View Full Version : What is the minimum rifle you would use?

October 1, 2009, 10:05 AM
I have a friend who states, "people on the east Coast hunt deer with AR-15's"

we argue back and forth. I think the .223 is too small for deer and I had a

friend who shot a 22-250 and wounded many only to cripple nice sized bucks.

I feel it is not ethical to hunt with a .223 on any deer. The 243 is as low as

anyone should go. I know a head shot would kill any animal but some states

say the .22 cal guns are too small also.

What is the minimum rifle you would use?

October 1, 2009, 10:12 AM
Depends on the hunter and his/her shot selection. I wouldn't recommend a new hunter try a broadside shot with a .223 and many states have restrictions in place to prevent wounding. That said, I know several hunters who use a .223 and do it successfully. They are excellent shots and use neck shots exclusively.

I'd prefer to have a .25 caliber or bigger.

October 1, 2009, 10:33 AM
I live in Texas and usually hunt in the Hill Country where the deer aren't much more than 120 lbs on the hoof. It is legal to hunt with any centerfire .22 caliber. I usually use a 270 Win, and know of people that use 222 and 223 Rem on the lease I'm invited to. I personally feel .243 should be the minimum as I've heard that it has taken as many as 5 shots to down a small deer. Some have been taken with 1. Don't know about their shot placement or skill level, and I suppose that's for each to figure out (appropriate caliber to skill level). I won't get into a debate with these people, though I may poke a little fun. I personally go for neck shots (so many deer here that I can pick and choose - could fill my limit in a weekend if I wanted to clean that many) and a 22 caliber may be sufficient, but as I stated, I feel something in the .243 or greater ought to be used.

October 1, 2009, 10:36 AM
I am with you, the minimum I would use is .243.

And I know there are plenty of people who successfully use smaller. The problem comes because the regs can not force ethics. If a 22-250 is legal, the regs can't differentiate between the guy who practices a lot and will only take the right shot from the guy who walked into the store and bought one at the same time he bought his ammo, license and tags the night before the season.

It does not help that Oregon does not require Hunter Ed if you are over 18, so you can have first-timers who have nothing to base their choices on.

October 1, 2009, 11:38 AM
260 Remington for me.

Dr. Strangelove
October 1, 2009, 11:38 AM
Depends on the skill level of the hunter. Here in GA, any .22 caliber center-fire or larger cartridge is legal for whitetail. I shoot an AR-15, but don't hunt with it because I have other rifles more suitable for the task. If I only had a .223, I would hunt with that and restrict myself to shots reasonably certain to produce a humane kill.

Someone with hunting experience, ethics and good aim isn't a problem with a smaller caliber. It's the folks who give new shooters/hunters small caliber rifles because they "kick less" that cause a lot of unnecessary suffering for animals every year. Combining inexperience with bullet placement on the animal, a merely "adequate" caliber and poor marksmanship is a bad recipe.

(or "what davlandrum said")

October 1, 2009, 11:40 AM
Combining inexperience with bullet placement on the animal, a merely "adequate" caliber and poor marksmanship is a bad recipe.

Add poor bullet selection to the list too.

October 1, 2009, 11:55 AM
My personal minimum is a .243 with 95 or 100 gr bullets, even then I am careful about taking only broadside shots through both lungs.

October 1, 2009, 12:26 PM
.30-06 is the smallest I currently hunt with because that's the smallest caliber I own that is viable for deer/hog. Where I hunt you are more likely to run across a nice hog than a shootable deer so .30 cal is a nice choice. If I were to go any smaller I would use 6.5x55. That's as low as I would go. Sure, I know a guy who regularly takes deer/hog with a .22-250 and I know I am a good enough shot to do it as well, I just don't think its ethical. If what I'm shooting at flinches or I don't have quite as good a shot as I thought I did I don't want to take a chance on crippling an animal. That's not fair to the animal. You can kill an Elephant with a .303 Brit, been done plenty of times. That doesn't mean its appropriate.

October 1, 2009, 12:40 PM
Really I don't feel the .22 caliber center fire rifle is too small if the proper bullet is selected and used within the limitations of that caliber and if it is legal in the State you hunt. I feel that at a minimum a Premium bullet such as Barnes TSX or Nosler Partition should be used and shots from should be kept to short ranges. Using these bullets I feel that there is enough energy to make a .223 a 100-150 yard rifle and the .22-250 a capable 200 yard rifle on deer. They are not ideal calibers that is for sure and I even prefer somthing larger to hunt with, but they will do the job as long as the hunter does theirs.

October 1, 2009, 12:48 PM
I have never hunted with a .223. .243 is the minimum I have used thus far. That being said, I wouldn't hesitate to use a .223 within it's limitations and with a proper bullet.

Here in NC .22LR is a legal caliber for deer..........Not saying I'd do it, but there are people who do and are not breaking any laws.

October 1, 2009, 01:04 PM
My wife and I both use 223 Winchester 64gr PP for deer up to 150 yds with NO problem. However we shoot about 400 rounds per month each so we know our limitations, and we take almost all neck shots. For 150yds and out I use the 308.

October 1, 2009, 01:07 PM
+1 to Taylorce1. Bullet selection can make the .223 viable on deer.

October 1, 2009, 01:08 PM
Nothing less than .25 caliber for me

October 1, 2009, 01:15 PM
If your goal is an ethical, clean kill, you would be well served to use as large diameter a bullet as you can handle that will perform well at the ranges you intend to shoot. The factor that makes a bullet effective in "dropping" an animal, is the transfer of kinetic energy from the bullet, to the tissues and organs of an animal. Allot of people tend to think that if a bullet leave a massive wound channel, shattered bones, and a gaping exit wound, that it will effectively drop the critter. I've seen some wounds in whitetails from 7mm magnums that look for all the world like "lights out", but the deer made it several hundred yards before lying down. Small bullets rely on speed and fragmentation to transfer energy, and do so in a very concentrated area (hence the shredded wound channel). This is most definitely lethal, but not reliably quick. I consider .30 caliber to be a good minimum for ethical deer hunting, and have only used an AR once when I was younger, dumber, and more prone to listening to people who make hitting the spine and jugular vein of a living, moving animal sound easy, and reliable. I also advocate using round nose bullets for any hunting under 400 yards, since they tend to hit like a truck, and leave a very clean, humane kill. I now use a .375 H&H (I know some of you will get a hoot out of that), which does less tissue damage than any other rifle I, or anyone I hunt with have ever used. My brother shot a deer with it two years ago, and you could visibly observe the body cavity expand when the bullet struck, and the animal fell where it stood, and was expired by the time we reached it. This round leaves any un-struck organs intact, but tenderized, and mushy feeling (like everything inside the cavity got mashed with a bat. I don't suggest that this is the only, or best type of weapon to use, but it fits my purpose very well. I do not go out looking for a challenge in killing any game, I make sure I have enough gun, and I pass on questionable shots. I do think that unless you live in a part of the country where the deer don't get much above a hundred pounds on the large side, the small caliber rifle game has more to do with treating the hunt as some sort of game, where making something more difficult than it needs to be gets you extra points.

October 1, 2009, 01:22 PM
It depends on the hunter/shooter and his or her abilities.

Lots of people hunt deer with a .223 without any trouble. Good shot placement results in a dead deer as long as the range doesn't get too long.

I prefer a .243 as my minimum; not because the .223 won't work, but because the .243 offers more distance for making an effective and efficient kill.

Your buddy that keeps wounding deer needs to learn the abilities of his rifle, cartridge, and load as well as his own abilities.

Some won't admit their own inabilities, and blame it on their gun, but it's the shooter that's responsible for the failure by failing to recognize the limitations of their own inabilities and those of their firearm/weapon of choice.


October 1, 2009, 01:48 PM
Well said Daryl, hit the nail!

October 1, 2009, 01:48 PM
I would agree with the 243 minimum sentiment; however, I have seen two deer hit with a 243 that took a long time to find due to poor tissue damage. These were both with 100 grain factory.

For not much more recoil, the 260 and 7-08 do an outstanding job. I don't have experience with the 257 Roberts, but it seems to have a good reputation.

October 1, 2009, 02:07 PM
.24 caliber is the legal minimum here and I'm fine with that.

