View Full Version : small cal

December 15, 2007, 11:16 PM
what is the smallest caliber you take deer with. I usally shoot deer in the neck and drop them in their tracks using a 223 but have been thinking of 204 ruger or 22 hornet, my father used to use 22 mag shooting them in either their ears or eye socket i only hunt for food, cant eat horns and really dont impress me hanging on the wall rather shoot the big ones with the camera. Anyone hunt with these small cals. G

December 15, 2007, 11:58 PM
I had an uncle who hunted with 223 for many years, he would use nothing else. He got a lot of deer.

I think a couple states let you use a 222 or bigger for deer, not sure about the Hornet.

I know a lot of guys hunt with 243, 6mm Rem, 257 Roberts and such, those IMO ruin too much meat, that 22 hornet would be a meat getter if you could make a vital shot up close.

December 16, 2007, 12:59 AM
I use the 22-250.So far have gotten 1 deer about 200 yards away threw the heart.

Art Eatman
December 16, 2007, 08:27 AM
gpena, if you don't have the higher level of shooting skill that is needed for precision shots with the smaller bullets and lesser energy, you face the problem of wounded deer. Less damaging wound, where, yeah, the animal will die--but way away and lost.

Clean, ethical kill is the primary part of the deal. Top priority.

December 16, 2007, 10:16 AM
I know that there are a lot of States where .22 Caliber rifles are legal to hunt deer. I don't have a problem with hunters who want to use them to hunt with. I just think that there are better choices out there other than the .224 bullet for hunting deer and such with. Sure there are a few choices of good bullets like the 55 grain Speer TBBC, 60 grain Nosler Partition, Barnes TSX (52, 62, & 70 grain), 75 grain Swift Scirocco but unless you hand load or buy custom ammunition you will not be able to use them.

Most .22 caliber rifles are designed with two purposes in mind excluding military applications. These are Target shooting and Varmint Hunting, neither require a large game hunting bullet. These bullets are made with thin copper jackets that do not hold up against anything tougher than paper or the thin skins of most varmints. Using most bullets designed for the .22 Hornet, .223 Rem, or the .204 Ruger in commercial loads is a disaster waiting to happen. These are mostly varmint and match grade bullets that will splash on impact leaving a shallow wound with a good chance of not being fatal on a deer until it gets an infection.

As far as .243/6mm or .257 bullets causing too much meat damage it is for the same reason as I stated above. You are simply using the wrong bullet, if you use 90-100 grain for the .243 and 100-120 in the .257 you will have much less meat damage. These bullets will not explode on impact causing blood shot meat but will penetrate. Shot placement is the key, why take out a shoulder when both lungs or heart will do. Not much meat will be wasted around a couple of broken ribs, or do like Art and take out the neck.

December 16, 2007, 10:50 AM
I would never do it or recommend it, and I think it's unethical, but I had a buddy who's dead now that once shot a little doe in the neck with a .17 HMR from a T/C contender- he said she dropped instantly and didn't move.

Personally, on these smallish southern deer, I do think .223 is ethical if you wait for the right shot and don't try to shoot through a shoulder/leg bone, and use the correct bullet type. I personally would not go below .223 rem, though.

If I were hunting up north (IA/NE/North. MO/IL/IN and points northward), I wouldn't go below .243 win, .30-30, .44 mag, 7.62x39, 6.8 SPC, or 6.5 grendel for whitetails or mulies.

December 16, 2007, 11:36 AM
Granted, a .223 or similar with the right bullet and shot placement will do quite well. Our Fl. deer are seldom over 150, most around 100-120, so it will work.

But toss this into the mix. In many areas where we hunt there are good populations of wild hogs. Those hogs run to over 200 pounds regularly. And a hog, boars moreso, have a much tougher skin and internal support structure than a deer, not the mention a different anatomocal build.

If a big hog presents itself while deer hunting is a .223 what I want in my hands? No. Something like a .243 as a minium with my preference being a round firing a much larger, slower moving, bullet. A .35 Rem or 45-70 type round.

And one other thing to think about. When you make a less than perfect shot, which we will all do ocasionally, having a bullet that goes ALL THE WAY THROUGH so that there is a better blood trail to follow is important.

In a perfect world it'd be OK to plan for the minium requiremets but in the real world successful people plan for something above that. So should we do when picking a rifle to hunt with.

