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November 14, 2007

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Some Lessons Reinforced

Usually, I don't publish photos of me with dead animals, but this unfortunate creature, who breathed his last in Montana on November 3, reinforced a couple of shooting precepts that have always been at the top of my list.


I had this fellow in the crosshairs for a full half-hour before I was able to pull the trigger. I was lying on top of a high dirt bank next to an irrigation ditch, and the deer was between 170 and 200 yards away in a herd of bucks and does, moving between trees and brush so that I could not get a shot. He had no idea I was around. I waited, and had faith, because deer are constantly in motion, and if you're patient, you'll almost always get the shot you've been waiting for.

And when the moment came, I shot right away, because constant motion works both for and against you. When the time does come, all you are going to get is a couple of seconds. Speed and deciseiveness count for much.

I killed him with the 6.5x55 of which I've written recently. The 130-grain Swift Scirocco took him through both shoulders. He went 40 yards and dropped. Because the 6.5 is a medium-velocity round, I didn't have to look at a dinner-plate-size slab of bloodshot meat on either shoulder. There was plenty of damage in between bullet holes, but not the ghastly mess you get with a magnum.

Wish I had known about the benefits of small cartridges much earlier in my hunting career.


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My season starts tomorrow. I don't know why you would be reluctant to publish that photo. I would be very happy to be in that picture! Death is part of life and for the vast majority of animals in North America, the life span is probably less than five years. The manner of death for deer is usually pretty gruesome. Predators start eating once the prey is down. They don't wait until the animal is dead. They just start eating and the prey will live until it bleeds to death or a vital organ is reached. If the animal eludes predators, at some point it will not be able to compete for food and will starve.

You had an earlier blog where we discussed the enjoyment of the kill and I believe that this was a summation of both that blog and the ones that stressed bullet placement of performance.

Your points are well taken! Hopefully I'll think about you when I'm out there and I see that movement in the shadows.


Sorry, that should have read bullet placement over bullet performance.


Well said Yooper. Mr. Petzal be proud to show your take. Did a past experience make you reluctant to publish photos of your kills? If it is a private matter , understood. Just curious about your insight. Patience is a virtue. Id have been nuts waiting that long but I would definitely waited for the shot or let him walk!!


That's a great deer there Mr. Petzal. What did he score?

Congrats and I hope you will do a full article on the hunt.

Blue Ox

Nice muley!!


Mr. Petzal I apologise using your site as a promotion. You have a great sense of humor so I know you are familiar with JR Absher. Iwanted to let the guys to check uot his Newshound blog. Some good stuff there. Again sorry if Im steppin on toes!


Hey Ox, look again!

2 Days until NY opener


That is clearly a whitetail. I imagine that its face is what made you think mule deer, but this is just a very mature whitetail whos face has started to gray.


Great buck. Looks like 135-140?

Chad Love

Keep up the 6.5 drumbeat and just maybe people will start taking notice...

Perhaps someday in the rosy future other hunters, rather than ask "you shoot a what?" with an uncomprehending look on their faces will instead respond "hey, me too, look at my (insert American-made factory rifle chambered in 6.5x55 or 7x57 here).

Just say no to the shortfatultrawowserblasters...

Steve C

I've never had a high regard for magnums. They have a place when you're involved with dangerous game at close range but, for the majority, they smack more of sophomoric chest-thumping.

Clay Cooper

Since opening day of rifle season, I put my hunting companions first shot. Now since they have their deer, tomorrow it’s old Serge’s turn! Opening day is nice, but I like to wait until Wednesday or Thursday after opening day to give deer a chance to settle down in areas I know they will be and have the woods to myself.

I find it funny everyone is going GA-GA on Barnes and Swift Scirocco bullets. My Wife dropped a monster doe dead in her tracks with a 22-250 loaded with Hornady 55 grain soft point with 35 grains of Winchester 748 with a nice base of the neck jugular vein shot. She may be Italian, but she makes a good Indian! I do love my Hornady bullets!
I do believe I lost a brand new Remington 700 CDL 25-06 to my 8 year old Grandson. That little guy is calling it, HIS RIFLE now! 25-06 I find it to be the best youth cartridge yet!

Nice Buck Sir Dave!
Nothing wrong with a 6.5x55!


Dave, though the poor creature was certainly unfortunate, I'm certain he took no small comfort in knowing he was introduced to the life hereafter by a self-actualized SOB of great taste and renown.

