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Trouble dispatching with captive bolt gun (graphic photos)

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Trouble dispatching with captive bolt gun (graphic photos)

Post Number:#1  Unread postby averydeadbird » Mon Dec 03, 2018 1:11 am


I processed my first litter of rabbits today. For the first two, I used the Ballista penetrating bolt gun (https://www.bunnyrancher.com/store/p42/ ... _Gun_.html). I had watched the video on their website and read the PDF instructions on where to place the bolt, and to apply firm pressure. However with both of these rabbits, they didn't seem to die or even be properly stunned after the bolt hit them. Their kicks were completely different from what is shown on the video, and they continued with labored breathing. After I shot the first one, I hung it at my butchering station and slit its jugular to dispatch it. With the second one, I saw that it too wasn't killed or stunned, and I quickly shot it with the bolt gun a second time. Then I hung it and it screamed as I started to cut its jugular. I was appalled. I had expected easy, humane kills with the bolt gun.

I finished processing all the rabbits. (I used the broomstick method for the remaining four rabbits and had no problems. Their death kicks looked very similar to what is on the video, and after just a few seconds they went totally limp.) Then I pulled the head of the first one back out to examine it. I skinned it, then cut through the skull at the point where the bolt had entered. The hole looks like it's exactly where it should be, and the bolt definitely went straight through the rabbit's brain. Pictures attached.

What went wrong here??
Attachments
18-12-02_butcher07b.jpg
Close up of front part of brain after slightly poking at it, showing that the bolt definitely went all the way through it. Sorry it's blurry; didn't realize until after I downloaded it.
18-12-02_butcher07b.jpg (137.48 KiB) Viewed 125 times
18-12-02_butcher06b.jpg
Head cut open right where bolt entered. Front half at top of photo. You can see some disturbance of the brain.
18-12-02_butcher06b.jpg (101.41 KiB) Viewed 125 times
18-12-02_butcher05b.jpg
Head skinned to show hole from bolt gun.
18-12-02_butcher05b.jpg (109.63 KiB) Viewed 125 times
18-12-02_butcher04b.jpg
Blobs by eyes are just coagulated blood that dripped down there. Bolt gun hit in center of head.
18-12-02_butcher04b.jpg (81.1 KiB) Viewed 125 times

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Re: Trouble dispatching with captive bolt gun (graphic photo

Post Number:#2  Unread postby akane » Mon Dec 03, 2018 2:12 am


Looks a bit high to me and possibly tipped enough to just barely slow death. I did always use my pellet rifle behind the ears angled toward the nose though so I haven't shot rabbits specifically from the front.
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Re: Trouble dispatching with captive bolt gun (graphic photo

Post Number:#3  Unread postby SarniaTricia » Mon Dec 03, 2018 12:03 pm


I was taught to whack them on the back of the head... (HARD!!) ... I was shown the Broomstick for the first time yesterday... I have to say ... I am a fan of the broomstick... easy, quick and sure.....
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Re: Trouble dispatching with captive bolt gun (graphic photo

Post Number:#4  Unread postby akane » Mon Dec 03, 2018 4:11 pm


Broomstick works fine. I never trusted whacking them and then hoping to finish killing them with them fully unconscious. A pellet rifle was so easy though and with no distress for the rabbits. Less than the video of that website with the bolt gun because I didn't even restrain them. I set them in a pen on the grass and pushed the end of the rifle to the back of their heads. 99% of rabbits simply went still and kept their head calmly in place. A quick pop sound and they fall over dead with only 1 possible failure out of several 100. Thoroughly dead. Exploded brain rather than just a hole and only the hindlegs in spasms for a minute with no breathing, noise, or awareness. A bit gruesome as their eyes bulge out from pressure and the blood runs from their eyes, ears, and nose but very much instantly dead with no more handling than pulling them out of a cage and carrying each one to a separate open top pen. Really the only downsides were that you can't use the heads for anything due to a pellet being somewhere in them and the more difficult to contain blood than broomsticking.
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Re: Trouble dispatching with captive bolt gun (graphic photo

Post Number:#5  Unread postby averydeadbird » Mon Dec 03, 2018 7:24 pm


I liked the idea of the captive bolt gun because it wouldn't leave a pellet or bullet behind. I feed the heads to my dogs. Broomstick worked great (better than I expected) in terms of quick death. However it was more difficult to maneuver the rabbit and stick into place. With the bolt gun, I could sit down with the rabbit between my thighs so that it was gently restrained and I could take my time to position the gun. Minimally stressful for the rabbits, since they had been handled and cradled from birth.

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Re: Trouble dispatching with captive bolt gun (graphic photo

Post Number:#6  Unread postby Nymphadora » Tue Dec 04, 2018 1:21 pm


averydeadbird wrote:Broomstick worked great (better than I expected) in terms of quick death. However it was more difficult to maneuver the rabbit and stick into place.

Have you looked into the Hopper Popper or a similar device? It's less fiddly than a plain broomstick, you just slide them in, give a sharp tug, and done. I've been using one for the past year and it's been very quick and easy for me.

