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For the last week we've had a hot "conversation" going on about using (or not) 22 centerfires for deer. Lots of interesting points have been made on both sides of this issue. Everything from tangible science, like bullet construction, to the more subjective ideas, like ethics and morality, have been discussed. After many posts, it looks like no one has convinced anyone to change their position. What happens to be enough gun, or what is ethical, for that matter, turns out to be a matter of choice and experience - it's personal. Like those of us on this site, two of the greatest hunter/authors of the last century had very opposite opinions on this very subject.
Elmer Keith, who wrote Hell, I Was There, and who was instrumental in the developement of the big 40 caliber handguns, was a big supporter of heavy large caliber loads for all game. He once wrote that to be adequate, a bullet had to be able to completely penetrate and animal lengthwise.
Of equal fame was the noted Jack O'Connor, who can arguably be called the father of the .270 Win., at least in terms of popularizing what, at the time, was consider a somewhat light, but very fast bullet. Jack used this caliber to shoot everything up to the size of Bengal tigers.
In my own experience as a taxidermist, I saw hundreds of big game animals that had been shot by all calibers. Some of these trophies were killed by surprising small cailbers. Others had been shot numerous times with large calibers by guys whose accuracy was so effected by the recoil of big guns that the best they could do was hit the animal around the edges until they basically wore it out. How many of either kind of these kills were the result of good luck, or bad, I have no idea, nor do I know how many other animals were wounded and lost to either bullet type.
The point is that killing an animal humanely depends on a whole lot more than bullet size or speed. Accuracy under various conditions and distances, knowledge of animal anatomy and the angle of the shot, the state of mind of the hunter when he or she pulls the trigger ("buck fever" anyone?), physical limitations (e.g. panting after running up a hill to get a shot or fogged up glasses, etc.), and experience - just to name a few.
In the final analysis, each of us must know who we are as hunters and marksmen. We must not over-extend our proven capabilities or what we know our rifles, or we, ourselves, can do. We can't just lob an ounce of lead or fire a small super sonic projectile in the direction of our quarry with nothing but the hope that it might acheive our intended outcome. The fact is, a hunter CAN be under-gunned, but he or she can also be over-gunned with the same bad results.
Things DO go wrong even for the most experienced and proficient of us when we least expect it. So, out of respect for the animal and for our own peace of mind, and to meet our personal expectations and definition of what is ethical, let's all be sure that we always do everything possible to assure a humane kill. When the day comes when all we can find after a determined search are a few drops of blood in the snow or on the grass, that kind of preparation will go a long way in allowing us to put our heads on a pillow that night and MAYBE get some sleep. Good luck, good shooting, and great hunting!
 

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Great post onehorse. :thumbup:
 

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That's a really good sumation onehorse. Use whats legal, use it effectively and humainly, incorporate proper ethics and your welcome into my camp!
 

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Great Post, onehorse! I don't think I could have said anything any more eloquently. (my $10 word for the day)

Know yourself, your gun, and your ammo, and you can at least expect to come home with a successful hunt. It may not happen every day, that's dependent on the deer, of course, but at least you can sleep soundly at night knowing that you've done the best with what you have. It's all I expect out of my children, too! <grin>
 
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