A great thing about rifle hunting during deer season is the myriad of options you have in front of you. Archery presents its own challenges and is arguably the more difficult task, but a rifle gives you a higher likelihood of getting meat in your freezer.
Depending on where you are, you’ll find different regulations for the calibers of shells you’re allowed to hunt with. But no matter where you are, there are a few that stand above the crowd.
Now please, please keep in mind that the distance at which you’re shooting matters significantly when we’re talking about the velocity of these bullets. Personally, I rarely hunt fields. I’m usually in the woods, so I don’t need a caliber that will shoot three hundred yards—sixty to seventy does me just fine.
This is one reason you won’t find the 30-06 listed below: I believe it’s too much bullet for a whitetail. There are plenty of other rounds that do just fine, and maybe perform even better.
The .25-06 round is a classic among hunters—it was introduced specifically with deer in mind. It’s a long-range caliber that’s very popular in open country states, but does fine in the woods, too. It packs a little less of a kick, which is always appreciated when you aren’t shooting year-round. You’re looking at roughly 3,220 feet per second.
This is personally my round of choice. A .35 Remington round is perfect for mid-range (which I mentioned is about my distance anyway). You’re looking at a muzzle velocity of around 2,080 feet per second, and it’s golden up to about 150 yards.
Known well for its deer-downing prowess, a .270 Winchester offers 3,060 feet per second. It’s used for game much larger than deer as well, so a big buck has nothing on it. The only downside is if you’re hunting a stand or someplace where a larger rifle (which is pretty much required with the longer round) isn’t viable, it’s difficult to make work. A lot of hunters choose it, though.
Probably one of the most famous of deer rounds, the .308 Winchester is usually considered the best round available. It’s beautiful for longer distance shots of over 350 yards. You’ll find a muzzle velocity of 2,820 feet per second, and it’s common and easy to find. Plus, it’s easy on the arm and still packs plenty of impact power. It’s a win/win.
Because—like I mentioned above—not everyone is hunting fields, the 30-30 is a beautiful bullet for stand shots in the woods. While it shoots true up to about 150 yards, it’s ideal below that with shots between 30 and 50 yards. You’re getting 2,465 feet per second, which seems weak compared to some of the other rounds listed here, but trust: a deer hit true with a 30-30 usually isn’t walking away.
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