56 replies [Last post]
Joined: 11/20/2011
Posts: 31
.243 no good for deer????

hi guys first post here hoping i can get some honest opnions. i recently bought my 12 year old daughter a remington 770 in .243 so she could join me in the woods this season. i went with the .243 because not 1 person i talked to said anything bad about the caliber for deer. we've been range many times over the past month and my daughter is hitting constant bullseyes. well yesterday she got her first chance at a very nice doe at 212 yards she had a soild rest in the blind and what looked like a very good hit or so i though. once we walked down the fairway there wasn't a spec a blood or even a tuff of hair. we followed the footprints about 200 yards before losing it. then as night fell we hear a pack of coyotes going crazy in the direction the deer was heading. today we in the same blind on the golf course when a nice doe steps out at 34 yards quartering away from us she pulls up her gun takes the shot and the deer runs strait into the marsh/swamp 50 yards beside us. i shot a doe an hour later with my 30-06 that aslo ran into the marsh so here i am searching in waders up to my knees in water  tall grass to my waist and tag alters over my head again no hair and no blood. as of right now we set the .243 aside and she'll be useing the 06 untill we figure out what is going on which she has shot in the past. so my question is-- is the .243 just not big enough for deer? are the bullets not penitrating? were using winchester power points 100 grain. should i buy her the winchester silvertips in 95 grain and see if we get a blood trail. or do i just abandon this gun and get her somthing bigger for next year? sorry this is so long and thank you in advance for any input

mmc1014's picture
Joined: 11/18/2010
Posts: 22
Sorry youre having a tough

Sorry youre having a tough time.  I have never hunted whitetails with one but I have seen a .243 drop an antelope in its tracks on quite a few occasions--and out to some pretty good distances if memory serves me correct.  I am pretty sure they were 100gr bullets also.  It is a small caliber but if it can drop an antelope I am pretty sure it should do the job on a whitetail.  I am pretty sure they are similar animals in size.  Obviously a bigger caliber will do the job better but a .243 should be enough with a well placed shot.  As far as bullets I cant help you.  I have never shot the winchesters.  I can vouch for the remington cor-lockt and the hornady SST's--good knock down with quick kills.  Good luck.

By the way--are you sure she is hitting--maybe the scope got bumped.  Had that happen once--it really threw my aim way off!!!! 

Critter's picture
Grand Slam Challenge Winner!Moderator
Location: Western Colorado
Joined: 03/26/2009
Posts: 4423
The .243 is perfectly capable

The .243 is perfectly capable of taking deer quite cleanly and I have even seen hunters shoot elk with them but I would not recommend using it on an elk. 

I agree with checking the scope and make sure that it is on but if the scope is fine could it be a case of buck or doe fever with your daughter? 

hunter25's picture
Grand Slam Challenge Winner!
Location: Colorado western slope
Joined: 11/13/2009
Posts: 3040
I agree with the others here.

I agree with the others here. Both of my kids used a .243 on mulies for a couple of years with great results. Never had one take more than a couple of steps after the shot. I have have to say I was more than impressed with the performance. The bullets we were using were Remington cor-locked 100gr. Just a cheap good bullets that have perfirmed really well. I used 95 grain silver tips on a javelina in Arizona with similar results but that's not an equal comparison.

Welcone to the forum and let us know how it works out for you with the rest of he season.

saskie's picture
Location: West Carleton, Ottawa, Canada
Joined: 12/23/2002
Posts: 1264
yes, and no

Welcome to the site, and hats off for getting your daughter into the sport. Well done!

The .243 is plenty for deer...BUT...212yds is pushing its effective range. If the shot is off slightly and hits the shoulder bone it may not penetrate. As for the "blood trail" issue...the buck I shot this year left less than a teaspoon of blood on the ground and had it not been for a fresh snowfall those few drops would have been very easy to miss, especially had it in the failing light of afternoon; and that was a complete pass-through from a .303 Brit 180gr at ~20yds. My conclusion: you may get a blood trail, you may not. I think this is less a problem in archery where shorter ranges, typically from a vertical stand result is a steeper trajectory (meaning that the exit wound is lower and bleeds out onto the ground, whereas in rifle shots, the longer range results in a more level trajectory and the animal has to bleed out a lot more before the blood starts to spill out the hole. Just another of my pet theories.

That same deer ran 50yds shot through the lungs. I have only had 2 deer drop in their tracks. One was a spine shot and one was a high shoulder. My last deer (prior to this one) ran even farther despite a (if do say so myself) absolutely perfect shot through both lungs and the top of the heart. It was open country so I saw it fall, but retracing its path after the fact there was VERY little blood for the first 30-40 yds and then the snow was carpetted red for the last 40 before it piled up in a heap.

I've noticed that when alarmed deer have a super-human (interesting term I know, but you get the point) desire to get into cover. The adrenaline surge can carry them along way. Once in cover they pause; this is when they "realize they're hit" and either a) drop dead or b) if there's no immediate danger lay down...and die...unless you start right in after them in which case they may get another adrenaline rush which gives them ability to crawl further or even jump and run again.

If you know you made a good shot or are pretty sure you made a good shot...wait at LEAST 15min, preferrably 30.

So...a .243 is plenty for whitetail, but I'd limit shots to 100yds. Premium ammo might help, but deer shouldn't need premium ammo - they ain't that tough. If you need to shoot farther I'd step up in calibre, a 30/06 is way more than enough; .270, 25-06, 7mm08 or .308 are other poplar choices given that the shooter is afterall a young girl (I don't mean to stereotype, just playing the odds, recoil is real) 

Ca_Vermonster's picture
Grand Slam Challenge Winner!Moderator
Location: San Diego, CA
Joined: 07/27/2007
Posts: 5813
First of all, welcome to the

First of all, welcome to the site!  It's a great place to peruse, and to gets lots of helpful information.  As you can see, you already have plenty of responses.

