He wasn’t the biggest buck I’d ever seen, but he had eight points and a big body, and at that stage of the season he was a shooter. Head down, searching side to side, neck swollen, he cruised along giving the does’ scent the utmost attention.
At 90 yards, he stopped and gave me a quartering-toward shot, and I placed the crosshairs of the 6.5-284 Norma just inside his foreleg, gently breaking the trigger. At the shot, the buck ﬂipped backward onto his back, legs in the air, and stayed in that position. The 156-grain Oryx had taken him through the heart and lungs, and proceeded to exit just behind the offside ribs, killing him instantly.
THE ORYX IS A PREMIUM BULLET, designed for a perfect blend of expansion – to create a large wound channel – and penetration – to ensure that the wound channel reaches the vital organs. Usually designed in a semispitzer proﬁle, the bullet’s copper jacket is engineered to be thinner at the nose, to initiate expansion, yet gets thicker toward the ﬂat base of the bullet.
In addition to getting thicker, the rear portion of the jacket is chemically bonded to the lead core to make sure that things stay together. Chemical bonding, resulting in what we call a “bonded core” bullet, prevents bullet breakup, and slows the expansion process down to allow the bullet to penetrate deeply. It is one of several methods used to resist overexpansion, a problem common to standard cup-and-core bullets at high-impact velocities, and the Norma Oryx does this well.
Being a semispitzer, the Oryx may not possess the high ballistic coefficient (BC) ﬁgures that some of the sleek, polymer-tipped hunting bullets may have, but at normal hunting distances that doesn’t pose a huge problem. Inside of 400 yards, shots can be made with a bullet in this conformation, and the additional terminal performance can make a big difference when it really counts; should tough shoulder bones, thick hide, or gristle plates need to be penetrated, the Oryx will deﬁnitely hold together for you.
Norma loads the Oryx in their factory ammunition, in calibers from .224 inches all the way up to .375 inches. The smallest are a good choice for those who wish to use a .22 centerﬁre on deer and other similar game. The standard big game calibers, say from 6.5mm up to 8mm, can be used with an additional level of conﬁdence, should the shot angle be less than desirable.
The heavier calibers, from .338 inches up to the .375 inches, will take full advantage of the Oryx’s stature, as these calibers are often used to pursue the largest animals that can be effectively hunted with a soft-point bullet. Norma offers the Oryx in mid- to heavyweight projectiles for caliber, at standard muzzle velocities. Retained weight is often high – above 90 percent in most instances – with expansion usually doubling the original diameter.
THE ORYX IS AVAILABLE IN MOST of the popular calibers, such as the .270 Winchester, .30-06 Springﬁeld, .308 Winchester, .375 Holland & Holland and .300 Winchester Magnum, but also has embraced some of the rarities, like the .308 and .358 Norma Magnums, as well as the Weatherby and Blaser Magnums. Hailing from Sweden, Norma loads many of the metric calibers, like the classic 7×57 Mauser, 9.3x63mm, 8×57 and 9.3x74R, as well as some of those lesser-known calibers here in the States like the 7×64 Brenneke and the 7x65R.
Norma also offers the Oryx as a component bullet for the handloader, so for those of you who like to hunt with your own ammunition, the Oryx remains a viable option.
In the ﬁeld, I like the Oryx for any situation where a difficult shot angle may be the only shot you get, or in an instance where stopping an animal may be necessary. The Oryx would make a very good choice for a hunter who wanted to use his or her .270 Winchester for elk; at 150 grains, the heavy-for-caliber bonded core slug will deﬁnitely hold together well enough to reach the vitals. I also like the Oryx for many of the African species, as well as for our North American bears. Thinking lion and leopard, as well as eland and wildebeest, the Oryx – in a suitable caliber – will provide enough expansion to shred the vital organs, yet will break those tough shoulder bones that guard the vitals.
