Minimum catridge for whitetail deer?


September 4, 2009, 07:50 PM
What the lightest caliber you use or would use on whitetails? Add the state you hunt in hunt to make this more interesting. Thanks

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September 4, 2009, 08:00 PM
.223 Remington. Alabama

September 4, 2009, 08:05 PM
This gets discussed every once in a while, here. The most common breaking point seems to be .223 Rem. Some states allow it, many do not. Some folks will use it because they trust themselves to only take shots that will produce an instant kill with that cartridge. Some folks will not shoot a .223 at deer under any circumstances as they feel that the wounding potential is too high even with generally good shot placement.

North of .223, few folks will argue agaisnt any cartridge choice. (Though some folks will argue about ANYTHING.)

South of .223, few folks will argue in favor of any cartridge choice. (Though some folks will argue about ANYTHING.)

Some folks will feel they need to tell you that you could kill a deer with a .22 or a .17 Mach 2, if your shot placement is perfect. But these folks will say the same thing in a "which caliber for mastadon?" thread, so don't mind them -- they can't help themselves.


September 4, 2009, 08:22 PM
.223 Rem Texas

September 4, 2009, 08:32 PM
22LR cause 22 shorts are just not enough without really proper shoot placement. :)

September 4, 2009, 08:41 PM
I the state of Texas any centerfire is legal for deer. A lot of deer are killed with a 223. There is a magazine called Texas Thophy Hunter and you can send them pics of your kill to be put in the back pages. It is surprising how many kids kill their first deer with an H&R single shot 223 rifle.

I have a freind in east tx that hunts only with a 223 and he handloads the barnes X bullets for it. He said it works every time. I personally like something bigger. I normally hunt with a 7-08 or 7x57 depending on what rifle I feel like shooting.

September 4, 2009, 08:42 PM
223 rem or equivelant, Arkansas

September 4, 2009, 09:02 PM
I've seen many taken with 22 Long rifle, several years ago I read about a man in Idaho taking a white tail doe with a 38 caliber air rifle using a round ball. I don't know the specifics but I did handle a 45 caliber air rifle a couple of years ago.

September 4, 2009, 09:12 PM
I shot my first deer when I was 13 with a .222 remington (not .223). If I recall, the .222 remington is a slightly longer, more powerful cartridge compared to the .223, but with the same bullet. The deer practically dropped where it was standing. Today, I shoot a .270 Win. Sure wish I had that .222 but it was my uncle's gun.

September 4, 2009, 09:18 PM
7.62 x 39, Texas

September 4, 2009, 09:30 PM
I use a .223 when we go on cull hunts for does, but my normal deer hunting is with 7x57, .308 or 30-06. Texas of course.

Robert Wilson
September 4, 2009, 09:41 PM
I like to choose a cartridge that will work when things are not perfect. Something in the neighborhood of the 7x57 is my minimum.

September 4, 2009, 09:41 PM
If I recall, the .222 remington is a slightly longer, more powerful cartridge compared to the .223, but with the same bullet.No, it is a slightly less powerful (about 20%) cartridge, loaded with the same projectile (or slightly lighter). :)

September 4, 2009, 09:45 PM
Whats the average texas buck or doe weigh field dressed?

September 4, 2009, 09:47 PM
Had a cousin that knocked em dead every time with a Winchester 92 in 32-20.

Marlin 45 carbine
September 4, 2009, 09:52 PM
North Carolina is so overrun with them down east in the big farm zones that .22LR is legal.
I've taken several useing that. for doe tags I usually take my X39 Mini30 or for horns my Ruger M77 '06 if longer shots anticipated.

September 4, 2009, 10:02 PM
Forget caliber and focus on shot placement. I've had my neighbor put a 12ga slug in a bucks gut (bad shot placement) and it lived for about 12 hours. It was in deep thicket and we couldn't flush it out to finish him off. As previous posts point out, .22LR will drop a deer with a good headshot.

