View Full Version : Shot Placement or ....

December 16, 2008, 02:45 PM
I just wanted to take a minute to admit after this years hunting I have changed my opinion on the calibers of guns best suited for deer hunting. I am 47 years old and until this year always hunted with a 7mm Rem Mag or a 300 Rem Mag, that is over 23 years of pretty consistent hunting.

During last season I decided to find a quality deer cartridge that did not kick as bad as either of the two rifles mentioned above due to health issues...and simply because I got tired of having the crap kicked out of me when I went to the range to shoot them.

I purchased a couple smaller caliber rifles and finally found one that I really like. A CZ 6.5X55 Swede. The kick was non existent and although I have not tuned it as well as I would like. I am shooting about 1.5 groups at 100 yards. I have gotten groups out of it as small as an inch but they are the exception. I have been able to get it to shoot that one cold shot pretty much right where it is sighted in to shoot. (Someone on this Forum made the comment that that was all that was important...I thought about it and agreed). So I have hunted with it ALMOST exclusively. I have shot at 5 animals with it and 4 of the five have dropped and the other only ran a few yards. Then I took my 22-250 with me when hunting for my cull buck because there are some varmits on my lease and I was actually hoping to get one of them. But you guessed it...out stepped the cull buck I wanted. It was a Buck in Velvet! I have always wanted one and I was told when I got on this lease that there were a lot of bucks that simply do not shed their velvet on this lease and no matter how big they are they do not count as your trophy buck. So when I saw it I grabbed my CZ 22-250 and finally was able to get the cross hairs on it. It was standing in brush and the only thing I saw was the deer heart and lung area. I have a 6.5x20x50 on my 22-250 so with the magnification on the highest level I was able to make sure I was aiming at this bucks heart and lung area. I pulled the trigger and he ran for about 50 yards. He never left my sight.

So what these experiences have taught me is that a well placed shot is more important than the caliber of the rifle. Before I was with those that said you needed to use more than enough gun...just in case the shot is not a good one. What I learned with these rifles this year is that if you hit the target where you aim then you will get your deer. Known of these animals suffered. Both bucks and my doe were shot in the heart and they were done real quick. I shot two hogs in the neck and both went down in a heap. The fox never knew what hit it.

Saying all of this I still think there is a minimum caliber as far as taking a deer. Before this year I really did not think the .243 was a good deer cartridge but I have now changed my mind. With good shot placement it will certainly do the job.

December 16, 2008, 04:03 PM
I always figured it was shot placement first, enough gun second. Enough gun was for the times where your shot placement wasn't perfect but a wounding shot with a large rifle is still a wounding shot.

Shot placement is king. I've hunted with a 30.06, a .308, a 7mm Rem Mag and a 45-70 gov't and all of my animals died quickly not because of the round, but because of where they hit.

December 16, 2008, 06:05 PM
I think .243 is the perfect deer cartridge. I bought a 6mm rem just to be different. I have also used 22-250 with 100% success. I just don't see the need to whack a whitetail with a 300 win mag.

December 16, 2008, 06:47 PM
I always figured it was shot placement first, enough gun second.

In my opinion, it's not "either.....or". I think that they are of equal importance.

December 16, 2008, 09:38 PM
I sgree that both are equally important but I have changed my opinion on what is enough gun...

December 16, 2008, 11:54 PM
Shot placement is still king and always will be. Still my favorite cartridge is the 300wm. I am not as recoil sensitive as many so my shots go on target. I have noticed however the rate at which the animial drops when hit with it compared to smaller cartridges. I must admit also that the bullet design is very important.

December 19, 2008, 03:14 AM
Shot placement is definitely first. If you've ever watched a cow killed with a .22 cal short you'd know that for certain. I've had 4 cows slaughtered for the freezer, the last being a 2000lb Hereford Bull, all with a .22 cal. The last one I had my sons watch as the butcher used a single shot bolt action .22 cal short to dispatch the animal just to show them the potential of such a little bullet. The shot easily penetrated the forehead and the bull fell in it's tracks like a ton of bricks, never even took another breath.

