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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Experienced hunters please comment................ Many shooters (like myself) have but one big game rifle. Questions are asked often if a certain cartridge is adequate for this or that game. It is always very interesting to see the suggestions, etc. But usually not front and center is the most important factor......the rifleman. Such as his or her shooting skill. Range estimation. Knowledge of the quarry's anatomy. Understanding the rapid drop in downrange energy. And the temperament to hold one's fire if conditions just aren't right for a clean kill.
Such discussions bring to mind an older customer and his wife (both now passed on) that hunted deer and elk together, he with a 30/06 and she with a 250 Savage (which he called a 250/3000). He cautioned his wife to only take broadside shots under a hundred yards, and said she usually dropped her animals where they stood. I would not be surprised if she killed them with the 87 grain bullet that Savage loaded to get over 3000 fps.
I think if I had no access to a more potent rifle I would take my 6mm Rem. on an elk hunt.
 

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I’ve taken lots of deer with a 6mm Remington and 100gr Nosler Partition bullets, and I have no doubt a properly place 100 grainer would kill an elk. But you’d definitely be well-advised to hunt them with a larger caliber, such as a 30-06, as they are quite capable of losing themselves with minimal blood trail. Their long hair soaks up a lot of blood, thus is doesn’t always hit the ground. Their tough bones may not allow for an exit wound. And their tenacity of life can take them to where finding them may be very difficult!
 

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A 22 LR is adequate for pretty much anything. The loose link is the shooter. Doesn't matter what you shoot, if you can't shoot it you just may fail. doesn't matter what bullet you use, you don't know how to use it to advantage, you just may loose. Rifle's, cartridges and bullet's don't fail, shooter's do!
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I’ve taken lots of deer with a 6mm Remington and 100gr Nosler Partition bullets, and I have no doubt a properly place 100 grainer would kill an elk. But you’d definitely be well-advised to hunt them with a larger caliber, such as a 30-06, as they are quite capable of losing themselves with minimal blood trail. Their long hair soaks up a lot of blood, thus is doesn’t always hit the ground. Their tough bones may not allow for an exit wound. And their tenacity of life can take them to where finding them may be very difficult!
A 338 Win Mag wouldn't be adequate if the shooter was not prepared but your point is valid of course.
 

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Your old friend had it pretty much right. if your hunting with a ML keep shots to a range that can kill the quarry with a well placed shot. Same goes for the 250/3000, 30-06, or what ever you're using. Its up to the hunter to know those numbers and his/her level of skill. Bullet structure is important. If your culling animals a .222, with a brain shot at 50 yrds and in, could work all day on almost any animal with the proper bullet.
 

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The Hog Whisperer (Administrator)
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A good bullet & correct shot placement trump headstamp, any day. Been bowhunting and handgun hunting long enough to learn that! Gave my 6mm away to a friend's kid, but I'd use my Roberts if I had to for elk. Just would be real careful about bullet placement (which we should be, anyway, no matter what we use).
 

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As ethical hunters our end goal is not to simply "kill" a deer or elk. It is however our distinct intention to kill it in such a manner that it is recoverable and then properly utilized.

An unrecovered dead animal was killed by whatever cartridge that hunter chose, but it doesn't meet the intended end goal of a true, ethical hunters.

Deer can be tough to trail and find even with good shot placement. Elk are another matter and can be even tougher as mentioned above. And from my personal experiences, bears and hogs can also leave very little sign even when hit very well. That's why I believe in tailoring your chosen weapon to the intended game.

I've always been confused a bit by those who think it's a valid challenge to to go with the "minimum". But, then again, we are all individuals after all.
 

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The Hog Whisperer (Administrator)
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Fair enough, Ed, but part of being an ethical hunter is learning to track..... as I'm sure you are aware, sometimes they do run. Once in a while a very long way, even with great shot placement.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Notice, guys, how we tend to talk more about the adequecy of the rifle than the rifleman. I get that and respect these concerns. But an over gunned flincher that shoots 2-3 shots a year may have gotten the wrong message. And, thanks Mike, I forgot to mention the importance of tracking....very important.
 

