What is your preferred Medium Game (Deer) Caliber?


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TxHunter_Mizzou

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So, saw an old thread on .22-250 as a deer hunting round and all these articles always start the debate over what is the best deer round, and also what rounds are too light and so on.

I am in TX and have been deer hunting my entire life. In TX, I have witnessed people killing deer quickly with .22-250 all the way up to 7MM amd .300 Win Mag. I prefer .270 Win, .308, 6.5 Creedmoor, 25-06 etc for deer.

But am the only one that realizes any bullet, placed in the right location, with over 1,000 ft-lbs of KE will turn their lights out? Not enough people look into or seem to understand Kinetic Energy. Now, barrel length, twist rates, ammo choice, type of bullet all come into play. But my point is that for a 9 yr old, small framed girl, or older person seeking less recoil to allow them to enjoy hunting, a .22-250 in 55-64 grain, a Nosler portion, soft point, or bonded bullet will kill a deer, if shot accurately in the honey hole, within 175 yards. Lights out. Happy hunting.
 

Tra3

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Welcome to AH!

A friend of mine in Montana has been hunting elk and deer with a .22-250 for decades. He lives and works on a ranch, so he takes good shots when he gets them. A few years ago he told me he was thinking to get a big gun, like a .270 win. (!!). Shot placement, shot placement!
 

TxHunter_Mizzou

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I love my .270 and 6.5.....but also love getting my 8 yr old son into hunting. Which means .22-250 is about to get a workout!
 

TxHunter_Mizzou

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Good bullets go a long way as well as proper shot placement. But I would only recommend .22 cal for people who cannot handle any more recoil. Just my two cents lol.

Agree, if an adult or even teenage hunter has $500-700 to spend, I am advising .270 Win, .243, 6.5 Creedmoor, .308 all day long for strictly deer.

If they want a rifle for Elk, Bear, Safari, that can hunt almost all North American Game, then I am recommending 7MM, 30-06, 300 Win Mag, or even the 45-70 Govt in lever action of less than 125 yard shots.

And yes, for African Safari, they will need 3 rifles of various sizes including 1 that will be a thumper! Now we are talking. 375 H&H, .338 Lapua, and others big boys.
 

Tra3

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I began my son on a .22lr. Then he quickly graduated to a .22-250 to get used to the muzzle blast. Next was a 6.5 CM with a brake. Now he shoots the 6.5 CM without a brake. I think we owe it to the kids to not make them experience too much recoil too soon. Shooting should be fun and challenging.

If the only thing I shot was my 7 lb Knight ultralight .50 cal muzzleloader with 120 grains of blackhorn 209 and a 300 grain bullet, I wouldn’t enjoy it.
 

TxHunter_Mizzou

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I began my son on a .22lr. Then he quickly graduated to a .22-250 to get used to the muzzle blast. Next was a 6.5 CM with a brake. Now he shoots the 6.5 CM without a brake. I think we owe it to the kids to not make them experience too much recoil too soon. Shooting should be fun and challenging.

If the only thing I shot was my 7 lb Knight ultralight .50 cal muzzleloader with 120 grains of blackhorn 209 and a 300 grain bullet, I wouldn’t enjoy it.

You nailed it! And that is my exact progression for my boy. At 8, he can shoot the 6.5 Creedmoor (Bergara HMR, heavy amd with brake) with assistance. But for hunting I make him do it all by himself at the range ....and make sure he can hit within 6 inch diameter of bullseye at 100 yards 9 out of 10 times. That's my deal with him of he gets to try for his first deer this year with the .22-250. Then after I get him used to 100 yards.....we only hunt a 35-50 yard hunting blind to the feeder....so he should be in great shape of the adrenaline doesn't get him! But he has been in blind with me since he was 3...so hopefully that will help a little.
 

CBH Australia

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.22-250 will do it but maybe use enough gun if you are not always going to get an ideal situation to get ideal shot placement.
 

