After writing about how the .243 Winchester was not a good round for the beginning deer hunter, I received a number of emails asking me which rounds I would consider for new deer hunters.
Here's My Pick of Rifle Cartridges For the Beginning Deer Hunter
Note: This list is in no order. Any of these cartridges are more than enough for any Whitetail or Mule Deer buck that walks.
- 260 Remington - This round is basically a 6.5mm bullet with a necked down .308 case. As you would expect with any round based on the 308, it's accurate. The 260 Remington has low felt recoil and excellent accuracy. You can get it in a range of rifle styles, from compact to standard weight.
- 257 Roberts - An age old classic! The 117 - 120 grain bullet used in the standard loading is good Buck medicine. This caliber comes in just about any rifle combination you want, especially if you're looking at a bolt action rifle. The 257 Roberts is a necked down 7mm Mauser case and the felt recoil is nil. Most modern rifles can handle the 257 Roberts +P loads. However, always check with the manufacturer first, just to be on the safe side.
- 7mm-08 Remington - My favorite rifle at this time and it has been for many, many years! Even though I'm what you'd call a "Big Ole Boy", I love the low recoil and nail driving accuracy of the 7mm-08. I haven't had any rifle that I've owned in this round to shoot bad. In fact, my current rifle chambered in the 7mm-08 is a Featherlight Winchester. The light whippy barrel will still hold 1.5 inch groups with most factory ammo.
- 250 Savage - You might have to look around for a while to find a 250 Savage, but it will be worth it! This quarter bore is deadly on any Deer, Antelope or Black Bear you want to tackle. In most bolt guns, it will give good accuracy and virtually no recoil.
- 30-30 Winchester- Ahhhh! I can already hear some of you scream now! But let's face it. Many hunters, especially those back East, will never shoot a Deer at 150 yards away. Most will never kill one at 100 yards. The 170 grain soft point is more than enough medicine for any Buck that wants to walk past you, or Black Bear! Yes, I prefer the heavier 170 grain bullet. In a rifle like the Marlin 336, the 30-30 Winchester has low recoil with more than adequate energy delivered to the target!
Why didn't I mention rounds like the 7x57 Mauser, .270 Winchester or the .280? Simply because the rifles listed above usually deliver less recoil and just as much accuracy.
One of the biggest problems I see beginners or Parents make is buying their self or their kids a Deer rifle that is larger than what they need. I guess for some it's a Macho thing to tell other Parents that your 10 year old shoots a 30-06 or .270 Winchester.
Small framed hunters can do better. If it's one thing that will ruin a lot of new Hunters, it's recoil. If it's not fun shooting, they're not going to become good at it!