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Author Topic: .54 cal. Load Data  (Read 5278 times)
54Bucks
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« on: March 11, 2010, 06:51:42 PM »

 Same set-up as the previous .45 cal. info. Chrony F-1 @15 ft. from muzzle. Consistant loading practices thruout testing  Sunny-60*-calm
 The flintlock used for these numbers has a 44" Colerain swamped Cwt. barrel 1:56
.530 cast balls,.018 ticking patch,Hoppes #9 plus

                  SWISS                                                     GOEX
               FF               FFF                                     FF           FFF
60gr.     1337           1481                                 1224        1350
70gr.     1496           1635                                 1343        1473
80gr.     1611           1714                                 1510        1577
90gr.     1727           1843                                 1580        1699
100gr.   1828           1983                                 1637        1780


 I will post .50 cal. data. But it will be a short while before the one I want to test is finished.
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Ben I. Voss
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« Reply #1 on: March 11, 2010, 07:16:55 PM »

Dang, I need to get a chronograph!!  Thanks for sharing.
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wvmtnman
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« Reply #2 on: March 11, 2010, 08:05:58 PM »

Interesting data.  I have always heard that you need around 1650 fps to adequately take down a whitetail deer.  This past season I shot a 3 or 4 year old buck with a .54.  I was using 85 gr of ffg and a .530 roundball.  It was about a 90 yard shot through the lungs.  It ran over 100 yards before falling over.  I will find a new load for next season.
                                                                                  Brian
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B. Lakatos
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« Reply #3 on: March 11, 2010, 08:19:19 PM »

Interesting data.  I have always heard that you need around 1650 fps to adequately take down a whitetail deer.  This past season I shot a 3 or 4 year old buck with a .54.  I was using 85 gr of ffg and a .530 roundball.  It was about a 90 yard shot through the lungs.  It ran over 100 yards before falling over.  I will find a new load for next season.
                                                                                  Brian

That 100 yard run really surprises me.  I use 90 grains of Goex 3f in my 54, and I've never had a deer go 100 feet, much less 100 yards.  I'm just not sure that extra MV is going to translate into much extra whap at 90 yards.  If I'm looking for more than I'm getting with that load in 54 cal, I switch to one of my 58's.  Results are definitely quicker, but they're not dropping in their tracks even then.

I'm betting you just got a tough deer, or it was a high lung shot versus a low one.  I'm betting too, that you can shoot a couple dozen more deer with that same load combo, and not one of them will come anywhere close to that 100 yard record run.
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Dr. Tim-Boone
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« Reply #4 on: March 11, 2010, 09:45:08 PM »

My experience with whitetails and my.54 is much the same as BrownBear.  I doubt that increasing the charge will make that much difference.  With .80 grains fffg I shot a deer at 10 yards that ran nearly 100 yards. Shot another at a little over 100 yards and it ran about 10 feet....  both were shot thru & thru,,,,,,,,,course the first one had powder burns on his side!!
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Black Jaque Janaviac
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« Reply #5 on: March 12, 2010, 09:51:23 AM »

When I first started muzzle loading I was using a Lyman GPR.  I had lots of 100+ yard runs.  Didn't seem to matter whether the shot was 10 yards or 100 yards.  All shots were pass-throughs.  Only ones that didn't run far were ones in which the liver was hit. 

Then I switched to Swiss powder, a flintlock w/ 42" bbl, and about the same time my lead supply (telephone cable sheathing)dwindled and I restocked with plumbers lead. 

Since then the 100 yard dashes have been greatly minimized.  I've also been recovering almost 1/2 of the balls as they aren't passing through nearly so often. 

I realize this experiment is anecdotal and not anywhere close to scientific.  But was it the barrel lenght?  The Swiss powder?  Or the lead source?

I know the muzzle velocity is greater with the Swiss and the longer barrel, however, the impact velocities can't be that different. 
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Daryl
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« Reply #6 on: March 12, 2010, 10:20:18 AM »

150 fps at the muzzle ( difference between GOEX and Swiss) won't make much difference at 100 yards, probably not enough to make any difference at all on game.  What it does do, is to lessen drop, make the gun shoot flatter and probably make the gun more accurate at the longer ranges.
As to recipe's of "X" fps or fpe needed for deer, "X" for moose and elk, etc, ----- hog-crap!  I don't believe it.

