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Thread: Deer only..realistic field shooting

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    Default Deer only..realistic field shooting

    I am a medium to big bore fan, but in general I like what works. At age 15, my 223 rem claimed my first whitetail in the Adirondack mountains of northern N.Y. Later a model 99 in 300 sav. So too the .284 win,257 Rob AI, 25-06AI,35 Whelen, and the 45-70. Out of all these cartridges perhaps one would be considered a deer cartridge while the others would(minus the 223) be deer and...other,bigger stuff rounds. Now I know, thousands of elk have been harvested with the 257, let alone in the A.I. version...but that's not the direction I'm heading with this "question." Given all we have today in reguards to premimum style bullets, What are our "Deer Only" cartridges? I'm talking about a cartridge that could be shot by all legal hunters (say 14 years old and up...man or woman) and that would propel a ethically weighted and expanding bullet (except in the case for cast bullets) through a deer at the place you want it to go. I know this brings up the Ol' "I put a deer down with a pass through shot on a squirrel with my Daisy red rider B.B. gun..." and of course the story of "I shot him at 60 yards, broadside right through the heart 5 times, reloaded and shot him twice more, but there was no blood...only to find him a few days later half a mile away...I'll never use a "xxxcaliber" on deer again."

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    I have taken most of my deer ( mule & black tail) with an open sited Model 94 .30-.30. IMHO this is the best gun & cal. to start the young ones off with. It promoats good site picture pratice, is easy to handle, and has enought power to do the job at modest range.

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    thanks for the response Akursus, Yeah, I'm thinking your right on the money with that choice. This is a narrow catagory, I know. And I think you hit the nail on the head with your comment of "...at moderate ranges." A deers heart isnt much larger that a Pringles potato chip can in diameter, and I think that the best way we can compinsate for the mystical "bullet failure" possibility, is to shoot through an invisible path, tunnelling through the most vital area of our game. See, I like the "archers" philosophy (man, I wish this thing had a spell checker). They don't take shots at distances beyond their level of skill. It's really hard to shoot, say your 30-30 through a pringles can 10 out of 10 times at 50 yards. I think that this is what we need to get back to ...maybe we'll find more calibers suited for deer are out there than we thought...but I agree with you on the 30-30.

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by 358wsm View Post
    I am a medium to big bore fan, but in general I like what works. At age 15, my 223 rem claimed my first whitetail in the Adirondack mountains of northern N.Y. Later a model 99 in 300 sav. So too the .284 win,257 Rob AI, 25-06AI,35 Whelen, and the 45-70. Out of all these cartridges perhaps one would be considered a deer cartridge while the others would(minus the 223) be deer and...other,bigger stuff rounds. Now I know, thousands of elk have been harvested with the 257, let alone in the A.I. version...but that's not the direction I'm heading with this "question." Given all we have today in reguards to premimum style bullets, What are our "Deer Only" cartridges? I'm talking about a cartridge that could be shot by all legal hunters (say 14 years old and up...man or woman) and that would propel a ethically weighted and expanding bullet (except in the case for cast bullets) through a deer at the place you want it to go. I know this brings up the Ol' "I put a deer down with a pass through shot on a squirrel with my Daisy red rider B.B. gun..." and of course the story of "I shot him at 60 yards, broadside right through the heart 5 times, reloaded and shot him twice more, but there was no blood...only to find him a few days later half a mile away...I'll never use a "xxxcaliber" on deer again."
    For deer only, I'll narrow it right down to 24 caliber. Smaller than that, no. Bigger than that, and it has more capability for bigger game. Having started quite a few new shooters including my wife and kids, I've been very satisfied with the 243 and 6mm in their hands, both with Nosler Partitions. Given a little experience and free run of my gun racks, it's downright amazing how many of these folks have settled on the 7x57 for their next step up. Some, including my wife and one daughter, won't shoot anything bigger whether for moose or elk.

    But if one gun is for deer only, then the 24's do it. A couple of the smaller 25's, notably the 25-35 and the 250-300 are darned near deer-only. But in my long experience with the caliber the 25-35 is marginal for deer and misses on the low side, while the 250-3000 just barely nudges up into the bigger game caliber with 120 grain bullets. I'd rather shoot the 250-3000 for elk, for example, than a 243 or 6mm, but it's way down the list on possible elk calibers-- so far down in fact that I'd rate it an experts-only and close range elk number rather than a beginner's gun.

