"Use Enough Gun"


Art Eatman
February 18, 2003, 11:37 AM
Mr. Ruark's advice still holds, seems to me...

Way back when the mountains weren't as tall as they are now, Texas was in a drouth period. About that time, T A&M U released a report (we heard) that said (allegedly) that seven jackrabbits eat as much grass as one cow.

Whether or not that's so, doesn't matter. However, it did lead to lots of folks becoming jackrabbit hunters. This included me, my father and my uncle. Pop mostly used a .220 Swift; Uncle Joe had a Gebby-barrelled Varminter, the fore-runner of today's .22-250. I had a Remington 550 .22 auto-shucker with a K2.5 on it.

We were out spotlighting one night and it was my turn to take a shot. I pulled off a bit and instead of a headshot on Big Bunny I hit just behind the shoulders. That jack jumped and squealed and kicked and really made a fuss before I got a second hit and put him out of his misery.

Uncle Joe griped at me for the poor shooting, but the end result was his browsing through "stuff" and giving me a 1917 Enfield...Handloading 110-grain Bunny Loads changed my whole world.

That's why I sorta fuss at folks who use centerfire .22s on deer or who would use a .22 rimfire on coyote-sized critters. It's not that mouse-pills won't kill; sure they will. The big problem is that dad-gummed Mr. Murphy, and his Laws about Bad Hits.

Now, Dead-Eye Dick or Sammy Super-shot may have a history of perfection in hitting where they aim. I'm happy for them, and generally say little against such shooters. Heck, I've done pretty good myownself through these decades. But, I'm a pessimist--and that keeps me somewhat "over-gunned" by the standards of some folks.

I'll shoot a coyote, with my .223--but I limit the distance. I'll shoot a 120-pound deer with a .243, but I'm picky about my hold, the distance and all that. There's a real-world reason for the old jingle, "There ain't many things a fella can't fix, with a few hundred dollars and a thutty-ought-six."

So all the above natter is an effort to explain why I think as I do, and why I make the suggestions I do.

Just points to ponder.

:), Art

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February 18, 2003, 01:19 PM
You do make some great points Mr. Eatman. I have never been one to pay much attention to the 'minimum' caliber for hunting said animal.

What bums me out is if someone looks at me like I'm crazy because I admit to using a .300 Win Mag to hunt deer.

"You don't need that much gun for deer!"

"Yeah, but I feel I do for elk, and I know what the bullet will do, so why worry about learning the trajectory of another cartridge"?

February 18, 2003, 03:52 PM
I used to think a 7mm mag was "too much" for antelope, until my hunting buddy proved he could shoot farther and flatter than I could with a 30-06.

Any rifle you use should be able to kill with a single shot, regarless of the size of game. Like Ruark said, use enough gun.

Caliber minimums are there for a reason. I know a 243 is "big game" legal in Colorado, but I really can't see using one on a big mulie or elk. I also looked sideways at guys packing 300 winchesters, but not anymore.

Never thought too much about the .22 on small game, but I recall a day where a grouse took 4 hits from my Ruger .22 pistol and just kept on walking. I opted never to shoot a bird with a .22 pistol again.

February 18, 2003, 08:54 PM
I agree with you Art. I don't think there is such a thing as too dead. We owe to the animals to make safe,quick,painless kills. Yea, I have seen deer taken with small calibers but I always wanted that extra power and use the ol 30.06 most of the time. On ocassion I have been known to carry the .300 MAG in the woods. Hunting rifles are like pick up trucks, most every man has one and thinks his is the best made. Happy hunting.....

February 18, 2003, 09:18 PM
yeah, i'm always disappointed w/ decisions to use small calibers for a given task. i prefer to err on the side of too much, if there is such a thing.

February 18, 2003, 09:47 PM
Naturally- I agree. :D

I too learned on jack rabbits...22 longs just didn't work.
My uncle tried to tell me...hard headed youthful pride...had to give way to seasoned mature experience.

Then I read Ruark...stuck with me ever since. Oh - I still like to hunt with a handgun...squirrels for instance still use a 22 lr for a challenge. 9mm works for ground hogs, as does a 45ACP.

Eradicating rabid dogs on a farm, owner was using a 22 lr from a marlin 60...I ain't comfortable...we'd just jumped in the truck for a tour of the farm property , he kept the rifle in the truck. Happened upon the pack, I was carrying the 45 as always , good thing to...after he fired, 2 of the 4 rushed him, he stumbled and fell...230 grainers and 60 - 80 # dogs much better match. Ever since he totes a 30-30,or a 12 ga or both in the farm truck...never know the what or when...