 40 yards is 120 feet. Some years ago, I witnessed a moose absorb a .535" RB, propelled by 100gr. Pyrodex from a 28" bl. fired from 170 yards away - and impact velocity approximately 880fps from an initial 1,700fps estimated.  The foot pounds of energy was perhaps 400.  Both of these figures are wayyy below what the gun rag experts say is minimal for deer, ie: 1,000 foot pouinds energy for deer, 1,50 foot pounds energy for moose or elk - well, this particular 900 pound deer took off running like a thoroubred out of the starting gate and dropped dead mid stride a second or two later - 40 yards from where it was hit.  The ball holed a rib going in, both lungs and heart and was underneath the hide on the off side.  The hole through the lungs was about 1" in diameter, and 1/2" through the heart.  I've seen this same 'short' run a number of times when moose are shot with round balls - either down at the spot, a few feet or perhaps up to 50 yards. Round balls kill quickly.

Ungulates sometimes run when hit - whether they are hit with a .270, or a round ball. What I have noticed, is that if you want a moose or elk to run a lot further, use a conical.
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Dphariss
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« Reply #7 on: March 12, 2010, 10:22:02 AM »

Interesting data.  I have always heard that you need around 1650 fps to adequately take down a whitetail deer.  This past season I shot a 3 or 4 year old buck with a .54.  I was using 85 gr of ffg and a .530 roundball.  It was about a 90 yard shot through the lungs.  It ran over 100 yards before falling over.  I will find a new load for next season.
                                                                                  Brian


You need 1650 or better in a 54 to give flat trajectory.
One cannot shoot one deer and make a conclusion concerning stopping power.
I shot a whitetail doe at about 35 yards through and through right under the shoulder blades just behind the joint. 54 caliber 100 gr of FFF.
This deer reacted to the shot by running 200 yards across a hay field at full speed. Note her feet only touched the ground about 10-11 times and she landed on her side dead and slid on the snow. This only took a few seconds at the speed she was traveling
I shot a Mule Deer doe at 40 yards with a 44-90-400 Sharps with a soft FP bullet, ran 100 yards plus, prefect lung shot.
My son shot a WT doe a few years back with a 6.5x55 at about 80 yards and she piled up in her tracks. Lung shot.
A friend shot a doe at 120 with a 45 RB and she piled up on the spot, ball broke a rib on both sides and he figured it shocked the spine.
I shot a Mule Deer doe at about the about 40 yars with a .662 RB launched at about 1650.
End on shot at the base of the throat, the deer had walked toward me and finally saw me but did not know what I was seated on the prairie, the top of the heart was totally destroyed. Massive wound channel. Massive blood trail. Deer ran 55 yards anyway.





I have seen the same result with a plethora of calibers PRB, modern HV (308. 30-06, 7mm mag etc) and BPCRs used by myself or others. Deer are very difficult to "stop". If you feel the need to stop the deer you must break major bones (and this may not work either). The only *sure* way is to shock or strike the spine or brain.  Using a round ball over 62 caliber will help but its still not a sure thing.
Whitetails are often at a high state of alert and may be running on adrenalin when shot. The Mule deer I shot with the 44 had run about 40 yards after I neck shot a buck. If the deer has been recently spooked it may run 4 times as far as otherwise.
The average deer in Montana regardless species, will run 40 yards after being shot. Some will drop in their tracks some will run 200 yards. You cannot determine in advance which will occur.
Thinking you can add more powder, or shoot some magic bullet and stop a deer every shot is just not going to happen based on my experience.
Sir William Drummond Stewart, using a 20 bore Manton reported that a deer was harder to stop than an elk as I recall.
I have no doubt that some people have had different experiences. But when hunting from the ground using chest shots far more deer will run off after a fatal shot than will drop. Its just how things work. Rifles that will do reasonably reliable one shot stops on deer (25-06 with a 87 gr bullet) often are too destructive for the hunter killing for the table.

Dan
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hanshi
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« Reply #8 on: March 12, 2010, 01:09:41 PM »

I'm in the same camp with Daryl and Dphariss.  One can't make a blanket theory based on one deer.  I've had deer run 50 yards and then have had them drop DRT when hit with the same caliber, load and conditions.  As a rule any deer will run a bit regardless what it is hit with.

