As mentioned in my previous post, after shooting twice in the evening I wanted to come back following morning just to check the area and make sure I did not do anything silly such as shooting two different deer. Unfortunately these things happen from time to time at last light or in high vegetation. I heard a few similar stories about people shooting twice to what they thought were the same animal and later finding two deer dead. It was quite unlikely, but I wanted to make sure as I could not see anything suspicious in torch light and could not make myself believe I missed a deer at 40m heart-lungs and neck shot at 100m…
I got to the forestry quite early. It was still too dark to check the spot I shot the doe previous night so I slowly walked the forestry track pausing in various places. It was a bit too windy to my liking. The wind was picking up and it was unlikely to see any deer in open places.
I sat at the corner of freshly cleared ride and the forestry track, but nothing showed up. I was getting cold so went to the place I shot the doe. I went to the place I was standing taking the shots. I went back to the place the doe was and where she ran, but no pins or paint. Nothing. Only some blood in the place I shot the second time. It looked like the first shot was a clear miss…
It was still early so I thought I could have a look along the forestry edge. I went maybe 100m and spotted something in front of me. I looked through the binoculars and it was a doe already looking at me. I was by the forestry but slightly skylined and the doe must have seen the movement. She soon disappeared but I was sure she was not alone. There was at least another one.
Stalking along the forestry edge would have been difficult and I had better idea to get under the canopy of the sitka trees. It was quite windy and it should help and silence my steps. There was a path running in parallel to the forestry edge. I was hoping to spot the deer before they could see me, if not at the edge of the forestry then crossing the path in front of me.
I soon got to the spot I could see straight 40m of the path in front of me and right towards the forestry edge. Nothing showed up on the path so I thought the deer still must have been feeding near the fence and decided to risk and have a look. I made a few steps and saw the movement between the trees. It was a buck kid. He was quite close, but no chance of a shot through all the branches on the way. I knew there was still a doe and possibly something else. The kid moved away and I was searching for a gap between the branches to get a shot when I spotted a movement to my left. Another buck kid showed up. He was feeding along the edge of the trees and got to my side of the branches so I could get a clear shot.
It was no more than 20m and I had no time to use sticks so I raised the rifle and shot off hand. The deer dropped on the spot and the other kid and the doe ran away.
I gralloched the deer, dragged it to the doe I left previous night, packed them both into a roe sack and went back home.
After Blaser zeroing session I was hoping to get a deer or two with a new rifle, but just when I finished shooting the wind picked up and it was soon raining heavily. I sat under a tree watching the road in front of me for a while, but did not see a thing and went back home wet…
The following weekend I managed to go out Saturday afternoon. The weather was a bit better. It was a bit too windy to my liking and clod at 1C, but at least dry. It was a bit crunchy as most of the snow was gone, but the ground was still solid frozen in some places and wet in others. I had no “hunch” as where to go, so just went for a walk along the forestry track. I noticed a few fresh roe trails, but sitting near the road waiting for deer crossing is not really that exciting. It can be effective, but as I always carry my camera with me there is hardly time to turn it on and shoot before they disappear… Not exactly the footage I am looking for…
I got to the place where I got a doe and kid in December. I sat in the same place for a while but I got really cold and the wind was not favorable so I moved on. I slowly followed forestry boundary back towards the car. It felt like it might be another blank outing… I only saw sheep on the moor and some fresh tracks near the forestry, but no movement…
It was well after sunset when I got to the place where I could see for about 150m along the forestry edge. The wind was swirling a bit, but with a bit of luck I could see something. I quite like this place and shot a few does there in previous years. I stood near the fence in front of a small sitka tree so I was not skylined.
After a few minutes I could hear a branch cracked not far away. I was glad, but afraid whatever was coming might have been a bit too close. And as I expected a single roe appeared as by magic no more than 20m away. It immediately paused and looked at me. I could not move. The deer was watching me, I just kept still… Suddenly, I could hear a buzzing noise coming closer. It was a helicopter coming from Loch Lomond area somewhere towards Glasgow and it would be passing exactly above us. I thought the deer could have been watching the helicopter instead of me and slowly fetched the rifle. The deer bumped off when I was putting the rifle on the sticks, not sure whether it was me or the helicopter that spooked it…
I kept the rifle on the sticks when I spotted a white patch further in front of me. Yest, it was the doe, but there was a fallen tree between us and no shot available. I had to wait for it to move off. It was getting close to legal 1 hour after sunset limit when the doe moved off the branches and presented a shot. I aimed behind the shoulder and squeezed the trigger. The deer disappeared and I was sure it dropped on the spot, but I could hear the deer running away. I was confused. I quickly reloaded on saw it pause maybe 100m away. All I could see was a white patch and a bit of neck and head above. I was sure it must have been my doe wounded so I carefully aimed at the neck and pulled the trigger…
She dropped on the spot. I gave her a few moments and went to the place I shot first time. No pins or paint, nothing… I went further on and there was a doe with a perfect neck shot. No other injuries… I went back to the place where I shot first time and could not see any signs.
It was getting really late so I decided to come back in the morning just to make sure I did not do anything stupid. I gralloched the doe and hanged her on the tree.