If the deer are very small and the hunter is skilled enough I don't see why a smaller caliber wouldn't work. But what happens when that hunter runs into bambizilla?

October 1, 2009, 02:08 PM
I too am a 30 caliber guy for taking deer and elk, but to be honest, ANY caliber will take a deer if proper shot placement and optimal environment are achieved when the shot it taken...

But to be fully honest and justifiably so, those conditions rarely exist in the woods and mountains and plains. So the safest route is, bigger is better, but go with what you're comfortable with.

If improperly hit a 460 WBY Mag will only wound a deer...{it's unlikely with that kind of massive energy, but it's possible all the same}

So bigger and better is only relative to the shot's potential. But it's far safer to go larger than to stick with those 22-250's, .17's, 222's and 223's...

I prefer a 150 Grain slug or larger, regardless of caliber for taking deer.

October 1, 2009, 02:09 PM
Read here for more info:


October 1, 2009, 02:14 PM
A 223 with softpoint ammo will kill any deer in Georgia. I don't use one because where I hunt there is the possibility of bear or hogs. Not my 1st choice either, but I've seen too many dead deer to argue with someone. In other places where deer may be larger I would agree that a 243 is about minimum.

October 1, 2009, 03:20 PM
Talking about the typical White Tail... I would prefer .243 Win, or larger.

However, I spent a few years in Florida. The Florida Coastal White Tail, native to the panhandle, produced 'big' bucks smaller many dog breeds. Not only was it a legal weapon, but I wouldn't have hesitated to use my .380 Auto to harvest an animal.

In Utah, any centerfire rifle cartridge is legal. You could technically use .10 Squirrel Popper; as long as it was fired from a rifle. (Think of a centerfire .22 Short, necked down to .10 caliber.) Most hunters chose to go with .308, .30-06, .270 Win, or various 7mms; since mule deer can be fairly tough.

Edit: I forgot to add... For the Florida Coastal White Tail, a .243 Win would be too much gun, in my opinion. I would actually prefer the .223 or a slow moving projectile from a larger bore; say, .38 Special, .45 Colt, low power .35 Rem, or .44 Special.

October 1, 2009, 10:45 PM
So if you think .223 is too small, I take it ya probably don't want to hear about the .22 Hornet I take elk hunting?

October 1, 2009, 11:34 PM
I feel that the .223/5.56 round is adequate in the 200-300 yd. range for OUR deer which tend to be small and shot at much closer ranges.

The 5.65 round was developed to take out a man (about the same size as your average deer) @ 200 yds. during a firefight where accuracy is secondary.

It kinda ticks me off that one of the leases that I hunt just made the.243 a min. when I've killed plenty of deer/hogs with a .22LR.

I guess that you have to take it up for the newbies and morons.

.300 Weatherby Mag
October 1, 2009, 11:55 PM
.243 with a 95 or 100 gr bullet is my min...

Fat White Boy
October 2, 2009, 12:02 AM
For most big game in the US? Plasma rifle in the 30 Watt range. For brown bears- something in the 40 Watt range...

October 2, 2009, 01:24 AM
Unfortunately we aren't allowed cemterfired rifles in Ohio to hunt deer. We can use a bow, a muzzle loader, center fire or flintlock, and shot gun. I use a Savage Slug Rifle. it shoots 300 gr. Hornady in a shot group at 3/4" at 100 yds. Therefore, I don't even need a rifle. This round puts them down right now! "Cemetary Dead"!

October 2, 2009, 08:44 AM
Crankylove, I grew up on a cattle ranch. My stepdad/hunter I learned to hunt deer with used a Hornet, and he took many large Blacktails with it 150lbs+ however the most frustrated I have ever seen him is when we lost a large 5 pt. he "lung shot" at 150+ yards, and this is a man who could literally "track a swarm of bees in a snowstorm". Too many times I have seen deer get away from well placed shots with poor bullets. You don't want my opinion on hunting Elk with that rifle at any load. However sitting in a tree stand performing head shots under 100 yards would work. Most hunters don't think of every possible senario before the shot and get caught unprepared, eg. running broadside, 3 at once lined up. I would agree with prior posts that bullet selection is key, I used Nosler partitions and remington bronze points for years. I now use Barnes TTSX 180's and I have one load and one gun I use only for deer and elk. It goes back in the cabinet for the rest of the year. Confidence in the gun and knowing it's limits are to me most important.

So I guess to take a poll,any deer under 100lbs. anything goes..

Jack O'Conner
October 2, 2009, 04:41 PM

Years ago in the 1960's, we knew a man who lived in the mountains above Whitewood, South Dakta. He was what you'd call a "violator". That is, he took big game out of season. Dad told us kids that we didn't need to turn him; he'd get himself caught eventually. It was not our business if this older guy violated or not. I'll call him Karl for this post.

Karl hunted whitetails, mulies, and even occasional elk with his 38-40 carbine. How do I know this to be true? We found his empty cases often.

Karl placed his under-powered bullets in the right spot and fed his extended family. Yet 38-40 is a pip squeak on modern ballistic charts. In contrast, young men from the east show up with magnum rifles for antelope. A trophy antelope buck rarely weighs in more than 130 lbs. So it goes.

My 22 magnum rifle will shoot clover leafs at 75 yards. Will it topple a big muley with a brain shot at this distance? Truthfully, I don't know. But in theory, it would get the job done.


October 2, 2009, 09:22 PM
I have taken deer with an assortment of firearms from .22 up to 12 guage. Knock on wood, I have never lost one. I have taken some with my .223 and they either dropped right there or made it about 50 yards. Same as with a 270 etc. Here in the South it is plenty and I will believe that until I prove myself wrong. I have seen more deer lost or had to be tracked a long way due to being shot with Buckshot than anything else. IMHO the .223 is far superior to buckshot.

October 2, 2009, 09:26 PM
i fancy at least .308 myself

October 3, 2009, 11:20 AM
i believe anything will kill a deer as long as you hit it in the right spot. I know a guy who hunts deer with and 22 magnum and they have all droped in there tracks. He is taking about 25 yard shots to 50 yard shot and he shoots them in the brain. He has taken at least 20 or more this way. He has said he has taken them even with a 22 winchester, but he has only taken like 2 and they were out squirell hunting. i personally like the .243 has not failed me yet.

October 3, 2009, 11:54 AM
A .22 short will kill a deer if you hit it right. I use a 30-06 or .54 Hawken. I've seen the results of too many bad hits with 243's, etc. Not saying you can't lose a deer with the bigger calibers but it's less likely.

October 3, 2009, 12:01 PM
i am a big big fan of the 243 :)

October 3, 2009, 12:13 PM
Personally I use the 7.62x39fmj with an SKS. With a well placed shot as used by a bow hunter, I have harvested white tail deer, wild hogs (350lb+ range) and elk. Some just fall right down and some I have to follow a blood trail for a dozen yards or so.
I've used a 22mag once and it worked fine for a deer.
I have a .177 air gun (1390fps) that I have shot small pigs with and it works just fine.
The skill of the hunter is the most important item here. If a 324fps arrow will harvest most game in the US, then just about most calibers will work.

October 3, 2009, 12:18 PM
If a 324fps arrow will harvest most game in the US, then just about most calibers will work.

While I don't disagree with your basic premise, the arrow works in a very different manner. Aside from mechanics, the skill of a bowhunter is usually more refined than the typical once a year deer hunter.

I wouldn't be comfortable with a newbie reading some of these posts that say a rimfire is adequate. Absolutely it can be done (quite easily), but shot selection is critical and timing of deer movement is paramount.

October 3, 2009, 02:24 PM
I wouldn't be comfortable with a newbie reading some of these posts that say a rimfire is adequate. Absolutely it can be done (quite easily), but shot selection is critical and timing of deer movement is paramount.

...Aside from the fact that rimfires are illegal for most game animals, and almost all big game.

That's one theme that hasn't shown up much in this thread: the legality of many of the cartridges being discussed.

Would I feel comfortable using my Buckmark pistol, .22 WMR, or my brother's .22 Hornet for a brain shot on most big game? Yes. (Given the right range and bullet.)
Would it be legal in any of the states where I hunt? Absolutely not.

gun nut
October 3, 2009, 02:37 PM
243 is really the minimum in my area. We have large deer(whitetail mainly).

