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223 for deer: never again!

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by Macchina, Nov 22, 2020.

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  1. marksman13

    marksman13 Member

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    I’ve killed a pile of deer and pigs with 223/5.56. I’ve killed them with everything from 55 Grain FMJs to 60 Grain Hornady soft points, to my favorite the 69 Grain Federal GMM. I’ve never lost a deer using a 223. I have lost pigs, but only because of poor shots and being unwilling to track them into thick cover at night. Sorry you lost your deer, but you didn’t lose him because of the cartridge choice.
     
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  2. Hookeye

    Hookeye Member

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    Wonder if the bore to sight system distance being greater on ARs (vs a bolt sporter) contributed to the problem (maybe hit something not seen close to the shooter?).
     
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  3. Macchina

    Macchina Member

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    To everyone saying I missed: I would fully admit it if I thought it was possible. This was a stationary 35 yard shot from a sitting and supported position at a stationary target, twice! And an additional "easy" 50 yard stationery shot. I shoot a lot. Well over a thousand rounds a year. I'm certain I didn't miss one of those shots. Not being defensive, just stating a miss simply could not have happened in this scenario. I have missed deer before, I will easily admit that but this was as sure of a shot I've ever taken and I had 3 shots!
     
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  4. MachIVshooter

    MachIVshooter Member

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    Yep. My .25-06 has always been fantastic for anchoring anything I've shot at with it, but last winter, an average sized mulie doe on my acreage took one through the boiler room from about 90 yards and gave me a run for my money. She went down quick, but sprung up when I got to her and ran about 80 yards, fell down again. When I approached again, you guessed it; sproing! And ran another 150 yards or so, across the road, jumped a fence, and went down behind a neighbor's garage for good. And of course, in my ~85% conservative county full of hunters & shooters, she picked the one property where a looney PETA type lives. That was fun.

    I did retrieve her, and her insides were a mess, heart got nicked and 3/4 of the lungs were jelly. It was a good shot, she just wouldn't admit that she was dead.
     
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  5. Hog huntin Harry

    Hog huntin Harry Member

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    Bob Hagel once shot a mule deer at 200 yards with a .30 Newton loaded with 172 grain Western Tool & Copper Works cavity point bullets. They have very thin jackets and were very explosive in the Newton at well over 3,000 fps. The shot landed half the way up it's ribs and tight behind the shoulder, when hit, the buck jumped high in the air and sprinted 150 yards around a hillside, then down 50 yards till it hit a Douglas fir. There was a 3 foot wide spray of blood and lung tissue where the buck had been standing.
    Every animal reacts differently to being shot, swearing off cartridges just because of one instance where a deer waited a little while before it decided it was dead is foolish. (Not saying OP is foolish, just his assessment on the performance of .223 rem on deer.)
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2020
  6. earlthegoat2

    earlthegoat2 Member

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    Just as an example of how some things just happen, this year I had a 35 yard shot on a decent size buck. 20 gauge Federal Premium Trophy Copper 275 gr slug. I had the gun sighted in and it was shooting perfect. I took the shot. Nothing weird with the trigger pull or the positioning. Rock solid rest. I somehow hit it high. Really high as I usually aim lower behind the shoulder. The bullet entered above the spine but below the back strap. I didnt know that was possible either but the thick neck of this buck meant there was plenty of meat in that area.

    I dont know how I flubbed the shot. There was nothing that could have gone wrong. I was so confident in myself and my gun that I didnt even check the zero and made a perfect headshot on a doe that very evening at similar range. Deer was on the property line and I didnt want it going anywhere. The gun was zeroed and shot perfect. The shot on the doe at a smaller target proves it. I had a good hold and trigger pull on that buck. I dont know how I missed so badly.

    The only reason I know exactly where I hit is because it ran towards my dads blind and stopped at 50 yds and he center punched both shoulders and lungs with his own 20 ga slug. What did the deer do? Walked to the fence line and hopped the fence. Got a little wobbly and hopped back over the fence. Took a few steps and died. We found his bullet in the off side hide. He shoots a Lightfield Hybrid EXP which is a lead slug so it was easily identifiable as his and not my all copper slug. My shot had gone through and through.
     
  7. illinoisburt

    illinoisburt Member

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    Things happen. Hunting on the ground without an exit I would not be surprised at no blood with a mid chest hit. Skin moves so the hole may not line up with the wound track. Plus it takes some time for the lungs and cavity to fill with blood.

    Around here we have a lot of tracking dogs and hound hunters who are happy to turn them out to find a down animal. Got 'hotlines' set up online and phone numbers posted at local stores. Usually free or cost of gas to get out to you. Unless it snows or rains heavy, they will find your deer fast.
     
  8. illinoisburt

    illinoisburt Member

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    Slugs are inconsistently weird that way. I've had some stop in the offside, others pop through clean and some exit holes could put my fist through all with same 1 ounce winchester slugs.
     
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  9. horsey300

    horsey300 Member

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    I'll not question your marksmanship, I wasn't there, ammo choice on the other hand........ I've played with the 64 winchesters, not a fan, I like the Barnes, swifts, and noslers, the 64 winchesters did not show enough consistency for me to put them on a deer sized critter, I would bet if you would have busted up some heavier bones the results would have been different. I'm not the biggest Barnes fan I promise, but a 50gr ttsx at high speed, I'll take over the win 64 gr every day.
     
  10. mgmorden

    mgmorden Member

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    That hurts to hear. Personally, I have never used it either and probably wouldn't. Even .243 is a bit lighter than I'd like and I personally prefer something in the .257 Roberts level or more for deer. That said, my 12 year old niece took her first deer this year with a .223. A little spike buck at about 40 yards and it was a bang-flop . . . and after I looked at what ammo my brother had loaded it with it was 55gr FMJ :eek: (he's more of a hunter and not really much into guns outside of that and didn't know any better. I told him to let me handload some more appropriate ammo for the gun if she goes again :)).