December 19, 2008, 03:20 AM
Placement is also relative to the projectile.
I can take any deer with my 25-06 using Positive expansion Point bullets, as long as I place it to enter the body cavity. Usually, I dont get an exit either.
I've seen a deer turned physically up side down with a 300 win mag, and STILL he was running in mid air - not the "Lights out" I like to deliver.

I find, for me, that the gun has to fit me right, I have to know my trajectory by memory, and I have to take a second when I shoot to calculate the wind, position of the animal, and what I want the bullett to do.

THEN I can place it right.

December 19, 2008, 04:17 AM
Everybody talks about shot placement, and recoil. Yes those are important factors. However you forgot about one additional item, and it relates to shot placement, That would be trajectory, or how flat the bullet shoots. If you like the recoil of the 6.5's then that is great. But why not go to a 264 Winchester Magnum and pick up a few more hundred feet per second. This would give you flatter trajectory(making it easier for exact shot placement), and recoil difference between the two cartridges is negligible. Recoil will be determined more by the actual rifle, rather than the cartridge.

Personally I like the larger 30 calibers. But I also spend a good bit of time and money in range time, and reducing "felt recoil" in my rifle.

I hear a lot of people on the forums that knock a muzzle break. Personally I have one on a 30-06, and along with a thumb hole stock(that fits me perfectly) it makes the recoil almost unnoticable.

All I am saying is there is more than one way to skin a cat. I understand what you are saying, but in all actuality the smaller cartridges are adequate, but definitely not the most effective. Tom.

December 19, 2008, 05:50 PM
I think what you said above is good info but the statement below frankly does not make sense to me.

"All I am saying is there is more than one way to skin a cat. I understand what you are saying, but in all actuality the smaller cartridges are adequate, but definitely not the most effective. Tom."

What is your definition of "most effective"?

If the rifle does the job you use it for and does it well...in this case a 6.5x55 Swede...why would you say it is only adequate? Everything I have shot this year has died fast. I have hunted with bigger calibers and can tell you the rifle I used this year did every bit as good a job as the larger caliber rifles. So why are the bigger calibers the most effective?

December 19, 2008, 06:20 PM

I agree with you 100%. I still use a 7mm rem mag, but it's not because I think I need all that power to kill a deer.

It's because I hunt some really open country, and somtimes I shoot at some pretty long distances. When the shots get out beyond 400 yards or so, I like to use something that shoots flat and hits hard. The recoil doesn't bother me.

I've never had a problem killing a deer with a .243 though. As long as I did my part, the rifle has always done it's part too.


December 19, 2008, 06:31 PM
The simple answer to me is "Bullet Efficiency". And you can also delve into bullet cost if you want to. A simple, non-expensive 165 grain bullet in a 30-06 will do the job every time. Yet all you hear about in the sub-calibers is that you need to use a certain type or more expensive bullet. I have guys tell me that if I am not spending $30-$40 a box for the expensive Barnes Bullets(for deer), then I am not "humanerly" shooting deer. But then I guess it is sexy to pay that much for ammo, and bullets(NOT FOR ME).

I handload and play around with bullets and cartridges for fun. I enjoy that. But I have a bunch of friends who shoot the "non-sexy" Walmart $10 a box 30-06 ammo, and have for 30 or 40 years. And all they do is bring home deer for the freezer. Nothing sexy about that, but highly efficient. They actualy brag on how little they shoot, and how much they save on their ammo. They actually think it is funny when they watch somebody pay $30 or more for a box of ammo to shoot a deer with. Does that make them right-NO. They should practice, but you can not argue with their success.

I shoot a lot of Big Bore rifles. And I honestly believe a bigger slow bullet is extremely more effective than a faster smaller bullet. And I believe diameter of the bullet is key. A 45-70 bullet going in is already over 100% expansion of the 22 caliber bullet, before it even expands. And I can cast a ton of big bore bullets for pennies on the dollar as compared to the "designer bullets".