James R. Burke
October 3, 2009, 03:28 PM
Just myself a .243 and up. I know you can kill deer with .223 if you are skilled, and wait for the correct shot placement like any rifle. You need to know the shoots to pass on, and be able to leave them walk if needed. It will work, but just myself it would be a .243 or up.

October 3, 2009, 09:58 PM
I have a 250 sav AI and a 7x57 so i guess they will do.Good Luck

October 9, 2009, 09:22 PM
These have been used on doe only, and for head/neck shots exclusively, but all have worked perfectly with immediate drops/kills during some of our hunts on Texas whitetails this year:

204 Ruger
22 Hornet
223 Rem

Most were shot at 50-100yds.

For anything like body/vitals shots the calibers used have been larger like a 308, 6.5x55, or similar.

Like many others, I prefer more power for anything bigger than the 80-120lb doe. Usually a 6.5x55 or 308.

October 9, 2009, 09:46 PM
I've seen the results of too many bad hits with 243's,

Most folks I know who can't shoot well don't shoot better as the recoil increases. If they can't place a bullet with a .243, they need to spend more time shooting and learning their own limitations as well as the limitations of the cartridge. A bigger gun to compansate for poor shooting is generally a bad idea.

A more powerful cartridge CAN give a shooter more effective range, but it can't be utilized very well if the shooter can't hit where they need to.



October 9, 2009, 09:54 PM
Well, I am not The Great White Hunter, but I will share these observations:

1. Florida deer are different than Michigan deer. The size of the animal dictates the minimum acceptable caliber. Ergo, general statements such as ".223 is inadequte/unethical for deer" are useless unless quoted in a certain context.

2. Shot placement is everything. Do a search and you will find plenty of examples of people who buy a .300 WinMag and cannot shoot it accurately.
I remember talking to a guy behind the counter at Sportsman's Warehouse who claimed to have harvested a deer with a Ruger .22LR MkIII Hunter and a 100 yard head shot. (FWIW, I think he was full of it, and told him as much :) but I could be wrong.)

October 9, 2009, 10:12 PM
I think .243 is the smallest round that is ethical. Sure a .22 cal. will work but stuff happens. The animal deserves at least a quick and painless as possible death.

October 9, 2009, 11:23 PM
.243/6mm is dead minimum in ANY Cartridge, IMHO.

Sure, headshots with 22 Rimfire (or even Centerfire) have killed thousands upon thousands of deer, but 1... it's illegal. 2... Unless You're extremely Proficient, You're taking an UNnecessary chance of wounding that Game Animal. Like Fisherman66 stated, an animals movements present an even greater "challenge" and increase the risk if/when using not-well-suited cartridges. I'd turn to that if/when it's the only option and ENTIRELY necessary. I'm not that hungry yet.

.243" is dead minimum. .257" is much better. But even with .243" Cartridges, shot placement and bullet selection are critical, and You've definitely GOT to know what You're doing. Shot Placement is #1 in Killing Power using any cartridge, but smaller calibers increase that demand.

I'll stick with My .270 Winchester. :D

October 10, 2009, 06:01 AM
Some won't admit their own inabilities, and blame it on their gun, but it's the shooter that's responsible for the failure by failing to recognize the limitations of their own inabilities and those of their firearm/weapon of choice.

Well said Daryl.

In Kentucky, any .22 centerfire is legal for deer. While I've never hunted with either a .223 or a 22-250, I'd stick with a min .243. Not that a .223 or a 22-250 can't take a deer, but I owe it to the deer to make as clean a kill as possible. A larger round allows for me to recover if I make a mistake and don't hit the deer with a perfect shot.

As Daryl said, know yourself and know your gun. Make your shots within the limits of both.

Old Grump
October 10, 2009, 02:55 PM
243 if I had to but would prefer a 257 Roberts or larger.

October 10, 2009, 03:03 PM
I don't see why you wouldn't use a larger cartridge than something in 22 caliber. A more powerful round will be a quicker killer sometimes. And, if you can't miss the meat you sure don't need to be using something where shot placement is paramount.

October 10, 2009, 05:37 PM
The 5.65 round was developed to take out a man (about the same size as your average deer) @ 200 yds. during a firefight where accuracy is secondary.

Deer about 10 times tougher than humans.

I would use my 22-250 with the right bullet IF I HAD TO. But then I'm used to much smaller targets. A deer would be a chip shot compared to a 250 yard bedded fox. I know my capabilities and that of the gun. Would I ever recommend it? Not on your life. If I was planning on a lifetime of deer hunting I'd buy a bigger gun. If it was a one time deal, I'd borrow a bigger gun.

I have no idea why someone going deer hunting would not choose a bigger caliber. It's not like they didn't know they were going. "IF" a hunter can only afford 1 rifle and needs it to be dual role (varmint/deer) than a .243 would be my minimum. But most hunters have multiple guns, no reason not to own a better caliber, .25 cal min. As a matter of fact, there are many .25's that would make a great dual role gun too.


October 10, 2009, 06:34 PM
As a matter of fact, there are many .25's that would make a great dual role gun too.

.25/06 comes to mind...

The smallest caliber I have used on deer is .243 Win. It was a NEF single-shot and it was my first centerfire rifle. Since then, I've used the typical .308 and it's derived cartridges (.260 Rem & 7mm-08), the .30/06 Spfd and it's derived cartridges (.25/06 Rem & .270 Win), as well as your generic magnums (7mm Rem Mag, .300 Win Mag, and .338 Win Mag). None of the deer, hogs, or elk I've killed have died any quicker from one cartridge to the next. Shot placement and bullet construction are the most important factors, followed by the shooting skill of the hunter, followed by caliber IMO.

I've seen german shepards that are bigger than the blacktails up here, so I guess a .223 would do the job alright on them. I'll stick to the larger calibers for their bigger cousins to the south however.

October 10, 2009, 11:26 PM
Really I don't feel the .22 caliber center fire rifle is too small if the proper bullet is selected and used within the limitations of that caliber and if it is legal in the State you hunt. I feel that at a minimum a Premium bullet such as Barnes TSX or Nosler Partition should be used.........

I agree. I wouldn't hesitate to whack a whitetail with a .223, but it'd have to be stuffed with a super bullet that would hold together on the trip through the animal. Back in the day, bullet failure was the main problem even in larger calibers which is why you went up to a larger caliber.

A neighbor lady up the road from me has knocked over several caribou with a .223 @ 200+ yards. Those puny L 48 whitetails aren't wearing more armor.

October 11, 2009, 12:32 AM
.270 wincester

October 11, 2009, 01:18 AM
Is because of the many people familiar with the .223 from either military service or due to their purchase of an m-16 like rifle for plinking and now they want to apply it to hunting.

Therefore, they are (for the most part) inexperienced hunters - who don't know the anatomy and have little experience with firearms on animals.

I mean, as a novice, why limit yourself to the smallest capable caliber for any hunt?

Would you use 15lbs test to catch your first marlin? A wrist rocket to shoot squirrels? Sure, some people can do it...but it greatly hampers your chances at success.

If you only had one rifle, and it were legal, then go for it. But, if you can afford a real sporting rifle in a traditional chambering then you probably enhance your chance of success regardless of which state you hunt.

daniel paydar
October 12, 2009, 06:38 AM
i usually use my 6,5x55 se for smal deers called roe deer, i have used 222 remington too in the past and even 8x57. i like to use 6,5, because i feel comfortable with it. plenty of killing power with no recoil.
best regards

October 12, 2009, 06:50 AM
I wouldn't be comfortable with a newbie reading some of these posts that say a rimfire is adequate.

If you're referring to what I said I didn't say it was adequate, I said it could be done. I don't condone it in any way. Personally I wont use anything less than a 7x57 or 30-30 but prefer the 30-06 in a cartridge rifle.

October 12, 2009, 10:33 AM
What I have is a AR15 chambered in Rem. 6.8SPC, in which I use SSA 110gr Prohunter's or 115gr Matchking's. That said, it would be my minimum for deer. It's also a excellent round for hog's too.;)

October 12, 2009, 06:13 PM
It's all about shot placement. I have never seen anything killed by a really good miss. OK, that's not literally true, I have seen goats killed by the muzzle blast of a 16" naval gun mounted on a rail car. My point is probably well over half the deer killed in Texas every year are killed by .223 and mostly out of AR-15 style rifles so it isn't the gun's fault if your deer gets away. Blaming your gun for poor marksmanship is like blaming your pencil for misspelled words.

