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Deer Hunting - Smallest Effective Caliber Allowed Question - Alabama

Discussion in 'Hunting' started by comacho, Aug 21, 2004.

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  1. comacho

    comacho Member

    Nov 30, 2003
    A good friend of mine wants to take his 7 year old son deer hunting. What is an acceptable, humane round, which is legal and allowable in Alabama that will not take the young kids shoulder off.

    I know .223 has low recoil but my reading tells me that it isn't powerful and large enough to do the job right.


  2. SunBear

    SunBear member

    May 27, 2003
    The weight of a lever-action 44 Marlin (with 10 rounds in the mag) might dampen the recoil to an acceptable level, particularly with 180gr 44mag rounds or a good +P 44 Special load. Happy trails.
  3. Art Eatman

    Art Eatman Administrator Staff Member

    Dec 22, 2002
    Terlingua, TX; Thomasville,GA
    Use of a heavier bullet (60- to 70-grain) and limiting the range to within 100 yards would make the .223 just fine for the generally-smaller deer you'd likely find. The main thing is to train the youngun with him wearing hear-guards and find out to what distances he's accurate.

    A buddy of mine did just that, last year, for his own 7-year-old. Got two deer, one doe and one small buck. Happy kid, and very proud father. :) IIRC he used a NEF...

  4. one-shot-one

    one-shot-one Member

    Jan 4, 2003

    .243 has lite recoil and plenty of power to carry a seven year old well into his twenties.
  5. comacho

    comacho Member

    Nov 30, 2003
    Thanks for your help guys.
  6. MeekandMild

    MeekandMild Member

    Dec 25, 2002
    I second the vote for .243. The kid will want to practice, so as to be able to hit the vital zone. He may need a recoil pad as well. I use a PAST brand wearable recoil pad, which makes a 45/70 bearable for my elderly shoulder.

    Here are two previous threads on First Deer Rifle and Deer Rifle for a Small Hunter.

    Here is a thread about the PAST pad
  7. deercop

    deercop Member

    Jul 11, 2003
    To answer your legal question, centerfire, mushrooming ammo of at least .22 caliber. FYI, an officer in a nearby county hunts deer exclusively with a .223 Ruger Mini-14. He handloads, so I'm not sure as to the ammo specs.
  8. Phattitude

    Phattitude member

    Aug 26, 2004
    243 reduced loads

    I vote for 243. If the factory ammo is still too much for him and you are able to reload, here is some info that I found on another site that might be helpful for you.


    Test Rifle: Ruger 77 Mk 2, Stainless, Laminated Stock

    87 Hornady, 90 Grain Ballistic Tip, or 90 grain Speer HOT core: 87 tested, 90 grain Ballistic tip only about 10 fps slower across the board:

    15 grs: 2108 fps
    16 grs: 2226 fps
    17 grs: 2323 fps
    18 grs: 2415 fps
    19 grs: 2487 fps
    20 grs: 2580 fps
    21 grs: 2652 fps
    22 grs: 2741 fps

    OAL: 69.60 mms, Fed 210 Primer

    95 grain Ballistic Tip or Partition ( one of my favorites)
    OAL: 70.50 mms

    15 grs: 2080 fps
    16 gr: 2159 fps
    17 gr: 2250 fps
    18 grs: 2295 fps
    19 grs: 2420 fps
    20 grs: 2514 fps
    21 grs: 2601 fps
    22 grs: 2693 fps

    The Partition will open to about 2000 fps. The ballistic tip will open to about 1400 fps. Verified via call with Nosler's tech line yesterday.

    Hornady 100 gr SP:
    OAL: 69.25 mms
    15 grs: 2019 fps
    16 grs: 2113 fps
    17 grs: 2207 fps
    18 grs: 2299 fps
    19 grs: 2365 fps
    20 grs: 2438 fps
    21 grs: 2512 fps

    Consider 20 grains max SAFE load in all guns, 21 grains was safe in my rugers and winchester model 70. Gave extraction stiffness in my Rem 700 in 243.

    My second favorite, after the Ballistic tips:
    Speer 105 gr SP;

    16 grs: 2050 fps
    17 grs: 2142 fps
    18 grs: 2239 fps
    19 grs: 2311 fps
    20 grs: 2412 fps
    21 grs: 2483 fps
    22 grs: 2561 fps

    All of the data was done with Rem brass, Federal 210 primers.
    Test firearm was a Ruger 77 Mk 2, although tested safe in Winchester Model 70 and Rem 700. Only problem with a Rem 700 was noted.

    Please work up all loads and do not start at max, since all firearms are different.

    The idea was a light recoil rifle, with bullet capable of taking deer at these velocities within 200 yds, max range. My speaking with several very knowlegable pistol shooters was that MV should be at least 2000 fps.

    Consult trajectory tables in the appropriate manuals. Accuracy with all of these loads in my rifles tested minute of angle or less. Less more often than not.

    Data is pretty interchangable with 6mm Rem, as I have tested it also, but not much notable difference in data occurred.

    Good luck to the kids, and women that utilize this data for this seasons hunts. Would appreciate hearing any success stories. ( Good luck also to we guys who don't need to cater to the macho factor when we deer hunt).,

    Gotta thank Seafire on www.accuratereloading.com for compiling this info.
  9. bj426

    bj426 Member

    Apr 30, 2004
    Check with your state regulations (DNR?) They are sure to have some restriction...

    must be greater than any .22 cal here in MN.

    looks like it would be legal in AL according to: http://www.dcnr.state.al.us/hunting/regulations/legalarms.cfm

    Personally I see a .223 for deer much like a .410 for foul.... it's better suited for an experienced operator.

    I vote for the .243.

