Question On Heart Shots

I have shot numerous animals (scores I'm guessing) through the heart with 30-06. Behavior is almost always the same: jump straight up in the air, running before they hit the ground, go like hell for 30 to 50 yards, then run over themselves ... if they haven't hit a tree first. I have actually told hunters I was guiding (unofficially) to hold off shooting again. "He's done. Not necessary to put another hole in him." Bang-flop is very rare except head shots. The wildebeest I killed my first morning in Africa 2019 simply disappeared on shot. Closer look through the scope showed hooves in the air. I hit him square in the shoulder a little high of center and bullet was lodged in the hide of opposite shoulder, almost the same location. My PH said he'd only seen one other blue wildebeest tip over like that. They are tough. The black wildebeest I shot two years ago, also only 100 yards, also went down immediately with a shoulder shot broadside. Very unusual to knock those stocky low centered animals over with one shot. I don't know if either animal was hit in the heart but I doubt it.
 
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How about Cape buffalo heart shot with a expanding and or solid?
 
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How about Cape buffalo hear shot with a expanding and or solid?
The only thing I know for certain is destruction of the SA node completely stops the ticker. How much O2 they have left in their muscles and brain to be able to run is another matter, I'm slowly realizing.
 
Every deer (whitetail, mule deer & blacktail) I’ve shot through the heart have travelled 50-100 yards, almost as if they take off in a sprint whereas a standard lung shot they drop pretty quick. This was a heart shot whitetail from last season, he sprinted about 60 yards after being shot with 30-06 150 grain federal SP through the center of the heart. I shot it at 10 yards away, well hidden in ground blind! Sorry, no pictures of the heart. I was slightly irritated because I love to fry up and eat the heart!

IMG_0652.jpeg
 
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The only thing I know for certain is destruction of the SA node completely stops the ticker. How much O2 they have left in their muscles and brain to be able to run is another matter, I'm slowly realizing.
Understand, however it is difficult to aim for the SA node given the fact that it is going to be most likely a broadside shot from a distance. Would be good to know if a buffalo can still charge with a pass thru shot of the heart or if the upper vessels are destroyed at close range
 
Photo of a Cape Buffalo heart exactly as removed from the carcass at the skinning shed. The arrow had gone through a rib on the way in penetrated the heart and then impacted but did not penetrate a rib on the other side of the thoracic cavity. The portion of the arrow that did not enter the body was broken off when the animal collided with another buffalo as they ran off which left the front of the arrow in the heart as seen. Buffalo ran about 120 yards before collapse. Broadhead was a VPA 150 grain two blade single bevel.
Second photo is a Zebra heart hit by a NAP 100 grain Spitfire expandable three blade. Animal ran about 200 yards before collapse.
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Zebra HeartIMG_8890 (002).jpg
 
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Understand, however it is difficult to aim for the SA node given the fact that it is going to be most likely a broadside shot from a distance. Would be good to know if a buffalo can still charge with a pass thru shot of the heart or if the upper vessels are destroyed at close range
I wouldn't advocate for it. If one isn't a vascular surgeon or cardiologist, you probably couldn't find it even if you were looking at a heart. I know *generally* it's on the right atrium.
 
Mixed results - a few of the deer I've shot in the heart/top of the heart have dropped on the spot. Not likely that the spine was hit, but perhaps a bullet (or bone) fragment might have hit the spine. Don't know if there would be enough energy in such secondary projectiles to stun the animal. I find it just as likely that they were at peak blood pressure at the time of impact or something like that.

Most have run/walked (I think this depends on how stressed/relaxed they were prior to the shot) anywhere from 5-50 m/yds before bleeding out/losing consciousness.

I normally aim for the top of the heart, or slightly behind that (say middle of the lungs), and to date, I've had three (unintentional) spine shots on game, two of them high (obviously) and a bit back - in these cases the lung was also hit, and they bled out quickly. One was too far forward, and he got up while I was repositioning for a finishing shot, and a not-so-merry chase started.
 

@2:30 in the video, I execute a 390 yard heart shot bang flop on black bear with 7mm rem mag. We did not pay attention to where specifically the bullet hit in the heart, however it was an instant kill. The bear was standing on a rock ledge with her nose in the wind, and she pitched forward dead after getting hit with a single shot through the heart.

