07 Jul Proper Hunting Calibers for a Driven Hunt Monteria
The importance of using the proper caliber and ammunition in a Monteria is essential. I have many years of experience in the organization of Monterías, also in the practical shooting in this type of hunts. I gather here some of my personal experiences in the use of different calibers and ammunition.It is not about laing a strict foundation in the use of calibers and ammunition in Montería.
The intention of this article is, therefore, to provide my own experiences that can guide the hunter to make decisions in one way or another.
The main idea is to explain the different experiences obtained in different types of animals, shots at different distances, different situations, as well as the use of different calibers, rifles and fundamentally, ammunition. To begin with, we have to clearly distinguish the types of sizes most used in Montería.
To have a better understanding it would be necessary to make a wide distinction by the type of denomination of the caliber, the length of the rifle’s barrel, the class of rifle, etc.
For not doing it very exhaustive we will settle for differentiating between “very fast” calibers, “fast” calibers and “slow” calibers.
Shooting with the fast hunting caliber 8x68S:
By very fast calibers, we can understand all those with denomination magnum, weatherby, short magnum or ultra magnum, as well as some others that were designed before the appearance of the concept “magnum” and that, however, without being classified as such, provide benefits of magnum caliber, ex: 8x68S, 7×66 Super Express Von Hofe.
To be able to extract the maximum benefits to this first group of “very fast” calibers, such as the 270wsm (probably the last design to be integrated into Montería and which is giving excellent results due to his Sectional Density and fast velocity), the 7Rm, 300 win mag, 300wsm, 8x68S, 338 win mag and others, we have to use rifles with the maximum barrel length available.
I have observed on multiple times, hunters who use these calibers, probably the most popular is the 300Win mag., In rifles with guns of 60cm long or even lower.
From my personal point of view this is a mistake. A caliber of this type needs a barrel as longer as possible. The powder they use is of slow combustion, that is to say, the longer of the barrel, the greater the use of the combustion of powder, and therefore the greater performance of the real performance developed by these calibers of high speeds.
We have to keep in mind that the design of this type of calibers is oriented to shots at a very long range of distances, and not short or intermediate, which is the most usual things in the main case that we are dealing with here and now.
Therefore, in the case of use of short barrels we will have a caliber with a higher recoil, making it more difficult to handle, and with an energy very similar to that of a standard caliber, that is, losing all the advantage that a Magnum caliber can give us
The idea of having extra energy for the high speed they develop, trying to find a high “stopping power” can be an advantage as well as an inconvenience, for example in the case of not using it correctly bullets as we will see later.
Precise bullet placement is the most important factor in killing power.
In other words, starting from the elementary concept ” that precise bullet placement is the most important factor in killing power “, which is something that happens with any type of caliber, either magnum, standard, or of any other type, the excessive speed in a shot short distance with a bullet that is not the most appropriate NOT produce the desired effect, by quickly piercing the body of the animal without having a good expansion of the bullet, or by producing a large non-lethal hemorrhage by the premature bullet break-up , without a fast killing of the animal.
Another possible phenomenon would occur if the shot is not placed in the vital zone of the Heart, that is to say if the shot is back or low in soft tissues and the bullet does not expand enough, not producing stopping power by not retaining the energy of the impact, and produce little or very little wound cavity.
In cases of these characteristics, my personal experience tells me that “the wounded animal will die at a great distance from the shot, or will be wounded with prolonged agony”, something that is not desirable under any circumstances.
On the other hand, this excessive energy located at close range in a lethal shot, will leave a lightweight animal in a “undesirable” situation for its subsequent presentation, whit very visible huge tears of muscle tissue.
This effect is reproduced especially when using these calibers with bullet tips of single core, ie soft and in very short distances (<80mts).
To take into account that in Spain, due to their “peninsular isolation” all animals have lower weights in plus or minus 20% of those of the rest of Europe.
As an example, a red deer (the animal with the highest weight and size available in a Montería) that in Europe can be between 150-160Kg or even more, in Spain it will have a maximum weight of 130KG, placing the average at around 120Kg.
Therefore, my personal recommendation for hunters that use this type of Magnum calibers uses if possible a high weight bullet monolithic with controlled expansion or with double core in the attempt to balance the speed and expansion of the bullet, as well as to avoid splinters in the impact. This is possible with bullet points that retain at least 70% of the weight before the impact.
