View Full Version : The best caliber for thicket hunting

June 8, 2005, 06:18 PM
I hunt in a very wooded area where a 50 yard shot would be not likely. I shot a deer last year( my first deer) with a .308 at about 15 yards, blew the deers chest out. I used 150gr winchester soft point. I have a shotgun that i could shoot slugs out of but would have to buy a rifled barrel for extened range. What would be the best thicket gun for hunting whitetail


"shoot and shoot more often"

June 8, 2005, 06:27 PM
Call me crazy but IMHO the old .30-30 is an excellent brush gun. Treebranch-crushing slow, Heavy bullets with out excessive meat destroying velocity.

Lawyer Daggit
June 8, 2005, 06:34 PM
I like the .35 Whelen or .350 Rem Mag in a fast handling gun like a 7600 pump (the Whelen) or Model 7 (.350).

Both handle fast and powerful enough to give me a margin for error.

June 8, 2005, 07:06 PM
well personally id go with a lever to begin with which takes you down to a very limited assortment of calibers

.45-70 would be a little big gut itll buck the brush and you wont have much tracking to do
.30-30 old and slow but you wont see this caliber disappear EVER in a million years and theres a very good reason for that
handgun calibers under 50 yards they should be great for deer hunting if loaded with proper bullets

i know that there are more calibers out there but any one of these will serve you well and a used .30-30 aint that expensive either

June 8, 2005, 07:20 PM
The least expensive might be the rifled slug barrel. I have a Remington 870 with a 20 inch rifled slug barrel - great for 100 yards and in.

30/30 is certainly excellent.

A Marlin lever action .357 would also be good.

Thought about muzzleloaders? .50 calibers are very good brush guns if you don't mind having a single shot - lots of fun to shoot too. :)

June 8, 2005, 07:31 PM
i do have a cva muzzleloader in .45. should that be recommended, i think i just want to by a new gun

June 8, 2005, 07:39 PM
Well join the club! You don't need an excuse to buy a new gun, just money. What kind of gun do you really want?

Capt. Charlie
June 8, 2005, 07:46 PM
Ditto the .30-30. +1 :) . Old, thin walled casings, slow, and ballistic-ally lousy (so says Speer's reloading manual, anyhow), but responsible for putting more venison on the table than any other caliber. (They say a bumble bee shouldn't be able to fly, either. :rolleyes: )

June 8, 2005, 07:58 PM
I just purchased a rossi single shot 30-06 atop a simmons 3-9x50. I know that would be to much for less than 50 yards, but im sure it has been done.My hunting buddy who hunts the same area has a 30-06 and last year he tore a deers shoulder off. Another buddy of mine has a 30-30 i could use. I think im just being selfish. My next gun will be a .243

June 8, 2005, 08:28 PM
I have tried everythimg from 30-30 to 45-70,and the best all around short range gun I have found is my Browning Lever in 358 Win. Perfect for deer and black bear. I put a Bushnell Firefly on it and it is great for pickin the spot on a bear. Only drawback is that factory ammo is tough to find.

June 8, 2005, 08:47 PM
12 or 20 with some 3 buck followed by a couple slugs?

June 8, 2005, 08:53 PM
20 ga for deer: IMO, slugs? You bet! 20 ga buck? No thanks.
"Woods cartridges": So far, no one's mentioned the good old .35 Remington, or the Winchester .32 Special. Lots of old used Marlin 336's & Winchester 94's out there chambered for these.

June 8, 2005, 09:37 PM

June 8, 2005, 09:38 PM
45-70 Marlin Guide Gun

June 8, 2005, 09:41 PM
One caliber is no better than any other for "brush busting"; that's an old wives tale. But it's wise to pick a caliber that won't do excessive damage to the target if a short-range opportunity presents itself. And the platform itself is an important consideration. I like my short-barreled Marlin 1894P with red-dot scope in .44 magnum when hunting in thick cover, because it's light and short.

June 8, 2005, 10:09 PM
How's a .44 do against deer? Any overly damaging characteristics?

