Deer stalking

GEORGE WALLACE

Bit of both, really. And when you remember that I run a little club called the Express Rifle Association for people who like to be able to get an arm up the bore of a rifle to clean it, you may understand where I am coming from.

But there is also a technical reason for preferring big bores. Let me explain.

There are two ways of producing a humane kill.

First, you can use a high-velocity small bore which seems to produce a level of shock to the animal?s system above and beyond what one might expect from such a light bullet.

And then there?s the larger bore with a heavier bullet which kills by making a big hole and letting all the blood out.

The first can kill in spectacular fashion with the target animal dropping as if struck by lightning.

However, they can also fail equally spectacularly if you don?t put the bullet in the right place.

A big bullet of larger diameter and at moderate velocity is usually far less dramatic and an animal hit by one may appear completely unaffected for a moment before suddenly collapsing.

Either one kills perfectly well if the shooter does his part but I am personally happier with the bigger bore because they do a lot less meat damage and because the bullets don?t fragment inside the animal, spraying shards of copper and lead all over the place.

Despite the emotive hype from those who wish us ill, there?s not actually any real evidence that these particles do much harm when you come to eat the meat, but I still prefer to avoid it if I can.

If you have no rangefinder and need to shoot routinely at 300 or 350 yards, then high velocity is certainly a big help; but at shorter ranges, where trajectory doesn?t matter so much, I am happier, much happier, with the performance of a bigger, slower bullet.

Just think about it.

Your .243 bullet has to expand to about .40 or .45 diameter in order to kill humanely but if you use a .30-30, a .308 or a.45-70 you are already most of the way there and with a bullet two, three or four times the weight of anything the .243 can handle.

But that?s just my view.

No-one is saying you have to do the same if you don?t want to.

On the other hand, if you do get a chance to try a .30-30 you may well find, as I did, that it?s the handiest little woodland stalking cartridge ever.

L-R: .243, 30-30, .308 and .450 Marlin.