And by adequate, all I am saying is that hunters will make the occasional bad shot. And when that happens I prefer to have the larger caliber cartridge. It does and will happen to all of us, if we hunt a lot.

Maybe I am just hard headed, and a throw back to older times. But I can tell you that I liked the older times better. Society is in the fast lane today, so I guess people just want "faster"???? Tom.

December 19, 2008, 06:48 PM
I used to go mule deer hunting with my grandfather when he was in his 70's He used a Remington 740 30-06 without fail every buck one shot in the neck, the buck dropped where it was like it was poleaxed. Farthest shot 150 yards, I know I had to drag it to the road.

December 19, 2008, 08:56 PM

I use the same bullets in my .243 that I use in my 7mm Rem Mag. Speer SPBT's. They were about $13 per hundred bullets last time I bought handloading supplies, but that's been a couple of years.

I've shot more than just deer with 'em, too. Bear, antelope, elk, and buffalo go down fast and hard when hit through the chest with the 145 gr 7mm version. I don't shoot the large critters with a .243, but the bullets work equally well on deer.

I don't laugh at the guys who buy expensive bullets. I've used a few Speer Grand Slam bullets myself. If they give the shooter confidence in their firearm's capabilities, then maybe they're worth it.

The big slow bullets work well to, but a dead animal is dead. It really makes little difference if they pass quickly with either bullet. In truth, I've found that the large, slow bullets tend to kill a bit slower, but they damage less meat many times, too.


Brian Pfleuger
December 19, 2008, 09:36 PM
Shot placement has priority. An elephant shot in the eye with a .223 will die faster than the same animal shot in the "dirty end" with a .50BMG.

Be accurate and patient FIRST, then have a caliber up to the job.

Of course, a higher penetrating caliber or cartridge can make some shot placements acceptable when it would not otherwise be.

December 19, 2008, 10:12 PM
When I was a kid my only options were a Mod. 75 Win. Target or a Sears/Stevens 12 ga. SbyS. I always chose the .22 w/CCI MiniMags for deer. Hit them in the eye and they don't go anywhere, good inside of 100 yds.

December 21, 2008, 11:46 AM
A few years ago, there was a fantastic article on shot placement in the Gun Digest Magazine. The rifle/caliber in question was the .243 Win. I read the article and it got me started shooting and killing much more efficiently. One of the first things with anything you are hunting is knowing the physical make up (anatomy)of your game. I mean exactly where everything is. Neck column, heart etc. A pig ain't the same as a deer for sure and you will **** a lot of hogs if you are shooting for the heart area on a hog if you don't know where it is. That was one of the first things I learned. Second, in my opinion is shooting precise. I rarely take a shot that is not going to go exactly where I want it to go, eg. running deer at 150 yards shooting offhand. I don't do it unless the deer presents its self for the shot. The guy that wrote the article is from somewhere in the NE where the deer are monsters. You might have seen a couple of posts where I mentioned shooting 4-5 inches fwd the shoulder INLINE with the neck. With the .243 he stated that within an inch of the neck column, the .243 has enough energy to snap the column. OK, don't jump on the range vs energy wagon yet. Reasonable range...OK. I hunted with my .243 Sako for Texas white tail in my area and SW Texas as well as for hogs etc. I have an extremely accurate .243 with better than good glass, and have never had a deer take a step using the method I read about.
I am a precise shooter period. I had eye surgery a few years back and the doc said no shooting....Booooo. Hunting season 3 days from that time. I said "doc, you know rifles?" Yes. Can I shoot my Savage 12BVSS 22-250 this season. No recoil. "Yes, but nothing more!!" OK so I shot a huge white tail at 135 yds dead in the neck with it. Bullet, 55 gr, took out the spine and lodged itself in the bone. When I shot he just disappeared from the ridge??? Oh my. Waited a bit while scoping the area then went where last seen. I found him right where he stood before with a tiny hole just barely dripping blood. Shot three more deer that season with that rifle using shot That is my motto...shoot accurately with whatever I have in my hand that day period and I make sure they are before using them.
By the way, I do believe in bullet construction, BC and SD for the range and job at hand. Some of the deadliest bullets I use are the bonded and the Barnes triple shock. Bullet retention for max penetration and energy. Just my .02. I like this thread. Good input....I do listen and try to learn.