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    I'll have to go with Brownbr on this one. .243 is an ideal deer caliber. Light recoil, good selection of excellent bullets and very easy to become exceptionally proficient with. Wouldn't shoot much bigger with it however.

    Down South all of us poor kids wanted one of these something fierce. Dual purpose groundhog/ whitetail gun. I had a Ruger 77 tang safety that shot much better than I did. A Weaver 6x found at a garage sale and I was in business. Hitting a small whitetail in the vitals was pretty easy after a summer blasting whistlepigs in the head in the back pasture.

    Darn I miss that gun.

  6. #6

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    Why go with a gun that is for deer only? You could get a 270 and use the managed recoil ammo and still get way better performance all around than the 30-30. And they sell Swift A-Frame ammo for the 270, it kind of broadens it's use.

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    Default A good post...

    In my native southern Missouri where the white tail is king, there are really only two calibers that you will always see, that being the 30-30 and the 243 Winchester.

    It is my very unofficial opinion that those two are the most popular deer calibers in that region. Many other calibers are seen and maybe here in the past few years those numbers have changed but the 243 is very popular especially for younsters and women due to it's very light recoil. There are other calibers that would be just as well received at the shoulder but be a bit more effective in the field. Namely the newer 308 progeny, 260 Remington and its European metric counterpart, the 6.5 Swede. Also the well proven 257 Roberts and it's parent cartridge, the 7x57 Mauser. And in this same list would be the 7mm-08. This group is not so well know and ammo is not so available.

    I never really warmed up to the 30-30 or the 243. Maybe it was simply because I am for the underdog, the lesser known, the under achiever, such as the 250 Savage. Or it may be because they are so...so common. Everybody's got one, so I use something different. I think it is the popularity of the 243 that makes it so popular. They can be found on every shelf by every maker and every configuration. Bolt, lever, pump or semi-auto 243 rifles can be found. And along with this is the availability of ammo, every Wal-Mart in the country will carry it. It is not for me.

    I dislike its use for deer because the ammo is so indescriminately selected and deer hunters are as likely to pick up a box of 60 grain hollow point varmint loads as they are to get 100 grain partitions. Also there is little or no discipline amongst many hunters and the range limitations of the caliber or hunter are rarely followed.

    This of course cast no dispersions on the caliber, in the hands of a cool shot, it is a good one, but there are many less than accomplished rifle toting hunters with this and other calibers they cannot shoot.

    What would be my own self imposed limits of caliber would be reflected in the way I hunt and quite honestly my ability in the field. I don't think even a 1/2 MOA 30-30 in a Remington 788 with a 6 power scope is a long range deer gun even though I can make 300 yard shots with such a rig. (That was a dandy shooter) I want to carry a gun that will exceed my ability in both accuracy and long line killing power. Certainly a 30-06 is a better killer at 300 yards than the 30-30 or the 243, and I can out shoot either of them. ( I can hit farther with both than they can make a clean kill.)

    For some folks where the shot will be more sure and much closer, (Grampa's orchard) due to youngster's ability to shoot and tolerate recoil, I would suggest something less than the 243. I let my grandkids use much smaller calibers, such as the 223 and the 7.62x39. These are supervised hunts and usually less than 50 yards and the important thing is for the youngster have fun and learn to hunt. It may also be a good opportunity to learn some tracking skills and to learn the importants of a well placed shot. These calibers require precision to be effective. Eight to ten year olds rarely tolerate the recoil of a 243 well. It is a very high pressure round. Of course handloading their own ammo to make any caliber more effective and shoulder friendly is also part of the learning process.

    I think my limit of caliber for a deer rifle for the way I hunt, be it river bottom or wooded hillside, would be the 6.5X55 or the ballistic twin, the 260 Remington. I hunt with many different calibers because I have them and often that is a 308 Winchester of some persuasion or any of several on that case, 260, 7mm-08, 338-08, etc. I am also a strong believer in the 270 or 6.5-06, prefering the latter, or the 6.5-284, for what has become known as bean field hunting. When hunting long, flat, open river bottoms where shots from stands come long and require precision and long line killing power, a fully capable cartridge is needed. Similar to the Sendero shots of south Texas that require a full power cartridge for the typically 300 to 500 yard shot, or where ever ones ability limits out.