I believe that as long as a ball can make it through the deer's vitals then it is dead whether or not the deer realizes it.  I absolutely do not believe in foot pound/velocity theories for game.  At woods ranges higher velocity is wasted.  Only if you have to "reach out" there is the extra speed beneficial.  A .54 ball is Thor's Hammer!
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« Reply #9 on: March 12, 2010, 01:46:57 PM »

Deer are individuals too.  Some are just more determined than others. Half a century ago I knocked a small doe down at 100yds with a ,35 Remington.  She collapsed at the shot.   Walked most of way to her before  she got up and went almost a mile with a high lung shot and still required a second shot to bring her down.  Prior to my shot, she had been fired at several times by another hunter but not hit.  Maybe the extra adrenaline made the difference.  She did seem to know where my camp was, dropped for keeps about 35yds from the tent.  Wish I knew how to train elk to be so considerate.   
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Black Jaque Janaviac
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« Reply #10 on: March 12, 2010, 02:39:53 PM »

Getting BACK to the thread. . . How many shots did you fire to determine the velocity at each charge weight?

In other words did you shoot 5 shots with 60 grains of FFg and take the average?  Then shoot 5 shots at 70 grains FFg and so forth?

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54Bucks
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« Reply #11 on: March 12, 2010, 04:50:01 PM »

 No I didn't average each load. I made a few random 3-shot load tests again and found  that the velocities tested again fell between the average spread listed with the .45 cal. load data
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Darkhorse
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« Reply #12 on: March 16, 2010, 12:20:19 PM »

This observation is based on 34 years of hunting deer with a .54 ML, some years exclusively hunting with the ML, and with deer limits rising to 12 per year.
All this is to say that I'm not baseing my opinion on 1,2 or 3 deer.
So, many years ago I cast all my own projectiles out of the softest lead I could find. If I couldn't score a deep scratch with my thumbnail I didn't use that lead for round balls but it was good for pistol bullets. Most deer I shot didn't go very far and a lot of damage was done by the soft lead expanding.
Now fast forward to when someone didn't return my casting equiptment and I started buying swaged round balls. Over a few years I noticed a pattern developing; deer were running farther with good shots and there wasn't as much internal damage being done. This really got my attention when a doe ran over a 100 yards shot through the heart.
Upon examination there were identical entry and exit holes indicating little expansion. But on the inside there was very little damage done almost as if the internal organs had been pushed aside instead of torn.
So take it FWIW but I think the hardness of the projectile plays a large part in this equation but is often overlooked in the quest for speed.
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Dphariss
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« Reply #13 on: March 16, 2010, 01:37:59 PM »

This observation is based on 34 years of hunting deer with a .54 ML, some years exclusively hunting with the ML, and with deer limits rising to 12 per year.
All this is to say that I'm not baseing my opinion on 1,2 or 3 deer.
So, many years ago I cast all my own projectiles out of the softest lead I could find. If I couldn't score a deep scratch with my thumbnail I didn't use that lead for round balls but it was good for pistol bullets. Most deer I shot didn't go very far and a lot of damage was done by the soft lead expanding.
Now fast forward to when someone didn't return my casting equiptment and I started buying swaged round balls. Over a few years I noticed a pattern developing; deer were running farther with good shots and there wasn't as much internal damage being done. This really got my attention when a doe ran over a 100 yards shot through the heart.
Upon examination there were identical entry and exit holes indicating little expansion. But on the inside there was very little damage done almost as if the internal organs had been pushed aside instead of torn.
So take it FWIW but I think the hardness of the projectile plays a large part in this equation but is often overlooked in the quest for speed.