October 12, 2009, 06:22 PM
If you're referring to what I said I didn't say it was adequate, I said it could be done. I don't condone it in any way. Personally I wont use anything less than a 7x57 or 30-30 but prefer the 30-06 in a cartridge rifle.

I don't disagree with your post. I just think there should be a line between doable and appropriate. You aren't the only one that mentioned 22lr in passing. I wouldn't be surprised if 22lr has shot more deer than all other cartridges combined (probably in combination with a spotlight). I just don't know if all novices can read between the lines.

October 13, 2009, 01:43 AM
I agree, L Kill,

Quarter Bore cartridges are very Dual Purpose, and just about every cartrigde I know of that uses a .257" bullet is suitable to deer, just some are obviously better at extended range than others...

250 Savage...257 Roberts...25-06 Remington...All fantastic hunting cartridges. Even more so these days with advancements in Bullet Construction.

I hold my .270 Win. very dear...'nother Dual Purpose. :cool:

Coyote (given the chance), Hog, Deer, Elk, Moose...That's Bullet Selection and Construction. Shot placement is my job.

Here's a link for one of my favorite bullets... Norma Oryx.

Lawyer Daggit
October 13, 2009, 06:09 PM
In New Zealand professional hunters often use .222 or .223 on Sika Deer.
Those of us with more pedestrian talents would be better to regard the .243 (100gn) ,.257 Roberts or in close cover a .44 magnum or .30-30 as a minimum.

October 14, 2009, 10:01 AM
I live in the land of big mule deer so even if it were legal I would not use a .223 for anything bigger than coyotes.

I had a .243 for a few years, killed several decent mule deer with it, and kind of regret trading it off, I think that the .243 is a good round at the right ranges, using the right ammunition. I used 100 grain Nosler partitions only and wouldnt hesitate to use that combo again.

October 14, 2009, 12:24 PM
I use .30-06. And when some of my "big time" hunter friends with their fancy rifles make fun of my Mosin, I'll take them down with 7.62x54mm. Soft point of course.

October 15, 2009, 03:14 PM
I'll make no comment about other's ethics. My personal minimum for deer-sized game is .243 Win. That said, my go-to hunting rifle is a .308.

October 15, 2009, 10:46 PM
Everyone has their favorite and mines 30-06 but the 243 is the most perfect deer antilope rifle ever invented. ( in my opinion ) Here in nw Wyo alot of guys use them on 200 - 400 yd shots and I know several that use them on elk. ( closer range of course ) . Killing is 100% shot placement . 243 is all my wife and kids ( all daughters ) have ever used and its always 1 shot kills and the animal never goes more than 50 yds . Whats neater is they reload their own 95 gr sst's to hunt with . 2008 my youngest shot her first buck , a heavy 4 by 5 muley that weighed in at right at 300 lbs . I've told them to shoot for the neck for an instant drop because thats where I shoot them and she did . Because he was in the middle of a field we couldnt get any closer so she shot him at 300 yds . It went completly thru the neck and he never even twitched . He was down like a rock . It was one of the neatest shots I have ever seen .Needless to say those pics went all over the place with us .

October 16, 2009, 04:50 PM
I am of the opinion that the .243 is the minimum. My two quickest kills on whitetail bucks were made with that cartridge. The .243 has now been religated to my coyote rifle and I hunt deer with one of my four 30-06's. when legal. (When in my home area it's shotguns, muzzleloaders, and stick and string). I think that I read too many outdoor magazines extolling the virtues of bigger cartridges for deer and I started to feel undergunned with the .243, and that is even after success with it. I can shoot the 30-06 just as accurate as the .243 so I like the extra insurance that I feel it gives me. Real or imagined.:)

cole k
October 16, 2009, 05:25 PM
I've killed deer with a lot of different calibers and after 48 years of hunting my minimum calibers are a .257 Roberts and for short range .30-30.

Fred Rogers
October 18, 2009, 12:11 AM
Legality is one thing. But with a semi automatic .22lr, and stingers, it would only take about 3 seconds for a decent shot to shred the vitals on any white tail - up to 70 yards. I know because i've seen it done several times.

IMO it would be a better option than buckshot, if the law isnt an issue.

October 18, 2009, 04:07 AM
i think .223 is a good round its what i killed my first deer with last season! it was a nice size doe :D if u shoot them in the right place(heart or head)it dosnt matter what caliber it is;)

Art Eatman
October 18, 2009, 09:30 AM
Our whole deal, here, is for a clean, ethical kill. If your hunting package accomplishes this, all well and good--so long as you're legal.

October 19, 2009, 10:09 AM
55 grain soft points. Both shots were clean kills through the shoulder and exiting the other side. I am now four for four on whitetails with this bullet.

October 19, 2009, 11:20 AM
Well, you did open up a can of worms. I live and hunt Far West Texas and New Mexico. I own a .223 in Weatherby, with a 3-9 Leupold scope. I would not hunt these "SandHill Mulies" with it. I have seen small Whitetail in East Texas, about 750 miles from my house, that you could possibly hunt with the .223. Some of them have really nice racks, but dress about 40lbs of meat.
Anyway, I just like to make shure of the kill. The smallest rifle in my deer arsenal is a Ruger M77 in .308, and the largest is a Ruger M77 in .300 Winchester Mag. If the deer are small i would still shoot them with a .308. Just my opinion. I like to kill them clean! :D

October 19, 2009, 11:22 AM
.308 ammo is cheap!

October 19, 2009, 06:08 PM
rr2241tx - probably well over half the deer killed in Texas every year are killed by .223 and mostly out of AR-15 style rifles

LOL now that's a joke! I would LOVE to see your source of information on that.

Big Bill
October 19, 2009, 09:17 PM
Hunting with an AR15??? Maybe for Jack Rabbits! I personallly shoot a .300 WSM when deer hunting.

October 26, 2009, 01:44 AM
I started my boy age 11, on deer w/ a .223, mainly cause he was recoil sensitive, due to his size. We shot .22lr alot, from support and field positions, and I then introduced him to the .223. bolt rifle. I picked a .223 62 gr bonded bullet. I coached him regularly on my 3D archery target on where to hit'em.
(tight behind the shoulder) Our hunts were limited to shooting house /green fields, very controlled conditions, picking the right opportunity. He killed 2 deer w/ that little rifle, 110 lb does. On one we got full penetratoin, the other was caught by the hide on the off side. Range was under 100 yds, and he had support to shoot from, and me coaching in his ear. Both ran no farther than deer hit w/ bigger calibers.

He's moved on to something bigger now, but w/ that prep and conditions, it can be done.

Its important to choose a premium bullet like a Partition or something bonded.

James R. Burke
October 29, 2009, 07:14 PM
Like I said prior for myself a .243 would be the min. Lets face it about everything has been taken with the .22lr, but do you really want to use that on a deer. Not me. Has said prior by many shot placement is key, or you leave them walk. That holds for whatever you are using caliber wise. I seen deer wounded with very big caliber rifles, and deer dropped with the small ones. There are way to many people that do not practice enough with what they are using. Take a few shots make sure it is on, and thats about it. You need the practice to be good, and that in turn makes you confident on your own skills. Has someone said bullet make is very important for what it is being used for. I reload, and my wife use's a .243. I would rather her be very good with that, then being worried about recoil from my 06. But that is the smallest I would go for deer with the correct bullet and load. I use a 100 grain Nosler Partition in hers, but there are a few other good ones out there. It holds together great, and expands just right. Last year her first year she shot at two, and got two. One buck double lung shot went about 30 yards, and fell her doe tag with a neck shot dropped right there. Before season mainly during the winter I load us up about 150 or so each. A month before season we go out about once a week shooting at differnt yards, and styles. Bench and free arm both. It is just fun to do, and you get very good. Of course I keep the riflles up on the cleaning. I am not saying everyone needs to shoot that much but alittle bit can go along ways. She knows her placement, and had let many walk because she new it was not a good shot to take. She can shoot my 06, but is much better with the .243 being not worried about the recoil. This is just me, and my thoughts on the matter. I hope you all get a nice big buck!