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Re: Trouble dispatching with captive bolt gun (graphic photo

Post Number:#7  Unread postby averydeadbird » Tue Dec 04, 2018 5:18 pm


Yes, I'm planning on getting one of those if I can't improve my results with the captive bolt gun. What's funny is that I had ordered a rabbit wringer earlier, but instead of sending me 1 wringer and 1 butchering station, they sent me 3 butchering stations. Since I was planning on having friends over to help with butchering day and in the meantime I'd also purchased the bolt gun, I just kept them. Now I'll need to place another order. :lol:

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Re: Trouble dispatching with captive bolt gun (graphic photo

Post Number:#8  Unread postby akane » Tue Dec 04, 2018 5:35 pm


The existence of a pellet did cause some waste since most of mine went to the dogs. I have a rabbit wringer but never really somewhere to install it permanently. I was looking into a captive bolt gun at one point. I couldn't really find much several years ago besides something like the $500 zinger. Not worth it just to avoid the pellet from a $40 rifle that did the job or a free "broomstick".
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Re: Trouble dispatching with captive bolt gun (graphic photo

Post Number:#9  Unread postby michaels4gardens » Tue Dec 04, 2018 7:52 pm


I have always used cervical dislocation, except with older bucks, with them- I used a pellet gun, or a piece of 1/2 inch water pipe to whack them on the head....
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Re: Trouble dispatching with captive bolt gun (graphic photo

Post Number:#10  Unread postby Jessykah » Wed Dec 05, 2018 2:19 pm


I had the same difficulty with my bolt gun. I was so excited by the more humane way of killing, or so I thought. I was using the broomstick. I am very happy with that method, other than the pooling of blood at the shoulder (even though I cut head off super quick and bleed out fast). That and being very pregnant not able to bend much, I bought the bolt gun. I placed exactly like directed and perfect kill on a sr buck. I was encouraged. I tried to do several other rabbits of various ages. Many of them were still alive after. Laboured breathing, kicking like crazy (not the normal after death kicks). Obviously alive. I am pretty tough, but found it hard to watch. Second time with bolt gun still didn't kill them and resulted in a bloody gun. I finished their suffering with the broom stick. I was almost traumatized and of course that was not humane for the rabbit. I am almost embarrassed to tell it but for educational purpose, I share my story. I did think that it was just user error on my part (even though I followed instructions), and I thought that I must just have to try again and learn how to do it, adjusting slightly. So I placed the gun slightly closer to the ears than I had it the other times. Instant kill, just like the first. That's better. The first rabbit was an angora, so I didn't aim as well with all the fluff, and that explains why by chance I got it right the first time. So now I will try again when I have more to process and I will place it slightly higher than I was on the failed attempts. After a bit if it's still proving too difficult to get near instant death EVERY time, I will go back to the broomstick. I really want this to work though, as it's the most ideal way to dispatch if it works every time.

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Re: Trouble dispatching with captive bolt gun (graphic photo

Post Number:#11  Unread postby averydeadbird » Wed Dec 05, 2018 2:49 pm


Jessykah, thank you SO much for sharing your experience! Very similar to what I just went through. I really want to figure out why it didn't work as well as expected, but I don't want to keep experimenting on the poor rabbits if I don't have any idea how to fix it.

My mama doe is already pregnant with her next litter and they will be due for dispatching around early March. If your next attempts are before then, please let me know how it goes!

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Re: Trouble dispatching with captive bolt gun (graphic photo

Post Number:#12  Unread postby akane » Sat Dec 08, 2018 6:05 pm


I think the issue of a bolt not producing the same force as even a pellet makes not just placement but angle more important. People have even recovered to live normal lives or close to it after impressive injuries from their brain being impaled and reports of people or animals with smaller brain area to damage surviving nail guns is not hard to find. When we are talking about destroying the brain not just enough to kill but to kill instantly the damage has to be surprisingly specific. Unfortunately precision is hard without practice and most don't have an experienced person to show them.

It sounds bad but it's actually become kind of instinctive for me to determine where to aim something like a bullet or how to cervical dislocate by hand after having raised a few different small food animals and a lot of types of rodent feeder animals. Even using a different but similar method you start to figure out what works cleanly to apply it another way. It comes back to doing it enough times though and that is not a common thing these days. I had a heck of a time finding someone to help me with those first quail I ever butchered and my method of lopping heads with shears proved more effective for me. Less for them as they kept failing to get as sufficient of cut even after swapping pairs of shears. It wasn't what they were used to but after that first batch of 200 quail I could cleanly dispatch any poultry including guinea fowl and with an axe. Same concept but far cry from starting out lopping quail heads off over the sink by feel because I couldn't do it without covering their heads with a towel. My first axe cut failed too as I adjusted for aiming from a distance at the same spot as holding shears around quail.

I could probably still recall every failure of every method with every animal nearly 10 years and possibly pushing 1000 individuals later but it means I hardly worry about not being able to cleanly kill something when I have to and after a couple years of not raising my own food or feeders I have a need to again. If I don't get more rabbits and rodents I'm going to have to give up a few carnivorous animal hobbies. Frozen whole prey gets expensive and my husband is still going on about arctic foxes. :roll: The times I had to experiment a little are probably worth it for the future animals given the variety of animals and uses we have for them between both enjoying the idea of raising human food and exotic carnivores or omnivores. Doing only rabbits with a single use it might be better for some to stick to whatever works without fail from the first time. It depends how much need you have for such knowledge.
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Re: Trouble dispatching with captive bolt gun (graphic photo

Post Number:#13  Unread postby Preitler » Sun Dec 09, 2018 7:18 am


Well, I don't know commercial captive bolt guns, I built my own, featuring a 6mm diameter/30mm long bolt, and force beyond good or evil (need to step on the handle and pull with both hands to cock it). For me, besides bopping them with a flat steel bar, this is the best method, after firing I quickly rotate the bolt so that even if I didn't hit the sweet spot right away the brain is destroyed thoroughly. I always have my army knive or that steel bar close as a backup method.

I only had one real failure over the last 3 years, rabbit jerked just the moment when I pulled the trigger and the bolt entered too far on one side, well, it's really good to have a fast backup.

I don't try broomsticking, that involves too much handling them and my physical strengh isn't exactly even close to average.
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Re: Trouble dispatching with captive bolt gun (graphic photo

Post Number:#14  Unread postby ladysown » Tue Dec 11, 2018 1:56 am


so good to read these stories.
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