Once upon a time I shot a mule deer buck through the lungs at 140 steps (I step pretty close to a yard when I mean to) with a 50 caliber Rb. The deer made about 40 yards. Not much in the way of damage. Just a hole through and through. I have shot MD buck at 30-40 yards with a 54 with 120 gr of FFFG GOI. Deer ran about 50 odd yards. Pretty big holes through the lungs, about the size of a silver dollar, like they were cut with a large arch punch.
I shot a similar MD buck with a 38-40 Colt Lightning Magazine Rifle 37 gr. FFFg under a 180 gr cast. Not real soft or too hard. Bullet made minimal wound channels in the lungs, diameter a little bigger than a pencil. Deer piled up in about 40 yards though it gave no indication of being shot. I have seen MB bucks shot with 7mm mag with lung tissue hanging out the exit wound run 200 or so. 
I have seen an Antelope buck that was grazing in the herd when shot run 50+ with a hole large enough to take out 3 ribs on the exit side.
I knocked a cow elk down with a 54 RB by breaking the humerus. Ball then made a large hole in the aorta. Cow went down at the shot at about 80 yards, then got back up as I was putting the patch and ball to the muzzle and ran about 50 yards.
My son shot a WT doe at about 80 yards with the 6.5x55 and she piled up on the spot with a heart shot. Heart shot deer usually panic run. This one dropped like dynamited.
I shot one at 300 yards two years ago the bullet breaking the humerus then messed up the lungs, passed through the heart sack but only bruised the top of the heart and exited. Deer ran about 100 yards and went butt over tea kettle as she passed from sight. A buck was hanging around her and I waited a few minutes for him to leave on the off chance the doe might be better off than I thought and I did not want her getting back up if the buck spooked. After walking about 300 yards I found her head still up and I then head shot her.
The same season, same rifle, I shot a doe IN HER BED though awake with her head up at about 180 yards, breaking the humerus and taking out the heart. She got up and ran about 30 yards and piled up.
Based on my experience I do not believe the wound channel is a deciding factor. Yes, a large wound channel will usually result in shorter travel. But this is not always the case. Nor will a conical bullet even a blunt one at BP velocities make a great deal of difference. I shot a few deer with a 40-70 BN sharps with a soft FP PP bullet under 300 grains. It seemed to be a good stopper. But I also shot an antelope with it with more typical results. So? I DO know that a SOFT (1:40) FP bullet in the BP loaded 40-70/40-90/45-70 works better than a RN or semi-pointed at 1:20 alloy.

Sometimes the deer falls dead, sometimes it runs off, I have not been able to determine before hand what will occur regardless of the firearm or bullet used.
This is the .662 ball that killed the doe previously mentioned. Note it has hair imprints of the ball. I cannot imagine any 45-50-54 BP arm making a would channel larger than this ball did RIGHT in the vitals, the heart, yet the deer ran as far or farther than other deer shot through the lungs with far less effective projectiles.



There is no constant here. Its a "your mileage may vary" thing. I get the idea that deer in some areas are easier to drop than others (?) but how would one tell?
I hear what I assume are perfectly valid accounts of deer falling to the shot more often than not with loads and shot placement very similar if not identical to what I have experience with yet MY deer tend to run off.
Is it genetic? I know that a lot of hunters in the east have the opportunity to shoot more deer than I do so the experience level certainly appears the be adequate.
My point is that if the deer did not fall over with the RB its extremely unlikely that some other projectile from the same rifle is going the change this. But one would have to shoot the same deer to "prove" anything. So "proof" is nebulous.
I EXPECT the deer to run off after being shot. Its the norm where I hunt.
Dan
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Daryl
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« Reply #14 on: March 16, 2010, 09:37:17 PM »

I've shot a number of MD around here and the only two that dropped in his tracks - 1st one actually did a side flip, was a 1 1/2 year old, shot with amodern gun. Spined in the neck behind the head & DOWN.  Second was a high shoulder shot with another modern gun, fragile bullet @ 30-35yards - down!  All others were side lung shots with a variety of guns and ran 20 to 40 yards.  I've never shot a deer with a ML, only moose. With a big ball, the moose usually only walk 20 yards or less. With a .54 or smaller, usually take off as if scalded - but odd time, one will drip in his tracks as happened a few years back with one of the guys using a light charge in his .50.

You just never know what the reaction will be unless you yank the rug out with something like double shoulders, the spine or brain shot. Buddy polaxed one last fall - hit only one lung, then out the side in front of the hind leg off side. The deer, a young MD, dropped at the shot - 210gr. Nosler .338Winmag, long shot - about 35 yards!
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Dpeck
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« Reply #15 on: March 18, 2010, 09:07:33 AM »

My son's friend shot a deer with a HP out of a 50BMG single shot.  It ran about 70 yards before it dropped with the rib cage on the far side blew out.  Just talked to him about it again.  Said he got a lot of flak as he put the video on YouTube and had to put up with a bunch of know it all arm chair quarterbacks."http://www.youtube.com/v/ZrvUOQKd0ok"
 You are not going to match a 50BMG.  An old timer that joked that he was 16 before he knew what beef tasted like stated that if a deer is in a field or opening it will almost always make it to cover before it drops unless spined or head shot.  I can concur on this generality.
I did some chronographing of a few calibers awhile back and posted them.  I got a little more soup out of the GOEX.  This was with a Montana Barrel, 1/16 inch touch hole. 42 inch.  530 ball 015 patching.

