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With the endless debates of "what's the best cartridge, bullet, optic for hunting this or that" ....

Discussion in 'Hunting' started by MCMXI, Dec 6, 2019.

  1. MCMXI
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    MCMXI Contributing Member

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    So have you personally experienced a situation hunting in which you had reason to doubt or regret your choice of rifle, cartridge, bullet, optic, etc? These endless debates often seem to be based more on theory than actual experience. I don't have a lot of hunting experience and have only taken animals with .308 Win and .375 H&H cartridges, but both have been very effective with animals going no more than a few feet after being hit.

    As for optics, I've used Zeiss, Nightforce and Premier Reticles with no issues at all. So what have you personally experienced that has either confirmed your choice as being more than suitable, or left you looking for something better. Oh yeah, I recently hunted with an AR308 for the first time and learned that easing the bolt forward to "quietly" chamber a round by hanging onto the charging handle doesn't work well at all. I also learned after the fact that the forward assist doesn't work either. So I probably wouldn't use the AR308 again for that type of hunting.

    We so often only talk about our successes, but I find that I learn so much more from failure.
     
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  2. caribou

    caribou Member

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    I used .50 cal and 12 gauge Black Powder guns for a couple years but 7.62x54r and 30-06, .22lr, 12 gauge magnum, 9mm have been my get e'r done cartridges the last 30 years of so of hunting for a living in the Arctic.
    Ive used other rifles and other cartridges, but usually in passing. I like bolt guns, particularly Mosins the Fins have ungraded in a few variations....but a semi of my wifes is fun, and so I practice making the hit, and getting used to peep sights. Soon Ill have confidence , as Ive been trying it in every weather with all types of ammo.

    If you can hit it properly, it will die, and with almost any cartridge. Mice to Moose, with few exceptions.
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2019
  3. FL-NC

    FL-NC Member

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    What is "best" mostly means what is "best" for YOU, assuming that it is reliable, consistent, and appropriate for what you are doing, and you possess the ability to deliver accurate rounds on target with it.
     
  4. hq

    hq Member

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    Certainly. From taking a fallow deer fawn with a .375H&H in the middle of a red stag drive (it kinda makes a big hole) to accidentally bringing a .45-70 to what turned out to be an open field hunt to having a Bushnell scope crap out on me on the third day of a 2-week Africa safari. You live, you learn. No more cheap or even reasonably priced optics on major trips, and doing homework properly to figure out what will be hunted and where beforehand, among other considerations.
    Polishing the bolt head and barrel extension will do wonders to the action closing smoothly, quietly and even without needing a forward assist on these guns. Mind the head spacing, though, keep go/no-go/field gauges at hand and don't overdo it.
     
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  5. earlthegoat2

    earlthegoat2 Member

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    Ever since I started using optical sights, my success rates have soared. I have not once lost an animal that i have hit and I can tell with little doubt upon firing whether it is going to be a hit or a miss. I have only missed once with a scope since I started using them.

    I once heard you shouldn’t buy cheap or even value optics. I have and some worked and some didn’t. Those that didn’t made me never purchase value optics ever again. Luckily they never caused a miss or a wounded animal.

    With your AR308 problem for the hunting I do, I would just have a hot chamber all the time. I know that is not something that would work in your situation. Nonetheless, I thought the AR308 was a good hunting option at one time and I no longer think it is good for any hunting except high volume hog culling.
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2019
  6. hq

    hq Member

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    Well... unless you need to walk and carry one, it's high on my preference list. With a good barrel, modest recoil for the caliber and very quick repeat shot possibility, it's my go-to gun for stand hunting. Anything from 300yd+ DRT-shots to doubles and taking wounded runners at speed is very doable and I can't even count how many deer I've taken with mine. Dozens. Another very similar gun I have for this is a .308 Saiga, even though it's just an uncommonly good example, not necessarily design.

    A bit crude, ugly and unwieldy, but on a good support in a treestand it's IME a great tool for the job.

    YMMV, though.
     