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Elk Whisperer (Super Moderator)
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Not to brag, but I've killed enough deer and elk that I don't need to kill any more of either. Yes I still go hunting but only for the hunt.

That being said, proper bullet placement and selection in whatever cartridge I choose is key. Knowing my rifle(s) and my ability to shoot them with my handloads which are made to be as accurate as possible with the best bullet for the job at hand is more important than caliber.

As far as hunting deer and elk goes, I've never felt under gunned with my .243 loaded with 85 grain Speers.

This deer



Was poorly shot with a 25-06 and a Barnes TTSX at 150 yards and we tracked him for a good three hours.

This deer was shot with a 22-250 and a 55 grain Sierra GK at 250 and he piled up where he was shot.



That kid has nerves of steel.

RJ
 

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Over the past 6 decades, because I have always been fascinated with guns, hunting, and reloading I initially sought the "best caliber" for all situations. I then, focused on researching the "best" multiple tools for different climate and terrain when I was finally in a (better) financial position to pursue my hobby without impacting my family's well being. I've seen caliber "trends" run from big bore too small bore to back to big (now everything 6.5). This trend tends to repeat the theme and promise of a "magic" caliber diameter and case that will insure hunting success. (It, no doubt, is a theme that is a marketing success!) Add to that factor more gadgets installed on a firearm to make that quarter mile shots "easy", and hunting and shooting becomes an exercise only a computer operator can fully appreciate. As Mike and most others conclude, the only salient factor in the successful hunting outcome is the person behind the gun who is confident, and competent enough to put a bullet of reasonable "strength" into the vitals of an animal within the range, angle, and depth to stop the animal's motion.

I've owned all manner of calibers and rifles over the years that could kill a deer, elk, or bear near and far; the hardest choice to make when planning a hunt was seldom the caliber. The hardest decision was which rifle I was to use for the type terrain I would be hunting said animal. I found I usually picked the rifle that fit me the best, carried the easiest, and I was confident would hold its "zero". When I obsessed over caliber, I usually ended up with an "over bored", hard kicking, "beast" that was worth carrying in "Brown Bear" territory, but totally unnecessary in deer and elk woods where "familiarity" was more important than sheer power. I guess that is why the 30/30 carbine has sold millions of copies over the years because it is a "tool" that works in most circumstances where few "typewriter" shots are recorded and most people can learn to point it in the right direction when an animal appears without having to fiddle with dials or ballistic table charts.

I still enjoy "messing around" with different calibers, and experimenting with guns that have that "magical" feel and shoot bullets with special B.C. and S.D. characteristics. However, I have seldom seen any of them terminate a deer or elk any better than the standard .270, '06, or 6mm with a properly constructed bullet to the "central nervous system" from a person that can confidently hit what they are shooting - regardless of caliber. I'm still practicing! My .02
 

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i've killed deer with the .22 cal the hole up to .458" cal. (i still have .510" cal). i killed a doe at around 50ish yards with my 22-250ai(head shot) and many more with a 243win. will i do it again? ummm.....heck no!!!!!! the 22-250ai (which i sold it) was more along the lines, i dared myself to do it. the 243(many rifles) had a propensity not to drop the deer in its track, rather i had to trial them(125 yards to 1/2 a mile). it wasn't my shooting, they were all either in the shoulder or behind the shoulder. i just got tired of trailing deer thru the brush and high rhododendron. my friend has and luvs his rem m788 in 243. he drops deer constantly. :mad:

the 25-06 has killed several deer but i got rid of it because it was black "plastic"(tc venture). the 6.5cm is a killer, but it got sold. 270 win is a dream to shoot, it has my longest (365+/- yards) and shortest(10 - 12 feet) shots. 7x57 and 7-08 will go into my all time favorites. 30-30, 30-40 krag, 308, '06 are great cartridges too. i don't know how many deer i've killed with the 30-30. also the 35/30-30 has deer under its belt. the 44 spl/mag has killed deer too. the 444 marlin is also my all time favorites list too. the 45-70(3 handi rifles) also kills deer, but i don't have it. sold the first, gave the second to my friend's son and the third one my oldest son took it to north carolina to kill "dam-hawgs".

but my favorite cartridge and rifle is a husqvarna m46 in 9.3x57 with 275gr wfn gc. it thwaps deer with authority!!!!!

there is a whole bunch of other cartridges that i have used and/or sold. for the most part, i like'em. if you can put the bullet/boolit where its supposed to go, then you have a good cartridge.
 