December 21, 2008, 12:08 PM
While perfect shot placement is an ideal goal it does not always happen. We pull the shot some, the beast moves etc.

Thus the bullet that makes the largest deepest wound is more likely to hit a vital spot than a bullet that makes the smaller wound.

Of course we don't want a round where the blast or recoil causes a poor aim. Its a complicated set of facts for each of us to weigh.

December 21, 2008, 12:22 PM

December 21, 2008, 11:15 PM
While perfect shot placement is an ideal goal it does not always happen.

And that is exactly why you want to be using enough gun for the job at hand.....

December 28, 2008, 12:30 PM
I appreciate the info everyone has provided so far. I agree that you need enough gun. I also agree that not every shot is going to be perfect. This post was in the beginning about being able to use a caliber that does not kick the crap out of you and still be a good caliber for Deer.

I also agree w/Savage99 on occassionally pulling the trigger at the wrong angle etc. The cure for me was the 6.5X55 Swede from CZ with the single set trigger. All of the deer I have shot this year, 3, have been in the heart and all were shot with a CZ with a single set trigger. Before this year I never knew how important trigger pull was in order to shoot real accurately. I had heard about it before but never experienced it. Now I have and I would say to any of you that have never shot a rifle with a GOOD! light trigger you should try it. And if you ever get a chance to shoot a CZ with a single set trigger try that too! I can tell you it has made a world of difference in my shooting!

December 28, 2008, 05:56 PM
Well Shot placement is always king in my book. I hunted for years with a 303 British, 30-30, 30-06, and up to the 300 Win mag. Killed lots of stuff with those calibers. The most accurate gun I have is My Armalite 300 Win mag. I have killed probably 12 deer in the 3 seasons I have used it. I had to quit doing vital shots on deer , simply due to meat damage. Let me tell you, a 180 Grain SST or Gameking running at 3250 FPS can do ALOT of damage. the last vital shot I have done on a deer was a large doe at 200 yards with the 300 Mag. Both shoulders where garbage. I got comfortable with the rifle and moved on to head shots. I was very successful with those, as something gonged in the head with like 11000 foot pounds of energy wont be getting up. ( i dont know the formula for Ft pounds, but i thik that is close) A very close second in the accuracy dept is my Bushmaster Ar15. Using 55 Grain Vmaxs at around 3100 Fps will make a deer just as dead as the 300 Win mag will. Also advantages are.. Less loss of hearing, less damage to deerblinds :eek: , fewer lost hats, a rifle that weighs 1/2 as much, and the cheaper bullets. Gamewardens also happen to Materialize at my front gate when the 300 Mag is in use. How they do that, I dont know.

December 29, 2008, 04:58 PM
In my opinion, when you see the buck of a lifetime, like this one, at 225-250 yards, and you are presented with something less than the ideal shot, you are not going to want to have something like a .223 or a .243 in your hand.


December 29, 2008, 05:17 PM
NICE BUCK!!! I would love to have the opportunity to shoot a buck like that. I have been hunting for over 23 years...got a late start because my dad did not hunt so it was when I married my wonderful wife and found out her dad hunted that things changed for me.

BUT I would not hesitate to shoot something like that with my 6.5x55 Swede at 250-300 yards. Any shot I took with my 7Mag or 300Mag out to about 300 yards I would also take with my 6.5x55.