On fast calibers, meaning the calibers no magnum, with a muzzle velocity of more than 800m / s such as 270win, 280 Remington, 7×64,7x65R, 3006, 308win, 8x57R and similar, are from my point of view very appropriate for most of this type of huntings. On the one hand we will have a rifle with a maximum barrel at 60cm, and moderate recoil, making it very easy to handle.With any of these calibers it is possible to carry out an accurate shot at 200 meters, a distance that should be the maximum for a precise and risk-free landing in a Montería, as well as an equally effective short-distance shot. I have the experience of having killed a large number of animals with a 270win, using monolithic controlled expansion bullets of 130 grains and at different distances.Speaking about a very important tip, wich means the Sectional Density. A caliber like the 270win, with a bullet of maximum weight (150grains) has higher sectional density (ie, greater penetration) than a 375 H & H with a tip of 270 grains. Did you know this? Well, that’s right, believe me!
A caliber of this type, that is, equal to or below 0.300 inches (7.62mm) is very easy to handle. It has obviously less energy and therefore less stopping power. It therefore requires greater accuracy. The biggest advantage that we can obtain from a caliber of this type is its easy use, even if that subtracting stopping power.
I consider these calibers to be among the most popular in most European countries.
They also offer a wide range of options in ammunition.Calibers inferior to 270 are completely inadequate for lacking the minimum energy required (3000 joules at 100mts) to stop an animal from a single shot, as we explained in our Manual “How to choose a Successful Monteria”. In Spain, with the exception of the universal 30 06 Springfield, this group of calibers is NOT the most popular. Later they will understand why.In any case, this type of calibers, especially those less than 0.300 inches (7.62mm), that is, the 270, 280 or 7mm require a very precise selection of ammunition. The bullets Vulkan, Oryx, EVO, SST, Barnes have given me excellent results, although the heavier I have used them in short range of distances and the lightest ones in long range, in the attempt to obtain the maximum performance.
“The criteria” that I follow when choosing my ammunition by order of priorities, is the following: (Standard calibers), short or medium distance, heavy tips of controlled expansion (double core) under the risk of not being able to avoid splinters after impact. That means , High permanent cavity, medium temporary cavity. (Standard calibers), in long distance, tips of intermediate weights of rapid expansion or controlled expansion (double core and / or monolithic). That means, medium temporary cavity, medium permanent cavity. (Magnum calibers) short distance, monolithic maximum weight tips. That means bullets looking for (Higth permanent cavity/ Very high temporary cavity) (Magnum calibers), long distance, maximum weight points of controlled expansion of double body or monolithic. That means Very High permanent cavity, High/medium temporary cavity. The single body tips can be effective in the latter case, although there is a high risk of producing dangerous splinters after impact with these soft or single-body tips, especially in magnum calibers as can be seen below.
On the “slow” calibers of speeds in the mouth very close to or less than 800 m / s with very heavy tips of between 200 and 300 grains, such as 9,3×62, 9,3x74R, 375 Flanged Magnum, the 9, 3×64 or the mythical 375H & H (this latter as a “classic” of the magnum family), are in many cases the “favorites” of Spanish hunters.
From left to right: 270 WSM,
30 06 Sprinfield.
The reason, the best trophies of deer and wild boar (the Montería kings) are found in very dense small forest areas. Shots are therefore made at short or very short distance with hardly any precision. They are shots that seek to stop the animal for the energy released, not so much for the accuracy, and this is the main and almost only reason to use these calibers.
The rifles that embody these “beasts” of great weights and bullet dimensions are in general, very heavy and difficult to handle. The hunter will hunt more by ear than by sight, making a quick and short swing normally with very little precision.
I have used all the calibers that I mention here, although I have never done them with shots at distances greater than 150 meters with them. These calibers obtain a very critical drop of the bullet, which is why they are not the most recommended calibers in shots longer them 100mts (with the exception of the 375 H & H magnum and / or its equivalent European Center 9.3×64)
Its application from my point of view is reduced to occasions in which we have clear that we will pull below the range of 100mts, for big trophies and in areas of dense forest.
The bullets are obviously soft (we are not talking about dangerous hunting). Thanks to its wide caliber and its “relatively low speed”, these soft tips leave all the energy in the body of the animal without losing mass in them after the impact, creating a great shock and bringing down the game whenever the placement is inside the chest, no matter too much if the placement is good or not very good.
In shots of the rear or low shot, the effects are as negative or even worse than in those of magnum calibers, leaving terrible mutilations in animals that, even managing to stop them, will suffer a prolonged agony if we lose the sight of them and it is not possible to repet a second finish shot.
I believe that these calibers have to be used by shooters with very good skills who know their rifle and their ability to shoot down the animal on his race, making them completely inadvisable for beginners In summary, the most critical when selecting a certain caliber or rifle is undoubtedly the selection of the ammunition, namely muzzle speed, trajectory and type of tips. The reason why there is a great diversity of ammunition and calibers is none other than the great diversity of shot situations and type of animals that we can hunt.In other words, in a matter of Monteria calibers, a 243 or a 6,5×55 can be as inappropriate as a 375H & H with a solid bullet or a 416 Rigby, however beautiful and elegant this rifle may be.
it is very important to pay great attention to our selection of ammunition, (and perhaps not so much the caliber or rifle) depending on the characteristics of the type of animals and biotope on which we will hunt.
