rifle cartridges for deer.


My state is looking to open deer hunting up with high powered rifle for the first time next season. I think .243 and larger calibers. They have been expanding options for a while now (crossbows, handgun cartridge rifles, and so on) and I think they are going all in next year. Not sure where I stand on the idea, but that isn't my question.

My question is this -if you could pick one deer hunting cartridge what would it be?

I know some folks have vastly different opinions - not looking to stir anythign up -not looking for "the best" - just "your opinion".

My area is pretty flat and open ag fields - in some cases you can easily see a mile or more even though average parcel are 200 or 300 acres. I will use my 30-30 (marlin 336 lever gun) at first and go from there. I think it will do the job and will handle well in a tree stand with it being in a compact package.
In areas I can see a distance I use a bolt action Remington 700 in 30-06 caliber. I mostly hunt woods but we occasionally get an opportunity out to a couple hundred yards from our house. I also just picked up permission on 230 acres that adjoins our 80 acres because the guys cows got into our property and totally obliterated our food plot for this year and he does have some open brushy type ground that I observed 3 bucks in last weekend about 200 yards out.

When I am in the deep woods like I usually am I like my Marlin 336 in 30-30...

Both rounds can be found anywhere and are reasonable...

My wife shoots a Remington 700 in .243 and that little gun flatout amazes me...

Plenty of range and plenty of places to buy ammo. I struggled to buy .243 last year locally as the season approached...poor planning on my part. My daughter shot up all the ammo practicing and I had the attitude I could run to the hardware store, walmart and get some...no quite so easy last year...most of those places I checked had 30.06 though.
Surely you will get all kinds of answers, but 30-06 would be my choice. Ammo is readily available at any store that carries ammo. Some guys will argue against it saying it has stout recoil, but my 20 year old daughter loves to shoot hers at the range and that is with full power loads, she gave up the reduced recoil loads before last season. You could just about hunt everything on the North American Continent with a aught-six, with the exception of the largest Alaskan bears, not that they haven't been killed by a 30-06, but bigger is better in those situations. Bullet weights range from near 100 grains to 220 grains and above if you reload, giving you ammo for any situation from varmints to moose and smaller bears.
I figured the 0-06 would come up alot. The only reason I am starting with my 30-30 is because I have one! Spending money on a gun to use for 16 days a year is tough for me to justify. I don't have any dangerous game to worry about attacking me in Indiana - just the occasinal mother-in-law!!! My question would have been worded much differently if I was headed to Kodiak or the like.

Nobody uses the 7mm or 300win mags or the like?
Bolt .308 with a 3x9 good scope. Having said that I start 7 all day sits starting Saturday and will use a caliber per day, .243,.2506,.270,3006,.308,.338 The .308 takes all on the continent except grizz. Flat shooting, there is a reason our military(m4?) chose the .308(7.62 nato) as a sniper cartridge good to 800 yards.
Agree with the 308, it just the right fit for whitetail and it does allot less damage then a 30-06.
I have to agree with the 30.06 for all around use and ease of finding ammo.

All said, my family uses 3 X 7.08's and a .280.
The 30.06 stays in the gun cabinet.
I will add that I am not a .243 fan. I won one this fall and have not picked it up. I prefer something heavier. Just old time thinking, I know.
Nobody uses the 7mm or 300win mags or the like?

Yep, I have killed several deer with 7mm mag. I handload a 120 grain bullet for it which is a little on the light side for that caliber, but I get devastating expansion and quick take down on lung shots. I hunted for several years with a 243, and although I never lost a deer, I did have some to go far enough to make me nervous on lung shots. It's all a matter of personal preference, but I agree with others that a good 30-06 is a great choice as well.
30-06, 308 or a 270. I have a 270 and love it, but if I buy another it would be a 308.
I have a Sako manlicher .243 that my Mom will use saturday. 87 grain nosler smokes them. I shot a big mulie in 74' at 460 yards with that gun.
I suspect a good bullet makes the difference. I still don't really want one.
is yours for sale Art? :)

What kind is it?
is yours for sale Art? :)

What kind is it?
The cheap savage bolt. I have not picked it up yet. I can take $300 on any other gun in the shop. I am thinking about a shotgun for waterfowl.
I use a Ruger M77 300 win mag for deer. You don't want to shoot it much at the range, but hardly notice the recoil when hunting and it gets the job done. I also have a 243, although fast and flat shooting I find it a little bit under gunned for deer so I use it for woodchucks. . I take the 300 all day.
I use 270, 308, and 30-06 in 150-165 grain sizes. My buddy has killed dozens of deer with his 270 with 130 grain bullets. As stated above, 308 & 30-06 are good universal rifles for any north american game.

