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Post your big game/small cartridge experience

Discussion in 'Hunting' started by swampcrawler, Dec 4, 2016.

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  1. swampcrawler

    swampcrawler Member

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    Let me start by saying I wasn't sure how to title this. Hopefully it was clear enough. I've been considering going to a lighter cartridge for deer and hogs for quite a while now. I've always used a .308 and 45/70, which of course work perfectly.

    I understand that the 308 and it's offspring as well as the larger cartridges are and will likely always be the preferred class of cartridges for medium to large game. However, with the proliferation of the AR as a hunting platform and the Mighty Mite cartridges that came along with it, it seems that more and more positive examples of the performance of lighter cartridges surface each year.

    I'd like to know your real world experiences with anything that could be considered a "light" cartridge for the game taken. Be it 243 for elk, 30-30 for moose, 45/70 in Africa , or particularly 300 blk, 6.8 spc, 223, and 6.5 Grendel for anything deer and hog or larger.

    Perhaps more importantly I'm also very interested in NEGATIVE personal experience with the same. It is easy to find positive first hand accounts and negative anecdotal accounts, but a bit more uncommon to see good, firsthand experience by knowledgeable shooters of the failure of cartridges in the field.

    As always, the more details and pictures the better!

    Apologies for being a bit long winded. Hopefully we can get a good compilation of info going here!
     
  2. JackSprat

    JackSprat Member

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    I think it all boils down to the hunters self control,and common sense .Self control enough to pass on a shot that is out of range,or not positioned right..Common sense to know that figures don't lie,and there are no magic calibers ,mass is mass,and velocity is velocity,and likewise with energy..Also common sense enough to not use fmj,or varmint bullets ..I have killed a good bit of whitetail with light fast calibers,but I know to be really careful on placement,and range especially on the 22 calibers.I have no doubt that I could hit one at 300 yards with a 223,but I wouldn't dare attempt it..You mentioned 30-30 for moose.The 30-30 is the perfect example of a gun that is deadly,but limited by range...And always remember nobody is perfect,and nobody shoots as precise hunting as they do punching paper.A little bit of overkill can be forgiving..
     
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  3. Patocazador

    Patocazador Member

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    .257 Roberts and even .250-3000 Savage have killed several deer for me with no problems. However, I would never consider hunting elk or moose with a .250 Savage. I used a 7x57 with a Nosler partition for them and several African antelopes including kudu and gemsbok.
     
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  4. bang_bang

    bang_bang Member

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    Let's just say I've killed my fair share of animals with a 22lr down here in SWVA. It's not all about the gun, sometimes it's about the shooter. Sometimes it's about luck as well.
     
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  5. swampcrawler

    swampcrawler Member

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    I grew up poor and rural. It would amaze some folks what a .22 is capable of.

    In fact the only failure To quickly and cleanly harvest an animal that I have ever experienced (excluding clean misses) was when I was around 10 years old.

    I was home alone and saw a big Doe strolling through the back pasture. So I grabbed my 742 and dug through my dads gun cabinet for something with a .308 headstamp, threw it in the chamber and off I went.

    Well turns out that what I had grabbed was an FMJ which "icepicked" through the heart. Zero blood trail. German Shepard finally found it about a mile from where I hit it.

    So yea. Don't do that.
     
  6. Eleanor416Rigby

    Eleanor416Rigby Member

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    I think it depends on how one learns to shoot; bought myself a pellet gun as a kid and walked around with it every day shooting acorns out of the trees, cutting wild onions in half, hunting small game, and so on. Then I started hunting deer with a .243 and found I shot it worse on paper than in the field. Also, I think a little overkill can be unforgiving in that it can reduce the chances of a good hit depending on how well a person tolerates the increased recoil.

    To the point of the OP: NEGATIVE EXPERIENCE: Weapon was a .243 shooting an 80-grain bullet (don't remember the bullet type, but it was surely right off the shelf of some ice house that sold hunting licenses). Shot was in the neighborhood of 200 yards and struck a white tail doe (around 80 lbs on the hoof) a little off center in the chest; it traveled at an angle from just inside her right shoulder through to an abdominal exit and re-entry around the knee of the left rear leg. I don't remember what organs were hit. Neither the shoulder nor the rear leg were broken. She left an open field and we finally recovered her down in a holler probably a half mile in distance and 100 feet down in elevation.

