If you had to Deer hunt through Brush and branches

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Thread: If you had to Deer hunt through Brush and branches

  1. #1
    Senior Member Array Jmac00's Avatar
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    If you had to Deer hunt through Brush and branches

    What cartridge and projectile combination would you use?
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  3. #2
    VIP Member Array Cuda66's Avatar
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    I'm assuming handgun.

    I'd be using my 6" Colt Anaconda .44 mag, loaded with 250gr Nosler Partitions.

    For defensive use against really aggressive deer.
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    Distinguished Member Array sniper58's Avatar
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    There's no such thing - kinda. I searched Google for "myth brush buster bullets" and found a bunch of articles (805,000 to be exact) that pretty much debunked the "brush busting" claim. One in particular stood out:


    Everyone knows (don't they) that heavy, round-nosed bullets plow through brush better than the skinny, pointed types. Alas, the facts do not bear witness to this gray-bearded shooting axiom.

    The fellow showed up on the Cumberland Plateau in hopes of getting a shot at one of the long-toothed porkers that call that rugged area home. His rifle was a spanking new .444 Marlin, and he figured that the 240-grain bullet with a fat chunk of blue-gray lead showing would be just the ticket. With its modest velocity of about 2,300 feet per second, his shooting logic dictated that it would shoulder through the laurel and rhododendron with no trouble.

    After a clean miss and another shot that struck well away from his point of aim, our hero figured that his sights were off. A check back at the hunting lodge showed no such problem. Instead, his brush buster just could not do what had been expected.

    Please do not get me wrong here. I like the .444 Marlin and cartridge of similar design, but at the same time have no illusions. The .30-30, .35 Remington, .45-70 and others may not be speed demons, but will certainly write a solid ending for various sorts of big game. It is a mistake, however, to think that they can perform the impossible.

    The purveyor of these words has no sacred cows in the shooting business. After all, who else would go to the trouble to prove that round-nosed bullets can be doggoned nearly as accurate as spitzers under hunting conditions?

    Let us take a look at the actual configuration of the lauded brush busters and see if physics and common sense cannot combine to point out a few problems. First of all, most of the flat-point and round-nosed bullets are fairly short compared to their length. That means in the language of the trade, that it will have a rather low ballistic coefficient while a longer, more trimly shaped bullet will have a higher ballistic coefficient. The bullet which is longer for its weight will overcome the resistance of air better, hence will have better ranging abilities. Now, we are not worried about long distance work, but rather crashing through limbs, brush and other obstacles between us and the target. Does the BC have any bearing here. Yep, sorry to say that it does.

    First of all, a short, fat bullet has a short axis on which to spin, thus maintaining its gyroscopic effect. Tip that chubby chunk of lead by hitting an obstruction and it can go all giddy on you. As strange as it may sound, a longer, slimmer bullet is actually harder to tip off its axis and be rendered a flyer or ricochet. If you do not believe me, check with the folks at NASA who design rockets.

    For instance, the BC of the bullets being used in the .444 mentioned earlier ran .165 while that of a 150-grain round nosed bullet in .30 caliber checks in at .266 in the Speer configuration. More racy designs intended for distance work can reach around .425, and you can take it from me that they work just fine in the woods. Now we come to the real truth: nothing can be counted on to "shoot through" obstructions.

    It may come as a surprise to some to learn that this concept is not something new and radical springing from the Space Age. In my library is an excellent book by Lawrence Koller called "Shots At Whitetails" in which he documents these same results. His choice for woods work on deer was the .250-3000 Savage despite the fact that the copyright date on the work is 1948. You can bet that Mr. Koller was hunting when there were a substantial number of .38-55, .44-40 and other big bore rifles were in use.

    The exposed lead necessary on bullets lacking high velocity becomes another hindrance here. Think about it: that soft lead that is carefully formed to make the bullet as accurate as possible is not going to like smacking into things, not even in a small way. Hit a limb, even a small one, with that soft metal portion of the pill you are trying to deliver and it is going to deform, tear or both. What we could call its ballistic integrity, the accuracy potential of the original shape, has been damaged or destroyed.

    I can recall as a youngster when the only baseball available for our games started to shed its leather cover. Not only was it hard to throw straight, but the wind resistance and lack of a concentric shape made getting any distance out of a hit or throw almost impossible. You sure could throw some tricky pitches, however. We could go on to compare a basketball and football, how one does a good job on straight line throws and the other does not. I think you get the picture.

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    VIP Member Array farronwolf's Avatar
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    I hunt in a really brushy area. I choose to use a Marlin 336 in 35 Rem. and or a Ruger Redhawk 44 mag.

    The idea of shooting through brush is a bad one. If you don't have a clear view of your game and a clear view of the vital area don't shoot. You need to let the animal get into a possition to allow you a clean shot so it is a quick kill.

    Now the idea of a brush gun is not a bad idea, but not for what the bullet will do IMO. My idea of a brush gun is one that I can tote through the brush without having to worry about the gun. This is exactly why I don't carry my 30.06 with a scope mounted on it. Too much crap to get hung on vines or branches or whatever, too long, and too much chance that something will get knocked out of whack so that if I get a shot it won't be a good one.

    With my lever gun (no scope) or my pistol, I can go through the brush and not worry too much about whether or not the guns sights have been messed up and cause me to get off a bad shot.

