|The body shots
The heart, lung and ‘shoulder’ shots are the most commonly used on all species of game. They represent the largest target area and are quickly lethal. An elephant is no different to any other mammal, and, although the brain shot may be ‘classy’ and the professionals first choice, it doesn’t hold that this is necessarily the best choice for an amateur or indeed the only choice for a pro. An elephant hit through the heart or above the mid point in the lungs succumbs very quickly, if any reasonable calibre round is used. One hundred metres is probably about as far as a heart shot bull will go, and seldom much more than this with a good lung shot. Elephants do not exhibit that almost inexplicable tenacity of life that buffalo seem to be capable of, and a chest shot elephant is almost inevitably dead by the time you reach it. Also, it is extremely unusual for a fatally hit elephant to attempt to attack - they always run away from the hunter. The only significant difference to taking a chest shot on elephant, compared to any other species is that it is imperative to use a solid, since a bullet that hits the lungs only, MUST exit if a reasonable down time is to be expected, and the heart is often partially obscured by the massive leg bones. One critical thing to remember though, is that the whole chest doesn’t constitute the target. The bullet has to be placed so as to hit specific organs: heart, arteries, lungs, which may be large relative to a man or any other animal, but they are relatively small compared to the size of an elephant.
All the old hunters, even ‘Karamojo’ Bell, the greatest exponent of the brain shot, recommend that one’s first couple of elephant should be taken with a heart shot.This is particularly true if one is hunting alone or only backed up by an equally inexperienced partner. The target area is large (roughly 18" by12"), and only a Texas sized flinch or the most severe case of ‘buck fever’ could possibly cause a miss. This shot brings the animal down very quickly, but not quick enough to stop it alerting others. If one is hunting bulls, this is not usually a problem, since any other bulls will either go to the dying animal or run off. A fight only develops with bulls if one is wounded. With cows its a different matter entirely, and if the herd matriarch is shot, a lively time can be counted upon.
To take a heart shot from broadside on, come up the line of the back of the front leg for one third of the distance between the bottom of the chest and the top of the back. This will put the bullets through the top (atria) of the heart. If the front leg is vertical, the bullet should pass through the back half of the leg. If the animal is walking, it is still usual to wait until the nearside leg is swung forward so removing the whole leg from in front of the heart. In the days before premium bullets this may have been necessary, but not any more.