October 29, 2009, 07:30 PM
6.5 Swedish, if not that then a .308 or 30-06.I dont like tracking a wounded deer over hill and dale.You have to show the animal some respect,a 5.56 wont put down a human male reliably so why expect it to put down an adrenaline fueled deer.

November 1, 2009, 06:29 AM
223 is a very effective deer cartridge. For deer hunting recreationally, i wouldnt use anything less than a 22 hornet or 223. If i was starving, i'd have no problem with a 10/22.

November 2, 2009, 06:14 PM
Me personally i would use no less than a 243. I understand a 223 with proper bullets will do the job but i just cant trust a 223 for whitetail. Ive personnaly
witnessed critters of the two legged variety that took more then a few 5.56 to stop. granted that was fmj but it changes your mind on what a 62 grain projectile can do.

December 11, 2009, 02:10 AM
As a kid I was only allowed to use a single shot 22. I had better make a good shot, and a clean kill. Now that I'm older, nothing less than a 6mm(243) just in case of a poor hit. My current rifle choice is a Savage 99 in 300 Savage. I like close in shots, but in open country I will take a steady shot out to 150. My preference is a close in shot with a pistol. Favorites, 44 Automag, A contender in 7 TCU, 357 maxi, or 357/44 Bain and Davis. Don't do it much anymore though.

December 11, 2009, 07:05 AM
For me the minimum would be the 243 as well. Not because I don't believe that smaller cartridges will kill a deer. I know they will. Keep the range reasonable and wait for good broadside shots, etc, etc. But why push things right to the absolute minimum brink or use a caliber that handicaps you in any way. I bow hunt a lot and when I do I am content to wait for perfect shot angles. That's just part of the bow hunting challenge. But when I take a rifle in the woods I don't want to have to be so picky with my shot angles. With that in mind I just don't like using bullets that weigh less than 100 grains on deer sized animals. I just don't trust 55 to 60 grain bullets to always get through a shoulder bone when called apon to do so or consistently penetrate deep enough on sharp angled shots. Not saying they won't do it sometimes or maybe even most times but failing even 1 out of 20 times is too much.

My personal favorite for Alabama deer is a 7mm-08 and a 140 grain bullet.

December 11, 2009, 12:15 PM
the minimum i'd use is a 22lr, if it were legal. 2 quick shots to the head with a 10/22 should fell just about anything if you use stingers. Thats the min i'd use but i'd rather use a .223, a mini14 :D or for hunting in some of the land up here thats really wide open, a bolt action 30-06.

December 11, 2009, 02:56 PM
.243 w/ Nosler Partitions for Whitetails in Michigan

.308 w/ Nosler Partitions for Elk in Colorado, Mule Deer in Wyoming, and Black Bear in Michigan and Canada.

Just like several other posters have said, bullet selection and shot placement mean more than the actual caliber... I have seen several larger animals fall to the .22lr and .22 Mag...

December 14, 2009, 08:10 PM
.17 rem centerfire would be the minimum. Although a 22 LR will do the job.

December 14, 2009, 09:05 PM
When I lived in NV, ANY 22 centerfire was perfectly legal and I know several folks who used a 223 quite successfully. One individual used a TC Contender in 22 K-Hornet - only took head shots and no further than 75-100 yards - worked every time

Depends on the skill of the shooter. When I lived in CO, there a LOT of out of state folks coming to hunt elk who used to use 243 and 257 Roberts, but bought the huge belted magnum thinking they could then shoot at 600 yards without any prior practice, let alone proficiency.....Point being - a 223 in the hands of a skilled shooter is better than a behemoth magnum in the hands of someone unskilled in its use

December 14, 2009, 09:15 PM
your friend is wrong unless he is talking about poachers. most of the states on the east coast have a minimum caliber law of .243. i know sc, nc, and va do. i'm pretty sure fl does too.

December 16, 2009, 02:58 PM
Firstly, hunting with an AR15 does not mean it is a .223/5.56mm round...

Secondly, in the majority of states and provinces, the use of ANY .22 cal is illegal, and rightly so, for the taking of game animals--that does not include predators, varmints, fur bearers or rodents...but deer/antelope and larger...They wound far more then they kill and really shouldn't be allowed, even for puny Texas Whitetails...The only exception that I can see might be for West Coast Blacktail/Coues deer as they really are tiny...

From Colorado Big Game Hunting regulations, page 7
a. Must be min. .24 caliber (6 mm).
b. Must have min. a 16-inch barrel and be at least 26 inches long.
c. If semiautomatic, they can hold max. of 6 rounds in the magazine and
chamber combined.
d. Must use expanding bullets that weigh min. 70 grains for deer, pronghorn
and bear, 85 grains for elk and moose, and have an impact energy (at
100 yds.) of 1,000-ft. pounds as rated by manufacturer.
e. It is illegal to hunt game birds, small game mammals or fur bearers with
a centerfire rifle larger than .23 caliber during regular rifle deer and elk
seasons W of I-25, without an unfilled deer or elk license for the season. A
small game license is required.

You come up to our lodge and we state that for deer the minimum is .25/6.5mm, caribou .284/7mm (because of the longer shots) and also for black bear and moose is .323/8mm or a good .300 mag and we care naught what type of rifle action fires it...If you want to use a .257 Weatherby or a .260 Rem on caribou that's fine but not for moose--there we'll allow 7mm Rem mag as the very lowest cartridge but only with very knowledgeable hunters...

December 16, 2009, 03:37 PM
You come up to our lodge and we state that for deer the minimum is .25/6.5mm, caribou .284/7mm (because of the longer shots) and also for black bear and moose is .323/8mm or a good .300 mag and we care naught what type of rifle action fires it...If you want to use a .257 Weatherby or a .260 Rem on caribou that's fine but not for moose--there we'll allow 7mm Rem mag as the very lowest cartridge but only with very knowledgeable hunters...

I don't mean to offend, but that list of cartridges and arbitrary exceptions really sounds like a collective case of Magnumitis.

'We'll allow any city dweller with a giant cannon to sling lead at every animal on the mountain, but an experienced hunter with the only 7x57mm or .243 Win he's ever owned won't be allowed near us'....

December 16, 2009, 08:07 PM
you dont allow a .270 for caribou that s crazy.

December 17, 2009, 03:05 AM
mtnman -- you don’t allow a .270 for caribou that’s crazy.

Yes, it would be if it were true but if you can use, like I stated, a .257 or .260 then why not a .6.8mm...Those are guidelines and some flexibility is of course built in except we do not allow 6mm/.243 for moose--ever, by anyone and are extremely reluctant for deer or caribou--we've seen too many well placed shots walk away...

We’ve all been friends for nearly 60 years and all started shooting and hunting at roughly the same ages, five and seven, so between us we have a cumulative of 260+ years of hunting and all of us on at least two continents, two on three and two on four and one about to be five when he leaves for Australia for a water buffalo hunt although between us we've hunted all six…

Then we've only had three .270s up here is the twelve years we've been open and five .30/06...That family of cartridges albeit very popular in the states aren’t at the top of the list in other countries, they’re there just not at the top…In Europe the most popular now in bolt guns is 7x64mm and would probably outsell the .30/06 by a factor of 70:1 and the .270 by 150:1

Since 65% to 75% of our business is from Europe and Asia we inform them of what’s local to them not to us although we have lots a partially finished boxes of shells left by other hunters to cover just about any lost baggage problems and a really good gun store in the town where the float planes are that stocks for us a lot of the Euro calibres if we don’t happen to have them…

December 17, 2009, 03:07 AM
FrankenMauser -- I don't mean to offend, but that list of cartridges and arbitrary exceptions really sounds like a collective case of Magnumitis.

'We'll allow any city dweller with a giant cannon to sling lead at every animal on the mountain, but an experienced hunter with the only 7x57mm or .243 Win he's ever owned won't be allowed near us'....

No offence taken but yes you come up with a .243 for deer and you'll be using one of our spare guns...You see we're very lazy guides, we don't like tracking wounded animals and most of our clients are lazy as well and they don't like going after their wounded animals either and rest assured they do...