    POSITIVE EXPERIENCE: Same .243, but 100 grain psp bullet broadside just behind the shoulder at 100 yards on a larger buck. It didn't take a step. Off-side shoulder had an exit wound the size of a golf ball with bone fragments in it.

    I was around 11 years old in both cases. I trust everybody will make reasonable conclusions and some of them will be opposite from one another.
     
  7. lastofthebreed

    lastofthebreed Member

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    I hope the statute of limitations has run out on the following. It happened many, many years ago and I was much, much younger and a lot more foolish than smart.

    I once owned an original grade I Browning T bolt 22 rifle. I had worked all summer bagging groceries and saving my tips to purchase this rifle and was inordinately proud of it. When I bought the rifle, I also purchased a Weaver 7/8 tube 4X scope to mount on the little 22. It was the first firearm I ever owned that had a scope on it.

    This turned out to be the most accurate firearm I had ever put my hands on. I could routinely take a limit of 12 squirrels with head shots in a morning of hunting and not use more than 12 rounds of ammo. It helped that I spent more ammo shooting hickory nuts out of the tops of hickory trees than I used in hunting. That gun was my constant companion when I was out of school for the day and on the weekend - it literally became an extension of me.

    One frosty morning, I was sitting with my back to a huge old white oak, watching a gnarly old hickory tree. This particular tree was what we called a "den tree". It had about a dozen knot holes in it and the squirrels absolutely loved to curl up in the hollow cavities and sleep the cold night away. At sunrise they would come out of their dens and soak up the sunshine before going about their business of foraging for nuts.

    Anyway, I heard what I thought was a squirrel scratching in the leaves behind me. Not moving a muscle, I waited on it to continue down the hollow and present a shot. Imagine my surprise when a small spike buck appeared to my left at about 25 yds.

    Now this was the first deer I had ever seen in the wild. Deer were scarce in those days and even the act of finding deer tracks on your property was an occasion that caused shouts of hallelujah among the local hunting cadre.

    I don't know to this day how I managed to get calmed down enough to even get the little Browning to my shoulder, but I did. The little buck was kinda quartering away from me and I remember placing the crosshairs of the little Weaver scope at the point where the right ear grew out of the little bucks head. I don't remember anything else about the shot except that deer died as quickly as any animal I have ever shot.

    Is a 22 LR enough gun for deer hunting? Not on your life, but one magical morning years ago, it was!

    Addendum: A few years ago I became aware of a young man who was having a particularly rough time in his life. It was almost Christmas and his one request was for a 22 rilfe. His dad and mom were having a real hard time dealing with some very serious health issues and money was not available for superfluous purchases. (Anything outside of food and clothing was considered superfluous.)

    I decided the little T Bolt needed a better home so I gave it to him. He hunts with it to this day and he says he thinks of me every time he goes to the woods. I made him promise to pass it along to some other deserving young hunter someday. I think he will.
     
  8. Nature Boy

    Nature Boy Contributing Member

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    I grew up hunting with an old Cajun dude that lived in the swamp. He killed more deer than you, me and pick em combined with nothing more than a 22lr (and a flashlight ;) )
     
  9. SoonerMedic

    SoonerMedic Member

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    So. Oklahoma
    So, to make a long story short, I took my very first deer this year using a small caliber rifle. My SigSauer 516 Carbon TS dropped my buck at about 50 yards or so with a neck shot using 64gr. Winchester power point soft tip in .223 while looking through a Vortex Strikefire II red/green dot with 1x magnification. While he did drop where he stood, the shot placement was something to be desired. I was aiming for just below his jaw midline on his neck, but I think my rifle isn't all that satisfied with the ammo as I find it difficult to shoot a nice tight group. I ended up hitting him low right in the neck which did drop him but he didn't die quickly. That's the only downside I have to mention, but I don't feel like it was the caliber's fault.
     