    If the rest of my days were limited to hunting deer with only one rifle, I'd get by quite well and never feel handicapped with an accurate 308 Winchester caliber in a handy short barreled carbine, such as my Sako Battue.
    Is there nothing so sacred on this earth that you aren't willing to kill or die for?



  8. #8

    Default Boreing

    DITTO what Murphy said !!
    If everyone shot the same caliber and used the same rifle deer hunting would be as boreing as eating oatmeal 3 times a day 365 days a year; just put some rat poision in my oatmeal. I don't want such boredom, half of hunting is new guns and new calibers, and new super-duper bullets.
    The proven maximum a man or woman can shoot well, as well as 15 year old children is a 7.62x54R; the bosnians used women snipers as well, they were armed with 8x57 JS, M48 & M24/47 yugos. The Russians did it in WW2 by issueing sniper rifles to complete companies of women snipers. Some of these women snipers killed 200 or so enemy combatants ( most of their targets were officers). Now that we have proof that thousands of women can shoot a 7.62x54R, WELL ; what would be practical for a whitetail deer.
    This basically means that a woman could shoot a rifle with the same power and ballistics as a 7.62x54R in a rifle the same weight (these rifles didn't have recoil pads). So a woman shooting a 9 pound 308 would be capable of accuracy and have more than adequate power for hunting whitetail deer.
    One the other end of the spectrum are thr 6mm and 22 caliber rifles, many deer have fallen to these small projectiles at blazeing high velocities.
    But, bullet construction and shot placement often solicit failure. These are not the best choices for a Texas Heart Shot or any off angle shooting as well. Haveing used most commercial calibers and alot of wildcats and metric calibers(mostly military); I've chosen a few that work for me and the rest are now in someone elses safe.
    Today I hunt whitetail with a 6.5x55 Swede using 140 grn bullets @2800 fps; or for the closer in brush/timber hunting I've still got the old 30-30.
    MOST high velocity rifles from 25 to 30 caliber built on a 48-57mm case will work for your project; IF you define your perameters and remember the recoil to rifle weight ratios. For every action there is an opposite and equal reaction, weight modifies the reaction.
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    Default excellent responses drawn from experience

    Thank you all for you sharing out of "real field experiences." See, I've a lady friend who loves to hunt. Her house burned down and gone are her pieces of Iron. Last year she harvested a fine Kentucky 10 point( not her first deer by far) with a Ruger compact in .223 Rem. Her other Rifle (which she bought because..."it was pretty") was a 7mm Remington Magnum, she told me it left her black and blue after 3 shots and so it was hard to practice with. Before the fire I offered to load the 7mm with some "reduced loads," but now that's not an option. So, after doing some brainstorming about cartridges that would not only be "shootable" for her (5'3" and 100 lbs.), but would also promote practice and provide the simple pleasure she gets from just standing out back behind the barn and "Blasting" away. Now, she has a clean slate (empty gun rack). I had thought of cartridges like the 257 Roberts, the 6.5 Swed and 260 rem, and others as we moved up in diameter on those cases, but then I stopped to ask myself the question, "What about a Whitetail Only cartridge?" Murphy, I'm with you on the idea of something other that the "same old, same old," and that's why I'll never buy a rifle chambered in 30-06...and it's a great one, just not for me. And Brav01, I too like to keep things interesting, if not exciting, but when it comes to clean kills the same old "boring" consistancy of a short blood trail is enough thrill for me. I have thought over this for a few months, and thought some thing pushing a 140 grain bullet at around 2600-2700 ft/sec would be, well, ideal in a 7 1/2 lb. Rifle. I thought about making up some loads at that level in my 284 win. Browning Micro-Medalion and letting her try it out, rhis should be equivalent to moderate loads in a short barreled 6.5, Right...?

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    Brown bear, Thank you for sharing from your experience. I have seen only 5 deer shot with the 243 win, and I liked what I saw. You say that the next choice up by your wife and youngsters was the x57 case necked to .284 (7x57 Mauser), interesting. I also like that you shared your experience with the 25-35, and I truly appreciated the praise you gave to the 250-300 savage...I like that one, but have no experience 100 grain .257 cal. bullets slower than 3200ft/sec. But again thanks for sharing about that .243 caliber experience and with it the partition bullet.