    So, yes I do believe in brush guns, but not because of what the bullet is going to do.
    Just remember that shot placement is much more important with what you carry than how big a bang you get with each trigger pull.
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    Senior Member Array Devone6's Avatar
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    Just a point (not to start a debate please ), but there really is no such thing as a "good" brush rifle when referring to shooting through brush such as cedars and thickets, but some are better than others I guess. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction, so a slower, heavier bullet may not deflect as much, maybe. But regardless of the caliber, nothing is immune from the laws of physics, therefore all bullets can be deflected by brush, because when a bullet hits a tree, bush or brush, anything can happen and it usually won't be a "good" thing for the bullets velocity, trajectory, stability, or structure.

    While "brush guns" do not enable us to randomly shoot through brush persay, they are so named because they are shorter barreled, easy to handle in brush, usually open sighted to be fast for a first shot, and just as quick to chamber a second shot. That generally means a levergun.

    Any of the Lever guns from 30-30Win, 308Marlin, 45-70, 444Marlin, 450Marlin are all good hunting rifles, are are accurate, dependable, effective, brush (as in easy to handle in the thicket ) or field, guns.
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    VIP Member Array rottkeeper's Avatar
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    When hunting the northern zone where there is heavy cover I use my 12 gauge shotgun. More so for a quicker target acquisition than brush busting abilities. I have also used my Marlin 336c 30-30 when the leaves are off the trees.
    I have found a good shotgun to be the best bet in brushy areas or anywhere you don't have to reach out to touch something.
    In the southern zone where I live though it's my 30-06 because there are some loooooong shots.
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    VIP Member Array hogdaddy's Avatar
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    The 30-30 is the best all around brush gun for FL. JMO

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    Ex Member Array Ram Rod's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jmac00 View Post
    What cartridge and projectile combination would you use?
    30-06, but I don't have one.

  10. #9
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    I'd still be using my Marlin 336SS in 30-30...
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    VIP Member Array Majorlk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by farronwolf View Post
    I hunt in a really brushy area. I choose to use a Marlin 336 in 35 Rem. and or a Ruger Redhawk 44 mag.

    The idea of shooting through brush is a bad one. If you don't have a clear view of your game and a clear view of the vital area don't shoot. You need to let the animal get into a possition to allow you a clean shot so it is a quick kill.

    Now the idea of a brush gun is not a bad idea, but not for what the bullet will do IMO. My idea of a brush gun is one that I can tote through the brush without having to worry about the gun. This is exactly why I don't carry my 30.06 with a scope mounted on it. Too much crap to get hung on vines or branches or whatever, too long, and too much chance that something will get knocked out of whack so that if I get a shot it won't be a good one.

    With my lever gun (no scope) or my pistol, I can go through the brush and not worry too much about whether or not the guns sights have been messed up and cause me to get off a bad shot.

    So, yes I do believe in brush guns, but not because of what the bullet is going to do.
    The majority of people and cows mistaken for deer and then wounded or killed were done by hunters shooting through brush and not having a clear picture of what they were shooting.
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  12. #11
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    I recall a Guns & Ammo article of many years ago when the writer contrived a dowel rod arrangement that roughly duplicated shooting through brush. He fired a number of well known brush busters through it and claimed that none exhibited the accuracy that was said to retain after passing through brush. He further claimed that the two most stable performers which displayed the best accuracy after passing through his contraption were the .223 and the .30 Carbine of all things.

    It is very bad form to shoot through screening brush at deer. Each year hunters poorly identify their targets and folks die.

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    Where I live & hunt is mostly wooded & some of it is thick with a mix of trees & low brush.

    I have had brush deflect shots. The faster bullets seem to be effected more than slower ones. I have hit small branches (under 1 inch), that deflected the round enough to miss deer. The ones I've had deflect are .30-06 & 7.62NATO. Both shots were at about 50-75 yards away. One branch I actually looked at after the shot & had only cut thru half of the branch.

    For me, brush calibers are .30-30 & .45-70. On one occasion a .45-70 hit a branch, cutting it off, on the way to the target & still killed the deer!
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    Senior Member Array Jmac00's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rottkeeper View Post
    When hunting the northern zone where there is heavy cover I use my 12 gauge shotgun. More so for a quicker target acquisition than brush busting abilities. I have also used my Marlin 336c 30-30 when the leaves are off the trees.
    I have found a good shotgun to be the best bet in brushy areas or anywhere you don't have to reach out to touch something.
    In the southern zone where I live though it's my 30-06 because there are some loooooong shots.
    The reason I asked is because I ONLY HUNT the Northern Zone (Redwood, NY...Butterfield lake, I just bought lake front property there) and it is very rugged territory.

    I had a couple of shots at deer, one was a 6 point, that I DID NOT take the shot because of fairly dense brush. I could see a good outline of the animal, but I was afraid of wounding the animal. The second was of a big doe, but all I could see was a eyeball and two ears and that had brush in front of her to. Again, I didn't take the shot

    When I got back to camp, my fellow deer campers chastised me with "oh you should have shot, the bullet will blaze right through that crap"

    uuum me thinks NOT!!!!

    OOH YA, I hunt with a Marlin 336, 30-30 with LeverRevolution ammo (S&W 629 classic, 5"BBl as a back up, or for those wiley coyotes)

    anyway, I thank all the responders, especially Sniper, I'll try the google trick and get some more information on this topic.
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    VIP Member Array edr9x23super's Avatar
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    +1 on the 12 gauge and buckshot; if you had to use a handgun, though, I would definitely go with the .44 magnum, I used one to brush hunt with for about 10 years and it works just fine.
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    VIP Member Array rottkeeper's Avatar
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    Jmac, I'm glad to here you didn't take the shots as you could have had poor placement and wounded but never gotten the deer. That's what will make you a TRUE sportsman. I don't believe in (wingshots).

    Hope you have better luck and get a clear shot and a freezer full of venison.
    For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the son of man be. Mathew 24:27

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