Feral Camel Cartridges

By Chuck Hawks

The feral camels of Australia are large, CXP3 animals typically scaling between 880 and 1320 pounds on the hoof. To kill one humanely requires a rifle cartridge of reasonable power. For North American hunters, your elk or moose rifle will probably suffice.

Please bear in mind that, for all calibers, I am assuming that the hunter uses a controlled expansion bullet of adequate sectional density, the minimum SD being around .248 with premium bullets. Bullets of adequate weight would include 140-150 grains in .270 caliber, 150-175 grains in 7mm, 165-200 grains in .30 caliber, 195-220 grains in 8mm, 225-250 grains in .338 caliber, 225-250 grains in .35 caliber, 250-286 grains in 9.3mm and 270 grains in .375 caliber.

Examples of recommended Premium bullets include the Barnes TSX Bullet, Swift A-Frame, Nosler Partition and AccuBond, Speer Grand Slam, Remington Core-Lokt Ultra, Hornady InterBond, A-Square Dead Tough and Federal Trophy Bonded Bear Claw. Obviously, the hunter needs to get that bullet into a vital spot (usually the heart/lung area, neck vertebra or brain).

One of the real problems with cartridge recommendations is the vitality and state of mind of the individual animal when shot. Most hunters have noticed how relatively easy it is to kill a relaxed animal and how difficult it can be to stop an animal fleeing for its life. These are variables that are hard to account for in any list. For the record, all of the cartridge suggestions below assume a reasonably undisturbed animal.

The cartridges mentioned below are examples of satisfactory camel cartridges. If a cartridge is not listed it does not mean it is no good. Look for a cartridge with similar ballistics. If you find one, then the cartridge in question is also probably adequate. Feral camels are often shot at rather long range, so a reasonably flat trajectory can be important.

Based on my research, I regard the following as adequate feral camel cartridges, if the hunter puts a decent bullet into a vital spot. They are unlikely to produce an instant kill, unless the central nervous system is disrupted, as camels are large creatures with big lungs that take time to fill with blood. Effective cartridges include the .270 Winchester, .270 Magnums, 7mm Magnums, .308 Winchester, .30-06 Springfield, .300 Magnums, 8mm Magnums, .338-06, .338 Magnums, .35 Whelen, .35 Magnums, 9.3x62, 9.3x64, 9.3x74R and the various .375 Magnums. The big bore calibers (.40 and larger), while more than adequate killers, generally don't shoot flat enough to be useful in typical Australian hunting conditions.

Australian correspondent Alex Wyschnja, a very experienced feral camel hunter who has used everything from a .243 Winchester to .375 H&H on camels, wrote to me that, "They are very heavily-boned beasts of burden. The front leg is thicker than a human thigh. The best place to hit them from side on is just behind the front leg, half way up to get into the chest/heart region. I know this very well, as I have recovered many fired projectiles from shot camels." He also stated that, "The .270 Win., .308 Win., .30-06, 7mm Rem. Mag, .300 Win Mag., .338 Win. Mag. and .375 H&H are very common calibers in Australia. All the other larger calibers are quite rare and it may be difficult to get ammo or components. When camel hunting, bigger calibers are always better."

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Copyright 2006, 2016 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.