I can not speak to a 243 because I do not own one but I do own a stout .223 and simply would not ever consider shooting a deer with it. I am sure that a lot of folks have killed a lot of deer with it but it is just not for me. I also have a 22-250 and I have killed a couple of deer with it and it works good for the shots I have taken with it but I would not want to have it in the stand and see the one in the photo above. I am pretty sure I would simply let it walk. Now if it got within a hundred yards and I had a good shot I would take the shot with the 22-250 but not at more than 100 yards.

January 1, 2009, 06:47 PM
Based on my experience I'm not convinced a larger bullet/rifle caliber makes up for a bad hit.

I'm in the Northeast where does are 120 to 160 pounds and bucks are often over 200 pounds. Prior to this year every deer I've ever shot was a well placed one shot kill. Two neck shots and the rest were all heart shots or double lung shots using a host of calibers from 7mm in diameter and larger.

Until this year I always thought using larger caliber rifles such as .280, .35 Rem, .30-06, .308, .32 special, .30-30 and so forth would make up for my mistake if I ever made a bad hit on a deer. Because of this thinking I never really considered the 243 or 257 Roberts good rifles for hunting big deer here in the Northeast. Never having made a bad rifle shot on a deer I just assumed the larger calibers would help me make up for any shooting errors. WRONG!

This year some friends and I went after rack bucks in upstate NY. I brought two rifles which I'm well practiced with.

1. A Winchester 94 with iron sights in .32 special caliber for use on rainy days and in snowstorms when optics are more of a problem than help.

2. A Winchester 94 Big Bore in .307 caliber shooting 180 grain bullets with a 1.5 to 5 power scope. I like this rifle for still hunting or stand hunting on nice days.

The first day of my hunt I had a wide open offhand shot from the standing position of 200 yards on a big 8 point buck standing broadside in an open field. This was the longest shot by far I've ever had a chance to make on a deer. I'm well practiced out to 100 yards but don't have a place to practice beyond that. I don't have a laser range finder. I made my best guess on the distance and adjusted for elevation. There was no wind so no windage adjustment was necessary. The bullet drop was more than I expected and my shot was low hitting the buck somewhere in the shoulder or front leg. Another hunter showed me where the buck lied down after the shot and my cousin and I followed the blood trail from there. I jumped the buck once more but no shot was presented and eventually pushed the buck to another hunter not in our party that bagged it with one good clean shot. My .30 caliber bullet did not make up for the fact I'd made a bad hit.

In this particular instance it probably would have been better to have a flat shooting 243 or 257 Roberts or .270 and make a well placed shot than to have a bigger .307 with a bullet drop of 8 inches or so between 100 yards and 200 yards.

The following day under completely different circumstances I made the second bad shot of my lifetime on a deer and the lesson from the previous day about the importance of bullet placement was learned again:

The second day of the hunt the wind was blowing 20 knots. The deer were bedded down and nobody saw anything while on stand. The only deer seen where by those of us that did some still hunting. The wind finally died around 2:30 p.m. I knew the deer were bedded in pines and other thick stuff and they'd want to stretch their legs. I headed for a ridge beside two thick pine stands and sat beside a tree hidden behind some brush waiting for my buck to come by. Thirty minutes later a big rutting 8 point rack buck stepped out of the pines and walked right past me quickly at 7 yards. I had to wait until he walked past me before I could raise my rifle without alerting him. When he got past me I put him in the crosshairs. He was about 10 yards away. I made what I thought was a good shot and missed clean. I immediately realized I must have shot over his back because he was so close and I'm sighted in dead on at 100 yards. Upon hearing the shot the buck squatted on his haunches and digged into the turf and wheeled to the right. The forward section of the deer was obstructed by brush but I had a perfect broadside shot on his right hind quarter. I decided to try my first ever femeral artery shot figuring a 180 grain .30 caliber bullet to the hind quarter at close range would knock the deer down and damage the artery bleeding him out in no time. WRONG! I held low to account for the close proximity and I hammered him in the hind quarter. The impact of the 180 grain round didn't knock him down but it did cause him to stumble. He stumbled down the ridge bleeding profusely and bouncing off trees as he went. I was sure I'd find him piled up at the bottom of the ridge about 300 yards away. Turns out I smashed his leg bone and picked up many large pieces of bone along the nearly mile long blood trail. I caught one glimpse of the buck as I was blood trailing him but did not get a shot to put him down.