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I have a friend who guides elk hunts in New Mexico. Last fall one of the guys that lives there and guides called him and said they had killed an elk that had scars on both lungs where it had been shot before. There is a lot to be said for knowing the anatomy of the critter you are hunting. When I trap pigs, which I do often, I always use head shots with a .22lr to dispatch them. Without a little study or someone to tell you, most people shoot pigs to low to be a brain shot. That being said, I have seen a guy try to shoot a coyote with a .300 win mag at 100yds and miss. Was the gun and cartridge capable? By all means. Did he know where to hold anatomically? Yes. Is the man a good shot? Yes, but not with that gun. He had a major flinching issue with it. If he’d of had his 22-250 or 243 it would more than likely have been a dead coyote.
 

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i've killed deer with the .22 cal the hole up to .458" cal. (i still have .510" cal). i killed a doe at around 50ish yards with my 22-250ai(head shot) and many more with a 243win. will i do it again? ummm.....heck no!!!!!! the 22-250ai (which i sold it) was more along the lines, i dared myself to do it. the 243(many rifles) had a propensity not to drop the deer in its track, rather i had to trial them(125 yards to 1/2 a mile). it wasn't my shooting, they were all either in the shoulder or behind the shoulder. i just got tired of trailing deer thru the brush and high rhododendron. my friend has and luvs his rem m788 in 243. he drops deer constantly. :mad:

the 25-06 has killed several deer but i got rid of it because it was black "plastic"(tc venture). the 6.5cm is a killer, but it got sold. 270 win is a dream to shoot, it has my longest (365+/- yards) and shortest(10 - 12 feet) shots. 7x57 and 7-08 will go into my all time favorites. 30-30, 30-40 krag, 308, '06 are great cartridges too. i don't know how many deer i've killed with the 30-30. also the 35/30-30 has deer under its belt. the 44 spl/mag has killed deer too. the 444 marlin is also my all time favorites list too. the 45-70(3 handi rifles) also kills deer, but i don't have it. sold the first, gave the second to my friend's son and the third one my oldest son took it to north carolina to kill "dam-hawgs".

but my favorite cartridge and rifle is a husqvarna m46 in 9.3x57 with 275gr wfn gc. it thwaps deer with authority!!!!!

there is a whole bunch of other cartridges that i have used and/or sold. for the most part, i like'em. if you can put the bullet/boolit where its supposed to go, then you have a good cartridge.
I believe in the proper hands the 22-250 on deer would never fail. In fact I'd even say the same for elk. "All were shot either in the shoulder or behind the shoulder". That may well be the problem. Simply to small and or light a bullet to work properly for that shot. Re-think where you place a bullet. A shot just a bit below the head into the neck will drop the deer right there. Lot of guy's will tell you a neck shot is a bad shot, to much room to miss. Hog wash. Keep in mind that the closer you get the the chest the target area does open up, maybe then a wounded deer or elk. That is not the fault of the cartridge or the bullet! As for the small target, read where guys have 1/2" and less rifles all over and a 1 1/2" target is to small? Well just might be but put the bullet where it needs to be and the job is over. Lot of guys write about how they need a 400 yd rifle. Well most guys lack the ability at 400 yds to begin with and most of those that can can't hit a 2" group in the field at 400 yds so once again it not the cartridge or bullet that fails, it's the shooter. Had a long range guy on another site several years ago bragging about his ability to shoot sheep at 1000 yds. He showed us a target and and going from the center of the group it appeared two shot completely miss and two shots mearly wounded. Brought it to his attention and we never heard from him again! I believe that there is more to hunting than being able to take a nice accurate rifle and place a bullet into say an 8" target at any range. At 100 yds it could be done with a 8" moa rifle. At 400 yds that same 8" moa rifle is a complete failure! At 400 yds min you need is a 4"moa rifle, not from the bench but from a field position! Huge difference there. If you have it in you to take that 22-250 and group into 2" consistently at say even 300 yds, and shoot at the neck, the bullet and cartridge will not let you down if you do your part, IF! But look at the same shot at the same distance and break the spine with that 22-250, if you can. All of a sudden the target, which got bigger get hidden by mass and all you may get is a bullet than might clip heavy resistance and then we call it a bullet failure, hog wash, shooter failure. Take that same shot with something shooting a more adequate bullet for the shot you have and you will likely have a dead deer!