And you should re-read "Art Eatman"............."ethical".....very important.

December 16, 2007, 02:44 PM
my father used to use 22 mag

That will get you in trouble in Texas. No rimfires for deer.

December 16, 2007, 03:22 PM
I use my 22-250 .. I am in TX. I have not lost a deer yet. Drop right where are they...

December 16, 2007, 03:41 PM
I usally stalk or creep up on deer as close as i can,I will not take a shot I cant make and have never wounded a deer im half american indian and a very ethical hunter I only hunt for meat thats why the head and upper neck shots so I can save all the meat just wanted other opinions on some small cals I have a 257 roberts forgot all about it. Thanks for all the info and responces. Thanks again G

December 16, 2007, 04:23 PM
The lightest round I've used was a .30-30. The lightest I would use would be the .243.
If a round is legal for deer and the hunter uses it within his and the rounds limitations, I'm not the one to tell them not to.

December 16, 2007, 04:39 PM
You can kill an Elephant with a toothpick if you put it in the right spot. Its all shot placement.

December 16, 2007, 04:46 PM
thats exactly my opinion and not to brag or toot my own horn but im a real good shot, also helps sneeking up to about 30 yrds and even closer nothing like stalking and taking the game you choose instead of what walked out to the feeder in front of you.G

December 16, 2007, 06:00 PM
I used to think the more power the better.. but really it all goes down to ethics.. if you find you are droppin them where they stand.. your fine.

December 16, 2007, 08:16 PM
I guess there's a lot of different bullet choices out there if you handload. Definitely dont want to use hollow points from a 223 on edible game. Maybe somebody sells solids, or theres always the good ol' soft point if you could get 70-80 grainers for the 223.

my preference being a round firing a much larger, slower moving, bullet. A .35 Rem or 45-70 type round.

I like the bigger slower ones for edible game also.

December 16, 2007, 09:23 PM
I have seen a couple of deer with their jaw bone shot in two. Luckily they were killed by a follow up shot where it should have been to start with or they would have starved to death. It's not the best choice, but a 223 with proper bullets will kill a deer with a heart lung shot and give you a target exponentially larger. Internet forums are a better place to reliably creep up on deer than the field.

January 5, 2008, 12:04 AM
all depends on the range were talking i hunt with a lil asian fellow he uses a 204 and from that experience i wouldnt bother .223 or bigger smaller and you cant say for sure it wont just run away.

January 5, 2008, 12:32 AM
My dad hunted alot with a 22mag when i was a kid. Never saw him loose a deer. Shot placement is king when youre hunting with a rimfire though.

.223 is a great deer cartridge if you use a good varmit bullet and dont mind ruining a shoulder. Gutting is easy, just open him up and pour out the liquid heart and lungs. Every deer that I've seen shot in the vitals with a .223 has dropped in its tracks.

January 5, 2008, 02:14 AM
with the howa with the hogue om 1500 in 223. But the love of my life (my wife) said get them both, I said i could do with out but what do you think i got for x mas a savage in 22 hornet. she said i deserve it. not the thumb hole stock i wanted but I cant complain. Thanks G

January 10, 2008, 10:33 PM
I live in the wonderful state of KS:rolleyes:, where the minimum caliber to kill deer in a cf rifle is 23 caliber and in a cf pistol it has to be at least 23 caliber and have a cartrige length of at least 1.28 inches. The whole thing is funny when you consider that the .223 round is way more capable of killing a deer than say... the .30 carbine.

January 11, 2008, 05:59 AM
Though I've killed a few deer with a .22-250, the lightest caliber I recommend for deer in Maine is the .243 Win, using 100 grain bullets.

The .30-06 is the most common caliber used here, and though we're one of the most heavily-wooded states, the most popular rifle here is a scope-sighted bolt-action. At one time the most popular was a .30-30, Winchester 94, but those days are gone. The 30-06, .270 Win, .308, 7mm-08, and .280 Rem, historically get-er-done very well up here.

Newer short-magnum cartridges, especially the .270, 7mm, and .300 are also probably fine Maine deer cartridges. The 7mm rem and .300 Win Mag are also popular. Magnums are generally unnecessary for the deer hunter who can hit a paper plate at 100 yards...every time. Come to think of it, if they can't hit the plate, they probably shouldn't be shooting a magnum either. Practice, practice, practice.