For providing us with some basic examples:for a Management Montería in which we do not risk the possibility of knocking down a big trophy and we are going to make multiple shots to females, usually could be a good option in medium and long distances an intermediate weight bullet (with the highest DRO possible) and of rapid expansion, not necessarily monolithic.
In a trophy hunting, in which we will know in advance that the biotope is of dense forest, the ideal would be a bullet of maximum weight, and “soft” to release the maximum energy at close range. We will avoid to a large extent that the splinters can hurt or even shoot down dogs or other animals in the proximity with the use of a soft double core bullet, however in this situation it is “normally” unlikely that at the time of shooting, the dogs will be find a short distance from the trophy, since these great trophies tend to move quickly when hearing the first barks in the distance.
In a mixed Monteria of Trophies and females, with savanna’s biotope, the ideal would be an intermediate monolithic controlled expansion bullet. In such a situation it is quite common for dogs to pursue the race at short distances to the hunt, and it is in these cases where the majority of accidents occur with our subordinates, and when happened it is usually shot deadly.
Let me remind you of these values:
The smaller the caliber and the greater the weight of the bullet, the greater the penetration.
The larger the caliber and the smaller the weight of the bullet, the less penetration.
A hard bullet retains most of its mass, but crosses the body of the animal with less expansion.
A soft bullet releases more energy, but develops less penetration, it can even has a premature break-up before penetrating the animal’s body.
A caliber magnum releases more energy, but is more critical in the use of different tips at all distances
A standard caliber releases less energy, is less critical with the different use of its bullets except for equal calibers or below 7mm in which its choice for use in the Monteria can be critical, mainly due to its speed! That is why the idea in these cases is to use the maximum possible tip weight. The ideal therefore is a bullet that releases a good amount of energy with a maximum penetration … Is this possible?
The great ammunition market awaits you, find it! But be careful, cheap ammunition is always far from providing a good result in any kind of conditions.
As a personal experience, I can tell you that some years ago I had occasion to shoot a moose in Norway of more or less 450kg (the largest animal available in Europe, if we except for the European Bison). I shot it at only 20 meters away with an 8x68S, with a soft tip of a single body and low weight (180 grains). The first Impact was precise, but I touch the bone of the shoulder. the bullet disintegrated without bringing down the animal despite the brutal energy released in the impact (> 5.000 Jules). The second impact was a mortal one with a shot in the neck that sectioned the jugular arterial by the effect of temporary cavity, the bullet completely traversed the thick neck of the great animal continuing its flight in an uncontrolled manner.
Obviously these shoots were made with the approval of the Dog Keeper. I do not even want to think that I would have gone if on the first impact, the splinters had reached the spitz … Thank God this did not happened!
Next, I went to a Monteria with this same rifle and ammunition. I was able to shoot several animals; among them a wild boar of 50kg at about 60 meters … which we picked up in two pieces due to the premature breakup of the tip due to the high velocity, and it was not possible to present it at The Parade. I was able to shoot down other animals with good placement of the shots, however I shot a nice fallow deer (80Kg) at around 80 meters, with not good placement of the bullet remaining high and in the vertebral spine where it also exploded and it was unable to finish completely his work. Finally we had to finish him by knife because of the proximity of the dogs.
Since then I have changed ammunition using only monolithic bullets of controlled expansion and greater weight, obtaining much better results (because the hydrostatic shock/ sectional density) in short range of distances shots and long range of distances shots as well.
It is very appreciated by the Outfitters and very special by Dog Keepers, to see hunters who refrain from firing when they are not sure of being able to shoot down the animal from a first shot, or at least stop their race easily, to later be able to finish them with a second lethal shot, since without stopping it endangers the integrity of hunters, beaters and dogs.
There are not a few cases in Monteria in which a shooter cuts a game to medium or long range distance, producing after the impact splinters that have hurt or even killed a dog on the proximity. It is an extremely unfortunate situation for all participants, especially for the Dog Keepers who loses what is usually the best dogs on his team.
Remember that in all cases, what really kill down to the animal is the correct placement of the shot. Practice therefore on your favorite shooting stand and try to understand what is the result of the expansion of your tips, if possible! In my opinion, the caliber and ammunition “all round” perfect for “Monteria Española” does not exist … or maybe yes! (270wsm 150 grains with double body tips) We will check it shortly!
If you are interested in Driven Hunt Monteria, you can have a look a our program for next season, and read this Fantastic Ebook including Video: The Ultimate Guide to Having a Successful Driven Hunt Monteria.