Point is cartridge's and bullet's don't fail, people do! I have not used a neck shot in years. I do realize my 1" rifle at 100yds off sand bags will probably still shoot about 3" at 300 yds but where the problem come's in is weather or not I can in field conditions! That's where the human failure comes in. An animal well hit, WELL HIT, is not going to go all that far that you spend hours tracking it, simply will not happen.

What good is a 375 H&H if you can't hit the barn at 100yds?
 

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I believe in the proper hands the 22-250 on deer would never fail. In fact I'd even say the same for elk. "All were shot either in the shoulder or behind the shoulder". That may well be the problem. Simply to small and or light a bullet to work properly for that shot. Re-think where you place a bullet. A shot just a bit below the head into the neck will drop the deer right there. Lot of guy's will tell you a neck shot is a bad shot, to much room to miss. Hog wash. Keep in mind that the closer you get the the chest the target area does open up, maybe then a wounded deer or elk. That is not the fault of the cartridge or the bullet! As for the small target, read where guys have 1/2" and less rifles all over and a 1 1/2" target is to small? Well just might be but put the bullet where it needs to be and the job is over. Lot of guys write about how they need a 400 yd rifle. Well most guys lack the ability at 400 yds to begin with and most of those that can can't hit a 2" group in the field at 400 yds so once again it not the cartridge or bullet that fails, it's the shooter. Had a long range guy on another site several years ago bragging about his ability to shoot sheep at 1000 yds. He showed us a target and and going from the center of the group it appeared two shot completely miss and two shots mearly wounded. Brought it to his attention and we never heard from him again! I believe that there is more to hunting than being able to take a nice accurate rifle and place a bullet into say an 8" target at any range. At 100 yds it could be done with a 8" moa rifle. At 400 yds that same 8" moa rifle is a complete failure! At 400 yds min you need is a 4"moa rifle, not from the bench but from a field position! Huge difference there. If you have it in you to take that 22-250 and group into 2" consistently at say even 300 yds, and shoot at the neck, the bullet and cartridge will not let you down if you do your part, IF! But look at the same shot at the same distance and break the spine with that 22-250, if you can. All of a sudden the target, which got bigger get hidden by mass and all you may get is a bullet than might clip heavy resistance and then we call it a bullet failure, hog wash, shooter failure. Take that same shot with something shooting a more adequate bullet for the shot you have and you will likely have a dead deer!

Point is cartridge's and bullet's don't fail, people do! I have not used a neck shot in years. I do realize my 1" rifle at 100yds off sand bags will probably still shoot about 3" at 300 yds but where the problem come's in is weather or not I can in field conditions! That's where the human failure comes in. An animal well hit, WELL HIT, is not going to go all that far that you spend hours tracking it, simply will not happen.

What good is a 375 H&H if you can't hit the barn at 100yds?

😂 i've killed a few neck shots in my day😂, but i'm inclined to go to the chest of the deer. my friend, using his 243, is always aiming at the shoulder or behind the shoulder. 100-105gr remmies, winnies, federales, hornady, sierra....you name, he has shot deer with it and they are drt or close to it(20ish yards). the hunting conditions are the same(30-50 yards) in the brush. but i gave up on the 243 and he still uses it. in my mind, the 25 calibers are the way to go for deer. in his mind, its the 24 calibers. heck, my ex wife uses/used a 243.

