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Another choice for deer hunting

| Friday, Dec. 10, 2004

Pennsylvania's buck/doe season will be nearly over when this is printed. Many hunters who use big game rifles may be thinking of changing to a smaller cartridge, and this group will mostly be made up of Magnum owners.

Now, this column is not going to be a tirade against magnum cartridges. These super powerful cartridges definitely have a place in today's big game hunting realm, but they are not the wisest choice for deer.

In. my last column, I discussed the merits of the Remington 260 (6.5 caliber), and I pointed out it had all the speed and power necessary for shots up to 200 yards, I also pointed out that the 260 Remington is not a shoulder breaker. Its recoil is just a bit more than the 243 Winchester cartridge. Well, the 250 Remington is not the only non-magnum cartridge that turns in a superb job in the deer woods; the Remington 7mm-08 has Pennsylvania deer hunting written all over it.

You might wonder why I'm sug-gesting the Remington 7mm-08 if the Remington 260 is such a great deer cartridges. Well, the answer is simple; the 7mm-08 (28 caliber can use heavier bullet- than the 260 Remington The heavier bullet offers somewhat of an advantage in dense cover.

Also, the heavier bullet mostly retains more lead after impact than smaller bullets, and it the retention of lead that aids in penetration. The recoil. of the 7mm-08 is a good bit heavier than the 260 produces.

For older hunters, or, in fact, any hunter who dis-likes recoil, installing some type of muzzle brake will reduce either cartridge's recoil significantly.

Normally, a muzzle brake costs around $175 (that's just a guess), but it's money well spent.

I've often been asked if cartridges in the 22 caliber (.224 diameter) are adequate for deer.

It's so hard to be impressed by the high velocity of the 220 Swift or 22-250 Remington. The drawback of the 224 caliber is in its bullet's design and weight.

Varmint-type bullets for the most part are manufactured with thin jackets so the bullet will literally disintegrate upon impact. There is no retention of lead.

Even a 60-grain varmint I bullet is not designed to hang together after impact. There's no argument that even the 22 Hornet with a 45-grain bullet will kill a deer with a rib cage shot, but the 22 Hornet cartridge was never and is not now designed for big game hunting.

Through the years. I've killed deer with the Hornet and 222 Remington, but each shot was basically a placement shot in the neck.

Recently, a 70-grain 224 bullet is being advertised as suitable for deer. In other words, the bullet probably has a thicker jacket and lead that contains a good bit of tin mixed in to make the lead harder.

Another method for retaining lead is to lock in the rear portion of the core. This means the front of the bullet will disintegrate on or shortly after impact, but the rear portion of the bullet will have sufficient lead locked in to allow it to penetrate. Keep in mind, I'm only assuming some method is used to not lose all the lead upon impact.

Until there is positive proof that a 224 bullet exists suitable for deer, I would strongly recommend sticking with larger calibers.

Even varmint bullets for the 6mms cartridges are really not designed for deer and black bear.

There arc bullets available in the 6mm caliber that offer deeper penetration than those designed for varmint shooting.

The false belief that only super powerful cartridges should be used for deer is misleading The skeletal makeup of a white tail deer is not the some as a moose or an elk.

The larger animals do have heavier bones and thicker muscle which require a more, powerful cartridge but even these two larger species of game can be taken with cartridges such as the 30-06 or 270 Winchester.

I have a friend who believes implicitly in the 30-06 cartridge. He has killed a number of deer and at least a dozen moose with this cartridge.

A big game rifle should be pleasant to shoot, and the more a hunter practices, the better off he will he when it's time to shoot at same.

If your present rifle has too much recoil, consider a 260 or a 7mm-08. You won't be sorry.

(Don Lewis is a longtime outdoor writer for the Leader Times as well as other publications and is also the author of several book. His column appears each Friday on the Armstrong Afield page of the Leader Times.)

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