Yes, I’m very well aware that placement is the most important thing and a small bullet placed properly will beat a larger bullet improperly placed but a near fatal shot with a larger, heavier, wider bullet will destroy more tissue and organs, make a bigger wound channel to drain out the animal and making tracking easier where a smaller calibre won't...Also, our whitetail deer dress out at 300+ lbs...It is not magnumitis as most aren’t magnum calibres/cartridges but we definitely prefer a wider bullet going down range just maybe not super fast…but we much prefer that it be .308 magnum then .308 regular, primarily because of the heavier bullet that can be pushed and the velocity/energy of course…The longer, heavier bullets also beat the wind a lot better and here on the tundra, it always blows and 300M/340 yd shots on caribou are very common (83%) as that’s the closest we can stalk before spooking the herd…

First you should know our demographics...20% are N. American, 10 -15% S. American, 20 - 25% Asian and 45 -55% European depending on year...We have many hunters who have taken game on two, three, even five continents (never six yet) and had five hunters (four men and one woman) who are trying to get all the world's antlered/horned game animals with a 7mm Rem Mag like three people have done so already and they are the ones who use it,

So, yes, call it elitism but someone who has taken 30, 40 or more species of game gets a bit of a pass over Joe Blow with his trusty 7x57mm and three Whitetails to his credit wants to use that same gun on a moose...caribou is fine, deer is OK, moose no…Caribou are actually very easy to kill--they aren’t very big animals, long legs for the snow but small body to conserve heat, it’s just that they spook easily and when the closest tree is 300 km south, sneaking up is hard to do so long shots are the norm…

We tell all the hunters that when coming to camp expect to shoot five cartridges (per gun)...We take them out to a standing bench rest and the first two are fired at 25M to check that the settings didn't get banged up in transit and then the next three at 100M and the POI/POA are noted...It also gives us a fairly good evaluation of their shooting skills and whether they are familiar with their rifles, flinching etc...

Most of our hunters come with 9.3x(62, 64 & 72) followed by 7x(55, 57 & 65), 8x(57 & 68) and 6.5x(55, 57 & 65)...We have had very few .30/06 (5) and .270 (3) guns, a few more .308 (4), .260 (5) and 7mm-08 (5)...The most popular chamberings/calibres of N.A. guns was the .280 Rem Ack Imp (12), .338/06 (6), .257 Roberts (8) & Weatherby (5), .300 Win mag (20) and H&H (6), .338 Win mag (12) and .340 Weatherby (5), .45/70 (7)...

For deer and bear in heavy bush situations we've had more .30/30 (and .35 Rem (10 of each)) then all the .30/06 and .270s combined...In ten years we've had three different hunters come up with .348 Win, three with a .358 Win (Savage Model 99 and two BLR), another with a .444 Marlin and lastly a .38/40 in lever guns for bush hunting as the farthest shot will be 64M/70yds to maybe 73M/80 yds away...Combined, during the course of the year, we see more single shots (break action & falling block), doubles (O/U or SxS) and drillings (16 bore and 9.3x72R or 8x57 JRS) then bolt actions and as a rimmed cartridge we saw the .303 British (7.7x57R) in two Stalking and two double rifles although half of the guides use them (a sporterized them) as back up guns to their clients...There have been three semi autos (all Browning BARs (2 .30/06 and 1 .270)), three T/C Encore/Contender single shot (1 .30/06 and 1 .270 and 1 .280), one Ballard (.40/65) and two Sharps (.45/70) and zero pump action…

You want to use a .270 Win/6.8mm on deer and caribou fine, no problem but we'd suggest you try something a little heavier bullet size wise (200 gr), preferably with more shoulder and a higher B.C. for moose, no actually we'd insist...545 kg/1,200 lbs is a small moose and probably wouldn't get shot...Yes, our hunters are mostly (95%) trophy hunters but that doesn't mean they wouldn't take the meat back with them if their respective countries would allow them to do so but most won't allow any meat in...although all of the meat does not go to waste--that which isn't consumed in camp for meals (you’re eating the clients before yours as we age our meat although the liver and heart will be fresh) is donated to local groups like "Hunter's Feeding the Hungry"...

The hunter hauls the meat out with them, it gets weighed, they are charged for flying the meat out in the float plane, charged with the butchering, cutting and wrapping bill and then it gets donated to one of, if not all, the various charities and the hunter is given a tax donation certificate for the freight, butchering and a fair price for the value of the meat (retail) that they can use as a charitable contribution on their income tax and since these are ALL corporate retreats the whole time is a tax deduction…

We deal with a total of five divisions of three Fortune Five Hundred Companies (non competitive lines) which two of my four partners (and we’ve all been friends since diapers) are senior VPs within and why we’ve started the business gotten the business…We deal only with those companies and only those companies, we have zero outside business, zero advertising, zero participation at any Hunter’s Shows and zero vacancies until 2019

December 17, 2009, 06:54 AM
There is no animal mentioned in that overly long post that a 270 or a 30-06 won't kill just as dead as any other caliber you mentioned. There are no degrees of dead, Only dead. If you can shoot worth a [email protected] then a non-magnum caliber is enough. If you can't shoot then the biggest caliber on earth that can be fired from a hand held rifle will not compensate one bit for that lack of skill. In fact it will probably exacerbate the poor shooting habits due to the increasd recoil.

A caribou is not that tough an animal. Neither are deer. I'd way rather guide a guy with a 243 that he could drive tacks with it than some rich fancy boy and his new 375 H&H magnum that couldn't hit a barn door.

Sounds like you cater to the magnumitis fancy boys. To each his own. After listening to you talk I wouldn't pay ten cents to walk across the street to hunt with you.

Nothing worse than an overly opinionated [email protected]##### that is also oblivious to the fact that they are dead wrong.

December 17, 2009, 07:20 AM
we've seen too many well placed shots walk away...
Make Kevlar vests illegal for deer to wear and this issue will vanish!

Deer, when a well placed bullet hits, die quite quick. Only exception may be lack of penetration or over penetration with no expansion.

No offence taken but yes you come up with a .243 for deer and you'll be using one of our spare guns...You see we're very lazy guides, we don't like tracking wounded animals and most of our clients are lazy as well and they don't like going after their wounded animals either and rest assured they do...

So these arbitrary rules have little to do with ya'lls knowledge of ballistics, shot placement or animal biology... It really comes down to laziness...
Jeez had you called a spade a spade from the git-go we could have saved 10 minutes of reading:rolleyes:

phil mcwilliam
December 17, 2009, 03:17 PM
I've used a "know all" guide before, & they get zero repeat business from me. .243 is legal minimum for red deer where I live, & drops them with ease.

December 17, 2009, 03:42 PM
If a 324fps arrow will harvest most game in the US, then just about most calibers will work.

Without commenting on the rest of the post because I pretty much agree with your general assessment of the smaller calibers working on deer in the right hands. But the quoted statement above just makes me scratch my head. An arrow due to it's weight and cutting properties with a good broad head attached, create wounds under a whole different set of parameters than a light super sonic traveling rifle projectile.

December 17, 2009, 03:59 PM
For deer at least a 338 win mag, for big game a 458 lott. I kid.

I personally like 30-06 and it's all I use for medium to large game hunting. I guess I don't see a reason to go with something smaller (unless you're a small person or are only hunting smaller game like deer).

If I was only hunting deer I'd gladly do that with a 243 or a 30-30 if in a heavy brush area. 7MM Rem mag has some good load options with light bullets for small game, too.

December 17, 2009, 04:52 PM
SeekHer -
I appreciate the reply.
I was not infering that the 7x57mm or .243 Win hunter would have, "three Whitetails to their credit". I intended for that statement to be about hunters that have owned only one or two rifles, their entire lives. They know it, inside and out. They've taken more feed animals with the rifle, than the corporate weenies' trophy animals will ever amount to.

When dinner is on the line, rather than just bragging rights... People learn to shoot better. (Often, with "inferior" cartridges.)

Again; I appreciate the reply.
However, you quickly regressed from an explanation, into unwanted flaunting of the elitist atmosphere you surround yourself with.

Fortune Five Hundred.
Meat donations.
Tax deductions.
Corporate partnerships.
Six Continents.
What does any of that have to do with the particular animals in question?

I can shoot an Eland with a .416 Rigby, and add a 'continent' to my repertoire.
What good does it do, in teaching me how to shoot a caribou, though?

