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Using varmint calibers for subsistance hunting

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  • Using varmint calibers for subsistance hunting

    Anyone have some experience with this? I've heard of natives using .223 primarily and reading Heimo Korth who swears by his .22-250. Just wondering if any of you have some experience doing this and how it worked out, what you used, what you shot, range etc.
    Please refrain from the "can't or shouldn't be done with anything less than a .338" mentality.
    I've been hearing stuff second hand that folks are doing it with sucess on bous to bear, I'd like to hear some first hand experiences.


  • #2
    No first had exp but I did watch a youtube video the other day with a girl all of maybe 11 years old shooting a bou in the noggin at quite a distance. It died. That said if cheap is the answer then Stranger has it right with his Mosin and mil surp rounds. A decent 308 will kill anything you wanna shoot with it up here for cheap as long as you put the lead where it needs to go.


    • #3
      When I was in Nuiqsuit the only centerfire rifle I saw was the Mini 14 shooting UMC FMJ ammo. Lots of dead critters hanging from meat racks so apparently it works. Bear in mind, these guys hunt all the time- spending much more time in the field than an average sport hunter ever does.

      I've seen 22-250 used on bou and it worked fine.

      I've used a .223 on smallish whitetails a few times with generally great results but when it failed once it was miserable. Behind the shoulder lung shots simply had to be seen to be believed- dropped several in their tracks and they never moved.

      A friend of mine spent a lot of time in Canada in years past- the .222 was the go to round for the subsistence hunters there.

      If I were a subsistence hunter I'd use one with few qualms- ie. lots of field time, plenty of opportunity, and reasonable range.
      Personally I'd be all done before you got to bears but for bou and seals I'd be fine- I'd like something bigger for moose though.

      As a sport hunter with shorter seasons, fewer opportunities and generally looking for bigger and more diverse critters I'll stick to my .300
      "I do not deal in hypotheticals. The world, as it is, is vexing enough..." Col. Stonehill, True Grit


      • #4
        It's not my cup of tea, but I've hunted with local hunters that have harvested moose cleanly with the .223 Remington. I've never seen them shoot just once, but it is effective at the ranges I've witnessed. Subsistence hunting is categorically different from sport hunting, but to answer your question the .223 Remington accounts for a fair percentage of the moose killed in GMU 17.
        Foolishness is a moral category, not an intellectual one.


        • #5
          I shot a few deer with a 22-250 many years ago. It was highly accurate and I was shooting from a rest, and head shots don't prove anything.

          Over the years I've hunted deer on and off with village friends using an assortment of 223's. If there's a trend in the experience it's that the old guys shoot once with a bolt gun and never seem to miss their head shots. The other half of the trend is that the young guys like their semi's and shoot lots with hits wherever they cut fur. Not my cup of tea by any means, but I'm a geezer too.

          Basically guys that grow up shooting expensive ammo and no village store for groceries don't seem to miss very often. Call it good marksmanship, good hunting skills and small magazines.
          "Lay in the weeds and wait, and when you get your chance to say something, say something good."
          Merle Haggard


          • #6
            The Hornet and 222 were big medicine in the far north for years.Yes they left the house with plans on takeing even polar bear. Of course these were hunters whose whole life depended on takeing game and at twenty had more knowledge than most hunters in a lifetime of steady at it.
            Now left only to be a turd in the forrest and the circle will be complete.Use me as I have used you


            • #7
              The .223 is cheap, ammo is inexpensive, and it doesn't kick. All reasons why it is popular. I won't go into all the crap I've seen though. Personally I would like to see .224 outlawed for anything more than 100 pounds.
              Great spirits have always found violent opposition from mediocre minds. The latter cannot understand it when a man does not thoughtlessly submit to hereditary prejudices but honestly and courageously uses his intelligence. Albert Einstein

              Better living through chemistry (I'm a chemist)

              You can piddle with the puppies, or run with the wolves...


              • #8
                I live and work on the slope and see a large amount of subsistence hunters using .223 and FMJ. They bring home lots of caribou, so it accomplishes their goals.

                I grew up a sport hunter, so it took me a long time to understand the subsistence concept and their methods. The bottom line is that a true subsistence hunter has to come home with an animal every so often or he and his family will go hungry. When you have something like that on the line, a subsistence hunter will do things to survive that a sport hunter wouldn't even consider.
                "Beware the man with only one gun; he may know how to use it."


                • #9
                  I've killed a couple of mule deer bucks with a .223 and 55 gr softpoints but other than that haven't much experience shooting eatin' size critters with a varmint caliber but .223 have accounted for plenty of "2 legged varmints" for sure - I don't hold much for the "spray and pray" mentality though - A good friend used to come with us back in the days of liberal cow elk hunts in Snake River, he was notorious for "goin' out for an evenin' hunt" and coming back for help with the cowS he shot with his lightweight 7mm/08 ackley, all head shots and most beyond 200 yards - Point? ya don't have to shoot a peashooter to make head shots
                  Last edited by back country; 05-28-2011, 06:45. Reason: bad spelling


                  • #10
                    Back in the Depression, Dad tells of shooting mule deer and antelope with head shots from a .22 LR. Even through the War, when ammunition was scarce, and they, being farmers, were 'allowed' .30-30, 12 ga. and .22 LR for "pest" control. He DID mention, though, that to be effective with his little Stevens single shot .22, he had to be REAL sneaky to get close enough to make it work reliably. I once saw my Granddad Walton, while eating breakfast, ask me to open the back door, and "fetch me my .22"...when I looked out into the orchard, there was a dandy Mule deer buck who'd walked his forelegs up the trunk of the tree, and was feasting on that year's apple crop. One shot, using the coffee pot for a rifle rest, into the right eyeball at about 75 yards, and it dropped as if poleaxed.
                    Still, I would NOT, nor would Dad or Granddad, recommend it to "just anyone".


                    • #11
                      The .223 and FMJ bullets do not make a big game round that I would recommend for any average big game hunter, myself included. I know darn well I can kill almost any thing in North America and most of the world with one if I am close enough and can put the the right bullet in the right place. How fast I can kill it and and how far away is another story. It is my understanding that the .308 Winchester accounts for lots of big and tough critters in Africa, in the hands of a experienced hunter doing control work. A friend of mine shot several black bear in Prince William Sound with the .223 and 55 grain soft points and another friend used his when we deer hunted Montague. Both were shooting scoped bolt action rifles. They did fine. I carried my 30-06 because I always admired the beautiful 9" foot Brown Bear hide that my old friend Mayanard "Perk" Perkins shot on the charge when him and Duncan Gilchrist were hunting Montague in the 60's. My Dad said a few Blacktail's fell to his .22 for a couple of years in the 50's when he was dirt poor in Washington state, wish I could remember it. What we don't hear is how many times a critter requires multiple shots or gets away wounded because a .223 and FMJ bullets were used. To think subsistence hunters don't loose an animal to poor shot placement or being under gunned is to be naive. Will it work, sure seems to in the right hands and lots of caribou are not very big. I will stick with my .338 or 30-06 and use the .223 for other situations.


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