    Happy hunting!
  10. nico

    nico Member

    Dec 1, 2003
    Baltimore/Laurel, MD
    I think I'd go with the .243 too. In a lot of states it's the smallest caliber allowed for deer (which should say at least a little about the .223's power as a deer rifle). I can definitely understand that too much recoil could turn your friend's son off from hunting, but wounding a deer and not finding it the first time he shoots one could be equally traumatic.

    I started the thread above about the PAST recoil pad. I should have updated it. I bought the magnum PAST pad (the only difference between that and the standard rifle pad is area, not thickness) and don't regret it for a second. My best friend (who had never fired a gun of any kind) and I shot my M77 in .270 with 130 and 150gr factory loads all day using the pad and niether of us had any complaints about the recoil. The recoil was actually lighter than my friend expected a rifle to have. I would HIGHLY recommend the PAST pad for anyone. Like was mentioned in the thread above, the effect on length of pull is negligible and the effect on felt recoil (and soreness after shooting for a while) is huge.
  11. Phattitude

    Phattitude member

    Aug 26, 2004
    I also have a PAST pad for doing range work with my 338WM. I can shoot it for hours with the pad, without it it starts to really hurt after about 10 rounds, especially with some of the hotter loads.
  12. Selfdfenz

    Selfdfenz Member

    Jan 8, 2003
    Small-sky country, again
    I guess before I could answer the caliber guestion I would have to know if the kiddo has ever been exposed to shooting and if so to what calibers?
    Could he or she hit anything?

    If not, I think this would be a good year for the kiddo to sit and watch.

    My child could fire a 223 at seven but the accuracy wasn't there and neither the 223 or 243 are good calibers for poor shot placement.
  13. Northslope Nimrod

    Northslope Nimrod Member

    Apr 22, 2004
    Northern Utah
    I wouldn't go less than a .243. I think my uncle has used a 22-250.....I can't recall if that caliber is legal here in Utah. I once used our .243 to shoot a large 2 point (four point for you easterners) buck....but I only had hollow points with me. I shot the deer twice in the neck at less than 30 yards. The bullets expanded and blew large holes in the hide. The first shot knocked him down. He bounced right back up. The second shot knocked him out. Then when we went to cut his throat.....he jumped up and ran 1000 yards. Lesson: Use proper ammunition....especially in these small calibers!
  14. rugerman

    rugerman Member

    Aug 7, 2004
    Auburn, Alabama
    The Alabama regs say centerfire mushrooming ammo so as long as its a centerfire its legal, now ethical or effective is another story. Ditto on the .243 its a good caliber with low recoil. My youngest son shot his first deer when he was 7, he was carring a marlin 44mag with a 2.5 power scope but was having a hard time seeing the deer at 150 yrds so I gave him my Ruger #1 270 with a 2X7 and turned it up to 7X and he said that he could see it real good so I told him to go ahead and shoot her right behind the shoulder. At the shot she went down in a heap. When I asked him if it kicked he said with a big smile that he didn't feel a thing. So remember if there is hair in the scope the gun don't kick. rugerman
  15. Fred Fuller

    Fred Fuller Moderator Emeritus

    Mar 26, 2004
    AL, NC
    Several options are available which are likely to be more humane than a .223. Yes, you can kill deer with it, I have taken several using a Ruger M77MkII in .223 (in Alabama, legally) but would not recommend the caliber for a new hunter- it just doesn't have the oomph if bullets are not placed with precision, most .223 bullets are not constructed to hold together and penetrate the way they need to. I use only neck shots with a .223 on deer and will wait until I get a good opportunity or pass up the shot completely. I haven't gotten a bullet all the way through both sides of even a small deer on a ribcage shot with a .223 and I want an exit- I tried this using fresh roadkill, not in the field on live deer. And by the way, the results of a head shot with a .223 will turn your stomach- not a good thing to do.

    A lot will depend on the maturity and skill of the shooter. If he's trained up to whatever caliber is used that will help. One of the most important isues is gun fit, the stock should be adjusted so it fits him well. That includes comb height as well as length of pull. And keep in mind that there is such a thing as starting _too_ early, make sure the youngster is ready for all this. A few trips to the deer stand to help out the old man should be under his belt by now, if not they are definitely in order before he carries a gun of his own.

    I vote for the .243 also. My cousin took his first Alabama buck at age 8 with a break-open single shot (NEF I think) in .243. He's a couple of years older now but still killing deer every season with that little rifle. There's a picture of him and my mom with his last year's 8- pointer on my desk right now. My wife took her first deer two years ago with the .243 I gave her, her shot placement was poor (too far back, she had a lot of 'shoot center of mass' defensive training before I married her and her training took over in the adrenalin rush) but the buck was down and dead within 40 yards anyway.

    A .30-30 might work as well, particularly if the ammo is handloaded. The caliber is available in single shot, bolt action and lever guns.

    Good luck to you and your friends,

    lpl/nc (whose heart is still in the Heart of Dixie)
  16. Gordon

    Gordon Member

    Dec 26, 2002
    central Kali.
    Not reccomending it for a kid BUT: for next years blacktail deer hunting I am building up loads for my .224 Weatherby Varmintmaster. I just loaded up 50 rnds using the 60 grain Nosler Partition bullet. I went up .5 grains at a time for a starting to max test using varget powder. IF it stabilizes and gives good groups I'll refine the load .2 grain at a time for another 50 . Then load 50 of the best, test 20 to sight in and -hunt. This year I shot a 6 point out an apple tree he was eating on- back of head with a light .44 mag load out of a Rem 788 at 40 yds. I am going in another zone with the my wife where there are muleys using a Savage 1899 250-3000 with 100 grain Barnes partition bullets at 2700fps with a tang sight. :D
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