I think you're on the right track there. Bullet selection is more important than calibre, and shot placement is utmost. Doesn't really matter which big game cartridge you use, as long as the projectile is up to the job and you put it where it counts. No point hitting a deer in the back foot with a 500gn .458.On big game, is there any noticeable difference between a 7mm and a 338 or something like that.
Assuming you double lung them with a reliable bullet like the Swift A Frame or Barnes TSX.
Assuming you double lung your game and you have a pass thru relatively speaking no difference. Strictly speaking a double lung shot will be the same result regardless with the assumption your bullet has done its job.
That said the main thing is bullet placement and how far from the target the shot is taken. All well placed shots will kill and animal and each animal are different of how it will react to being hit. Most hit well will not travel very far but there can always be an exception. The animal is only capable of going so far without lungs, severed main artery, or exploded heart.
I also think that RAY S has 4 really good points. It all comes down to shot placement in my book over caliber. To me a whitetail deer is not what I would consider big game any more..and a 7mm or 338 will work fine! You just need enough gun at a close enough range for you to make a great shot. If you can do it with a .243 or 30-30 great. If your going for the 700 yard shot it might be time to select a different gun or caliber? I always laugh when people explode 'lil deer with giant magnums at under 50 yards! LMAOInteresting topic, which normally brings LOTS of opinions. A well placed shot, such as heart or lungs, from most any caliber considered adequate will ultimately result in table fare.....some just don't understand why other's deer don't simply fall when shot, as theirs do. A feeding buck unaware of it's coming demise is a very different target than an alert buck sneaking away from danger, already aware something's amiss, running away, or chasing another buck or doe. They are very different targets, IMO.
+1 -- The only thing I will add is that sometimes you will walk to where the deer dropped and it won't have moved an inch. Other times you will have to find and follow a blood trail. If you used a gun that you shoot well and put a decent quality bullet where it is supposed to go, you may have to follow that trail for some distance, but there WILL be a dead deer at the end of that trail. I can promise you that there is no cartridge you can fire from the shoulder that will guarantee either result.kal, after taking over 100 head of big game(deer, elk, african plains) with cals from 243win,7mm rem mag, 308win, 12ga slugs, and some larger cals, all I know for sure is 'some run, some don't'. hit any of them where you should, with a good big game bullet, and it will be time to field dress and drag. see ya, Bill