I also think that a .338 Winchester Magnum or .375 H&H Magnum, loaded with a heavy-for-caliber Oryx, would make an excellent brown bear combination, and would certainly handle any black bear that ever walked. For a hunter who wants to pursue bears with his standard deer riﬂe, the Oryx will handle the shoulder bones and put that bear down quickly. For those who hunt deer with the popular .243 Winchester, the Oryx will surely get the job done, at just about any angle.
Is it accurate? My 6.5-284 Norma will print three of those 156-grain Oryx bullets into ½ MOA groups, as will my .300 Winchester Magnum with 180-grainers. My .375 H&H puts three 300-grain Oryx bullets into exactly 1 inch at 100 yards. For a trio of hunting riﬂes that will handle most all of the big game scenarios across the globe, that’s more than enough accuracy. ASJ
Story and photographs by Scott Haugen
March marks the coming of spring, but most Western states are still a few weeks away from bear season. Turkey season is fast approaching, but if you desire to hunt big game, bears are pretty much it until fall. Or are they?
The closer one looks, the more you’ll find March and April to be prime times to pursue some of the West’s non-indigenous big game, or what hunters refer to as exotics. Exotics are large game animals that were introduced to the United States from other parts of the world, often from their native lands. The history of our nation’s many exotic species is very interesting and the stories behind how each came to be here, even more so.
Many of the exotic species found in Texas are the result of veterans who shipped exotic animals there during the war. Many of these species now thrive and can be hunted. We have the Spanish explorers to thank for the introduction of many goats, some sheep and hogs. Hard-to-access species such as nilgai, scimitar horned oryx, aoudad, gemsbuck, ibex, and blackbuck were also brought to the U.S. through similar sources. It is illegal to hunt many of these exotics in their homelands, which makes it an even more valuable option to hunt them here.
Nearly 15 years ago I traveled through India and saw wild nilgai and blackbuck antelope. Neither species can be hunted there, but my interest to learn more about these animals, and potentially hunt them, grew. I knew I couldn’t afford a free-range blackbuck hunt in South America, but I did learn that blackbucks are plentiful and free-ranging in many parts of Texas. The nilgai, however, is still on my bucket list.
Axis deer are considered by many people to be the most beautiful deer species in the world, and I’ve been fortunate to hunt them in various parts of the South Pacific and Hawaii. When my youngest son expressed interest in hunting these grand deer we once again turned to Texas, where they thrive in many places. If you are looking to put venison in the freezer, this is your deer. Axis meat is some of the best on the planet.
Hogs continue to be prolific in California and Texas, as well as on private ranches throughout various Western states. Hogs also exist on multiple Hawaiian Islands and yield some of the best wild game meat out there. Because hogs gravitate to private lands throughout California where food, water and ideal shelter is more readily found, it is fast becoming a pay-to-hunt scenario; not what it used to be 30 years ago.
Spanish goats and various strains of feral sheep also exist in many places. The country’s best Spanish goat hunting can be found in Hawaii and on private ranches or preserves in multiple states. The same is true for feral sheep, which come in a variety of sizes and coat coloration’s. From black Hawaiian rams to Texas Dalls and corsicans, there are many options when it comes to hunting exotic sheep and they are considerably easier on the pocket book than any of North America’s wild sheep.
The spring months are a great time to hit the road and hunt exotics. If free-range is what appeals to you, start doing your homework, as options do exist. If you are looking for more of a private-land hunt with high success rates on big animals, then perhaps a ranch-style hunt is more to your liking. Whatever exotics you choose, have fun, enjoy the meat and be thankful we even have the opportunity to pursue some of these striking and unique animals. ASJ
Note: For signed copies of Scott Haugen’s popular big game hunting adventure book, Life In The Scope: The West, send $15 (free S&H), to Haugen Enterprises, P.O. Box 275, Walterville, Ore. 97489 or order online at scotthaugen.com.
Scott Haugen is the new host of Alaska Outdoors TV on The Outdoor Channel.