The next most important thing is tailor the caliber to the range you plan in hunting in. A .30-30, 7.62x39 or handgun caliber work within 100 yards. For intermediate ranges, look at a .223 or .270. For long ranges, start looking at a .308.

For me, I like milsurps so that is what I hunt with. I've taken one with a 7.62x54R and will be taking one with a 8x56R shortly.

September 4, 2009, 10:06 PM
dispatch, how is a .308 better at range than a .270? I am not saying that either can't get the job done at a decent distance...but the .270 is flatter and carries greater energy. :)

September 4, 2009, 10:12 PM
Its quite possible that a .270 is better than a .308. Can't say I mess too much with thar new fangled calibers;)

This year, I'm using a 50 Cal Hawkens that I built. It shoots better than any of my milsurps with a patched ball inside of 75 yards.

BTW-I'm in Minnesota.

September 4, 2009, 10:15 PM
6.5 x 55, it's just a sweet carttidge. Anything over 6mm is legal in Colorado for deer. There was a guy in high school, also in Colorado, who got in more trouble than any of us could believe for killing a deer out of season with a .22.

September 4, 2009, 10:25 PM
.357 Magnum, Ohio, no cartridge rifles for deer.

September 4, 2009, 10:29 PM
only killed one white tail in my life, killed plenty of muleys before moving to Oklahoma.

Preciously i used .270 win exclusively then i fell in love with a 7mm rem mag (never buy one the velocity is truly addictive)

for the white tail i used a 7mm rem mag, because if brute force is not getting the job done you are not using enough!

In all seriousness i would say .223 is enough, I would not use less than a 6mm Remington.

September 4, 2009, 10:29 PM
.243 is my minimum. I have one, but I have been hunting mainly with 30-30 or 7mm-08. This year, I hope to get one with my new Kimber 84M in .257 Roberts though!

September 4, 2009, 10:51 PM
Whitetails are tiny in Texas, an average doe we shoot during the culls will run around 60-80 pounds dressed, a decent buck around 130-140.

September 4, 2009, 11:06 PM
You can't go wrong with .338 Lapua Mag, with this caliber you can take on deer 2000 yards away, could be elk or moose, hippo won’t stand the chance either :D :evil:
At the end it doesn’t matter what you use, as long as you have that venison sausage for breakfast
Personally I don’t have to shoot deer that far, so I use 270 win its good up to 700 yards, and yes it is flatter then .308 where .308 will drop 18” lower at 500 yards and 43” at 700, where 270 will have 1800 fps and .308 1500 fps, that’s +300 fps advantage at long range, but then 7mm rem mag will beat them both

Arkansas Paul
September 4, 2009, 11:26 PM
It's a matter of opinion of course, but I wouldn't go less that a .243. I really don't like them. I'd rather have a little too much than just enough. But that's just one fellow's opinion.

September 4, 2009, 11:31 PM
Smallest I use is a 221 fireball while the 223 gets the most work for culling at short ranges.
I dont under stand the size comparison, the last time I checked whitetail deer are not bullet proof. Poke a hole in their vitals and a deer is done whether it's a .22 bullet, a carbon arrow or a 20 ga slug etc.

September 4, 2009, 11:38 PM
Michigan/Pensylvannia-I vote .243 Winchester, but would add that it's plenty powerful enough for whitetails in my neck of the woods.

September 4, 2009, 11:51 PM
Yes 221, 222, 223, 22-250 even 17 rem can get job done, but then again its a cold shot and you might have to track you buck, sometimes they can walk for miles till they expire, that's is why I don't use smaller caliber it is not a varmint however many farmers consider them as one. I like them drop without taking next step, well maybe jump in the air and hoist them high :D

September 5, 2009, 12:02 AM
I live in Missouri. It does not specify a minimum caliber just has to be a centerfire cartridge. They even let you use an air rifle although it has to be a certain type.

