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Smallest caliber for deer

Discussion in 'Hunting' started by Oldnamvet, Jul 27, 2006.

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  1. Oldnamvet

    Oldnamvet Member

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    What is the smallest caliber rifle you have or have seen anyone take a deer with? When I was a kid, an old farmer I knew used to get out to his barn real early and shoot deer that came into his apple orchard behind the barn. He used a .22 (sometimes with shorts) and used to pop them through the eye at a range of about 20 to 30 feet. I don't recall any of them needing a second shot. Good thing too since he only had a single shot rifle. Can't remember the brand but it was a bolt action and you had to pull a knurled knob out to cock it.
     
  2. TexAg

    TexAg Member

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    My first deer was with a .22 Hornet, single shot H&R. Fairly good sized doe for Texas and she dropped right there with a heart/lung shot. Second deer with the same gun was a small buck and he ran a few yards, but not too far. I graduated to a 6mm after that.
    And yes, 22 centerfires are legal in Texas; in fact all centerfires are legal for deer in Texas.
     
  3. 1911ShooterTJ

    1911ShooterTJ Member

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    A good friend of mine uses a .22-250 for whitetail. I think he's crazy but he hasn't lost one yet (all one shot kills too!).

    The smallest I've personally used is a .243. Worked like a charm :)
     
  4. dtalley

    dtalley Member

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    When I first started hunting I used a .222 Rem for about 15 years and took a lot of central Texas sized deer.

    I have taken one with a 22LR once but it was close and at night with a spotli...nevermind.

    I have also cut ones throat with a knife but then he was hung in a fence and couldn't get away.:D
     
  5. RyanM

    RyanM Member

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    I've never hunted deer, but I'd say about .223 Rem is about the minimum, as long as you use a 62 gr Trophy Bonded Bear Claw, Barnes Triple Shock, or similar premium quality heavy, non-fragmenting bullet.
     
  6. bigbore442001

    bigbore442001 Member

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    I live in a shotgun state, Massachusetts, so I believe they still allow a .410 slug for deer hunting.

    I also hunt neighboring Connecticut and that state allows rifles of 6mm or larger on private land. On State land it is 20 gauge slug minimum,no buckshot allowed for deer.
     
  7. Clipper

    Clipper Member

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    My uncle used a .218 Bee (that he bought from my dad...Dad used a .257 Roberts) at about 100 yards...Neck shots...Used that rifle for 30 years and never needed a second shot that I know of.
     
  8. Oldnamvet

    Oldnamvet Member

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    "And yes, 22 centerfires are legal in Texas; in fact all centerfires are legal for deer in Texas."

    Does that mean that someone could legally hunt deer with the .17 Remington??:what:
     
  9. TexAg

    TexAg Member

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    If they so chose to!
    There are no ft.lbs of energy or barrel length qualifications either. You could use a J-frame .38 or a Glock 9mm if you wanted. I don't think many do though! The great thing is, you can really handgun hunt with 4-5" barrelled .44 mags or .45 Colts (and .357s, my Dad has a Colt Whitetailer 6" .357 in fact) if you want which is perfectly humane and deadly should you do your part, but so many states don't allow that type of hunting unfortunately.

    Oh and also, my nephew shot his first deer, a decent sized buck, with a .22-250 right in the neck and he dropped right there.
     
  10. trickyasafox

    trickyasafox Member

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    a lot of people argue, but i think 223 is a solid starting point. many think it underpowered, but like any cartridge, with a proper load for intended application and good shooter discipline it will take whitetail humainly
     
  11. Gordon

    Gordon Member

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    My experience dropping one at almost 200 yards with a .224 Weatherby last year proved they work pretty darn good on a local blacktail.:) Mine was a conventional shoulder lung heart shot. Anything smaller in caliber/power and I would think you'd have to get the CNS for an instant drop.
     
  12. spooney

    spooney Member

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    What whitetail, I wouldn't take anything less than a .270 to Northern Canada, but a .223 does pretty well around here. It all depends on size of deer and hunting conditions.
     
  13. 10X

    10X Member

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    Colorado has a minimum caliber of .24 and minimum 70 grain bullet (elk is 85 grain minimum) with 1000 ft. Lbs. energy at 100 yards. This pretty much keeps the low end at .243 winchester. I have used the .243 with mixed results. Bullet strength makes all the difference. 70 grain blows up on a shoulder of a deer or even an antelope. I prefer 100 grain snd prefer noslers.
     
  14. MCgunner

    MCgunner Member

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    I, and my grandpa before me, have killed a lot of deer with a .257 Roberts. I know people hunt with .22s, but I don't understand WHY. A .243 has very little recoil. Surely they're not scared to shoot a bigger gun? Time to hang it up and quit hunting, if so. I figure if a kid can't handle a .243, he don't need to be huntin'. My first, with the .257, was taken at age 11. It's the smallest caliber with which I've hunted, but I've killed deer with a .357 magnum, which is less powerful than the .257 by a good margin.
     