After having killed a double digit number of bears, I learned to always aim low in the chest (heart shots) for quickest kills. I've transitioned away from lung shots on deer and elk too, always aiming for the heart. Pigs, I shoot in the head, just behind the ear. In general, if the animal's head isn't a trophy and I can execute a head shot, I will opt for that as well.

As far as specific bullet placement in the heart, given that my handloaded 7mm bullet is transferring between 2,500 and 3,000 foot pounds of energy upon impact, depending on distance, while for lethality it does not much matter in general where specifically in the heart the bullet hits because the heart can not take that much energy transfer and will be destroyed, it is an interesting proposition to identify where exactly the immediate kill switch(es) is/are. If in fact the SA node is that kill switch, it would be good to know, and would be precisely what I aim for.
 
You might find this book interesting. It has been a while since I have read it, but I believe it discusses the human body being able to live 30 - maybe 90 seconds after the heart is completely destroyed.

I have taken many deer and hogs in the heart with bang flop results. Big bullets, speed and lots of destruction are key.

44 Magnum
240 Grain Hornady XTP

 

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My roan taken in 2022 was shot thru the heart at about 15 yards. We had stalked the roan for quite a ways but lost sight of him, while kneeling in some thick brush we could see his legs as he walked towards my PH and I, we waited and he came to an opening at 15 yards and I took a free standing shot from a kneeling position. The roan reared up on two legs like a stallion and let out an incredible groan, then ran about 25 yards and crashed dead. See pic for heart damage. I used the PH’s .308 shooting a 168 gr ELDX.
IMG_1954.JPG
IMG_1925.JPG
 

@2:30 in the video, I execute a 390 yard heart shot bang flop on black bear with 7mm rem mag. We did not pay attention to where specifically the bullet hit in the heart, however it was an instant kill. The bear was standing on a rock ledge with her nose in the wind, and she pitched forward dead after getting hit with a single shot through the heart.

After having killed a double digit number of bears, I learned to always aim low in the chest (heart shots) for quickest kills. I've transitioned away from lung shots on deer and elk too, always aiming for the heart. Pigs, I shoot in the head, just behind the ear. In general, if the animal's head isn't a trophy and I can execute a head shot, I will opt for that as well.

As far as specific bullet placement in the heart, given that my handloaded 7mm bullet is transferring between 2,500 and 3,000 foot pounds of energy upon impact, depending on distance, while for lethality it does not much matter in general where specifically in the heart the bullet hits because the heart can not take that much energy transfer and will be destroyed, it is an interesting proposition to identify where exactly the immediate kill switch(es) is/are. If in fact the SA node is that kill switch, it would be good to know, and would be precisely what I aim for.
Hitting the heart is plenty good enough, I think. A bullet through the atria (top of the heart in humans, front of the heart, I would imagine, in animals) would probably do the deed. There are a number of specialized fibers leading away from the SA node across the surface of the heart. Severing most or all of those would have the same effect, even if you didn't directly destroy the SA node. Severing those fibers near that node would be like cutting the 440 line coming into your house. The node might still be generating electricity, but there is no way to distribute it across the heart.
 
Image1710936800.214820.jpg

This is a heart shot on a moose. The first shot was at a high angle because it was directly under my tree stand. It stumbled a few yards and I shot it again behind the shoulder for a heart shot. At that point it folded like a lawn chair.
The bullet was in the offside front quarter.
The petals were gone but the base remained.
 
For those who've made heart shots that resulted in a bang flop, if you have pictures, I'd appreciate seeing them here.

I have a suspicion about what part of the heart your bullet hit - the heart's built-in pacemaker, called the SA node. I know where the SA node is on a human heart, and I'm guessing it's in the same place for animals - on the right atrium. If the SA node is destroyed, a heart literally loses its capacity to beat, and it's immediate.

It's a really small target: on humans, it's maybe an inch long and perhaps 0.2 - 0.3" wide.