    Sometimes deer are weird, though yeah you'll likely see less super-strength examples of deer taking multiple shots and running with something a little more powerful. Doesn't have to be a magnum or anything but 7mm-08, .25-06, 6.5 Creedmoor, etc, are all fairly mild to shoot and will deliver a lot more energy on target.
     
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  11. 3Crows

    3Crows Member

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    The .223 cartridge is a little light for deer. Of course that is an opinion and others will differ but it is mine. And all the anecdotal stories to the contrary, it ain't no .270 or .30-06 or .308.
     
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  12. Hog huntin Harry

    Hog huntin Harry Member

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    Armed with a .223 bolt gun loaded with 55 grain Federal Trophy Copper's I'd feel comfortable out to 225 yards for deer sized game.
     
  13. LoonWulf
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    LoonWulf Contributing Member

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    One of my good friends dosent like shooting Axis deer with anything less than his .300
    Hes shot one since highschool, and is very comfortable with it.
    At the same time we were shooting .223s a lot also. He had a mini-14, and I shot a 700 ADL. We shot a fair amount of 70gr speer semi spitzers, 64gr PPs, and a pile of 52-55gr varmint bullets, mostly 52gr AE hollow points. As far as I can remember we didn't lose any.

    At this point I've got no issue with someone using a .223 for deer, as I've seen it work first hand on....a pile (I literally don't know how many head) of game. But I now prefer to shoot a heavier round, even for the relatively little critters we have here....I also have no great love for the .243, good round tho it is.
    Also while I still take head shots, Im not a fan of front on, or side facing, especially with the .223 or other smaller rounds. Theres just too much real estate that you can hit, that wont cause immediate death. Again, don't have a negative opinion on other folks taking those shots, but I try to avoid them.....

    IMO, you have to do what YOUR comfortable with.
     
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  14. WisBorn

    WisBorn Member

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    @Macchina I'm sorry to hear about losing the deer.
    Our opinions are that based on experience. I have seen 2 deer that should have fell to shots from 22 cal rifles that didn't. I finished both of the wounded deer with larger caliber rifle.
    As you mentioned I won't use the 223 based on these events.
    I hope you grab that 44 mag and get out hunting before the season is over.

    Safe hunting!
     
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  15. Lizard1911

    Lizard1911 Member

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    That is correct, however .223 is just that. 0.223", therefore larger than .22".
    I'm not saying it's "Right", just what the guide says.
     
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  16. FL-NC

    FL-NC Member

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    I have killed 4 or 5 deer with Hornady 75 grain BTHP match. All but 1 were DRT, the runner only went about 20 yards. I have also had good results on hogs with it.
     
  17. armedwalleye

    armedwalleye Member

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    I'm no expert, but the lack of an exit wound has stymied many hunters in the search for a blood trail. In my experience, there is a much greater blood loss exiting the body through the exit wound than the entrance side. That said, the deer is still bleeding, but without a nice large drain hole, it's internal bleeding that may or may not exit.
     
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  18. JDeere

    JDeere Member

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    To the OP, good call put the .223 away for deer hunting and use the .44. Yeah you can kill anything with a .223 in the right conditions and shot placement, and yes they can run after being shot with 300 win mag. The point is chances of that happening go way down when using the correct caliber and bullet for the task at hand. I shot an Axis deer with a 22-250 once and only once...
     
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  19. Macchina

    Macchina Member

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    According to the guide (and I confirmed this through email with the DNR) you can use ANY centerfire round on deer in Northern Michigan. Even the .17 Hornet is good to go.
     
  20. GooseGestapo

    GooseGestapo Member

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    Realize that with such a close shot, that your bullets hit about 2” below the point of aim. A low lung shot will indeed allow a deer to run off. Depending on mounts/sights, an AR POI can be as much as 3” lower than line of sight.
    I’ve had equally poor results from the .243...

    Shot placement, X3...
     
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  21. Robbins290

    Robbins290 Member

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    I am sorry for the loss, I have used 62 bonded bullets for deer for a few years. Never had an issue. But I have seen deer do weird things. I have had them double lung shot with a 30-06 and run off and took hours to find.

    I would not toss the caliber yet.
     
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  22. Oldschool shooter

    Oldschool shooter Member

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    Thus the rules being specific about not being able to use .22 rimfire, they are also .223 diameter.
     
  23. H&Hhunter

    H&Hhunter Moderator Staff Member

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    There are basically three choices here.
    1. You missed

    2. You didn’t hit the vitals

    3. You hit him perfectly but couldn’t find him due to lack of blood trail.

    I’m guessing #3. many times without an exit or a very small diameter hole through the lungs all or most of the bleeding is internal and the critter’s lungs have to fill up enough that they start blowing blood out their nose/mouth before you see blood on the ground.
     
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  24. drobs

    drobs Member

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    A 62gr Federal Fusion MSR dropped my above Doe (quoted by Entropy) at about 125yds paced off.
    The Doe jumped in the air when hit and landed DRT.
     
  25. Captcurt

    Captcurt Member

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    A lot depends on where the animal was hit. I had a big buck hit through the shoulder and exited out the flank that never bled a drop on the outside. The entry hole was sealed by his shoulder blade when he ran and the stomach contents sealed the exit. He went 100 yards and it was only with God's help that I found him. That was with a 250 grain 45 caliber Hornady out of a 50 cal muzzleloader at about 40 yards.
     
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