My personal minimum is 223 but this year I will be hunting with a 308 either an M1A or FNH PBR. If I had an AR with a 20 inch bull barrel I would hunt with that.

September 5, 2009, 12:24 AM
.264 win mag, SC.

September 5, 2009, 12:35 AM
I believe 6mm is the min. here in Virginia, but I choose to use a .338 Win Mag with a 225gr bullet.

September 5, 2009, 12:36 AM
Never had problem with OO buckshots :D, also slugs not bad...

September 5, 2009, 02:01 AM
My personal minimum is 243/250 Savage.

I consider the 223 to be marginal. We get some big bodied bucks in our area and I would hate to pass up on a quartering monster buck because I was carrying a varmint rifle.

I hunt with an 8mm Mauser loaded with handload softpoints, or a 30-06 if I am hunting open land where a shot over 100 yards might happen. There is nothing wrong with overkill.

September 5, 2009, 03:28 AM
30-30 Winchester. Where I hunt, there is rarely a shot over 125 yards. The longest shot and kill on a whitetail I've taken is 164 yards, and the 30-30 did it's job.

.223 wouldn't work where I hunt. Waaaaaaay to much brush.

September 5, 2009, 04:50 AM
.243 / .30-30 / 7.62x39 are what I consider the minimum. I don't think the .223 is resistant enough to wind drift. There is also the whole I hunt in the brush thing.

That said, none of the calibers I mentioned are legal.... <10GA is acceptable in my county in VA. I will be using a .50 caliber muzzle loader instead.

September 5, 2009, 09:46 AM
I would have no problems hunting deer here in GA with a 223. I use something bigger because there is always the possibility of a bear or hog during deer season.

September 5, 2009, 08:24 PM
Kansas requires it to be .24 or larger and a centerfire cartridge.

For me, 7.62X39 would be fine for a tree stand gun inside 100 yards. The only thing that this cartridge lacks is good rifles that shoot it. Yes, there are Ruger Mini 30's, CZ's, etc. out there but the vast majority are SKS/AK variants. They'll do the job, but not my first or second choice.

.243 is usually the minimum in my hunting party. With the heavier bullets it works fine if you keep the shots off the shoulder. .270 and .30/06 dominate the county I hunt in but there's a few .308's, .25/06 and my 7X57 Scout rifle roaming around, too.

September 5, 2009, 09:23 PM
Remington 799 is chambered for 7.62 x39 and itís an old Mauser action, but why would you use 7.62 x39 when its the same as 30-30 cartridge

September 5, 2009, 10:29 PM
Remington 799 is chambered for 7.62 x39 and itís an old Mauser action, but why would you use 7.62 x39 when its the same as 30-30 cartridge

Because 7.62x39 comes in platforms other than leverguns and cheap singleshots. Such ad the AR15 or cz527 or even a ruger 77

think as a 7.62x39 as a 30-30WSM, it's not about the cartridge but rather what you can get it in.

September 5, 2009, 10:35 PM
The deer here are so tiney I figure anything would work. Somebody hit a forkhorn out on the road yesterday and it dosn't look much bigger then a big dog. I am used to the deer in Alberta that had some size to them.

September 6, 2009, 01:20 PM
.223 or maybe .222 if you are going to be real dedicated to making a good shot at close range - Florida

September 6, 2009, 02:05 PM
The deer here are so tinyIf I may be a little nosy...where is "here"? :)

September 6, 2009, 02:26 PM
22 hornet. Montana.

But only in certain conditions. Otherwise 223.

September 6, 2009, 02:28 PM
In Texas, you can use .223 no problem. Climate dictates that the further north you are, the bigger the deer. Further south, smaller deer.

In Montana, .270 is minimum.

September 6, 2009, 02:39 PM
Minimum catridge for whitetail deer?

Well deer here in Florida are teeny weeny little guys compared to the rest of the States. Therefore 30-06 and .308 hits tend to be way overkill. In my humble opinion I believe that .243 & .270 are the minimum caliber's one could use for a reliable 1 shot center mass (below the shoulder) quick & effective kill.