Long story short the buck wandered onto private property where I was threatened and chased off by another hunter who I later learned from the property owner was tresspassing. The property owner let me and my buddies go back and search for that buck which we did the entire following day. Late in the afternoon a volunteer with a blood hound came out to see if his hound could find the deer for us. I never found that buck and I was so sick over losing two rack bucks in two days that I considered the second buck part of my bag and ended my hunt.

The best info I have on this topic is my own firsthand experience that has taught me large caliber bullets may leave behind nice blood trails and bone but at least in my case they did not make up for two poorly placed shots.

January 1, 2009, 06:57 PM
Man that is tough! I doubt it was easy telling your story. Hope things go better this year. I have missed a few but I can not think of any that I have hit and not been able to find. I did have a couple that definately had me worried but was finally able to find them. I have been with a buddy on mine on a couple of occasions where he shot a buck and we were never able to find them. Even though they were not my bucks it still bothered me a great deal not being able to find them and it ate my buddy up!

I agree with you if you had had a flatter shooting rifle the first day you probably would have gotten your buck.

January 1, 2009, 07:54 PM
I use a hot loaded 30-06 for the most part but do have a 7x57 truck gun for those unexpected hunts. Most drop like a rock and the ones that do manage to move don't go far.

January 1, 2009, 09:34 PM

Telling the story isn't as bad as the two days of living through it. My hope is somebody may benefit from my experience. I know I won't be taking any more femeral artery shots after what happened on this hunt. Mercifully, after this hunt I went back home and switched back to my Win Mod 70 30-06 and made a great double shoulder shot and dropped a 255 pound 7 point in his tracks. I really needed to do that ASAP to get past the debacle that occurred in New York.

I didn't mind losing the first buck to another hunter. Sure I was disappointed I didn't make a one shot kill nor get another nice rack for the wall but I was glad another hunter put down the animal I wounded.

Losing the second buck literally made me ill. I hammered that deer at close range and watched him stumble down the mountain. His entire back end was red with blood and I could have used a bucket and mop while following the blood trail. My buddies couldn't believe the bag of bone fragments I brought back to the hotel that night after I was run off my deer. But the worst part of it was being threatened and chased off the deer by a jerk who was tresspassing. The last blood I found was on the state land/private land border in a pine blow down where I believe my buck had laid down to die not 40 yards from this other jerk. The jerk was on stand at the time my buck piled into the blow down and must have heard it. Then I think he jumped the buck and it ran a bit farther into the woods because that's where the blood hounds took me the next day after tracking it to the blow down and there was a short drag mark and fresh quad tracks and the hounds wouldn't track any farther and we never found any blood beyond that area.

It was such a nice buck and it was leaving such a good blood trail I know I would have found it dead or jumped it and put it down if I hadn't been chased off by that tresspasser.

Worst hunting experience of my life!

January 4, 2009, 05:13 PM
one hole wonder. i'm sure everyone here, including myself appreciates you sharing the story. but IMO both your shots would have been easily avoidable. first buck you shot at a distance double of what you were comfortable with and were guessing where the bullet would go. second shot, you shot the animal in the ass! last time i checked thats a good way to wound the hell out of something and never recover it. you were shooting out of your comfort zone on both occasions. you should only take shots you KNOW you will make and keep them in the heart/lung area. or if you are really confident and KNOW you can make the shot the neck. Obviously you learned your lesson but i feel you should have known from the start not to pull the trigger. yeah it sucks seeing nice animals and not having a good shot. but thats part of hunting! anyway i mean no disrespect/put down in this... just voicing my opinion on the subject.