  11. #11

    Default 284

    Quote Originally Posted by 358wsm View Post
    I had thought of cartridges like the 257 Roberts, the 6.5 Swed and 260 rem, and others as we moved up in diameter on those cases, but then I stopped to ask myself the question, "What about a Whitetail Only cartridge?" Murphy, I'm with you on the idea of something other that the "same old, same old," and that's why I'll never buy a rifle chambered in 30-06...and it's a great one, just not for me. And Brav01, I too like to keep things interesting, if not exciting, but when it comes to clean kills the same old "boring" consistancy of a short blood trail is enough thrill for me. I have thought over this for a few months, and thought some thing pushing a 140 grain bullet at around 2600-2700 ft/sec would be, well, ideal in a 7 1/2 lb. Rifle. I thought about making up some loads at that level in my 284 win. Browning Micro-Medalion and letting her try it out, rhis should be equivalent to moderate loads in a short barreled 6.5, Right...?
    The 284 is a remarkable round; it's flat shooting and somewhat out of the ordinary; It's ballistic capabilities are equal the 280 rem in a shorter action. In your 7 1/2# rifle, I would start with a load which replacates the 7x57mm. Basically a 120-130 grn bullet @2600 FPS, if the little lady feels it isn't too agressive you can always work up a heavier load; you've got lots of rifle left.
    Good luck !
    " Americans will never need the 2nd Amendment, until the government tries to take it away."

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    Just last year I surpassed the milestone of 100 whitetail deer harvested with gun (103 to be exact). Another 63 harvested by bow.

    Of thoses 103 centerfire rifles accounted for around half. Of those rifle killed deer the vast majority were harvested with an 1894 Marlin in 44 mag. I can count on one hand the number of deer that were killed beyond 200 yards. The farthest I have ever killed a deer is 405 yards and that deer was shot with a 243/100 grain bullet way back in the mid 70's. The rest outside of 200 yards were harvest with either that same gun or a Remington 700 ADL in 270 shooting 130 grain fodder.

    Most of my rifle hunting hast been in some pretty dense cover and shots of around 50 yards in are probably what would be concidered the norm. I can honestly say I've never lost a deer shot with the little 1894. I can also say that the 44 has never tried to shoot one in the boiler room via the backside either. Broad side or at least quartering and the 44 mag is all the gun I'll ever need.

    Should I veture to the open country for a deer hunt one day then the 243 would again get the nod!

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    .243 or 6mm is what I would buy for deer only

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    I bought my son a Remington Model 7 Youth in 260 several years ago and it packed more kick than I would have realalized.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 358wsm View Post
    I have thought over this for a few months, and thought some thing pushing a 140 grain bullet at around 2600-2700 ft/sec would be, well, ideal in a 7 1/2 lb. Rifle. I thought about making up some loads at that level in my 284 win. Browning Micro-Medalion and letting her try it out, rhis should be equivalent to moderate loads in a short barreled 6.5, Right...?
    That's just about right on the money for 7x57 factory loads. You can handload the 140 faster, but if she's not going to handload, it's great to have those ballistics in a box.

    The load my wife and daughter use is the 139 grain Hornady spire at a book rated 2700 fps, but from the shorter barrel on my Ruger #1 International it's probably a little slower. Pretty close on my M-77 though, I bet. Doesn't bap you around on the butt end of the gun, but what comes out the muzzle end really baps the deer cleanly.

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    I'm trying to figure out what you mean by a deer only cartridge as anything that will kill a deer nicely will kill a whole lot of things nicely. I don't think there is a cartridge that will only kill deer and nothing else. Now, ideal deer cartridges, theres a bunch that fit almost anyone. I don't like the small high speed stuff like 223 , 243 type as they hamburger a lot of meat if you nave to shoot some where other than in the ribs. A lot of light built people are recoil sensitive so the bigger cases are out as they kick to much with heaver bullets or destroy meat with light bullets. There are a lot of good choices in between. 30/30, 6.5x55, 7x57, 35rem, 260rem 7mm08, 7.62x39, 303 savage are a few. If you are a reloader then most anything of 25cal on up to 35 or so can be loaded to work.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BrownBear View Post
    That's just about right on the money for 7x57 factory loads. You can handload the 140 faster, but if she's not going to handload, it's great to have those ballistics in a box.