I may have had bad mentors but I was always told the .223 is a glorified .22lr and its only purpose on the hunting ground is for ****ing up enemy soldiers & vaporizing varmints. (That may be rubbish but that's just what I was taught growing up)

September 6, 2009, 02:41 PM
My uncle Dave took his first whitetail deer with a .22LR in autoloader. I think he said it took five rapid shots. That, of course, was about 50 years ago.

For me, it depended on where I was hunting. If it was a high pressure area and I needed to drop it immediate in a single shot, I took either a .257 Wea Mag or a .300 Wea Mag. I have used a .244 Rem and it completely severed the deer's heart from the arteries at 300 yards (breast bone shot head-on). Lately, I have used a .300 Win Mag and a .270 Win.

After about 35 years of hunting whitetails and other big game, I have concluded that any caliber projectile that holds together and penetrates will kill a deer dead, and dead is an absolute.


September 6, 2009, 03:05 PM
In Montana, .270 is minimum.

What part of Montana? We hunt around Two Dot and have taken loads of deer with 223. Are your deer talking steroids or something?

September 6, 2009, 06:01 PM
I use a .257 Roberts, 'cause I love it (as far as minimum calibers, I wouldn't hesitate to take an elk with it), but my uncle would take his deer every year with a head shot from his trusty .218 Bee.

Vern Humphrey
September 6, 2009, 06:32 PM
In my younger days, before my character was formed and I learned wisdom, I took two deer with .22 LR -- both clean, one shot kills. I wouldn't try it today. I don't have any real argument against the .223 Remington (with decent bullets designed for deer), but personally my stopping point is the .30-30, the .243 or a .50 cal muzzle loader with a minie ball.

September 6, 2009, 08:07 PM
thanks for the input for far, the higher in latitude, the larger the deer variety(most of the time, the black tail breaking that rule); the typically whitetail hunter hits the wood with a caliber that reflects the deer their hunting?

September 6, 2009, 08:18 PM
How about .223 shot follow up with 40 mm grenade ;-) that will put a stop to any deer on the continent of US even the ones on steroids

t george
September 6, 2009, 09:34 PM
This has been a really intresting thread. I personaly think that the 223 would get the job done where I hunt, but I feel like I would simply be more confident with my 243 at a min or my 30-06. I feel like the shot placement is crucial so shoot what ever you have the most confidence in and have fun.

t george

September 6, 2009, 09:58 PM
Here in NY, we have some big deer and heavy brush, you don't want them to run far, and the ranges are short to moderate. If I could hunt them with a CF rifle, the minimum I'd use is a .243 loaded with a 100 gr. bullet. But, since the rifle isn't legal, I've found a .35 Rem. in a TC Contender handgun to be near perfect....if you've got the time to practice and get good with it.

If not, a .54 muzzleloader loaded with patched roundball is another near perfect choice.

September 6, 2009, 10:25 PM
But, since the rifle isn't legal, I've found a .35 Rem. in a TC Contender handgun to be near perfect....if you've got the time to practice and get good with it.


Bob, you can use riffles in southern counties, I thought I wrote to you about it before, just on the other edge of the lake riffles are legal and grass is greener :D and bucks are almost the same size as those on the north tip of the lake

September 6, 2009, 11:06 PM
243/6mm is the lightest rifle caliber I recommend for whitetail deer hunting anywhere east of the Mississippi. I generally suggest a larger caliber in the 270 > 30-06 > 308 caliber area for normal healthy people. 30-30 and 35 Rem is fine also.

Years ago I held to the belief that a well placed shot with a 223 or 243 was plenty. After seeing deer not go down with front shoulder hits, I do not advocate anything that small for deer hunting anymore unless there are other factors involved in the choice.

September 6, 2009, 11:14 PM
357 or 10mm for handgun imo.

Rifle 250 savage/7.62x39 smallest I would pick.

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