GOEX 3f 80 grains 1690
GOEX 3f 90 grains 1800
GOEX 2f 110 grains 1820

.070 touch hole went to 1795  with 110 2f
All numbers are rounded to closest 10 fps.
2f gave the least shot to shot variation and as was discussed earlier, a clean bore gave a lower velocity.  It would almost pay to sight in with 10-15 grains less powder to get clean bore impact.
As to differences between mine and yours Huh

DP
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Darkhorse
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« Reply #16 on: March 18, 2010, 12:45:24 PM »

Dan,
I also expect every animal, deer or hog, to run after the shot. And I come from an area that has very generous limits. I view this phenomenom as a fact and have very well develped tracking skills, blood or not. Too many times we've gone back after a friend has "Missed" a deer only to find the dead animal some distance from the shot.
In reality most hunters are good at hunting live animals but are pretty poor at hunting the dead ones.
On every forum I read about all the deer that drop to the shot regardless of shot placement and I always think the same thing;" This guy really hasn't shot as many deer as he thinks he has."
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54Bucks
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« Reply #17 on: March 18, 2010, 02:04:37 PM »

 Well Northern perhaps comparing chronograph data using different gun-patch-lube-ball combinations is kinda like comparing different deer that are hit by the same data. Maybe they just can't read. ;-)  Or numbers don't always translate into what is expected. Your numbers did puzzle me just a tad considering you only increased 20fps jumping 20gr. of FFF Goex.(90gr-110gr.)
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Dpeck
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« Reply #18 on: March 18, 2010, 06:51:37 PM »

I did not jump from 90 grains of 3f to 110 grains of 3f, I used 2f at 110 grans.  Look in the old Lyman BP Handbook where they compared 3f to 2f.  80 grains of 3f gave 1629, 100 grains of 2f gave 1538 and 120 was 1667 (they did not try 110).  My results were not that far of from their published data, but they had larger discrepencies between 3f and 2f.  May gain of 20 fps is actually contrary to their findings.  As stated at higher charge weights the 3f started to get an increase in velocity spreads.  It seemed to take a couple of fouling shots to get things settled down.  Swiss 2f gave an increase over GOEX, thought I wrote it down but did not see it in my data page.  I also compared Grafs in my 40 and got results similar to GOEX but the Grafs was a little slower, but another batch of GOEX could have been too.  Colerain uses very deep rifling, at about 016.  I wonder if that could make a difference Huh  The Montana barrel is about 010.
I think like Darkhorse when someone says that all their deer dropped to the shot, and wonder how many they hit and thought they missed.  I used to have a good 4 legged tracker that found a couple I may not have gotten.  My daughter is really good at tracking.

DP
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Daryl
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« Reply #19 on: March 18, 2010, 07:04:14 PM »

On all 4's?  I've tracked moose that way - on all 4's looking for blood spots on the small, round red leaves of the undergrowth - Taylor should remember that one - bloody hell - found him, though.

I noted the very low velocties given in Lyman's book in the various lengths of Zouave barrel they used & the very little velocity change they got with longer lengths of barrel.  If you have to book, compare the velocities of the 22" barrel with the longer ones using less than 100gr. of powder - another surprise.
The major discrepency I found using a chronograph, was my 1,308fps using 75gr.2F in a 24" bl.  Their data shows 1,077fps with 70 2F  and doesn't hit 1,300fps until what would have been something like 115gr.
On the other hand, their .40cal data for a 43" is very similar to what I got from a 42".
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doulos
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« Reply #20 on: March 18, 2010, 11:23:51 PM »