Porter Rockwell
February 18, 2003, 09:53 PM
one might accurately state that bullet placement will trump bore size each and everytime.
What does one say to the Alaska State Outfitter Champion who has stacks of rag articles written about him who says that a .243 is his chosen caliber?
By using Arts rabbit hunting story I can mention the reverse happening to me when we gut shot Colorado jacks with .357 Magnums and they repeatedly got up and ran again.
Great Topic! Thanks

Art Eatman
February 18, 2003, 10:04 PM
Porter, I reckon we all know those who are exceptionally skilled shooters, or who are exceptionally well self-controlled as to what shot they take. Seems to me those folks can well "make do" with cartridges that would be marginal for others.

But only each of us, individually, can have a feel for whether or not we qualify. :)


Porter Rockwell
February 18, 2003, 10:14 PM
I believe we need far more rag and net articles reminding shooters that shooting skill is far more important than the latest Short/Long/Super Whiz Bang Magnum.
It really grieves me to see the level of skill exhibited in the field and at the local shooting range every year, why don't people practice off hand shooting instead of sitting on their duffs!!??
Art, I'm the last person that'd want more freaking gun legislation BUT, shouldn't a hunter be required to hit say a clay bird at 100yds off hand before heading out where me and mine are hunting?

February 18, 2003, 11:04 PM
Bigger is better unless someone is using a big caliber to make up for poor shots.In highschool a friend was putting down my "little 30-30",comparing it to his 30-06.After he finally agreed that most deer are taken at less than 100 yds.,his reply was that he could shoot a deer in the leg and it would still go down.:banghead: I agree that there are much better calibers for coyote than a 22lr,but when I was a kid all you could legally use was a 22 caliber.None of us could afford a centerfire on a budget of lunch money,so we bought the best bullets we could afford and let them get as close as possible.It worked back then and we have better bullets nowadays.I finally got a 22-250,but if all I had was a 22 and a coyote stepped out within range,I'd hesitate ,just long enough to steady the crosshairs.:D They finally raised the caliber limit to .25 then to .30 so almost anything is an option now.

February 19, 2003, 07:20 AM
Shot placement is very important, especially using a smaller caliber. Also when Hunting If you get closer-Get Closer If you can steadier-Get Steadier. Be able to pass to on shots that you shouldn't take for that caliber, range, obstructions or the type of game.
It's pretty simple, but can still humble you. That's why it's called Hunting and why we enjoy it.

Art Eatman
February 19, 2003, 11:33 AM
Porter, I follow your point. My problem with that is that the shape my old shoulders are in, I don't do a lot of offhand shooting at stationary targets anymore. And some folks never will be good shots offhand--but give them any sort of brace...

I really prefer to educate a newbie-hunter's head to know when not to shoot, or to be able to tell a deer from me.

I don't care if a hunter misses, as long as he doesn't miss stupidly.

:), Art

February 20, 2003, 06:33 PM
Yes, use enough caliber, absolutely. But one must use reason and logic here too. I have nothing against people using fire-breather magnums on deer, IF they can shoot it well.

Sad fact is, most hunters are one-box-a-year shooters, and can't really handle the big boomers as well as they would like to think. When I watch a hunter sight in from the bench, then plink the 100 yard gong from the bags, I am NOT impressed with the ones that go 3 for 5 (or 7 for 10). AND most can't even do that well! (100 yard gong is a good 2 feet in diameter, easy off-hand target.)

So I will continue to use my .260 REM as long as the game is smaller than 400-500 pounds, and I am in range. (Just opinion. I have no field experience to back me on this, unfortunately.) Use the right bullets, control your nerves, and everything will fall into place.

Maybe there should be fewer .30/30s on the used gun racks around here and more super magnums?

February 21, 2003, 09:01 PM
As some may recall, I recently started a thread regarding "coyote bait" after relocating a non-used deer blind. Well, thus far it seems the critters' "meal time" must be beyond my "bed time". The last couple of nights that I sat out there, all I got was COLD!

But ... the crows seemed to like to scrounge around on the ground in the daytime in the same area as the bait pan, so I made some "spare time" to confirm the 50 yard zero on a couple of rifles with selected ammos.