June 8, 2005, 10:23 PM
Your .308 is just fine for deer. :rolleyes:

It has the extra reach for those rare, but possible, longer shots and it's more accurate to boot. :)

In the thickets, more often than not, you will be shooting through small windows at parts of deer. ;)

Your "chest extraction" shot was probably a bone-splatter and IF you can place your round more carefully, it will be less messy. :barf:

This may sound strange, but try a heavier (180gr.??) one-piece or partition bullet. It will move a "wee tad" slower, and not come apart when it hits bone.
It will also be beneficial when, heaven forbid, it clips a twig along it's flight-path.

But, hey, buy a new gun anyway! :D

June 9, 2005, 01:11 AM
Brush guns abound out there, 30-30, .357 or .44s work great in my area, 50 yards and less are the norm here. Thats why I took up hunting with a handgun, Lot less to carry in and out of the woods. But then again slug guns work great for close range work.

June 9, 2005, 02:52 AM
The one you already have; brush-bucking bullets is largely myth. Shoot when you have a clear shot at the vital zone. If you can get to within 15 yards of a deer I do not think you will have a problem.

Smokey Joe
June 9, 2005, 09:38 AM
Springer 45 and LAK are right. "Brush busters" are Old Wives. Years 'n' years ago the NRA did some testing, shooting everything they could think of through a thicket of 1/4" dowels. Surprise! It was found that the pointier, faster bullets did better than the slow, heavy roundnoses, but ALL bullets deflected to a greater or lesser extent when they hit 1 or more of the dowels. Some will say that dowels aren't brush. They tried to make it as scientific a test as they could. (Can't cite a reference, sorry. The article in question appeared mebbe 45 yrs. ago. Don't have a copy. Check NRA archive if interested.)

Having said that, a short, quick-handling gun is better in heavy brush just because there is less of it to hang up while you're shouldering it, IMHO. And a 'scope is very little use @ close quarters.

Brian Williams
June 9, 2005, 11:33 AM
I like my Marlin 1894C in 357, short handy and powerful enough for up to 150 yds. Using 180 gr XTP JSP and a bunch of 2400 makes for a great round.

June 9, 2005, 10:10 PM
I think 30-30s were known as brush guns because the lever actions are compact and quick to handle, not because of the bullet itself.

June 9, 2005, 10:24 PM
Smokey's right, any bullet can be deflected !! Heavier bullets [lower velocity] and heavier construction are the answer for less meat damage. Us e150 in the 270W, 165 or 180 in the 308W etc. I found even some of the the 300 gr 45-70 s were a bit fragile so I use the Partition.

Quickdraw Limpsalot
June 9, 2005, 10:39 PM
Can't believe no one's mentioned the .35 Remington. That (in a 336) was my first deer rifle and still my favorite. GREAT cartridge for the woods here in Kentucky.

June 10, 2005, 10:35 AM
Springer 45 is right about "brush busting".

Try this test: find a young sapling, with a main trunk no bigger than 3" in diameter. Back away from it, get a good running start, and run right through it in a straight line and not slowing down. If you can't accomplish that, how do you expect a bullet that weighs thousands of times less to do it?

June 10, 2005, 02:39 PM
The theory used to be that a brush gun was used in areas where the bullet might hit a couple of small twigs along the way. It wasn't for busting through lumber. No one should be trying to shoot through anything resembling quantities of brush, limbs or saplings.

Used to be that the common consensus was that a big heavy slow moving bullet would be deflected less by two or three small twigs than a light fast moving bullet. That was a very common belief, based upon the anectodal evidence of experienced brush hunters.

It must be ingrained in me because I just have to still believe that a 45acp (for instance) would be deflected less than a .17 mach 2 - when shot through a few small twigs. No, I am not advocating either caliber for deer hunting, just using two extremes to make a point.

But if you want to try and shoot through even those wooden dowels mentioned earlier in that test, you shouldn't be trying to hit anything cause you wont, unless you have a 105mm howitzer.

