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  1. #41
    Gun Wizard
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    I prefer to think of calibers in regards to efficiency. Is it able to do the job? Does it kill quickly? Does it destroy too much meat in the process? How much is range a factor? Does it fit well with my style of hunting?

    The ideal caliber to me is one that is reasonably pleasant to shoot but gives a high number of DRT kills and as a bonus, might result in some very forgiving recoveries on less than perfect shots. Though recoil doesn't bother me and I've never shot a rifle that had recoil I felt I couldn't handle, I tend to think of excessive recoil as an unnecessary punishment. I grew up shooting a 30.06 because that is what my dad and older brother used. Great caliber but these days I tend to think of it as overkill for deer given THE WAY I HUNT. I bow hunted for many years with a wooden longbow, cedar arrows and traditional two blade heads. I got to where I even used it in rifle season. It wasn't until my kids were getting old enough to hunt that I got back into rifle hunting. My daughter killed her first with my 1895. My son killed his first with a 35 Remington. His was the first deer I saw shot with the 35 and I was very impressed. His shot hit high shoulders, clipped the spine and dropped the buck in it's tracks. That result would be expected with pretty much any common caliber though. What impressed me most was the lack of bloodshot meat. I picked bone fragments out of the backstrap above the spine but honestly probably didn't loose more than an inch of backstrap nor any significant amount of shoulder either. I figured it was a fluke. The following year I had a 35 of my own... over the next couple years, I have decided it most definitely was NOT a fluke.

    Fast forward about 7 years and we've both killed multiple deer with our 35's since then. We've both each had one bad hit apiece but in both cases, the deer was still down inside ten yards. I cut up my own deer every year and years ago used to often help skin deer brought into a local processing place and I can honestly say I don't think I've ever seen deer with less actual meat damage from any caliber except maybe a mild loaded 45-70. I'm talking consistently minimal meat damage yet consistently DRT results. Yes, we've both had deer run off a bit but we deliberately try to avoid hitting the big bones so we don't normally "break them down". Ideally I prefer the classic bow hunting shot of straight up from the leg 1/3 of the way from the bottom. Drops it in the heart/lung pocket but misses the leg and shoulder bones. If in a hurry, I aim a smidge farther back, halfway up as my shot of choice. Nothing but lungs and ribs. Nothing fancy but an easy shot to make in a hurry.

    Now, I will clarify that we both tend to hunt the timber and choose stands as if bow hunting. Our shots tend to be in the 25-50 yard range but at times out around 75 yards or a bit more. If I were hunting where most of my shots were in the 100-300 yard range, I'd be far more likely to use a more conventional bolt action rifle and faster caliber. I've kinda come to the conclusion that the only real benefit of a really fast, flat shooting caliber is that it will give you the same results as our lever gun calibers but from farther away. For example, we can all agree that the 30-30 is a pretty solid 150 yard gun and with the right ammo and shooter, easily closer to 200 yards effective range. Compared on paper to say a 300 magnum, it seems pretty mild. The 300 has way more power but by design, is intended for use on longer shots. More like those 200-500 yard situations everyone going out west or on the "hunt of a lifetime" always swears they need to be prepared for... Well, at 500 yards, the 300 hits with about the same power as a 30-30 at 150. It lets you do the same thing farther out. The problem is when you have the 300 and the deer steps out a 50 yards... It can get kinda graphic. What cracks me up is guys will brag about how well their magnum killed an elk or deer out at that 500 yard distance but will argue for days that a 30-30 is an unethical choice for elk at any distance. Let me tell ya.... it ain't about the power of the gun nearly as much as the personal fortitude of the hunter and his or her willingness to set up for and wait for a shot within the capabilities of the weapon of choice. I don't care if its a rifle, bow or spear, if you can accept the limitations of your weapon of choice you can become deadly with it and be happy about it at the same time. Can't stand seeing a deer or whatever standing out there at 400 yards and you've got a bow or 30-30 or 35 in your hands? Might as well pony up for the magnum 'cause you'll never be happy otherwise.
    Last edited by Dave Bulla; 06-20-2019 at 06:51 AM.
    northmn, Drm50 and Gareth Holland like this.
    Thoughts on Remlins: The day I walk into a sporting goods and honestly mistake a Remlin gun for a JM gun, THAT will be the day I think about buying one. Until then, they can keep 'em.

    Words to live by: Just because something is primitive, doesn't mean it has to be crude. Just because something is custom, doesn't mean it's quality.

  2. #42
    Marlin Fanatic
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    Speaking of rifles & bullets for white tail deer, I think there is a lot of over thinking. I have killed a deer with 25/20 and 32/20 with a cast bullet. I sat on a stump and waited for a good shot. I killed the deer but could have done it with a 22 under same conditions. I would not carry either of these rifles the way I normally hunt, which is sneaking around thick stuff and shooting deer on the jump. I wouldn't use a 22cf rifle for this either. If you are stump hunting it really makes no difference what you use if you put a decent shot on the deer.

    When I'm going to areas of open ground I use a BA / scope. From 243 up. If magnum I used a bullet and velocity that won't blow the deer in half. The longest shot I've made on a deer while hunting is 250yds with a 308/6x scope. I wouldn't have tried that shot but the deer was stationary and I was able to take up a rest. I have shot damage permit deer shooting from a rest out to 300yds with 243 and 270 but that is shooting, not hunting. Shooting from bags at stationary deer is like shooting groundhogs. One guy that shoots permits uses a 220swift with 55gr FMJ / 16x scope. He only takes head shots and he doesn't loose any.

    Here in Ohio the new rifle season has all the young guys buying Marlin 1895 guide guns. Most deer are shot at under 100yds and most hunters are shooting from stands. They all think they need some gimmick bullet to kill a average 150lb deer. I have never had trouble killing deer with any caliber rifle. I have used solid cast and expanding bullets and the only bad experience I've had was with 30/06 Winchester silver tips. When I was a teenager I shot a deer to pieces with them. They were going through like FMJs and my hits weren't good except first that hit high in the lungs.

    I think the rifle you pick should be geared more by cover and method of hunting that by caliber. Depending on these almost any rifle will kill a deer. They ain't Cape Buffalo.
    Never trust a man who rents pigs : Gus, Lonesome Dove

  3. #43
    Gun Wizard
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    IN my 50 yrs of deer hunting I pretty much am on track with what Dave Bulla states. Similar experiences and results.

    DEP
    Gareth Holland and Dave Bulla like this.


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