Just like Dan and Darkhorse I expect every deer to run unless I hit the spine or close to it. Im surprised when they don't run.  Over the years I have tried to lean towards projectiles that I know will pass through and leave a good blood trail because i expected to have to track.  Now since i started using roundball Ive killed 3 deer 2 with a .54 and 1 with a .58. All exited and the deer were found.  The one that went the farthest was the one shot with the .58.  But that was because of my shot being farther back than it should have not the projectile that I used.
  When I had a Stith kit built for me I chose a .58 just because I wanted to err on the side of penetration in case a shoulder was hit.  I dont know if I made the right choice in caliber seeing that I hunt mainly just deer. Some have stated the only way to ensure penetration is with a hardened ball.
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« Reply #21 on: March 19, 2010, 09:38:14 AM »

My 4 legged helper also barked.  A good tracking dog is hard to beat and will find a down animal much quicker than you can.  Dog was a "Daddy may I keep It" as it was a pup supposedly born at a neighbors that showed up in our garage.  We think our dog may have been a sire.  She died on me awhile back and I have been working on training others.  I keep them leashed when tracking. 
As bores get larger it likely takes more powder to get much difference.  A 54 or 58 probably needs about a 20 grain difference to do much in 2f.  Personally I would not be surprised if someone took two barrels of the same caliber, made by the same maker, of the same length and got different results using the same load.  Part of it is powder lots, slight differences in loading style, etc.  Why some target shooter like to buy a case to get the same lot.  Percussion or flintlock, etc.
There is no reason on deer to use harder ball than pure lead using a 50 cal or larger rifle.  There is one theory that driving a ball too fast can actually hinder penetration.  This would occur on a close shot.

DP
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Daryl
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« Reply #22 on: March 19, 2010, 11:09:43 AM »

DP- you bring up an interesting point (for me) about consistant velocities in the same calibre. As one of my rifles has 2, .58 cal. barrels, exactly the same length - I guess it's time to get the dust off the chronograph and run some numbers?
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« Reply #23 on: March 19, 2010, 11:13:46 AM »

My .54 load for the last decade and a half has been 80 grs 3F through a 38 inch barrell. Previously it was 120, then 110, grs 2F (based on the data I got with my old TC renegade). I have never had an opportunity to shoot a deer over 75 yards due to the thickness of our woods. And all these loads exclusively with the round ball have performed pretty much the same.
My "go to" tracker was/is my wife, who also used to be my hunting partner till she quit. She is 1/4 Cherokee and looks the part. She could spot the tiniest blood speck standing upright that I could'nt find on all 4's. Her vision (used to be great) and inherited skills came in very handy during the years I was a serious bowhunter. I remember a couple of times when visiting hunters "missed" a monster buck and had a fantastic story to tell. The next day we would go back and she and I would find the spot the deer was standing and track it back to an immature but very dead buck. The hunter was put out to say the least but we'd have a lot of fun with him anyway.
Tracking tip; With all animals, especially big wild boar hogs, sometimes the ball doesn't exit which makes tracking very difficult. I always carry a compass and get an immediate compass bearing to the last spot I heard the animal. If all else fails I go back to the stand and follow this heading as close as possible. Look for scuff marks in the forest floor caused by stumbling. If you can separate these from squirrels and armadillo and turkeys etc. try and establish a pattern and follow it. Look at the ground and leaves in each scuff spot. Often the leg that stumbles first is the one closest to the hit and small amounts of blood will drip down that leg. There may not be any blood trail to follow but sometimes there are tiny blood specks in the dirt at these marks.
Consistantly finding your animal under these tough conditions means you are maturing as a hunter and learning what real tracking is all about.
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hanshi
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« Reply #24 on: March 19, 2010, 01:21:49 PM »

Tracking deer is a discipline I developed to a good degree through having to do it.  I've had deer drop in their tracks after being hit with prbs.  When I count from memory the total comes to six.  There could be one or two I missed but six has to be pretty close.  I've also had many times that number run after being hit.  I would say the normal response to being hit with a prb is a mad dash of a few seconds.  DRTs are the exception, no question.  I've also recovered flattened balls from deer but these were too few to come to a definite conclusion.  The vast majority of hits have been pass throughs and this with .45s, .50s and .54s-with a few hits in the 75 to 100+ range.  Blood trails ARE better with pass throughs and (in my experience at least) they never run far. 
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Young guys should hang out with old guys; old guys know stuff.
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