June 10, 2005, 02:48 PM
Butch 50, since a .45 caliber slug is more than twice the diameter of a .17 slug, wouldn't it stand to reason that it would have more than twice as much chance of catching a small twig?

Capt. Charlie
June 10, 2005, 03:14 PM
Physics. A body in motion tends to stay in motion. A body in motion traveling in a certain direction tends to stay in that direction. The more mass a body has, the more difficult it is to divert. Ask the guys in Viet Nam who would've killed to trade their M-16's for a good, old fashioned .45 ACP Thompson SMG. The .223 deflects. Period. A Thompson can bulldoze through a cinder block wall, or a heavy wall of brush with ease.

June 10, 2005, 03:33 PM
Butch 50, since a .45 caliber slug is more than twice the diameter of a .17 slug, wouldn't it stand to reason that it would have more than twice as much chance of catching a small twig?

It's a good question. The answer is that you are probably going to hit some small twigs with anything you shoot in brush, so you are assuming that you will hit some and you want to use a bullet that will get the job done. You are avoiding shooting through saplings and limbs, but you can't effectively avoid everything and the actual difference in diameter between the bullets is too small to be able to use to shoot past twigs.

June 11, 2005, 11:30 AM
I had not posted to this thread, so I thought I would throw in my 2 cents. I know that we all think we are great marksman with our 243's or other sub-30 caliber rifles when it comes to deer hunting in the woods. I personally use a .270 Remington Model 700 and have always been very satisfied with the flexibility of the caliber. First "deer rifle" was a 243 and I stopped using it due to the brush gun argument... shot through a small maple tree and hit the deer. Didn't even see the tree through the scope as I was concentrating on the deer shot. Lost that deer. Best I can figure is that the 243 round just about exploded when it hit the deer---lots of blood, but probably a shallow wound. Tracked it a long long way (hours) in leaves (no snow) before it stopped bleeding.

If the caliber choice is strictly for hunting in brush at limited range... I would go with a slow moving caliber like the venerable 30-30 or similar. The 30-06 and 308 are just fine with proper bullet choice. I'm not rich, so I choose a rifle caliber for deer hunting that is flexible and allows me to take the 200 yard shot if offered and also the 50 yard or even 15 yard shot. I once shot a running buck at less than 10 yards "from the hip " (ie pointing) with the 270. Amazed myself... dropped like a rock. Before you all think taking a shot like that was foolish.... I used to practice all the time with 22 rifles on small targets from the hip and developed what I believed was some proficiency. Routinely made running shots on rabbits from on the jump such that most would only think would be a shotgun shot. Fun.

Cwalk: You started this thread. Please don't talk about how much destruction you caused to the animal when hunting. It is just not cool or at least written in a public forum as a positive thing. Hitting a soft skinned animal with a high powered rifle can be an unpleasant sight. It is one of the main reasons that I do not like such calibers as 375 H&H, 300 Weatherby or similar for deer sized game. The destruction to the animal is just not necessary and choosing a caliber like that for deer suggests something about a person's psychic. You have not chosen one of these "magnum" rifle calibers for deer, but others do commonly. I hope you enjoy your hunting experiences and pass it on to your friends and descendants as it is fundamentally important (I think) to the continued availabilty of hunting in the US.

June 14, 2005, 07:31 PM
Cwalk is a troll - check out the thread titled "My first deer hunt".

Nuff said.

June 14, 2005, 07:48 PM
Dude, at least get your story straight.
This hunt happened in fall 2003 .
I shot a deer last year( my first deer)
Ok...did this happen in '03 or '04?

EDITED to add:
I had to beg my father the entire year to let me use it. That was the only way i would have went hunting, otherwise i didnt have a gun.
Why didn't you just use this gun?
Remington 710 chambered in 30-06. Nothing has walked away after being slammed with a 150gr remington express core loct bullet.