There's no way to aim for it, even on an animal as big as an ele or hippo or cape buffalo. I'm just curious how many of you guys have had bang-flops on any animal where the bullet went through the right atrium, and pictures to show.
SGT_Zim, I’ve made heart shots with both rifle, slug gun, & bow — it is Not the result of great shooting but rather getting your bullet/arrow in the general “kill zone” and happen to hit the heart. I’ve Never had an animal “drop” from a heart shot Unless something else was also struck ie: bone, shoulder etc.. due to angle presented. The exception is Fox w/.22-250 which leaves an exit hole the size of a Lemon so it’s like pushing a Bowling Ball thru a deer….even Coyote have run 50 yrds with heart “center punched”, one Bear (arrowed thru center heart) ran 30 yrds and rolled over/“death moaned”. Others may have more experience and different results but I’d say for the 12–15 deer/bear/coyote that I’ve taken hitting “ONLY heart” those have been my results.
 
I have shot numerous animals (scores I'm guessing) through the heart with 30-06. Behavior is almost always the same: jump straight up in the air, running before they hit the ground, go like hell for 30 to 50 yards, then run over themselves ... if they haven't hit a tree first. I have actually told hunters I was guiding (unofficially) to hold off shooting again. "He's done. Not necessary to put another hole in him." Bang-flop is very rare except head shots. The wildebeest I killed my first morning in Africa 2019 simply disappeared on shot. Closer look through the scope showed hooves in the air. I hit him square in the shoulder a little high of center and bullet was lodged in the hide of opposite shoulder, almost the same location. My PH said he'd only seen one other blue wildebeest tip over like that. They are tough. The black wildebeest I shot two years ago, also only 100 yards, also went down immediately with a shoulder shot broadside. Very unusual to knock those stocky low centered animals over with one shot. I don't know if either animal was hit in the heart but I doubt it.
Ontario: That’s been my experience too - if you want a “Bang Flop” hit High Shoulder and break some bone ! Heart shots with a rifle are “entertaining” because they show you just How Fast a deer can run (for 50-100 yrds)….
 
I have had a couple of "bang-flops" but with my 300 PRC with 215gr Berger hybrid bullets at closish (for the caliber) range. The amount of damage those bullets do internally to the organs is astounding, so I believe the "bang-flop" was due to the nervous system shutting down instantly, but I can't be sure.

I have also seen it on leopard that I have guided as well with a multitude of different calibers and bullets, but cats do have a weaker nervous system in my opinion.
 
No pictures so I can't really add to the discussion.
Awareness of the hunters presence would be another interesting data point.
 
sgt_zim, an interesting thread to be sure. But now I've got some research to do. Nathan Foster (a long-range hunter from New Zealand) discusses this topic in one of his books. Instant kills are achieved by shots to nerve centers. One of them is near the heart. Now I've got to look it up so I can quote him properly. I found what I was looking for rather quickly. " Thoracic Autonomic Plexus" is the term he uses. It is located in front of the heart of a deer. He says "to aim at the front line of the front leg to destroy the most forward section of the lungs and autonomic nerve ganglia." He further states that "heart shot deer can run 300 yards."
 
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I've used several different calibers from 243 (yes Bob I own two) to 300 Weatherby Magnum to hunt deer, and hogs. I've seen them drop where they stood, to run like if I didn't even hit them.

One hunt in particular in South Dakota during the rut. Good friend (guide) and I were looking at a corn field, and a buck with 5 does popped out. He told me to take the buck, and I shot. Buck took off, buck didn't kick, react, nothing. My friend said you missed. I said I heard the smack of the bullet impact. So, we are arguing while we are walking to where the buck was. We found hair, pieces of bones, meat and lots of blood. The buck ran about 120-130 yds, and Ray Charles could have followed the blood trail. Heart and lungs were destroyed, and he ran that far. This was with a 30-06 shooting 180 Win ammo.

Another one, a big body deer walked out at last light, he was roughly 100 yds out. I shot, and the deer stood there, like nothing had happened. I was in disbelieve that I had missed at such a short distance, worked the bolt really fast and was about to shoot again. The deer took two steps, and turned, when he turned, he wobbled a bit and fell dead. This was with a 7mm Weatherby Mag, shooting 139 grs Weatherby ammo.

I've seen them drop to jump back up and run like nothing. I've seen them run squirting blood 3 ft in the air, and wondering how in the world is this possible. Since I'm hunting for meat, I'll always shoot them behind the elbow, heart/lung shot.
 

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