WA Mtnhunter

I like the way Hornady bullets shoot in a couple of my rifles, but their soft points and Interlocks come to little bitty pieces when fired at high velocity into large deer or elk. so don't slam good bullets. All of us aren't hunting 90 pound does at close range.

While a .22-250 will kill anything on the planet in the right circumstance and shot placement, it is not a deer rifle. That is why many states do not allow .22 centerfires for deer and elk.

You shoot anything in the base of the neck with a .22-250, it is lights out. But that is a risky and, in my opinion, crappy shot. I have seen the results of such shots and many don't end well. and the fact that one has done this many times over makes it neither right nor appropriate. I'm sure you wil take issue with this, but it is my opinion and shared by many others.


WA Mtnhunter

Dave P.

A fine deer and fine choice of a Stormy Kromer hat, too!

Maybe a future F&S article on deer identification for some of our readers?

Great deer!


Great deer Dave P.!

Actually spotted one yesterday about the same caliber, probably a bit smaller. Problem was, he was trailing and grunting and nothing I did stopped him. He just kept right on moving out of sight! It's bow season right now where I am and not only did he not offer a shot, he never came within range!
Frustrating perhaps, but gun season opens Sat. And I know where he lives!
About the 6.5! I shoot a .270 for the same reasons. Less recoil and more venison!

P.S. Congratulations on a really nice deer!!


Mr. Petzal: Any chance we can get some details on where in Montana and with whom? I'm headed out for Southeastern Montana tomorrow morning with some friends. A ranch North of Sheridan on the Tongue River. There are some MONSTER whitetails along those Montana rivers. Unfortunately, I didn't draw a tag this year so I'm along for the ride and field dressing chores. But it sure as hell beats working for 10 days. On the plus side, we'll try and call coyotes off the gut pile.


Ditto Dave P. I just got back from my annual southern Arkansas hunt. Harvested (I hate the word killed--guess it's my age)a nice 170 lb. 8 point with 17 inch inside spread. Seven hunting seasons with the 7mm-08. Seven shots--seven deer. Keep up the news on the mid range calibers.


Awesome. I thnik you should have used an AR-10 in .308 tho.

Bahhah, just getting your goat!

Chad Love

I'd actually like to know what scope you've got on that NULA?


Nice buck Dave. It looks as though it was a beutiful day for hunting deer. Too bad the rifle in your hands doesn't have a walnut stock with a hand rubbed oil finish and a nicely blued barrel;).

Dr. Ralph

Yeah at first glance I thought Muley too. No shame in this buck, what with the gray face and ears he wasn't long for this world. Huge brow tines... go get 'em Petzal. No disrespect intended by the surname moniker.


nice buck. i've heard a lot of good about the 6.5. i'll stick with my 243 though. last year i dropped a pig in its tracks (headshot) and this year dropped a button buck and an eight point from 100 and 150 yards, respectivly. niether deer so much as twitched.there was no recoil at all.

Blue Ox

An old whitetail, huh? My bad!!

Bernie Kuntz

Nice buck, Dave! I own several magnums, but for deer I use a .243, 7 X 57 or a .280 Rem. 90 percent of the time with complete satisfaction. Also have shot a number of deer with my .270 and .30/06. Magnums are fine when they are needed, but they certainly are superfluous for deer.

A month ago I passed up a shot at a big whitetail buck because there were buildings in the background. Less than two hours later my partner killed the same buck--7 X 6 points with a gross score in the low 160s! It would have been my biggest buck! This was north of Big Timber, MT.

Clay Cooper

WA Mtnhunter
Do you know what the definition for Vegetarian?
It’s actually an Indian word for poor hunter!
I’ll take my 22-250 against any other cartridge on any game up to the largest mule deer!
Never had a problem, all one shot kills and the longest run after being hit was about 75 yards. Turns the lungs into one hell of a bloody mess it does! A Gentleman shot and wounded a nice buck in New Mexico with a 7mm Mag with 175 grain bullets. Hit the deer 3 times and ran out of ammo. While standing next to him, he asked me to drop it for him and I did. One shot at about 650 yards with a Sierra 52 grain Hollow Point. Dropped it like a ton of rocks it did!
By the way, I’m just picking at ya, so don’t take it personally. If using a 22-250 makes you uneasy and/or don’t have the shooting skills then don’t use it. I don’t hold that against anyone.

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