All of my rifles are bolt action ... better accuracy and less potential mechanical issues. The 308 is one of the preferred calibers for US Snipers.

Spend good money on a good scope ... Leopold and Nikon are good midrange scopes in the $250-$600 range.

The better the scope & glass, the better the visibility in low light conditions.
I only own bolt actions.

I have 223, 243, 270, 308, 30-06...... All legal for deer in MN.

Alll deer killing machines. Hit where you are supposed to and no worries.
If shot placement is not your forte', then remove the 223 and 243 from the list. :)
I like the 7mm08 for deer at reasonable ranges. I've advised lots of folks to buy this cartridge in a bolt action gun if they are at all recoil sensitive. My SIL has one as well as my grandson....and I owned one for a time.

I tend to like 7mm caliber in general for deer as the bullets are quite suitable for most NA Game animals......and 140-150 grains is about right for deer.....and won't make for too much recoil. However, If I could pick only one......I would pick a 280 Remington in a good bolt action rifle. It's basically a 30-06 case necked down one size....to 7mm sized bullets. Nearly as fast as the 7mm mag.....but no silly belt and has tighter diminutional tolerances than any other cartridge in this class (check the SAMMI specs.....this is the real deal). Tighter tolerances between the ammo and the chamber = better accuracy.....and this is where the 280 excels.

One shortcoming is that the ammo is not as widely available as a few others in this class......but I think the 280 is about number 12 in popularity. Check the gun writers for favorites. The 280 is the long-range choice of the knowledgable rifleman. :D

I have mine in Remington's fine Mountain Rifle model. I may pick something else today.....but the Remmy is a great gun. Light and fast handling. I've killed elk, black bear, mules, whitetails with mine. My first choice for deer guns.....when I go to the gun safe......and I have about 35 other rifles to choose form.
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Most of the fast calibers have similar very similar ballistics. What's more important to me than caliber is the accuracy I can get out of any particular rifle. You don't need crow shooting accuracy out of a deer rifle for the multitude of shots, but that's the kind of accuracy I really want.

This year I cleaned the barrel on my 7 mag for the first time in a long time, and I was very disappointed on how long it was taking the gun to settle back in. I thought I had it sighted in but checked it a week later and my POI had shifted 2 inches from where I left it the week before. That probably wasn't enough to matter but I pulled out the 25-06 and put the 7 mag up until I can shoot it a few more times. I shot three shots off the hood of a truck at 200 yards with the 25-06 and cut a 3/4 inch group, and the gun was exactly where I left it the last time it was shot. That's the kind of performance that gives me confidence to make a shot like November Forever mentioned in his post above if the opportunity arises.

I hunt one stand where I can see 600 yards to the south. I wouldn't shoot at a deer that far, but I might decide to bust a coyote's read end at that distance. If I recall correctly, the longest shot I've ever taken on a deer was 387 yards, and I wouldn't have done that without the perfect opportunity and a good solid rest. I just like a rifle that is capable of doing something like that without having to worry about making a bad shot.
I like my 25/06 for open spaces. Good speed and is well known to buck the wind. I've only used it on antelope and it got the job done just fine with a 117 grain btsp. Very accurate round with my Ruger M77.
I like my 25/06 for open spaces. Good speed and is well known to buck the wind. I've only used it on antelope and it got the job done just fine with a 117 grain btsp. Very accurate round with my Ruger M77.

It is a great caliber. Mine is the stainless Remington Sendero with the fluted, heavy barrel that comes from the factory with the spider web stock and the aluminum bedding block. It would be a tad heavy for a long walk but suits my short walks to the stands very well.