I was really confused what happened in the evening. Going back to the car I convinced myself I must have shot at two deer and the first one dropped on the spot between the long grass and the second one was laying down there and stood up when I shot the first one?
I went back to the place I shot the first time and I could not find any evidence. I spent a while going back and forth and it looked like I missed the doe at 40m aiming at heart-lungs and neck shot the same deer at 100m. I think because I was a bit higher and she was in the dip and I aimed a bit lower than middle of the body the bullet went under the deer.
I looked again and there was no sign of the first shot on the deer. The second shot was perfect and 100gr Remington Core Lokt bullet did a good job.
I have no complaints about the rifle so far. It is not too heavy and pleasure to handle. I had to reload quickly to shoot again and that was a good experience. I also cocked the rifle before the shot no problems and it was quite natural to reload after the shot.
A-tec Maxim moderator is also quite good. Maybe not as light as A-tec CMM-4 I also have but it does not upset the balance.
It was good to get the rifle blooded eventually. The doe was in good condition for this area at 12kg.
Reloading for my .223Rem was something I wanted to do long, long time ago, but never found enough spare time to do it. Every time I was running out of factory ammunition I just went to the shop and bought what I thought to be the last box.
Shooting roe deer with .223Rem
Just when I got my Tikka M595 I got some varmint ammo with it. As I don’t shoot many foxes I used it for zeroing and target shooting. It was a mixture of 40, 50 and 55gr hollow points and BTs. I needed roe deer ammo and surprisingly, there was agreement among Scottish deer stalkers. All agreed Sako 55gr is best. I bought a box and it was shooting below 1″ and I just needed to test it on roe.
My first doe dropped on the spot as well as the second one. The third made 10m. After butchering carcasses I was also very pleased to find little meat damage. Sure, there was some bruising occasionally, but not too bad. No worse than from .243 or .308 and bullet was doing little muscle damage, but internal organs were a mess.
To be honest I also had one strage reaction to the shot, but it was when I shot a doe that spotted me and started running away. She looked back and I shot her aiming behind the shoulder. She ran 30-40m and stood. I shot her again and she dropped. As I examined the carcass both shots were good and maybe 1″ apart. So she would have gone down anyway, but was full of adrenaline and was running away, so not really caliber problem, but see for yourself.
My objective was to develop a load that would perform as well as Sako 55gr or better. My Tikka M595 really likes Sako ammo and would consistently shoot 0.5-1″ groups with it. The bullet is just a simple Soft Point so looking at what was available in local gun shops I decided to go for 55gr Sierra Game Kings SPBTs. It is nice little bullet with a boat-tail end that I think I paid £19 for.
My Tikka has very short 17.5″ barrel and after some research I went for Vihtavuori N130 powder. According to my data it should perform better than N120 and N133 with 55gr bullets in a short barrel. I looked up Vihtavuori load data and Sako load and decided to start from 20gr and load in 5 increments up to 23gr. I could just copy Sako load and they several years ago gave exact powder loads for their ammo, and they also use Viht powder, but in comparison with Viht data it looked hot at 24.2gr. I know Vihtvuori changed their load data to be more conservative over the last couple of years, but if I could not find good load in the 20-23gr range I could still go up to 24.2gr if safe.
I never claimed to be an expert in reloading so do not know if this approach makes sense… I thought I could try a shortcut in load development by copying Sako’s COAL. So far my usual loading process consisted of two steps: find safe and accurate powder weight to suit a rifle and then find most accurate load by varying cartridge overall length. I thought I could skip second step if I copied Sako’s COAL. Both Sierra and Sako bullets look the same, so why not?
I measured all remaining Sako ammo to ogive using Sinclaire hex nut. Sinclaire hex nut is little cheap comparison tool. Much cheaper and easier to use than anything else I could find. Fist thing I noticed was that Sako’s COAL varied a lot… I had only a few Sako ammo left so I just took an average as my target COAL for reloads and it was 2.835″ measured to ogive with the hex nut.
I used my once fired Sako brass and only neck sized it with Lee collet die. I chacked randomly several cases and they never needed any trimming, so I just used Lee chamfer tool and cordless drill to prepare case mouth for loading.
This time I had to be precise with 0.7gr load increments and could not rely on Lee scoops so used RCBS 5-0-2 model scales. I scooped the powder and used RCBS powder trickler to measure accurate loads. I loaded 25 neck sized cases. I loaded 5 different loads, 5 rounds each.
I went to try my loads. Weather was not great so I hid myself under a sitka tree and fired all 25 rounds checking spent cases for any pressure signs. I found none. I am sure there were one or two fliers in some groups, but one group looked great at 0.5″. It was 21.5gr load and the next one 22.3gr also was about 0.9″ and one bullet could be a flier. I could work out another load around 21.5gr and 22.3gr, but it suppose to be a hunting load and 0.5″ group is great for me anyway. I don’t think I can shoot any better. All my shots are below 200m and 0.5″ is very accurate in my book. I loaded remaining 75 bullets and they should last for a while.
Please have a look on my videos, like them on YouTube and subscribe to my channel.