January 23, 2009, 07:51 PM
I took my nephew hunting this past weekend and we spoke quite a bit about shot placement. I showed him last Friday night where to place the shot. Then Saturday morning we went hunting. We saw a couple of bucks but since he was on a doe hunt he could not shoot either one. After the hunt he said he really did not understand why anyone would ever miss. He assure me he wouldn't. I explained that there was a thing called buck fever and when it attacks hunters occasionally miss.

A little background....My nephew is in the military. He is a very good shot. He had never killed a deer before this last weekend.

Well Saturday evening we went hunting. I set him at a location where I was sure he would get a shot at a doe and I moved on to where I was hoping to get a shot at a hog. He had indicated he would rather take a doe than a hog so we split up. At about 4:45 I saw three hogs... I waited a little while and then they grouped together and I decided to try to get two for one...well I made sure I was on the first hog and fired. It fell over dead shot though the heart but the other one behind it escaped unharmed. Less than 5 minutes later I heard a shot...it sounded like a miss...Well rather than going to see what happened I decided to wait...ten minutes later I heard another shot....and then another! WOW! Ok I decided to go back to camp and pick up my cell phone to call him rather than risk getting shot walking up to him...:D

Well I made a call to my wife first and as I was talking to her I saw him walking my way in the distance. Well I figured we would need to get his truck and go pick up a doe. When he got about 200 yards from me I saw that he had a deer slung over his shoulder. He had carried that deer that way for over 800 yards. I was a little impressed.

But getting back on track when he got back he admitted he had missed the first two times! :eek: Finally he hit her with the third and he was very proud he had hit her in the heart. He took the ribbing pretty good. I called my father-in-law and he gave him a little as well. I told him finally that I was glad that he missed simply because now he will approach deer hunting a little differently and that when he hears that someone made a bad shot he would have an appreciation for what they were going through.

Oh well...back to the topic...IT IS ALL ABOUT SHOT PLACEMENT!!!

January 24, 2009, 12:32 PM
Shot Placement is the key no matter whatever caliber you are using. A Bad shot is just that if its from A 223cal. or A 300mag. I found that out for sure when I made the bad one with A 7mm mag. I saw my buck of A lifetime run off and I never saw him again. That was A lesson I have never forgotten, now I know that A well placed shot from A 243cal. is just as deadly as the same one from A larger caliber. If you can't place the shot where you want it don't take it. A wounded deer is A wounded deer regardless of the caliber.

January 25, 2009, 04:32 AM
Shot placement is probably the most important thing but it's not the only thing. You can bring too much gun to a deer hunt as I found out last year. I loaded some 220 gr. bullets for my 8mm Mauser in anticipation of an upcoming buffalo hunt and thought that they would really knock the socks off a whitetail, but I found out different. What I didn't realize or take the time to find out is that the 220 gr. is built a lot stronger for deep penetration and goes through a deer like a FMJ not doing a lot damage along the way. I shot two deer and followed a light blood trail on each for a few hundred yds. till the blood stopped and never recovered ether one. I'm confident that the shot placement was good on both shots but without any expansion, no meat in the freezer, live and learn. Neadless to say I reloaded with a lighter softer bullet and havn't had any further problems. It turns out that a 185 gr. game king was enough for the buffalo and still works great on deer, no following blood trails this year and can stick with one shot one kill. Anyone need 1/2 a box of 220 gr. 8mm bullets?

January 25, 2009, 05:06 AM
G'day. Sounds like an example of sectional density at work.

James R. Burke
February 23, 2009, 12:33 PM
No doubt Kreyzhorse is 100% right. A wounded deer with anything is still wounded. Placement is key or dont take the shot!