  10. LoonWulf

    LoonWulf Member

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    I've shot a lot of deer with smaller caliber guns, I've shot a few pigs, a few sheep, and a ton of goats also.
    I've used the .22lr/mag for control work, day and night. Shot placement is paramount, this is no round to use for "hunting". It will work fine for those with the ability to get very close and shoot for soft spots, but isn't usually a good/best choice.
    .22 hornet, is a bit better same shot options and range limitations, but provides options for heavier bullets and more penetration.
    .223 offers a much better option with not that much more blast. 60-65grn plus hunting bullets (and Barnes) will provide enough penetration and damage for body cavity kills on small/med game. I've killed a number of deer, and hogs at -150 yds, and a few sheep and goats out to 250.
    6x47rem, works great on every thing I've tried it for from point blank to a 150lb hog at 150yds, and a goat at 300ish. Personally I think the 6x45 or similar would be the best option for at guys wanting to stick with 556 brass and hunt.
    6.5 grendel, I haven't used for anything but deer and it's performance has been text book, but not bang flop. I'm going down in bullet weight from 123 to probably 100grns to get a little more shock(hopefully).....this round, along with other similar roumds imho, bridges the gap between the mini length actions and shorts. It and it's Ilk are much more effective than the x45 and smaller cassed rounds.
     
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  11. CarJunkieLS1

    CarJunkieLS1 Member

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    My most recent deer kills have been shot with what many would consider a minimal cartridge because it is in the AR-15 platform. That is the 6.5 Grendel and a wildcat called the 7mm Valkyrie. Like LoonWulf has said the 6.5 Grendel performance has been textbook. For me and a 123 SST it has been double lung shot bullet exited with no meat loss and great blood trail. I'll continue to keep using the SST.

    For the Valkyrie I would not consider it minimal for medium game even though it is in the AR-15 platform and is limited to 2.3 max COAL. The 2 deer that have been shot with were clean kills. I would challenge anyone to be able to tell the difference in "damage" between it and more traditional deer calibers .308, .270, 243, 7-08, 30-06 etc.

    So I suppose my minimal cartridge experience has been extremely favorable and I'll keep using them because dead is dead and I like the semi auto AR package and reduced recoil they provide.
     
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  12. Paul7

    Paul7 Member

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    074.JPG

    One of two cow elk taken with my Sako 6.5x55, factory loads. IMHO in this age of magnum mania most would consider that round light for elk.
     
  13. Gtscotty

    Gtscotty Member

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    A while back I shot two deer with the 7.62x39 and Federal hunting loads. One dropped on the spot, the other dropped and then got back up, never found it. I'm not certain where I hit the one that I didn't recover because while I was looking for it I heard a clinking and realized that my cheap scope rings were loose... lesson learned.

    I've killed two deer with a 6.8 SPC, one at 120 yds, and one at 60 yds, both died quickly.

    This year I killed a cow elk with a .270 Win, that might count as light for some. The herd came though a bottom, while I was up on a saddle between two small peaks above. Another hunter shot first (and missed a 6X6) so the cow was starting to move out when I broke the shot at an estimated 170 yds. My bullet entered through the left shoulder, clipped the bottom of the spine and came to rest under the skin in a meaty part of the far shoulder. The cow was down immediately and wasn't getting back up, but I delivered a finisher when I made it down the hill. I was totally satisfied with the performance having a week earlier helped pack out a friend's bull that had soaked up 3 good pass through hits from 165gr Interbonds out of a 300WM.

    Edit: guess I ought to include a pic of the cow.
    1112161629b.jpg
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2016
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  14. ar556guy

    ar556guy Member

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    You'd be surprised what a 22lr is capable of
     
  15. LoonWulf

    LoonWulf Member

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    Having used it, alot, not surprised.
    But not a choice for HUNTING, works great for culling and harvesting tho....yes i lump them into diff categories these days.
     
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  16. RPRNY

    RPRNY Member

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    Karamojo Bell and elephant - lots and lots with the 6.5 M-S, and the .275 Rigby.

    My grandfather, who put deer on the table from the 19teens through the 1940s with a Marlin 1892 in 22 LR.

    One can kill anything with any device that will make holes in vital organs. That doesn't make the doing so particularly clever.