Ridge Runner

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It depends on the area, terrain, and what other hunting seasons overlap during the deer season.

Here in east Tennessee I opt for the 30-06 with 165 or 168 grain bullets and my 44 Rem Mag with 200 or 240 grain bullets. As it is possible to encounter black bear and hogs while deer hunting.

And this year incidental elk can be legally killed. VERY IMPORTANT!!! Tennessee Residents and those outside of Tennessee hunting in Tennessee: THOROUGHLY READ AND FULLY UNDERSTAND THE HUNTING REG'S AND REGION(S) YOU ARE GOING TO BE HUNTING IN OR NEAR!

Certain black bear seasons and deer season overlap, both can legally be hunted at the same time.

There are also various waterfowl seasons that coincide with deer season thus a shotgun may be a choice.

Hunting hog is an opportunity animal on public land now. Thanks to a bunch of idiots that illegally trapped and transported wild hogs to hunt in their area and/or on their private property.

When hunting on lake bottoms where 400-1000 yard shots are possible I still use my o6 but a 7mm, 6.5 Creedmore, 270, would probably be in order.

Since South Eastern deer are smaller than their northern cousins, for the youngsters and those recoil sensitive the 243, 7mm-08, 30-30 are also good weapons of choice.

Then there are shotgun only areas and states. The 410 with slugs is very underrated, but that's another thread. So personal preference prevails: 410, 16, 20, 12, 10, gauge or any variety of European gauges with slugs. For 0, 00, 000, 0000 the 10, 12, 20 gauges would be preferred.

Never been a fan of the 223/556 calibers. On one particular hunt had a young fellow use his AR style 223 rifle shoot a deer at 30 yards. The bullet ran up the spine of the deer. We (3 of us) hunted the deer for over an hour. The young fellows school buddy made a shot on the deer with his 300WM and dropped the deer. There is a whole lot more to this story as to where and how we were hunting. This was a fully legal,ethical, and morally conducted hunt. On about a 15-20+/- acre, heavily wooded and thick brush island (becomes two islands when the water is up in spring/summer).

I also know of, more than once, of deer being killed with the 223 caliber with 1 well placed shot broadside.

So please no hate threads, just because I don't care much for the 223/556 calibers for anything other than small varmints.

When I get an AR-10, i will most likely hunt with it, mostly on flatter terrain due to weight. Not something I would want to be stalking in the mountains with.

Back to the survey question:

Without adding in all the variables and my limited battery of calibers...to choice one rifle.....I would say 30-06. Hhmmm....or maybe my 50 cal muzzle loader....or maybe the 12 or 10 gauge shotgun.
 
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Trogon

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6.5x55 here in northern Kentucky (Ruger No. 1) on nice weather days, .308 Winchester in a Marlin XS-7 on the crappy weather days for whitetails. Last year I also carried a 9.3x62 and a .35 Remington, because I have them.
 

Tanks

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I put .308 as that is the only deer capable caliber rifle I have under .375 H&H.

In reality anything on that list .243 and above would work IMO.
 

TxHunter_Mizzou

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It depends on the area, terrain, and what other hunting seasons overlap during the deer season.

Here in east Tennessee I opt for the 30-06 with 165 or 168 grain bullets and my 44 Rem Mag with 200 or 240 grain bullets. As it is possible to encounter black bear and hogs while deer hunting.

And this year incidental elk can be legally killed. VERY IMPORTANT!!! Tennessee Residents and those outside of Tennessee hunting in Tennessee: THOROUGHLY READ AND FULLY UNDERSTAND THE HUNTING REG'S AND REGION(S) YOU ARE GOING TO BE HUNTING IN OR NEAR!

Certain black bear seasons and deer season overlap, both can legally be hunted at the same time.

There are also various waterfowl seasons that coincide with deer season thus a shotgun may be a choice.