I've been on ground squirrel hunts with a .375 H&H, .300 Win Mag, .458 Win, and .416 Rigby.
I've been on Elk hunts with a .22 Hornet, .220 Swift, .223 Rem, .38 Special, .44 Special, 10mm Auto, and 7.62x39.
I've hunted Florida Coastal Whitetail with a .380 Auto, 8x57JS Mauser, and an Atlatl.

None of those experiences translate into more knowledge of how to shoot a Mongolian Brown Bear (for another 'continent').

Back to the 'meat' of the discussion.
For me, the minimum cartridge depends largely upon the intended purpose. A good example, is the .22 Hornet + Elk. It was taken on the hunt for opportune spine shots, from camp. (Cold, rainy, nasty trip. We spent a lot of time under a tarp, next to the fire.)
The .380 Auto reference works, too. For those tiny little things, in Florida; I really believed that .380 Auto was enough gun for the job (and it was actually legal). I never got to use it, but wouldn't have felt under gunned.

I typically drag my .270 Win around, as my go-to big game rifle. 130gr bullets are prefered, but the actual choice can vary, depending upon the animal. For Pronghorn, I have no problem with a Core-Lokt. For Elk, I step up to something with more controlled expansion, though.
As with most multi-rifle hunters; I switch it up, if I need a heavier projectile. I have no reservations about throwing 174-200gr pills in my 7.62x54R, loved 190-200gr fodder in my 8x57(when it still existed), and can't wait to launch 250-310gr stuff from my future .35 Whelen.
On the flip side, my .243 Win, 7.62x39mm, and .220 Swift aren't strangers to Elk, Deer, and Antelope camps.

It's all about the bullet, the intended purpose, and knowing the limitations of the rifle/bullet/shooter combination.

December 25, 2009, 08:53 AM
I have never liked the .223 round to begin with, not in the army and not in the field, hunting deer. It's accurate enough at long range but up close it just doesn't appeal to me. I would never hunt and shoot a deer with it.

N.H. Yankee
December 28, 2009, 09:46 AM
I have hunted the east coast ( NH ) my whole life and have never seen anyone use an AR15. Maybe in Mass, RI and Conn, but never seen it here. I wouldn't use less than a 243, my grandson has shot deer with my reloads using a nosler partiton and it really drops them, he has also used the Hornady 100gr interlock with excellent results. While the 223 may kill deer under the right circumstances it isn't a recommended caliber.

December 28, 2009, 02:35 PM
Count me in on the .243 tally. But a good Marlin 336 with Leverlution (sp?) ammo is ideal for deer. The new ammo makes the 30/30 a 200 yard performer.

December 28, 2009, 02:39 PM
The first deer I ever took was with a .223. However, I won't ever go w/ anything smaller than a .243. The reason i took it was b/c it was an extremely nice rifle w/ an even nicer scope on it, and I didn't own a deer rifle yet. It went down right where it stood w/ a neck shot, but like i said, i won't ever do it again. I can't tell you how much i felt undergunned, even though I know there's been tons of deer illegally killed w/ .22's

December 28, 2009, 04:16 PM

December 28, 2009, 05:47 PM
300 SHort mag either Winchester WSM or Remington SAUM

December 28, 2009, 05:51 PM
I hunt with the 300 Ultra Mag but have set up ny children in the 300 Short mag either Winchester WSM or Remington SAUM

December 29, 2009, 04:51 AM
I own a 530 acre farm and I carry a mini 14 ranch rifle in the truck 90% of the time. I use it to shoot coyotes, dogs messing with my cattle and I have shot and killed 8 deer with this gun with the furthest shot being 140 yds. I use a remington 55 grain soft point bullet. The furthest a deer has gone after being shot is about 50 yds with a behind the shoulder shot. (Not to bad in my book) The .223 is plenty good enough for most deer with a halfway well placed shot. Just my 2 cents.;)

December 29, 2009, 09:15 AM
:confused: My questions is why would you do that in the first place? Are you trying to prove something here? Not fair to your game you are hunting, (if it is deer). Too many bad things can happen when using such a small caliber bullet for deer hunting. My minimum choice would be a .243 for deer instead of .223. Just my opinion folks. :D

cole k
December 30, 2009, 12:09 AM
Quote; fisherman66, October 1, 2009, 11:12 AM
“Depends on the hunter and his/her shot selection. I wouldn't recommend a new hunter try a broadside shot with a .223 and many states have restrictions in place to prevent wounding. That said, I know several hunters who use a .223 and do it successfully. They are excellent shots and use neck shots exclusively.

I'd prefer to have a .25 caliber or bigger.”

I agree, only excellent shots should use a .223. They should also limit their shots to the neck or head.
I use a .257 Roberts or bigger.

January 9, 2010, 10:26 PM
No doubt a .223 will kill a deer but it is not the right round for whitetail. A .243 is the minimum round that should be used for whitetails IMHO. I want a bolt action .223 because it makes a excellent yote round. I would never take it to hunt Texas whitetails. Coues or blacktails would be great animals to use a .223 round on but it is not for whitetails. I have a .243 that my son uses to hunt. It is a perfect gun for a 12 year old but I suspect he will be shooting something a little larger when he gets older. If someone ask me to go deer hunting with them a .223 and .22lr would not get the call even though I know both would kill a buck in ideal circumstances. Use the right tool for the job.

January 13, 2010, 07:20 PM
Well really, I'd use the best rifle for the job. 45-70's a pretty big round, but I wouldn't try killing an elk with it at 500 yards. And a .50 cal is a huge round. But you wouldn't see me using that on the Natchez Trace in Mississippi... might go through a couple trailers and kill a few extra critters. Not to mention the deer would already be dressed, skinned and grilled for me. Personally I think the 5.56 round is garbage and will always opt for something along the lines of a 7.62.

January 14, 2010, 11:36 PM
Personally, I've not hunted deer since the late 60's and I used a 30-06 then. But I do enjoy shooting my rifles at a local range about once a week. Just before this past deer season began, a very elderly man came to our rifle range and began shooting his old scoped savage 22 Hornet at a target 50 yards downrange. Guy was checking his scope to make sure it was still zeroed. We had a brief conversation while shooting next to each other. Much to my surprise the Old timer told me he had hunted white tail deer with his 22 hornet rifle for over 35 years. Said, where he hunted the shots he took were seldom over 60 yards away and that he always shot a deer in the head or neck. He couldn't remember how many deer he shot with the Hornet, but that he'd always got at least one each deer season he'd hunted with it. I asked him if ever hit any deer with it that ran away wounded and he'd not found it. Yep, he said, one time just as I was pulling the trigger, another nearby hunter had shot at something spooking the deer in his sights, causing him to miss his neck shot. Knew I still hit him, but he took off running and I never did find him.

David Turley
February 28, 2010, 07:30 AM
ive been using a 270 win for years drops them in their tracks everytime

February 28, 2010, 02:40 PM
Its all about shot placement:D

March 1, 2010, 04:22 PM
Here in Alberta, and in many States as well, you're not allowed to use a .223 for deer. Our regs say the caliber must be .23 or greater. I think the problem with .223 is finding a good bullet. Most are made for varmints. A heavy .223 bullet with proper construction would work in the right hands. In the right hands, it could be used on Moose! [shoot just behind the ear. Shot placement is everything!] But that doesn't make it a moose caliber, and I don't think it is the best choice for deer. I think my BOTTOM end for deer is a .243, but I wouldn't prefer it. I'd feel comfortable with a .257 roberts though. :)

March 3, 2010, 05:31 PM
The one that is legal and your most comfortable with.

March 3, 2010, 07:51 PM
Definitely don't go lower than the .223. I'd go with a .270 or larger. But as already said, the main thing is to know the rifle you're shooting and its limitations. Once you know that, you can take most any rifle. But the bigger you choose, the more shots you'll be able to take. And after a point, the bigger you choose, the more meat you might ruin. So probably nothing bigger than a .30 caliber.

March 3, 2010, 07:56 PM
.223 IS legal here... and since my longest shooting distance here... that isnt covered in brush is 50yds... ive been thinking about using it next year... usually tho... i use .06 or .308

Brian Pfleuger
March 3, 2010, 08:02 PM
Under IDEAL conditions, I would take a shot on a deer with my 204Ruger, and it would be legal in NY too (assuming I'm in a rifle area). The law specifies "center-fire rifle", no other restrictions.