😂 one time i was using a 85gr barnes x-bullet(it was in the early '90s). the x-bullet was about 1 1/4 - 1 1/2" at 100 yards. i can't remember the powder i used(i think it was imr4831?). anyway, a 1 1/2" group at hunting ranges(50-70 yards max) wasn't that bad, but not that good. sub minute groups were the rule back then and all of my 243s were shooters. i did the ladder thing and i came up with 1 1/4 - 1 1/2". i did dig them up on my berm and they did an X. so i took them out and shot a doe. i shot her behind the shoulder and instead of coming to the deer's demise, she ran. alot. a 1/2 mile into the brush alot. there was snow on the ground but the deer did not bleed. so i tracked her, thru the brush, alot. there was small drop of lung blood(frothy bright red) every once in awhile and i hoped that she would go down, alot. but my prayers were not answered, or rather going on knees, i swore alot.😂 finally i came upon her dead. i noticed the entry wound was right where it was supposed to be(1/3 way up, behind the shoulder) and the exit wound was small about .24" . when i gutted her, i found a pencil type hole thru the doe's lungs. it was the same instant that i decided that the 243 wasn't good fer deer. there was some scuttlebutt(pre internet) that said that the x-bullet wouldn't open up consistently. it was right and i sold the 243 (again) and got something else.

i think it was at the time my custom 98 mauser(FN) in 7x57 came out. 7 mauser and 139gr hornady fn would make it my favorites.
101530
 

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Well it wasn't the rifle or the bullet that failed. Same hole through the neck and down she goes. I doubt you were aware of that or I suspect you wouldn't have used the bullet in the first place. Sounds to me like the nose closed and the bullet went through as a solid. I've seen that firing hp bullet's into stack's of news paper. I read an add from Winchester on that type bullet in their hunting load. They went with the plastic tip and said the reason was to insure the bullet opened. I suspect the outcome would have been different had that bullet had the plastic tip. The only thing I use those tips in is my 243 with 75gr v-max bullet's. Shooting them at target's at 200 yds they were going through the target and 2" foam backer and blowing up. Doesn't bother me on a coyote and I credit that bullet blowing up to that tip. When a bullet with that tip his something the tip has to go some where and the only place it can go is back into the bullet. I think that is necessary to insure expansion with those monolithic bullet's ever time. I'd bet your notr the only one that has happened to!
 

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barnes x-bullet was their first time for a mono copper bullet. it had a hollow point to make sure it opened. but barnes failed and now it is a barnes ttsx (plastic tip mono copper). anyway, i've found that cup-n-core bullets were as good as the premium bullets, esp for deer.

i haven't used a cup-n-core for about 9 years. now it is a cast boolit.
 

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barnes x-bullet was their first time for a mono copper bullet. it had a hollow point to make sure it opened. but barnes failed and now it is a barnes ttsx (plastic tip mono copper). anyway, i've found that cup-n-core bullets were as good as the premium bullets, esp for deer.

i haven't used a cup-n-core for about 9 years. now it is a cast boolit.
I'm pretty much in your camp. If I hunt this year, not sure yet, I'll be using a 308 that I got just for cast bullet's.
 

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I'm pretty much in your camp. If I hunt this year, not sure yet, I'll be using a 308 that I got just for cast bullet's.
i've got a plethora of rifles, but it is going a husqvarna m46 in 9.3x57 with 275gr wfn gc at around 1800+/-fps(i have to use my chrony). i don't have a 308, but a 30-40 krag with 165gr ranch dogs going 1926fps. it is THE DEER KILLER. i take her out once a year and she always puts meat on the table. i've been doing this for about 7 - 8 years. boom, thwap, dead deer. the krag doesn't make you track anymore. one day, the krag will, but its a drt machine for now.
 
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