February 23, 2009, 01:57 PM
It is a given that you do not NEED cartridges such as the various 30 caliber magnums etc.. I started out hunting with a 270 because I grew up reading the late great Jack O'Conner. Then I started hunting with a 243 and the deer still went down. The problem that I had with the 243 was that I was always feeling undergunned! Maybe it was too much Outdoor Life, Field & Stream, and Sports Afield and the various gun writers always extolling the virtures of the latest and greatest new cartridges. Whatever the reason, I switched to a 30-06 and I FELT more confident. I do believe that there is a big difference in a 130 pound southern whitetail and a western mule deer 200 pounds or more across the canyon. Will the smaller cartridges work? Yes, but I want that extra bit of insurance that the 270's, 280's, 7 Mags, 30-06's, 308's and the various 30 caliber magnums give me. Of these cartridges only the 300 mags give me any problem with recoil and I'm starting to get used to that. Maybe it is all the years of shooting potent 3" 12 gauge turkey loads. As far as I'm concerned if someone wants to shoot his venison with a 458 magnum, go for it. The same goes for bullet selection. For years I hunted with the Remington Core-Lokt factory loads and they did just fine. But after I got into handloading I became interested in the different bullets out there and I did much range "lab work". I started to appreciate the more premium bullets. Do I need them? Most likely not. But they give me that extra confidence that I like. I guess the moral of the story is: Use what you like and feel comfortable with and don't worry what the other guy is doing.;)

February 24, 2009, 05:01 PM
In my opinion, when you see the buck of a lifetime, like this one, at 225-250 yards, and you are presented with something less than the ideal shot, you are not going to want to have something like a .223 or a .243 in your hand.

You think a .223 and .243 have the same capabilities? Wow!

Art Eatman
February 25, 2009, 10:06 AM
Naw, kingudaroad, he just wants more Oomph! than either. Well, really, more assurance of penetration on an angling shot. I've killed a bunch of deer with a .243, but I was really picky about the shots. Heavier bullets penetrate better, most times.

James R. Burke
March 11, 2009, 06:55 PM
If it is not a good shot you just dont take it period. That is the way I was brouht up. A wounded deer with a .243, a .30-06, or a 416 rem mag is still a wounded deer.

March 11, 2009, 10:29 PM
If you shoot a deer or anything else through the lungs it's not going far. But, in the real world people shoot them all over the place. I've seen deer tails shot off and about everything else. So, if you are a patient good shot and consider what you have in your hands most anything will do the job. If you are a little suspect in that department bigger is better. Recoil should be the last thing on your mind in the excitement of a shot. If it's not then back up a notch or two.

March 12, 2009, 12:45 AM
Isn't there some truth to so-called "shocking power" - that some claim high velocity medium and heavy bore cartridges develop - for stopping game quickly??

Say, a shot from a 375 H&H magnum forward of the diaphragm (that doesn't hit the spine) out to medium range that should drop a big elk instantly??

March 12, 2009, 12:57 AM
I have a 6.5x20x50 on my 22-250 so with the magnification on the highest level I was able to make sure I was aiming at this bucks heart and lung area.

You cranked up the power to 20 times to make sure your were aiming at the heart lung area? I figure a 4 power scope is good to at least 300 yards.

I think the 6.5x55 is one of the finest medium game cartridges around. Congratulations of a very successful season.

March 12, 2009, 06:11 AM
Based on my experience I'm not convinced a larger bullet/rifle caliber makes up for a bad hit.

I don't think it does either. A slightly bigger hole in a deers gut is not necessarily going to make finding him more of a certainty. A lot of deer are wounded and lost every year in this country with large caliber and magnum cartridges too. I'm not saying there isn't a minimum caliber for each type of big game animal but shot placement is the once and forever king.

March 12, 2009, 06:56 AM
This is most important when shooting any caliber gun in my opinion.
The 6.5x55 caliber rifle you are now shooting is an excellent deer cartridge with very low recoil (no flinching = more accurate shots). That is my choice for deer hunting as well. I have made shots with a 7mm mag before where the deer ran for long distances (not perfect shot placement), so making proper shot placement is always best.