Not many records around from around the turn of the century when everyone was killing all the big animals with puny cartridges. You can bet your boots they would have used something more efficient if they had it....and probably wounded a lot less of the animals that wandered off to die elsewhere. It only takes a few inches of error for one of the mouse calibers to catch a front shoulder bone and just leave the bullet sitting in a lung instead of busting through as it should have. There was a lot less hunting pressure then as there were just fewer people in the frontier areas, and a lot more game cover that resulted in a lot more game. I think that made for better hunter conditions and closer shots as a rule.
I once knew a man that loved to use his .17 remington on blacktail deer in California. It might have seemed like a challenge to him, but it made him look like an uncaring idiot to me. I don't like wounding animals...kill them dead and humanely, and it works out better for you and them. I guess the little caliber people will always be out there touting their expertise with a small caliber handgun. I watched them for years trying to just knock over the 200 meter rams in the silhouette game with .357's, when .44's had no problem with it.
A .357 maximum is a differrent story and has some definite possibilities as a hunting round for game up to medium size.