  15. 30-06 lover

    30-06 lover Member

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    The smallest I've seen a deer taken with was a 243, but the smallest I've used is a 6mm.
    -Mike
     
  16. rock jock

    rock jock Member

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    I use a .243 pretty regularly for Texas-sized deer.

    I suspect that those folks who say their grandpappy or so used a .22lr never heard about all the deer that got away.
     
  17. swampdog

    swampdog Member

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    Unfortunately, this is probably very true. It's also illegal. However, someone that can regularily take squirrels with head shots at 40 yards should also be able to take a deer, humanely, at the same range. The next time you kill a deer, hang its head up and shoot at it with a high velocity .22lr. The results will suprise you. They did me. People used what they had and what most people had was a .22. It's not called the poachers best friend for nothing. Deer were almost hunted out during the Depression. I bet a large percentage were killed with the lowly .22. I've also put down several "buckshot" deer with a .22 revolver. It will kill them with proper placement.

    My hunting buddy gets one every year with a .223. We have small deer around here, though.

    I do not in anyway condone the use of .22lr for deer hunting. My current favorite rifle is a .308. If I was hungry and a .22 was all I had, and I really couldn't scrape up any money for food or more shells, I bet I wouldn't miss. I bet people back in the Depression didn't miss much, either. They couldn't afford too.
     
  18. BIGJACK

    BIGJACK Member

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    I have killed many deer with a .222 some out to 150 yards.

    Soon after i got out of the service I went with a guy in Louisiana one night, all illegal I might add, for him to prove to me how he killed them with a .22 rim fire. He spot lighted the deer from the top of the levey, they were eating clover near the bottom of the levey (about 50 yds). He shot one in the neck just below the head, he fell with out a kick, the other two simply flinched and he shot another which also dropped without a flinch and the third took two or three hops to the side and stopped and he dropped him. All three were shot in the neck just below the head. He quiickly cut their throats and threw them into the covered back of his pick up truck. He told me that sometimes they would come back too and have to bleed to death.

    Shooting one in the eye from close range would probaly work but I think if the deer were looking at you his brain would be behind his nose. I shot one looking at me once with a 30-30 and it hit him in the nose, tore his head up but I don;t think a .22 would have been fatal.

    The .222 and .223s and other .22cal and smaller will kill a deer with the right hit but if you are a little off he will run off and probaly not be found. I know some farmers in KY who shoot um in the gut with .22s so they will run from the bean and corn fields and die in the woods. Seems cruel but it happens.
     
  19. Karbon

    Karbon Member

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    You would never catch me out with anything less than a 270. I know SOME feel it's fine, just not ME.

    Why go too small? Why risk it.

    Shoot whatever you can handle, because placement is everything. Even a Nitro grazing an ear results in a lost deer.
     
  20. Mantis

    Mantis Member

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    Sounds like an old single shot Stevens like I have.
     
  21. dfaugh

    dfaugh Member

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    I know alot of people here will say that a .223, or even a .22 are adequate for taking deer. However, since I believe in a "clean kill" with minimum suffering, I would never use anything less than a .243, and preferably something bigger. I have a .22 that I can routinely hit a dime with at 50 yards, and deer come right up into my back yard (range 40-100 yards) but even so I'd never shoot one with the .22. All I need is to be off ny a little bit, and now I've got a wounded deer. Give me some horsepower, anyday.
     
  22. T.R.

    T.R. Member

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    Years ago, I knew a sheepherder who lived in some of the most remote and wild country in all of Wyoming. He herded sheep all summer, guided a little in the fall, and trapped all winter.

    He swore by his Winchester 25-35 and proved its value many times over. Whether it was minimum or not is irrelevant to me. It always got the job done.
    TR
     
  23. 45crittergitter

    45crittergitter Member

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    .17 HMR, and the deer was DRT.

    Range was around 100 yds. However, I don't endorse this caliber for anything larger than the smaller varmints. All calibers are legal for deer here.
     
  24. shenck

    shenck Member

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    Here in PA all center fires are legal, (you could use a .17:what: ) When I was younger I saw deer killed with ,22LR ,22WMR, and I know a young lady that has used a 223 for the last 4 years and has killed with it every year. I'm very surprised at how well it works for her. I personally think that the bullet should be at least 1/4" in diameter, as in .243 or .257. I would rather have a 7mm or .308, myself.:)
     
  25. TomFromTheShade

    TomFromTheShade Member

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    My vote for the minimum deer caliber (in a centerfire rifle) goes to the .243 Winchester. The .243 has taken plenty of deer, but I consider it the absolute minimum caliber that I would BUY a deer rifle in. I would take deer with less if I have to, but if I was buying a deer rifle it would be AT LEAST a .243 Winchester.
     
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