    Deer and hogs don't take much killing - it's really only a matter of "what can I accurately hit vital bits with" and "how capable/willing to track am I"? 308 and 45-70 are both perfectly good choices, as you mention in the OP. The vast majority of deer I have killed I have done so with a Marlin 336 in 30-30. I have killed hogs with everything from a sporterized Swedish Mauser (6.5x55), to said 30-30, sporterized Persian Mauser (8x57), 35 Krag, and 45LC Rossi 92. I'm hoping this winter to get a few with the "626 Pigpocalypse", a 62 cal musket ball fired from a brass case of 93 grs FFg black powder in a 20ga, rifled slug barrel.

    I personally wouldn't go after deer with less than 6mm, but would have no reservations about the 243 Win, and would not castigate anyone who felt comfortable/ethical to do so with a 22 cal. If I wanted a very light but suitable deer rifle, a little youth .243 would be high on my list to investigate.
     
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  17. sammysammy

    sammysammy Member

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    Inside 200 yds, a .22-250 is a whitetail slaying machine!
     
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  18. swampcrawler

    swampcrawler Member

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    Aaaaand now I need one. :rofl:

    Thanks for the input folks. Keep it coming!
     
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  19. Kano383

    Kano383 Member

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    East Africa
    Used a .375 H&H as do-it-all for decades here in Africa. Then a .458 as backup gun and "bad-things-in-thick-stuff" gun. My "light gun" was a 9.3x62.

    All the above are excellent calibers but... None of them can be considered fun to shoot for more than a few rounds.

    Getting myself a 6.5 MS as my main hunting rifle now... Because with a proper bullet, it's an excellent caliber for almost any game around (not a DG back-up caliber, let's be clear), and it puts the fun back into shooting one's gun as often as possible, which is what one is supposed to do in order to be really proficient. In a 6 lbs or so rifle, it's also a delight to carry...
     
  20. Bbear

    Bbear Member

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    Took my first two elk with a 25-06 and Nosler partitions. Both one-shot DRT kills. Took my 2nd and 3rd largest feral hogs (320 and 275-ish pounds respectively) with a 22 LR. I took a few deer with a .17 Remington and even one with a .221 Fireball. Add in the 222 and 223 into that tally on whitetails.
    I don't think it's so much about the cartridge but the placement and patience of the hunter.
     
  21. H&Hhunter

    H&Hhunter Moderator Staff Member

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    Bbear,

    I'd like to hear the details of your big hogs taken with the .22LR.
     
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2016
  22. T.R.

    T.R. Member

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    This fine animal was taken at approx 80 yards after a long stalk. I waited patiently for a broadside presentation and fired my first bullet into the perfect spot behind the shoulder. The animal bounded away but still broadside to my position so I levered in a fresh round, led him a little and squeezed off my second shot. It toppled over in mid stride after a couple more jumps. During field dressing, I discovered my curled up bullets under the hide on the far side of the entry wounds. Internal damage was ghastly. 170 grain Power Point ammo was deadly for me.

    30-30 is a keeper!

    TR

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  23. H&Hhunter

    H&Hhunter Moderator Staff Member

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    TR,

    Is that a red deer?
     
  24. farmerboy78

    farmerboy78 Member

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    I have used several small cartridges for whitetails. .223, .22 middlestead, 6.5-06, .243, 30-30, 7.62x39... velocity is king with and sub 100gr bullet and taking game. The middlestead is using a 75gr vld @3400fps @ muzzle. Taken deer out to 400yds with it, but wouldn't hesitate @ 600yds. .223 is good for 200yds with 55gr bullets and 300ish with 75+... taken deer @ 875yds with the 6.5-06...
     
  25. adcoch1

    adcoch1 Member

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    7.62x39 has taken quite a few deer for me, and a lot of people say it's too light/puny/weak/inaccurate/etc for deer. Works great for under 200 yards though.

    Another story, I once se out to do some small game hunting with my handy Savage 22 bolt gun, and the first critter I run into is a beaver. This beaver had been knocking down trees over the road into a favorite camping and shooting spot, so I thought, " time to try out these high velocity 22lr" cci's if i remember correctly. Well, it didn't turn out so great. I was standing there at 20 yards dumping shot after shot into a poor beaver that just wouldn't die, until my brother yells at me, "stop!" And shoots it with a 7.62x25 tokarev pistol, killing it instantly. Then he says, "use enough gun next time you idiot!" After that I think he was right. Make sure your gun, and your shooting, is up to the task.
     
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