similar terminal performance capability from the .280 Rem and 270 Win. Simply switch the bullet and you should expect no change in point of impact if you ever feel you might come out west and shoot something bigger! :)

Yes, the writing is on the wall. When you check back in to this thread you will see a heavier bullet is just like buying insurance. You may never think you'll need it but when you do you're glad you have it.

Go Bigger, as there is no reason for you to have any loss in confidence of what will happen on the receiving end.

Where is the OP? He has 4 pages of good reading!
 
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