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  7. stillquietvoice

    stillquietvoice Member

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    There haven't been many times that I wished I had something bigger or better. The first was a few years ago when I got back into hunting. The 243 was new to me and I couldn't find ammo so I couldn't practice enough. I fired only 4 rounds to check zero because the only bullets I could find cost 50.00 dollars a box. That changed with the first deer I killed. After season I found more ammo and started reloading for it.

    The Second was this season when I had my 223 out hunting and saw the bear tracks. That made me wish I had a bigger gun.
     
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  8. Fine Figure of a Man

    Fine Figure of a Man Member

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    I never regretted my choice but have often resented the legal options available. Non-toxic shot would be one. Many years ago the only legal option for deer during the Iowa gun season was smooth bore shotguns and slugs.
     
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  9. buck460XVR

    buck460XVR Member

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    ^^^Best answer.

    Far too many folks have the mindset that because something works well for them in their hunting scenario(isn't just firearms) that it must be Gospel for everyone else too. Same goes for when something fails them. Many folks make the claim that certain calibers and platforms are "marginal" for deer. Marginal for who? Those who have trouble putting a small doe down with a 30-06 or someone highly proficient with the platform caliber? Can one get any more "marginal" than a conventional bow? Still they took may deer quickly and efficiently in the past and still today. Many times, while the platform/caliber/bullet get the blame for a failure to recover an animal, without the recovery, how can one make any claim as to what failed. Odds are in the long run it was human error.

    As for having to use what falls under legal restrictions, while that may restrict our choices, it certainly doesn't restrict our capabilities. Might restrict our range and make us pass on certain shots, but being able to participate in a hunt legally, IMHO, outweighs any disadvantage.
     
  10. earlthegoat2

    earlthegoat2 Member

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    My enjoyment of my hunting weapons also increased substantially after I realized that obsessive accuracy is a mental disorder (hyperbole). I like my 200 yd guns (444 Marlin and 30-06) shooting 1 1/2” @100. I like my 100 yd guns (slug guns and 44 mag) shooting an inch @ 100. Very realistic expectations that please me every time I shoot a group and I know it is still excessively good accuracy for MY hunting.

    Accuracy can be a crippling factor in many folks firearms and hunting enjoyment.

    I also found that sometimes the minimal firearm choice is not prudent for my type of hunting. I have gradually gone from the 30-30 and 257 Roberts to the 30-06, 444 Marlin, and 45-70. Where a 22LR will suffice I use the 22 Mag. Not to be a real man but to get the job done as quickly and drama free as possible. I also like 44 mag rifles for deer and swine and many would say this is marginal compared to the likes of 30-06 and 444, but it truly is much more fun than needed and leaves a nice big hole. I also use 22 mag for hogs where required by statute.

    To summarize, for me:

    Use appropriate high quality optics

    Don’t over scope my rifle or abilities

    Use a gun that is above the minimum requirements for the game I am hunting.

    Use a platform I am familiar with and try not to deviate too much. I use handguns, slide action and levers for hunting.

    All of these things I have learned through practical field experience. Most of this is not make or break. Just individual preferences.
     
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  11. edwardware

    edwardware Member

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    Yes. I have found my Daisy .177 M853 target rifle to be dramatically underpowered for squirrels. I've shot (and hit) the same squirrel 4 times in an afternoon, and he's still scampering around in my backyard today. He is not climbing on the bird feeder any more though.
     
  12. MCMXI
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    MCMXI Contributing Member

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    I haven't asked "what's best", only about personal real-world experience that helps us form our strategy for success.

    I was with a friend from Hawaii a few years back and witnessed her shoot a medium sized Whitetail buck at about 300 yards using a .270 Win. She was shooting a 130gr Barnes bullet and pulled the trigger right at the end of legal light. Another person with us thought she missed the buck entirely so probably wasn't that enthused when we looked for a blood trial in the dark. There was no blood trail to follow so we decided to come back out the following morning and found the buck about 100 yards from where he was shot. When we gutted him we found a big hole in the heart so she made a great shot. That same weekend I shot a big mule deer buck at 205 yards or so using my .375 H&H. He took half a step and dropped dead. When we gutted him he also had a big hole in the heart. Maybe this is confirmation bias but it left me thinking that I don't want an animal to run 100 yards or more, jump a fence onto private property, or fall into a coulee (that almost happened on a friend's elk hunt). This might be where my distrust of smaller calibers comes from. That said, I was with a friend a few weeks back and witnessed him shoot a big mule deer using a 6.5 Creedmoor. That animal didn't drop on the spot but went about 100 yards before expiring from a near perfect double lung shot. My lack of experience means a small data set, but having seen animals run, animals die virtually on the spot, entrance/exit wounds, holes in hearts and lungs, I have my own ideas about what I think gives me the best chance of success. Those ideas are constantly evolving with more real-world experience.
     