June 14, 2005, 08:59 PM
I have no idea if Cwalk is a troll. Frankly, my impression is he is a kid who doesn't know much about hunting. Some good information was presented in this and the other "locked" thread. Just blow it off. If he is not a troll, I don't think that a lot of us have made him feel very welcome here. You have to learn sometime and the time is now. The firing line is one place to learn some things if you are interested in guns and using guns for legal purposes.

June 14, 2005, 09:21 PM
Get this guy banned, he is a troll!
This was some first time hunt... I know better now after hunting for now some three seasons
She was no more than 20 yards away... last year( my first deer) with a .308 at about 15 yards
I had to beg my father the entire year to let me use it. That was the only way i would have went hunting, otherwise i didnt have a gun...I have a shotgun that i could shoot slugs out of...i do have a cva muzzleloader in .45...I just purchased a rossi single shot 30-06...Another buddy of mine has a 30-30 i could use
I sat down in a puddle of water that was in my ladder stand...i was awakened( yeah I was sleep) by the sound of crackling leaves Was it wet or dry?
I shot a deer last year( my first deer)...I have learned a lot since that hunt. I have hunted whitetail again...This hunt happened in fall 2003 When was it? If last year when have you hunted since?
I hunt in Hampton, Ar in a very wooded area...She finally went right back to eating the corn How did corn get in the woods?

Just ignore this jerk!

June 15, 2005, 01:39 AM
Is it possible he's just not real bright? :rolleyes:

In some areas they bait the deer with feeders? :confused:

What's your definition of a troll... besides a smelly fellow under the bridge? :D

June 16, 2005, 12:19 PM
I don't know what his game is, but it would appear not to be one that relies on honesty.

Yes, there are definitely places where hunting over bait is legal and customary, Texas for one.

June 17, 2005, 07:37 PM
A 'brush gun' is NOT about any ability to plough through twigs and trunks. The term has always meant a short barreled rifle that was handy, quick to shoulder, usually had open sights, and was usually a lever action.
I hunt in very heavy cover; swamps, and along the feeder/ drainage creeks. The woods like this in North Central Florida, are very dense. The pines, hardwood hammocks, palmettos and thickets can be almost impossible to push through. Most of the time, a l-o-n-g shot would be about 50 yards.
The rifle that works best for me here, is a Marlin 1894S in .44 Mag

June 21, 2005, 09:14 PM
My next gun will be a .243
me too but mine wont be a brush gun itll be a long ranger with a big ol scope on top.

July 3, 2005, 06:22 PM
I once shot a running buck at less than 10 yards "from the hip " (ie pointing) with the 270. Amazed myself... dropped like a rock. Before you all think taking a shot like that was foolish.... I used to practice all the time with 22 rifles on small targets from the hip and developed what I believed was some proficiency.

hipshooting can be fun. i have hit gophers on the run at about 15 yards sometimes. i hipshoot very short ranges on gophers because of the scope on my .22. it can be a blast with the semi-auto .22 on cans too

July 3, 2005, 08:00 PM
Under the circumstances you describe, "brush-busting" is not the quality you should be looking for (as no cartridge truly busts through brush without deflection); what you are looking for is a firearm that is handy, quick to mount, and capable of reasonably fast accurate fire.... which accounts for the popularity of the lever-action carbine in a variety of calibers. They work, and have worked for generations, for a reason.

But do not overlook another "category" of firearm that meets the qualities that would work well under the hunting conditions you describe...surplus military weapons like AKs and SKSs are perfect in the woods. And they are so reasonably priced that you do not have to worry so much when the weather and the terrain get seriously rough (my Brownings typically stay in the safe, but the AKs and SKSs go in the woods, regardless the weather).

And for a particularly convenient firearm to use for short-range deer hunting in the rough stuff, look at carrying a handgun as your primary weapon. With a little practice, you may find (as I have) that you can be just as effective with a handgun on short quick woods shots. Although I have used a numer of handguns for this purpose, seems I always come back to a Smith .44 mag of one type or another or to a Magnum Research 45/70 (which I consider to be as fine a production hunting handgun as I can afford).

Something to think about.