I was wondering two things. First, is it legal to use a .223 caliber rifle for deer hunting in WI? Second is it practical to use a .223? If so, what type bullet and what grain is best?
I have access to a Bushmaster Varminter with a 6-20x44 scope that I could use if it is legal.
T-zone is coming up and I want to know if using the Varminter is the way to go or if I need to find a larger caliber rifle.
Yes, it is legal.
However, I cannot reccomend it. .223 is a weak cartridge, and if you use a fragmenting round, it will destroy a lot of meat. A varminter is set up for a long distance shot, and for maximum effectiveness, you need to hit it close, with a perfectly placed shot. Use Winchester's 64 grain Powerpoint, it was designed to kill deer. Be prebared to follow a blood trail.
I recommend getting a bigger gun. Even a new upper from Tromix, Alexander Arms or Leitner-Wise, with one of their proprietary big bore rounds. An Olympic 10mm or .45 stoked with Buffalo Bore .45 Supers would also work. These rounds are limited in range, but are more reliable on game.
AFAIK, anything over .17 that is a centerfire cartridge is legal.
If you are going to use it, make sure that you are good enough with it to make a head or neck shot. I would, however, recommend something bigger if you have access to it.
My experience with .223 for deer:
My brother got 3 deer with it last year. Two of the kills were witnessed by me, and the other one I viewed the site of the kill and noted the tracks and blood. The ammunition used for all 3 deer was Winchester Power Point Plus 64 grn.
#1. T-zone doe. approximately 120 lbs dressed.
Total of 6 rounds .223 expended--all hits. Needless to say, it wasn't a pretty kill.
The first shot was an attempted head shot from about 20 yards. My brother, Tony (Drunkducky on ARFCOM), forgot that the rifle was sighted in for 100 yards and that the scope was a few inches above the bore. The bullet impacted the doe in the front of the skull through the nose, slightly on the right side of the doe's head. It was deflected by the bone and exited through the cheek after taking out some teeth.
Shots #2 and #3 were at a dazed, but still very alive, deer from about 40 yards. The shots impacted the deer in the chest(about 1" apart) with both puncturing the left lung and one nicking the right.
After about 15 seconds had passed(and I got a clear shot) I fired one round of 30-06 at the doe as it quartered away from about 50 yards, perforating the liver and causing it to fall to the ground. Then, Tony ran up to the doe and fired a "finishing" shot(#4) from <10 yards. Again, the scope/bore difference was forgotten which caused the round to impact on the extreme top of the neck. After noticing that his shot seemed to have no effect, he fired again(#5) with essentially the same result.
The last shot (#6) was from point-blank range to the base of the skull.
#2. Gun-deer season. Doe, approximately 125 lbs dressed. Total of 1 round .223 fired.
The round was fired from about 55 yards using the 64 grn PPP. The bullet severed the deer's carotid artery and passed through the throat. It spun 180 degrees, spraying blood in a large semi-circle, and dropped to the dirt without taking a step.
***Note*** I did not witness this one, but I did view the kill site later and the evidence supported what my brother had said. (Also please note that I am not this big of a dork in real life )
#3. Gun-deer season. 4-point buck. Approximately 135 lbs dressed. Total of 3 rounds .223 expended--all hits.
This buck already had a 16 gauge slug through its neck fired by my other brother.(it actually scraped the spine!)
After my other brother had shot it, this buck--along with a doe that we hadn't seen--started running towards Tony and I. I saw an adult deer about 70 yards away broadside to me, and I fired a single shot from my 30-06 knocking it down in its tracks(both lungs were punctured). Since Tony was actually closer(and already on top of the ridge) he ran over to it and realized that it had no antlers. He then looked up and saw the buck about 30 yards away, facing him. A few seconds later he had three rounds in the buck's neck and it was lying on the ground taking its dying breaths.
Other than the throat, I don't think that any of the bullets hit anything vital(major blood vessels, spine) but the buck did go down.
My brother is using his AR again this year, but is planning to bring along a shotgun for the deer he encounters on the move(like deer #1 & #3)
Take what you will from this information, but also remember that the only one-shot kill was from a stand with the bipod deployed, using the rifle's accuracy to its full extent by hitting an area that is vital to just about everything rather than just aiming at the chest and relying more on the bullet's mass to cause damage.
***edited to adjust weights*** (They still are small compared to what I am going to get this year )
I know a guy who shot and killed three last season with a .223 all one shot one kill. But he handloads. I'll use a .223 on a drive if i have to but wouldn't want to. I'd use the AK on a drive before the AR only because the ballistics are almost the sme as a 30-30. But I wouldn't use it past 100 yards
ARndog YOU SHOOT LITTLE DEER
I've doen it, and it works!
went A team on a littel spiker the other year....Mini-14 GB with folding stock. Damn that was fun....
We don't actually weigh them, just guesstimate. I have since talked to my Dad and my brother and both have said that those figures need at least 5 lbs added to each. I guess they all look small compared to the deer that I shoot.
Believe it or not, a 125# doe is huge!
If you actually do put a doe on a scale you would be surprised at how little they do weigh.
Even compared to a buck that looks the same size.
.223 works for me.
I have used one for the last 5 years.
I shoot 60gr black hills match soft points or 62gr bonded bear claws.
This year I put a Trijicon NSN ACOG on my M4.
I can't weight to use it on a "live" target.
One word: 30 cal
I for one don't like to watch animals suffer. Use something that will make a clean, quick kill. I've never had to shoot a deer 6 times with a 30 cal.
If you want to use the ar for hunting, run coyotes or call fox. Why would you want to use a rifle that you don't feel comfortable shooting at a running deer? I would never take TWO long guns afield for this purpose.
I shot two deer this T-zone season and they both dropped in their tracks with my 30 cal. One was even running.
Just my opinion though.