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  13. entropy

    entropy Member

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    The best strategy for success is to be realistic both about your capabilities and the gun/optics. You're not going to shoot at a deer 500 yards away with a red dot, no matter the caliber. Being able to adapt to the situation is the best strategy. If you can't shoot straight past 100 yards, become a better stalker, or hunt where that's not a problem. If all you have is a 10/22 and a bear is charging you and your buddy, kneecap your buddy and run like hell. OK, joking there, but the idea is to adapt, improvise, overcome.
     
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  14. Eagle103

    Eagle103 Member

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    From my experience the distance an animal goes after being shot has a lot more to do with shot placement than caliber. I don't like tracking animals, even if it's just 100 yards or so. The best way to accomplish this is to aim a little bit higher so you involve the CNS. Of course the downside is some lost meat but I'm willing to make that trade.
     
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  15. MidRoad
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    MidRoad Contributing Member

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    I've split the heart on dear with a 270 (twice) and a 30-30. All three ran 50-100 yards. Did a high lung with a 30-06 on my biggest dear yet (210lbs dressed) and it was DRT. My brother shot a big doe with a 45-70 took out both lungs , she ran about 40 yards. My father this year shot a small buck with a 450 Bushmaster at 30 yards. Hit the shoulder, demolished it, went through the heart and caught the backside of the farside leg. Dad said that little buck jumped straight up verticle like a basket ball player making a dunk,with his back legs about 3ft in the air. It fell to the ground bleating and flopping, my dad stood up, it must have spooked him, at that point he got up took off and ran about 100 yards to the other side of the log road, collapsed when he got over the embankment and laid there to die.

    So yes I agree all about shocking the CNS with shot placement more so than caliber for DRT kills.

    Edit to add to address the OP :

    Really the only experiences I've had in regards to equupment that made me regret something while hunting had to do with optics/sights. Not so much about cheap products but more of not having an optic or having too much optic. One season I got stuck using iron sights because I foolishly sold off my other deer rifle before the season and hadn't gotten the money to scope my remaining one. The whole season I regretted that. The other regret would be hunting in the north Eastern woods with a 4-16 scope and wishing I had a 2-7 or 1-4. Most shots are under 100 yards. I appreciate a scope for a nice clear point of aim but 4 power in thick country was just too much. Gave the scope to a friend a picked up a nice 2-7 for the next season.
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2019
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  16. skeeterfogger

    skeeterfogger Member

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    Last deer I took was at 350 yards 3006 Rem 770, without looking, PPU 165 SPBT, 15MPH 20MPH gust crosswind and a $90 WM Center Point scope.
    Point, doesn't take 1k+ to get performance.
     
  17. MidRoad
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    MidRoad Contributing Member

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    Yea but where you hunting from a nice box blind where it's a short trip from the truck/house? Not mean offense in anyway

    Or are you one of them fellas out west hiking and stalking through all sorts of territory where your rifle is most likely going to get bump and whacked etc while you chase critters?

    The first situation a cheap scope may give you years of good reliable service. The second on the other hand , that same scope might take a big crap out or lose when it gets bumped and ruin your hunt or worse wound an animal.
     
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  18. hq

    hq Member

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    Of course not. I've killed a bunch of stuff with a $45 liquidation sale Bushnell. Irons too. OTOH when I really, really want scope (or any equipment for that matter) to work, I'll happily splurge for a three-grand Zeiss or Schmidt & Bender without blinking an eye to improve the odds.

    Once bitten, twice shy.
     