Second, a big kudos to you for getting you daughter out there to hunt with you.  That's the way it should be, passing it on to the younger generation.  Hopefully she will learn to love it, and you will have found a new hunting partner for years to come.

Third, the .243.  Not only is it a capable round, it is a very common round for just the scenario you are talking about.  There are thousands of young hunters, especially on the smaller side or young ladies, that will start out their hutning carrer with a .243.  It is more than enough to knock down any deer you will see out there.  The only thing, and one or 2 other guys talked about, that I would be afraid of, is penetration at too far a distance.  The smaller weight of the bullet will not translate into too much force at impact if it slows down much.  It's going to shoot pretty flat though, so you have that going for you.

Don't let her, or yourself, be discouraged by not finding that deer.  It happens, and was more than likely a bad shot, a total miss, or some other factor that can't control.  Heck, my dad shot his buck last week with a .348 Winchester, and other than the initial chunks of lung at the impact site, there was only a quarter sized drop of blood every 10 feet or so until he ran into a tree just before he died.  The shot was high, so the blood filled the entire chest cavity without coming out.

Never know what you'll see out there.  Stick with it, and most importantly, have fun!

Joined: 11/20/2011
Posts: 31
thanks for all the input i

thanks for all the input i posted this morning before heading out to the woods but for some reason it's not here. this is the first 243 i've owned so all summer i was asking everyone i know and even some people i didn't know about the caliber. my daughter weighs in at 75 pounds soaking wet so the recoil was a concern. she got her first gun when she was 6 (a cricket .22) and has shot my 06 a couple of rounds and every shot was within an inch group dead center.but still i am hoping she just got excited and missed.i hunt on a golf course and my avarage shot is around 200 yards the longest i have personally taken was 320 yards. so maybe i'd better keep her shooting closer to the 100 range. the wife had to go down to bay city today so i told her to stop and pick up a box of the winchester ballistic tips but  she came home winchester power max bonded 100 grain. the guy at the store swears to her that they will leave a blood trail. so i guess i will be leaving the woods to run to range tomorrow afternoon. being in michigan a 12 year can only use a gun on private land. and since my boss won't let me take my whole family to the golf course for thanksgiving weekend our daughter will be useing a cross bow for state land. while the wife leaves her 30-30 home and try out the .243 we eat alot of venison normally about 10 deer a year so i'll be real happy once the daughter can sucessfully drop a couple of deer a year. today i shot a doe at 1030 so since i was allready out of the blind i walked around the area alot more and didn't find any sign of her deer so maybe she did miss.i just wondered if we were useing the wrong bullets because last year i switched from 180 grain to 150 grain in my 06 to try and get a little more range (big mistake) only to have the same problems and no penitration. i wouldn't get any blood for the first 50 yards and then it would be everywhere one of my bucks last year was only at 30 yards and i found the slug fully expanded stuck to the fur on the opposite side. i got to the point that i wouldn't take anything but a perfect heart shot for fear of not being able to track the deer. i am not the best at tracking without a blood trail and to be doing it on such short grass makes it even harder. sorry to ramble so much here kinda got sidetracked lol 

Location: Sneads, Florida
Joined: 11/13/2006
Posts: 121
I will have to agree with

I will have to agree with everyone else.  I purchase the exact gun 3 years ago for my (then) 13 year old daughter.  She and my wife have had great success with it.  I would switch to the winchester supreme silver tips.  That is all we have used and rarely have a deer run more then 50 yards.  Remember, shooting at a target is allot different then shooting at a deer.  Heck, I am 35 and my heart still gets to racing.  Now just imagine a 12 year olds.  I remember my wifes first one.  She could smoke a target.  She had a small doe at about 30 yards.  Gut shot the mess out of it.  She said she could barely stay on the deer her heart was racing so much.  Tell your daughter to hang in there and again thanks for taking her hunting!!

Location: north idaho
Joined: 06/11/2004
Posts: 610
please don't take this wrong.

please don't take this wrong. But i bet the shooter is getting buck fever and is just plain missing.

Joined: 11/20/2011
Posts: 31
that very well could be the

that very well could be the case the first deer we saw this year was only a yearling but i told her to look thru her scope and pick where she would shoot it. even with her knowing that she wasn't going to fire at it her entire body was shaking it was actually kinda funny. i did along the same lines tonight and somehow missed the same doe twice. dropped the first doe and the second one just stood there at 210 yards but i guess i couldn't hold still because i flat out missed. i still plan on taking a lunch break from hunting tomorrow and running up to the range just to be sure her gun is hitting accurate. if nothing else comes out of her first year in the woods we have had alot of bonding time at this point she has been with me for 60 of the 96 hours i've been in the field. we have always made it a point to raise our kids to know what hard work is and where there food comes from. all 3 of them will jump right in skinning out and processing a deer where i know adults that couldn't handle doing it.my oldest the 12yo got me in trouble with my mom when she was 2 because my mom was reading her bambi and my daughter points and said shoot him right here. i will never for get that day the more i think about it i might let her skip school tomorrow to give her 1 last chance at a buck if not she'll have to wait till the late doe season in dec

Joined: 11/20/2011
Posts: 31
well i took her gun to range

well i took her gun to range today and it's not the guns fault it's shooting 1 inch groups so then i decided that she could miss half a day of school since they wern't actually leaning anything anyways and took her out hunting. sat all afternoon without seeing a deer so we left the blind early to check a field that always has deer in it. sure enough we saw 6 does but never got her close enough to take a shot. so maybe next month

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