January 12, 2008, 01:41 AM
I use a 204 for deer.
Bullet selection and placement are key.

I use 40gr Hornady V-Max and head shots.
Turns deer heads into sacks of rocks.

With that small a caliber, you must ensure a quick and deadly hit, every shot.
To use a fmj or soft-point would be too risky.
Use "grenades" at MACH 3 or greater for 223 caliber and under, and scramble that brain.
The best head shot is when the deer is looking away from you and upward.

It requires patience, speed to acquire, and timing.
A rule of thumb:
If a deer is wary, the head will not stay still long enough.
If you are not comfortable with shots at your ranges, to hit possibly moving heads, don't even attempt it.
Go for larger calibers and boiler room shots.

January 12, 2008, 12:32 PM
I shot a doe once with a 220 Swift and personally would never do it again. I borrowed my buddies Ruger, with which he has shot several deer (I watched him shoot a small doe once).

The problem is with effectively anchoring the animal. The doe I shot was at about 150 yards. I shot from a prone position and watched it drop in the scpoe. Then I watched it get up again and run into the bush. I was using a 62 grain Barnes TSX. My guess is that the bullet sailed right through without expanding, leaving a pencil sized hole on entry and exit. I don't know for sure where I hit the doe (I was going for the heart/lungs), because we couldn't find any blood on the snow and we tracked that doe for 1/2 mile before we lost her tracks. I came back the next day to look again, thinking that the crows and ravens would pinpoint the deer carcass - nothing.

In Manitoba, "A centrefire rifle of .23 calibre or less is not recommended.". Now I know why.

If the right shot presented itself (neck or head or heart), then the .22's may do the trick. But I would never chance it again. I personally would not use anything less then a .243. Generally a SD of .230 is recommended for medium game (deer) and that would mean at least a 95 grain bullet in .243

January 14, 2008, 03:05 AM
Heart shots and small calibers, I will not do.

Its a guaranteed way to watch deer run away.
That may sound normal, but a small hole means a small blood trail, and greatly increases the likelihood of the deer being lost.
You must be patient, and be prepared for the deer to never provide the head-shot.
If it isn't there, dont shoot.

My 2cents.

January 14, 2008, 06:08 AM
Yithian, that is not totally correct. I shot a deer this year with my .223 using rem. greenbox 55gr. at 207 yards. It was a prone shot using a bipod from the front porch of the old farm house. Hit perfect in the heart and ran about 50 yrds. This deer made the largest blood trail that I have seen in 40 years. I was about a foot wide. All parties present, including myself, have a whole different look on this caliber now.

January 14, 2008, 06:39 AM
Heart shot deer will go 50-90 yards, depending on adrenalin at the time. A deer shot with about any kind of bullet that hits the heart will almost always result in a lot of blood. I suspect that the deer that got away was not hit in the heart, and probably not in the lungs; but I've seen lung-shot deer go a long ways if the bullet doesn't expand enough. Some people use heavily constructed 180 - 220 grain bullets in the '06 or -.308 Win and that's not a good thing. Deer are thin-skinned and standard factory ammo like Core-Loct and Power Points in the mid-grain weight ranges, are designed for deer and often work better than anything else.

If you must use .223 and other light varmint cartridges, pick a bullet designed for deer and at the velocity it will be used. If you pick your shots very carefully and keep the range under 200 yards, you shouldn't lose many deer. IMHO, this is not the way to go for beginning hunters. Military full-jacket rifle bullets should never be used on game.

Lung shot deer will go as much as 20-30 yards, provided the bullet expands adequately. A pencil-sized hole there can be a problem. I know a guy who shot an elk with the first batch of Winchester Fail-Safes throuth the lungs and had to do it 7 times over two days before the elk died from perfectly-placed lung shots. That was a .30-06 out of a Contender. If he'd used the Rem. Core-Locts he had at the ranch, one shot would have been enough. (Nosler and Winchester corrected the problem and they're great bullets now.)


January 14, 2008, 09:03 PM
what is the smallest caliber you take deer withSmallest caliber I'm confident in would be the .243 Winchester shooting 85 grain Winchester Super-X softpoints. I prefer 100 grains.

January 15, 2008, 02:48 AM
I stand corrected on heart shots then.
I just dont prefer them tho.
I'll pop one in the head, over the chest any day.
DRT is my goal. No running or tracking, and most important to me, no pain or suffering for the animal.