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  19. skeeterfogger

    skeeterfogger Member

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    Only sope that ever crapped out on me was a steel tube Weaver. Elevation hair broke and no impact.my $90 scope is 5 or more years old and still holds true.
     
  20. Milt1

    Milt1 Member

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    Perhaps we've been conditioned to endless debates and thus it has become second nature. Most, if not all, gun and hunting magazines provide us with endless stories of the same old thing just rehashed in a different tone. For example any new cartridge is compared to every older but similar cartridge forward and backward with everything that can be compared such as trajectory, ballistic coefficient and energy out to infinity. In other words we're all brain washed! Ok, Ok, try to find the humor in it as this thread won't solve it.
     
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  21. hq

    hq Member

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    Imagine that something like this would've happened after you've paid five figures for a once-in-a-lifetime -level hunt in Africa, saved for the trip for quite a while, taken the time off, made all the preparations, anticipated the trip for months or even years and so on. Been there, done that, paid my dues and eventually got the *HONK*ing scope to hold zero at a fixed magnification for the rest of the trip, with a screwdriver kit, superglue and one evening of tinkering instead of having a nice eland tenderloin steak dinner prepared for us by the outfitter.
     
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  22. Dibbs

    Dibbs Member

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    I've also had a Bushnell scope crap out on me. They are just not worth the "money you save".
     
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  23. FL-NC

    FL-NC Member

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    Exactly why do these restrictions exist in certain states?
     
  24. redneck

    redneck Member

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    My biggest equipment let down was the year I put a scope and sling on a mossberg 500 slug gun. Sighting in I used the sling and was very happy with the accuracy to 100 yards.

    Opening day I came home from work and was hurrying to my stand when I saw there was a buck already in the field and he was walking the fence heading away from me towards the woods where I can't hunt. I kept the fence row between us and tried to quietly close the distance until I got an opening, then stepped through, took a knee and took about an 80 yard shot at him just as he was turning to jump the fence.

    I hit him but it was too high and too far back. He couldn't use his back legs but was trying to drag himself away with his front legs. I proceeded to miss 2 times and was very mad at myself for the situation. I finally walked in another 20 yards until he got very agitated, then sat down, slung up and killed him. Came to find that the POI changes drastically between slung and unslung, due to the construction of the gun. My first 3 shots were made in haste and I didn't use the sling which sent all shots high and right compared to my original sight in using the sling.

    I was very glad I had extra ammo in my vest, and was also very glad when the day came I could switch to an actual rifle. If we continued to be shotgun only here I would probably have invested in one of the savage slug guns. The pump just doesn't handle like a rifle and I never cared for the feel of it.
     
  25. Flintknapper

    Flintknapper Member

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    The only one I've experienced that I was disappointed in....was .223 for Deer.

    My Daughter started hunting Varmints at age nine (Mostly Coyote and Bobcat). I wanted to start her with something that would have negligible recoil...yet be 'enough' cartridge for varmints...then graduate to Deer. The next year at age 10....she had quite a few Coyotes and Bobcat under her belt and her rifle handling and confidence were where I wanted them to be.

    So I let her have a crack at deer after much discussion about WHERE to place the bullet and what to expect. Of course, I changed bullet weight and type for deer. Her first 3 deer were hit perfectly... tight behind the shoulder (right in the crease). Broadside shots, none over 60 yds. All 3 deer were killed...like you would expect...but each ran a minimum of 150 yds. , one almost 200 yds. through the thick pine woods we have here.

    I had fully expected to have them run, but was hoping for 100 yds. or less. To make matters worse there was always little to no blood trail to follow.

    So the next season...we moved her up to a .243. The modest increase in recoil didn't bother her in the least and it made a WORLD of difference on the deer. Now we started getting drop right there hits or at most 30-40 yd. runs (dead on their feet) with plenty of blood trail.

    A couple years later (the .243 performing admirably) she wanted to start hunting Hogs with me. I knew the .243 would be capable of taking hogs (with well placed shots)...but we have some really big hogs in Deep East Texas, so again we upped the ante and went to a 7mm-08 for increased bullet weight and energy. And with that...we've never had to look back. It has been an excellent round for anything from Coyotes up to hogs and perhaps the perfect round for deer.
     
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