View Full Version : Whitetails with .22 Hornet?

Futo Inu
May 5, 2001, 01:44 PM
My friend has several acquaintances who apparently regular shoot small southeastern OK woods deer with .22 hornet (vital organs, not head shots). Is this unethical or enough gun for these smaller deer, do you think?

Keith Rogan
May 5, 2001, 02:07 PM
I think it is unethical. It will certainly kill them but killing them isn't enough - you have to find them as well.

I allow my son to hunt with a single-shot .223 which has considerably more "punch" than a hornet but is... at least in the same neighborhood. It works fine but it does not (usually) anchor them on the spot. HOWEVER, we are hunting in wide open alpine country where we can watch where the animal goes. A deer can cover a lot of country in the 20 or 30 seconds before it bleeds out.
I would not allow him to use this rifle in wooded or brushy country because we'd lose animals and that is not something that should be tolerated.

My son has used a .223 since he was six years old. He is now ten aand we'll soon graduate him up to a 7mm Waters or something along that line.
I'm not sure why an adult would choose to use such a light caliber.

Al Thompson
May 5, 2001, 03:29 PM
Big Dog, it's real borderline. I won't condem it out of hand, but my minimum for the 120 lb and below whitetails here is .243.

And I have had several hunters tell me that they have had strange and un-explained results with a .243.

The real issue is not that the round can't put a whitetail down, the question is "can it kill quickly and humanely?". I would also strongly second Keith's concern about game recovery. I have had very experianced hunters lose a deer in thick stuff with an adequate caliber, inadequate bullet.


May 6, 2001, 02:47 PM
I feel uneasy about any .22 for Whitetail hunting. Without doubt, I can kill; however, it can also permit the deer to run, not be found, and potentially die a slow and agonizing death. If that happens, it is flagrantly unsporting.

Art Eatman
May 6, 2001, 03:23 PM
Face it: Some hunters are far more expert at finding deer at close range--or lucky--and they may well have superior shooting skills. This type can get away with using "sub-par" guns and still have fairly quick kills.

And there are the guys who aim at the general middle of the brown of a deer's body. Guess what happens?

I don't know if it is still done, but there was a time on some south Texas ranches where a ranch hand would sit by a stock tank through the night, and pop a pretty good buck with a .22 rimfire, right between the eyes and from five or ten yards away. Some "dude" hunters would pay $5 per point--pretty good wages, in the older days...Not bad incentive, even now, for a Wet.

I take it for granted in these discussions that we're generalizing about non-survival hunting, where the ethics of "fair chase" and "clean kill" are paramount. For the average skill of the average hunter, I believe that use of cartridges of less power than the .243 or .30-30 just doesn't fill the bill of proper hunting ethics.

In specialized situations, the whole deal may well be different. Smaller deer, close ranges, superior skill and the self-discipline to pick one's shot...Not the same thing as what most folks deal with...


May 6, 2001, 07:00 PM
Conditions, and hunting/shooting skills play important roles here, too. I know of several hunters who routinely take deer (cleanly, I might add) in the Central Texas Hill Country using .222's or 220's. They have been doing this for many years, and rarely - if ever - lose deer, or have to make follow-up shots. Of course, they are hunting from box blinds and rarely take shots greater than 40 yards. Also, head shots and neck shots are the rule. Some of these folks don't see any need whatsoever to shoot larger calibers. And, while I personally prefer larger calibers, I would never argue with the successes that these guys have had.

Also, they have pointed out to me that many hunters who hunt heavily wooded areas, such as in the upper midwestern or the northeastern U.S., and who often take running shots at deer, are proud of putting several rounds into the animal to stop it. They have asked me which I believe is the most humane -- "small caliber/close shot/one shot" or "large caliber/running shot/multiple shots?"

Usually, I just shrug my shoulders and try to change the subject!


4V50 Gary
May 7, 2001, 10:39 PM
Can fall prey to the diminutive 22 Hornet provided one does a head shot. I know one person who did because he was bored with using a bigger rifle. While he's good at 100 yards with the Hornet, he stalked his game and got with 50 or so before taking the shot. He told me the necessity for a "mercy" bullet diminishes as it was a cleaner kill.

May 9, 2001, 04:18 PM
The .22 Hornet is a favorite of outlaw hunters in South Texas. It is relatively quiet, can be had in an extremely short and lightweight rifle and will drop a buck if the shot is placed properly.