Hunting hog is an opportunity animal on public land now. Thanks to a bunch of idiots that illegally trapped and transported wild hogs to hunt in their area and/or on their private property.

When hunting on lake bottoms where 400-1000 yard shots are possible I still use my o6 but a 7mm, 6.5 Creedmore, 270, would probably be in order.

Since South Eastern deer are smaller than their northern cousins, for the youngsters and those recoil sensitive the 243, 7mm-08, 30-30 are also good weapons of choice.

Then there are shotgun only areas and states. The 410 with slugs is very underrated, but that's another thread. So personal preference prevails: 410, 16, 20, 12, 10, gauge or any variety of European gauges with slugs. For 0, 00, 000, 0000 the 10, 12, 20 gauges would be preferred.

Never been a fan of the 223/556 calibers. On one particular hunt had a young fellow use his AR style 223 rifle shoot a deer at 30 yards. The bullet ran up the spine of the deer. We (3 of us) hunted the deer for over an hour. The young fellows school buddy made a shot on the deer with his 300WM and dropped the deer. There is a whole lot more to this story as to where and how we were hunting. This was a fully legal,ethical, and morally conducted hunt. On about a 15-20+/- acre, heavily wooded and thick brush island (becomes two islands when the water is up in spring/summer).

I also know of, more than once, of deer being killed with the 223 caliber with 1 well placed shot broadside.

So please no hate threads, just because I don't care much for the 223/556 calibers for anything other than small varmints.

When I get an AR-10, i will most likely hunt with it, mostly on flatter terrain due to weight. Not something I would want to be stalking in the mountains with.

Back to the survey question:

Without adding in all the variables and my limited battery of calibers...to choice one rifle.....I would say 30-06. Hhmmm....or maybe my 50 cal muzzle loader....or maybe the 12 or 10 gauge shotgun.

Great overall post, but I would add that a .223 and a .22-250 are no where near the same round in a deer. 3600-4000 ft per sec creates far more Kinetic Energy.
 

Wyatt Smith

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if I were to buy a deer rifle for a kid it would be a ruger American 300 Balckout. They have almost no recoil, when loaded with 150s or 165s they give 30-30 performance out of a 16 barrel bolt gun.
 

Ridge Runner

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Great overall post, but I would add that a .223 and a .22-250 are no where near the same round in a deer. 3600-4000 ft per sec creates far more Kinetic Energy.

I didn't mention the 22-250, since that caliber had been covered in several other previous threads in this posts.

I mentioned the 223/556 because I know several hunters who like to use their 223/556 AR's and Ruger Mini 14's to deer hunt with and no one had mentioned 223/556 calibers....yet.

Personally, If I had to choose between 223/556 or 22-250, I would opt for the 22-250 over the 223/556.

But then I also didn't mention the 25-06, 6.8 SPC, 6mm, 8mm, 7.62 x 39, 257, 260, 222, 224, 303, 7.62 x 54R, 300 blackout, 450 Bushmaster, [45 Colt, 44-40, 38/357, 44 Rem Mag (rifles)], and the list goes on and on.

For those recoil sensitive and youngsters I would also recommend 6mm, 6.8 SPC, 7.62 x 39, as good choices.

The point of my thread is the OP's question left out a whole lot of variables to consider for a favorite deer caliber. With location and vegetation, or lack of, being the biggest factors. Then the type of hunting one is planning; sitting in a blind or tree stand, or stalking, still hunting.

Then there is the matter of season. The OP asked caliber, so must assume deer gun season, but during most deer gun seasons muzzle loaders can also be used. That is why I touched on muzzle loading rifles.

The 50 caliber muzzle loader has become the preferred over the 45 caliber. But there are those who prefer 40, 54, 58, 60, 62 calibers where legal 36 caliber, and few like to use a 70+ caliber.

Then there are the black powder cartridge long guns. And black powder revolvers and single shot handguns.

Just too many choices to choose just one favorite deer caliber.
 
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