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September 09, 2013
How to Select a Good Deer Cartridge - 7
by John B. Snow
I have written about whitetail rifles and whitetail cartridges numerous times in the past—in part, because it is such fertile ground for speculation and discussion. But I’ll come out and say right here that talking about whitetail cartridges is a bit of a fool’s errand because “whitetails” is too broad a category.
With whitetail rifles, cartridges and bullets, context is everything. Picking the right equipment depends on where you’re hunting, how you’re hunting and which type of whitetail you’re going for. There’s a world of difference between hunting the barrel-chested whitetails in Canada’s deep timber and sitting in a raised blind overlooking a Sendaro in Texas while waiting for a buck with more antler than meat to jump out of the mesquite.
There are as many types of whitetail rifles and cartridges on the market as there are ways to hunt our most popular deer. Here are some guides to getting started.
When I hunt timber, I love toting a lever gun and cartridge I use is the venerable .35 Remington. It is easy to shoot as well and those .35-caliber bullets do a great job on even the largest deer at ranges under 200 yards.
There’s nothing magical about the cartridges I’ve mentioned here. Take a look at a ballistics table and you can find plenty of cartridges that match up well with what I’ve suggested. Any will do the job.
As a rule of thumb, if you’re going to go with a light cartridge for deer—something along the lines of the .243 or even the 6.5mm calibers—it is smart to go with a monolithic premium bullet. I’m thinking here of bullets like the Hornady GMX, the Barnes Triple Shock, Federal’s Trophy Tip. They all penetrate deeply and reliably, which is vital for smaller-caliber cartridges. Another bullet that I have tremendous faith in is Nosler’s Accubond. It isn’t a monolithic design, but it is the equal of any bullet out there.
If you venture into the 7mm and .30-caliber realm (and up), you can broaden your criteria. Traditional spire pointed bullets with exposed lead tips will knock over any whitetail hit in the vitals.
Making the Final Choice
CC image from Wikipedia