To be able to minimize noise going to the adjacent neighborhood and get as steady as practical, I rigged up a quasi-shooting bench (a horizontal 2 X 4 actually;) ) that lets me keep the muzzles about 6" inside of the blind. Cushy seat, sandbag, hearing protection, binocs, electiric heater, jerky, bottled water, pee bottle - about the only thing lacking is a phone line to be able to hook up the laptop. :D Anyhoo, on with the "crow report":

' Hit first crow (facing me) with Remington .22 LR Subsonic with what I felt was a really good hold on center of chest. It toppled but then promptly flew pretty crazily about 25 yards back into woods. I was not able to check out the actual bullet placement because when I went to locate about 45 minutes later, I scared off a big old hawk that had the crow about 2/3 eaten!

' Hit second crow with same ammo and crosshairs on same spot, only broadside. It too went down for an instant, but flew real low only about 10 yards into woods. At which point, our range cat, Bud, chomped down on the back of its neck - then casually walked away. In checking out that crow, bullet entry was precisely where my hold was - on left side of chest. No exit wound. That crow went in bait pile and was completely gone the next morning ...

Tired of seeing 'em not go down and stay down, I got out the .222 and 50 grain V-max bullets. Even took that rifle (Savage 24) down to Bass Pro Shops underground tunnel specifically to re-zero at exactly 50 yards. ' Hit third crow broadside with the little frangible pill that still had to be running around 3,000 fps. The crow went up then down in a heap and just laid there, face down and dead still. A dozen or so other crows hung around and got all excited in the trees. Not being a safe shot, I just waited, hopeing that another crow would land on the ground. Then, after maybe 15 seconds, the one I had shot, came back to life and started hopping off toward the woods, favoring the offside wing. It then hopped up into a scrub brush, then up a little higher to a tree with his buddies. Thereafter, they all started flying off, one or two at a time - including the one that I had shot! Go figure ...

Art Eatman
February 21, 2003, 11:23 PM
I'm surprised at your bad luck with the frangible bullet. Should done a lot of physical damage, permanently anchoring the crow.

You might try using a 40-grain Hornet bullet. (Not the HighVel type used in a Swift.) They should blow up nicely from a .222 and not ricochet.

Another method of using the bait-option would be to get up early and put out the bait just before first light. That should give that early-day opportunity.


February 22, 2003, 12:06 AM
Thats weird about the crow. They're tough birds, but not that tough. I killed one at 30 yards with a .177 air rifle. Shot him just in front of where the wing ties into the breast and knocked him over. Slowly got up and started hoppin and I hit him again in the same spot. That all but finished him. He wasn't moving when I got there but I shot it in the head for good measure.
Never would have dreamed that a .22 wouldn't stop one DRT, and definitely not a .22 centerfire. Only thing I can figure with the V max, is that it was too frangible for a broadside shot. If you look a crow over, its got some pretty pretty tough wings. The quils seem extra long an thick and kind of mesh all over the wing when its folded down at the birds side. Still, just the energy dump of that bullet breaking up should have squashed him :confused: Any possibility that your shot went low an you barked him?

February 22, 2003, 12:23 AM
Yo Art - Ya know if I got up THAT early, I could not hang here so late. :)

Redneck - Yea, it WAS wierd. Maybe the crow (or the shooter :D) moved just slightly at the last mili-second. Ya know what Art sez about Mr. Murphy ...

Not gonna give up on the V-maxers just yet. Thinking that one had to be a fluke.

February 22, 2003, 12:23 PM
Had to be the crow. We all have perfect aim every time here ;)

Maybe he was sportin some kevlar. Bein dressed ninja black an travelin in gangs, they gots to be the most tactical bird around :D

February 24, 2003, 09:15 PM
ThAT is a very wierd & scary thing bout them birds shot & flying off. Enough gun, I favor my ruger mini 14 for shooting ,my cousin Pat mis understood me & my rifle one day. He sayazze, "you mean that little 223 can do what this 270 will do? I said take aim over yonder at that paint bucket Pat by the old farm house.{completely &tatolly deserted} dont fire till I say so I am going to fire 1st. So ,I fired 30 rds at a 55gal drum literally ate it up & said ok Pat fire, paint can went splatboom. Needless to say it was agood short demo w/me saying ofcourse a 223 wont do what a 270 can,but it will make them stick thier head out so you can get them. 296 yds quick shooting over the top of my 86 Nissan.Thanks

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