As for my minimum choice under actual hunting conditions, I'd say 243 or equivalent.

My real choice would be something in the 7mm range, preferably 7mm-08.

March 4, 2010, 01:58 AM
The 6.5X55 Swede is the PERFECT round for me for my deer hunting. It mixes the perfect mix of Kenetic energy/knockdown power along with recoil that I can most definately manage that allows me to make the best shots possible. I have been blessed in that the last 6 deer I have shot with it have all been heart shots. The confidence I have gained using it can not be underestimated.

Now to the exact question posed here. I think .22 cal certainly can adequately kill deer when used by people that are good shots. I have personally taken a couple of deer with my 22-250 and would not be hesitant to use it out to 150 yards. That being said it is not a caliber I prefer as stated above. I personally would not take my .223 deer hunting simply because I would not want to limit myself to only a neck shot and that is the only shot I would take with it on a deer.

March 4, 2010, 03:11 AM
I think the Colorado minimum specs make sense.The OP is in Colorado.

Along with bullet construction and placement is the self dicipline to let the big monster walk away if things aren't just right.

Lets not forget Colorado allows .40 roundballs for deer and .50 roundballs for elk muzzleloader season.

And,back in their day,the 25-20,the 32-20,the 25-35,the 32-40,and the like,along with the handgun/carbine rounds like the 38-40,the 44-40,etc took a lot of big game.Folks did not know enough ballistics to know their 44-40 was not a bison rifle so they just killed the bison.

Handgun hunters use .357's.,45ACP's,10mm's,44spls,45 colts to take deer.

I wouldn't mind having something like a mini-mauser in 6.5 BenchRest

I think the Grendel and SPC are workable,though I have no experience with them.

I think a 100 gr + 25 or 6.5 bullet at 2400 fps or so would be fine for 150 yd precise placement.

I'd feel just fine with a 10 inch twist .250 Savage

March 4, 2010, 02:51 PM
Here in PA we cant use AR's or any semi's for that matter. Personally I use a .243, or .270 depending on where I'm hunting. I've seen many deer taken successfully with a .22-250 however and wouldn't be scared of using one the slightest.

March 15, 2010, 12:43 PM
People on the east coast hunt differently than you guys do. Most of the coal mountains are straight up and down, and your average shot is in thick stuff at 60 yards. I still take out the old Savage .22 Hi-Power and don't have a problem. If that Gun Writer that made the .270 famous had lived on the east coast, you would have never heard of it. .22 center fires are good enough at close range.

March 15, 2010, 07:03 PM
I use a rem. 788 in 22-250 as my deer gun sometimes and it works great! But i also use a mini 14 and 25-06 somtimes to all depends on what i feel like.

March 15, 2010, 10:25 PM

This deer was shot with an Armlight .223.

My brothers use 223's and 22-250's with jacketed hollow points every year for deer hunting. This past year I used my Puma 357 magnum and I shot my deer at 250 yards with open sights. Like many people have said before its all the shooter not the calibers used.

March 15, 2010, 10:55 PM
deer size is relative in my book, as far as 223 being suitable.

On Vancouver Island, of the coast of BC, They have these deer that are about the size of a golden retriever, and a mans big game hunting gun there could EASILY be a .223. I doubt those deer weight more then 60-70 lbs.

Go east a tick over to Saskatchewan, and there are bucks there that mooch off the wheat fields that I would really REALLY have second thoughts about going after with a .243, there quite sizable deer.

So depends on the size of the deer, I'd say.

March 16, 2010, 04:32 PM
We all know shot placement is the most important thing. Good shot placement and knowing the limitations of your cartridge make the 22 LR a great choice. It is in fact the choice of poachers everywhere. I have always found this kind of thought process around this question to be flawed. If you are talking about the minimum caliber that can cleanly take a deer with a reasonable shot out to 300 yeards, I guess the 257 Roberts might be it. I don't own one. I have seen deer hit with 243s, factory 100 grain bullets, with poor results. I like my 260.

TX Hunter
March 29, 2010, 09:02 PM
Looking at my Deer Sized Game Arsenal I dont have any Rifles under .30 Calliber.
I use .22 Rimfire for Small Game, though.

April 4, 2010, 01:56 AM
In Minnesota every once in a while I come across some pretty big whitetails, 150+lbs. It's not unusual to see a couple two hundred pounders in a season and the odd one usually makes the papers up here 300 lbs plus.
I prefer bigger than smaller but I guess my bottom would be .243. That's my thoughts.
I shoot a .338 for just about everything Deer and bigger. Little harsh on the shoulder meat but their ain't no tracking or suffering.:D

April 4, 2010, 11:04 AM
In parts of TX the .243 could be the ultimate deer rifle and a skilled hunter could get by with a .22 centerfire. Only problem (?) is the hogs. I doubt there's a county without them and they could make an appearance on any lease in the state. I prefer big, slow chunks of lead for hogs and they work just fine for any shot I'll take at a deer. My personal threshold is .45 Colt or .30-30 in a Trapper but my next trip (two weeks!) I'll be packing a .35 Rem T/C Contender backed up by a Blackhawk in .45 Colt. Alternate will be my trusty .45-70 Guide Gun with a stainless M77 Ruger .30-06 in the case for wet weather or longer shots.

N.H. Yankee
April 24, 2010, 07:41 AM
40+ years of hunting deer in N.H. I have yet to see anyone hunting with or even in the woods with an AR15. Perhaps they are talking southeast like Florida, but I have yet to see anyone hunting in New England with an AR15. I overheard a guy claim he deer hunts with one in a gun shop and he received a few strange looks.

Deer in N.H. can run almost 300lbs FIELD DRESSED and in rare cases over 300, so using a 223 isn't recommended. Then you have the ethical kill situation, is the 223 really enough to quickly and humanely put down a deer? I can see coyotes, but even those have run in excess of 50lbs here in N.H. because they are not true coyotes but a mix of wolf and coyote which was proved through DNA testing.

April 24, 2010, 10:16 AM
There might be some people here on the east coast that hunt with AR's but I don't know any of them. I don't even know a single hunter who even owns one. As far as the minimum rifle I would use is concerned I'd go with a .243.

Art Eatman
April 24, 2010, 12:30 PM
Lots of deer in the southern US which will dress out under 100 pounds. In some areas it's genetic; in others it's from too high a population. I personally saw a ten-point, 15-inch-spread buck standing by a highway, one night, that didn't look like it would dress out over maybe 80 pounds.

Like a lot of hunting, it's situational. I'd use a .223 if I expected small deer. No qualms. But if I'm in "real" deer country, I'd darned sure use more gun.

April 24, 2010, 12:35 PM
I personally know of 1 - 920 pound bull ELK that was taken with a .223 in Perry Co, KY this past season. ;) One shot, and he dropped to his knees!

Heart, head, or lung shots & the proper bullet weight / expansion will take down any large game in the US.

Don't get me wrong .... the .223 has a 200 yd. HUNTING limit, and anything over that should be taken with a .30 cal or above.

April 24, 2010, 11:29 PM
I hunt West Virgina and sometimes take the AR out. It works and I see other guys with them. A few years back the 7.62x39 was the whipping boy for under powered cartridges, and before that it was the .243. Before that the 30-30.......

April 24, 2010, 11:53 PM
...... deer CAN be on the big side, and shots can be long .....

A .223 might do the job, but with the deer of a lifetime standing broadside in the middle of a hayfield, you'll never wish you had a .223 instead of your .270 WIN or '06..... somebody once said "Use enough gun."

Minimum for me would be .243/6mm with premium bullets.....

April 25, 2010, 12:17 AM
Last year I did use a .244 Rem in PA. and got one. It worked fine but I would not want to be too far off from my aim point. One year I found a large dead buck on the 4th day in W.V., and the weather had gone up in the low 70's by the third day. I didn't want to roll it around because of the flys, but it had a perfect hole through the base of the main beam and it looked to be about .264-.284 diameter. I have a picture of it but am new to computers and do not know enough to load it on here. An expanding bullet will go through wood or antler like a drill at close range. Point is, someone went John Wayne on it and never recovered the deer. Bigger is better means nothing on a missplaced shot.

Art Eatman
April 25, 2010, 09:44 AM
We're pretty much running in circles now, at six pages. I know this will come up again, so let's end it for now. :)