    The load my wife and daughter use is the 139 grain Hornady spire at a book rated 2700 fps, but from the shorter barrel on my Ruger #1 International it's probably a little slower. Pretty close on my M-77 though, I bet. Doesn't bap you around on the butt end of the gun, but what comes out the muzzle end really baps the deer cleanly.
    Didn't, or doesn't Ruger chamber the 7x57 in a little #1A configuration also..? The concept of "Deer Only" is just that, a concept. Yes many cartridges "will" kill other bigger animals and are not limited in there ability to kill just deer. Typically though, these "other" cartridges are unessessarly powered for deer in their "original" loadings or in loads other than those prepared by the handloader to reduced levels. For example, I loaded for another younger smaller person, their 257 Roberts. In its factory loadings it was a moderate "bump" against their shoulder. As many of you know, that case can be loaded to a whole other level of performance. At this Level, I heard a deep breath being taken followed by a groan at the shot comming out of the shooters unpleasant reaction to the extra "unessessary" deer killing power. Herein is the beauty of what Brown Bear is saying about "out of the box" loads. "Deer Only" is a practical level of performance from a cartridge to reliably and ethically take deer. When I say "ethically," I mean a shot that that when it once pennatrates the deer's "heavy coat of armor," finds it's way directly into the vitals... an archers choice. Yes this means no extreme angles comming up from the rear, and therefore "waiting for the shot," if nessessary. You'll always find the person who will suggest "xxx cartridge" for beginning shooters, women, and youngsters, But... soon someone will decry "that" cartridge "too light" to be reliable and should be used "only by an expert." Well, most "beginning shooters" are not experts, but most "beginning shooters" if properly taught (to "pick-a-spot, and choose your shot,") will cleanly kill deer with "that" cartridge deemed "too light." Also important to note is that an "ethical" hunter be disiplined, and will impose certain "limits" upon himself according to his own "reliability" not just his guns. Again, the "archers philosophy." Here's what happens,we recomend a cartridges for "beginning and small" shooters to hunt with, but when we think of that particular round for our own hunting we "feel" and for some reason "think" that it's too light to work for us. We have confidence of the "xxx cartridge" in the hands of our beginners, other wise we wouldn't recomend such a cartridge, or wish such disapointment. Usually, "that" recomendation isn't going to be a suitable "Elk Cartridge," nope.., it's going to be a "deer Only." Recomendations...? Thanks All.

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    Well, If we are going to wait for a good shot, then lighter cartridges would work. I'm still not fond of 22cal on deer sized critters as most don't come from the factory with good enough bullets. My first choice would be the 6.5x55 with 139/140gr bullet. Mild recoil,good penetration,reasonable trajectory and most are quite accurate. What else could you want? I would feel well armed with this and a 12 year old shouldn't have a problem with recoil in a normal weight rifle. 120grs are available if recoil is to stiff with 140s.

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    I got my wife into hunting a couple of years ago. I was looking at a 7mm08 as heard it was a good youth and ladies caliber . At the time federal came out with the .338 federal . I decided to get the .338 federal it has very little recoil. very good 250 yd caliber.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 358wsm View Post
    Didn't, or doesn't Ruger chamber the 7x57 in a little #1A configuration also..?
    Yeah, I think so. At least they did. It's a dandy, but I think mine is even better with a shorter barrel and open sights, to boot.

    Actually my #1 "International" isn't one anymore. Within a year of when I bought it long, long ago the forend started to split. When I sent it off to Ruger for replacement, I asked them to put on an Alexander Henry style forend (the slim one with a little groove around the front like on their tropical rifles) instead. Then I added a barrel band for the front sling swivel. It looks for all the world like a miniature 375 or 458, and man, is it ever fast handling and well balanced. It's one of the most accurate and easy to shoot offhand rifles I have ever shot, and being no longer than a M-94 Winnie, it's blazing fast on running game. With its Leupy 1.5x5 on 1.5x, it's like using a giant peep sight, which only adds to the effect. You feel almost like you're swinging and pointing a nice shotgun at a flying bird rather than dropping a high speed deer.

    I trimmed and reblued the safety button on the tang so it doesn't stop the empties and tuned up the ejector spring, so it really shucks out an empty quick. If you keep a spare round or two handy between the fingers of your trigger hand, it's just about as fast to reload a a bolt, too.

    Can you tell that it's one of my all-time favorite rifles? If I had the buxx and the moxxy, I'd have two more just like it so I didn't have to stand in line quite so long to use it. My wife and daughter both rate it #1, too!

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