Tag Archives: guns

Are Deer Hunting Cartridges Arbitrary?

How many times has picking the wrong rifle cartridge ended a hunt prematurely versus being unfit to hunt due to cold or poor conditioning? Nobody has ever gone into the woods to hunt deer with a .243 only to give up after seeing a big buck because they didn’t have a .300 Win Mag. Almost ritualistically, we continue to rehash the same arguments over guns and ammo at the expense of other items that have more bearing on actual hunting.

Type of hunting cartridges.

Image: 1source.basspro.com/

My point isn’t that big game rounds aren’t different, but that most white-tailed deer hunters are unable to take advantage of their differences. The task of deer hunting west of the Mississippi doesn’t really discriminate between a .243 or a .300 Win Mag. Because of modern bullet construction and the fact that most white-tailed deer are taken under 200 yards, a deer shot in the vitals with a .243 is just as dead as a deer shot with a .300 Win Mag. Yet we keep asking ourselves the same stupid question: What is the most effective deer round? The only answer to that question is, how much recoil can you stand? Everything else is basically meaningless.

Image: www.statesymbolsusa.org

Image: www.statesymbolsusa.org/

In my early 20s, I bought a 7mm Remington Magnum because I loved the look and feel of the gun, an older Sako Finnbear. It was an aesthetic choice. All I knew about the cartridge at the time was that it was plenty capable of taking a deer. Since then I’ve killed a couple deer with it, but never at distances greater than 100 yards. Where I hunt in Pennsylvania, it’s rare that you get a shot over 100 yards unless you want it that way or you’re hunting over an agricultural field. So what is a 7mm Remington Mag? At 50 yards, a 7mm Mag produces an obscene amount of energy—around 3,000 ft-lbf. What distinguishes a 7mm Mag from a .30-30 is that the 7mm Mag has the same energy at 500 yards that a .30-30 does at 50. They are vastly different cartridges. But again, I’ve never taken a shot over 200 yards, so I might as well be shooting a .30-30 (or any other deer cartridge for that matter) because I’m nowhere near being able to make use of its downrange energy. It’s not a problem, but it goes to show how arbitrary rifle calibre selection is when you’re shooting under 200–300 yards.

Most big game cartridges offer perfectly adequate performance under real-life hunting conditions. The constant hair-splitting over the ballistics of big game cartridges is mostly hypothetical nonsense that benefits gun makers but not hunters—it simply sells guns. To me, a discussion about the merits of different Vibram boot soles is more valuable and interesting than whether the .270 or .308 is a better deer round. We’ve somehow managed to equate hunting with shooting when, in many aspects, the shot is the least important component of the hunt. Guns don’t kill animals; smart hunters do.

We Hunters

An armed hunter backlit by a sunset

Image: www.montcodfa.org

By Jack Kredell

The hunting community, to borrow Benedict Anderson’s term, is an imagined community; a community whose popular or mass identity doesn’t reflect the behaviors, values, and opinions of its individual members. Of course it doesn’t. No community can accommodate all of its members, right? As a community we’ve agreed to put aside differences in order to unite against a common enemy. Once that enemy goes away we can go back to being different. But the enemy never goes away, does it?

Hunters, who is your real enemy? Democrats who want to take away your guns? The “antis” who hide under your bed and unload your hi-cap magazines while you sleep? PETA? Stop drinking the Kool-Aid. Arms manufacturers love a Democratic president. Why? Because we think Democrats are coming for our guns.

The real threats to hunting and fishing are from the many forms of habitat loss, industrial pesticides, and pollution. But as a hunter you can’t care about those things or else you’re thinkin’ like an “anti”.

Right now, unfortunately, the hunting community is defined by its relation to the gun and other non-issues. We’re made to believe the Second Amendment is a central issue to the hunter. It isn’t. Gun politics has nothing to do hunting. The only thing that has ever put an end to hunting in the past is loss of habitat. And it will again.

To be a hunter in today’s climate carries with it a whole set of political and cultural expectations and concerns that have little or nothing to do with actual hunting. We hunters need to wake up. Those of us who actually hunt know that hunting is being undermined from within not from without. It is being undermined by the mindset that our enemy wants to take away our ‘right’ to hunt.

You’re worried about PETA and Obama? You’re actually worried about what PETA and the Humane Society think of what you do?

The real question is this: will there be anything or anywhere to hunt in the end? The irony is that we hunters have more in common with the very hippies we like to make fun of.

We both just want green acres.