Blackbuck Management
with my new
Marlin 917V .17HMR
by Donnie Rodriguez
(Click on any picture to enlarge the image)

I received a Marlin 917V for a Father's Day gift this year. After looking at different scopes I finally chose a Bushnell 4-12x40, I mounted the scope and got her sighted in.

Next decision was bullets. I decided to use the Hornady XTP 20 gr. bullets.

There are not a whole lot of bullet choices in .17HMR, but I decided to go with the Hornady XTP 20 grain bullets. The main reason is because I have had really good results with Hornady brand ammunition vs. others brands.
The 20 grain was chosen because I wanted a bullet that would retain most if not all of its weight and would not fragment like the 17 grain polymer tipped bullets.

I sighted the rifle in at 100 yards, 3 shot groups could be covered with a nickel, in a wind of less than 5 mph.

After shooting a box of bullets I was sold on the Marlin 917V .17 caliber. This “sweetie” is not very loud, no recoil, fast and fun to shoot!

Next to try this out on some game. While doing a little research on the .17 HMR most of what I heard about this little pill size bullet is it is nothing more than a “hotrod” rabbit, squirrel and short range prairie dog gun.
I was curious to see what it would do, despite the general consensus of so many that it will not kill anything bigger than a ground hog.

The Hunt:

Saturday (08-27-05) morning I headed to our lease for some Blackbuck Antelope management with my "Sweet Seventeen."

I am running a little later than I want but manage to get out there before the sun comes up.  I head down the dirt road to the pasture that Tammy, my wife, hunts and there was a herd of about 30 Blackbuck Antelope. We all freeze looking at each for a couple of seconds before they break and run and I grab a gun. These critters do not like 4-wheelers in the pastures!

As they all run in different directions one decided to stop and take one last look at what was on the dirt road. I grabbed my range finder and ranged her at 104 yards. I then rested my Marlin 917V .17HMR across my .243 that was in the gun rack (the .243 makes a fine rest in the rack) put the cross hairs dead on the shoulder and squeeze one round off.

The gun made its firecracker “pop” and immediately after that I could hear Thwack!, as the bullet struck its intended target. The antelope kicked its back legs like a bareback horse at a rodeo, then she takes off running. My view was blocked by a mesquite tree, so I was not able to keep her in sight. I waited a couple of minutes and headed into the pasture she was standing in to try and find her. I drove out to where she was standing and made a right turn to follow her path. There she was only about 50 yards from where I shot her.

One down!

After inspecting the shot at the skinning rack I noticed that the bullet went in the right shoulder, thought the top of the heart, both lungs and exited her left side. The bullet stayed in tack and retained its weight.

Later that evening I headed out to locate another Blackbuck doe.

I set up under a big oak tree along a large rock wall.

The antelope usually enter the open field about 100-150 yards from where I sat.

I was going to prone out at the drip line of the big oak tree, but the fire ants were very active. On top of all that the weeds would have blocked my field of view, so I decided just to stand against the tree and wait.

Two Blackbuck Antelope does came from the left and crossed the dirt road. As I was trying to get a good rest the older one saw me move.

She stopped and turned. She was facing me. I found a good “V” in the tree so I  jabbed the forearm of the Marlin in the "V" and ranged the antelope. She was 154 yards away.

The gun was zeroed in for 100 yards, but a ballistic calculator I found stated that the bullet would drop about 3.2" for a 150 yard shot. I put the cross hair right on her nose and squeezed the trigger. The "V" provided a very steady rest for the Marlin. The rifle made its "Crack" and I saw the antelope buckle in her tracks. I looked through the scope and she didn’t move. I continued watching for about five minutes and she was motionless.

I headed to my 4-wheeler so I could pick up the second Blackbuck Antelope of the day.
I had a great time in search of these mystical creatures.

After getting her to the skinning rack I inspected the wound a little more in detail. The bullet entered dead center of the throat and exited the spine, taking a small piece with it as well as shattering the vertebra above and below it. Then it entered again in between the shoulder blade. The Hornady XTP 20 grain bullet did a great job on quickly bringing down the Blackbuck Antelope and retaining its weight.

I am impressed with the accuracy of the Marlin 917V and of the accuracy of the Hornady XTP 20 grain bullet.


Pictures of the wounds on the Blackbuck, graphic and bloody.
Entrance Wound of 1st BBA
Wound from Inside Chest Cavity
Wound from Inside Chest Cavity

Entrance Wound of 2nd BBA
Exit Wound
Entrance into the Shoulder Blades

On each Antelope there was very little bruising as with larger calibers.

Here are a couple of pictures of the entrance and exit wounds on a rabbit.