Wisdom from the Masters please!

Greetings!

So, with all this talk about food shortages and such, I am seriously considering taking up hunting. I am not excited about the prospect of getting deer blood all over me, or about hanging an Oryx head on my wall, I’m really only here for the meat.

As is so often the case, I have no idea what I’m doing. I’ve talked to a few people and thought about it. I know I will need a freezer, a hunting rifle, and a scope, along with some other supplies for being out in the boonies.

I’m planning on obtaining an AR chambered in .224 Valkyrie, but I know I am missing things. Can any of you experienced hunters give me any advice on where to go from here? What do noobs like me miss?

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.224 is inadequate for deer hunting, especially beyond 100 yards. I strongly suggest .270 or 30-06, both of which will also take elk very nicely. I’m not saying you can’t kill deer with .224, but man oh man…you are taking a chance of wounding it.

In addition, get a compass. Learning land navigation wouldn’t hurt either, but having a good compass and understanding back azimuth will get you back to camp safely. GPS doesn’t always work well in difficult terrain.

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I like your choice of the AR–although honestly, to learn the importance of shot placement, I have always taught people on a 7mm08 single shot. That said, If you’re going the AR route for deer hunting, there are some very good cartridges to consider. 22 caliber options aren’t options, IMO. Elmer Kieth’s famous quote is worth remembering–“Use enough gun.” Deer aren’t going to notice if you shoot them with a 30/30 or .458 Win mag or a .50 cal Barrett. They’ll be just as dead. But wounding one? It’s best avoided.
Here’s 2 of many–the only two I’ve hunted with from an AR platform.

  1. .308. AR 10 action --a little heavier, but it’s the best. I have used this out west and in the Midwest. Highly recommend. Shot mule deer, whitetail, bear, hogs. MIGHT use it for elk, but at the end of the day, I like my .300WM.
  2. 6.5 Grendel–my wife uses this. AR 15 action and mags but needs a different barrel and BCG. than .223/5.56. She’s shot mule deer and hogs with it.

I would not hunt big game with a .22 caliber weapon. Hunting brings you into a world of variables you simply cannot predict or control, and there is no guarantee that perfect shot placement is possible. If you’re off a little with a .30 cal 150 grain polymer tipped barnes, it’s not a big deal. If you’re off with a 130 gr. 6.5 nosler ballistic tip, the thing is still DRT (dead right there). I would not bet that will be case with a .22 cal anything.
Do people hunt with a .22 cal centerfire for big game? Absolutely. Some people win money at casinos, too. Just because somebody has done it doesn’t mean it’s a good idea for everyone else. As a new hunter, you have an ethical obligation to the animal to provide a quick, clean kill. I’ll let you decide what to do.

FYI–There are a number of mentor hunter programs out there. I would recommend you join a hunt club and make some friends there as well. Lots of good books on deer hunting as well.
p.s. I learned more about deer in one year of bowhunting than I did in 20 years of gun hunting. Highly recommend you pick it up. If you can harvest a deer with a bow, you’re doing EVERYTHING right.

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A good .308 is always a great choice. For a long-action rifle, the 30.06 or the .270 are more than enough rifle but will have more recoil than the .308. For an AR platform, the 6.5 Grendel is a very good deer or hog round with very mild recoil.

If you can, try to find an experienced hunter whom you know and trust to go with. There is much to know and learn to have safe and enjoyable hunts.

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@James is a hunter, I’ll ask him to stop by over the next few days with his tips.

Are you looking to get into hunting overall? Or if you’re looking for just the meat aspect, there’s always fishing - less blood. :wink:

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I’m going to argue a bit. The point is not to argue, but to obtain data, so please bear with me and don’t be offended.

The .224 Valkyrie round has a massive charge behind it, moving at both greater velocities and further distances. Everything I’ve been hearing is that caliber does not matter at all, and shot placement is everything, leading to my selection of a long range precision round. Why is a .308 superior?

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I stole this graphic from BassProShops.

I’m not a hunter, but I believe the advantage of using a .308 is the width of the round. (I highlighted the .223 and the .308 - the .224 will be a smidge wider than the .223, but the graphic gives you an idea.) Shot placement is going to be important and with a wider bullet you will have a better chance of hitting the placement.

Here’s an article BasProShops have about choosing the right ammo:
https://1source.basspro.com/news-tips/hunting-information/7482/use-rifle-caliber-chart-pick-right-ammo-hunting

I’ll be interested to see what hunters have to say on this one too! Love learning new things - rifle calibers are not my strongest topic.

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I’m not a big time hunter, but a larger round leaves a bigger wound channel for them to bleed out from. Trust me following a :deer: blood trail for a mile or more is not fun. Also if you do not get a pretty quick kill the meat tends to be ruined from adrenaline and becomes very tough and stringy.

I personally use my AR-10 .308 for hunting.

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Simple answer - Selection & Availability.
Wildcat rounds probably aren’t on the shelf at Sam’s hardware.

I can not begin to address this topic in any kind of meaningful detail. I harvested my first deer in the 1960’s with a bow and arrow hunting on public property in a area with a deer population estimate of 3 per sq. mile. I probably harvested 300+ with a bow before I ever killed one with a firearm, and it was a flintlock. As far as weapons go the first simple fact is a bullet kills by massive damage and a arrow kills by blood loss. Some hits by a arrow can be fatal where the same hit by a bullet would not and the reverse is also true. The point being you need to understand a deer’s anatomy and be able to place your shot correctly. Of course before that shot you have to locate a legal deer. With todays high density deer population that is much easier to do than in the past. However, I still run into people who ‘hunt’ whole seasons and never see a legal deer. I’ve put countless hours in becoming a very proficient deer hunter. Last season I spent a total of 2.5 hours 'hunting to harvest the two bucks my wife and I needed to resupply our venison needs. I then spent some 12 hours, starting with field dressing, and ending with vac. packed meat packages. Don’t misunderstand I’m not trying to discourage you. In fact I strongly support your desire to learn. I would suggest you start reading everything you can get your hands on about how to deer hunt and also how to hunting ethically. Then spend some preseason time in the woods looking for deer sign that you have read about. Learn what the deer eat and when , where they like to bed down, their normal travel routes, etc. If you’re sincere in your approach you will likely meet a experienced hunter who will help guide you through your early hunts. Good luck!

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@William220 is correct, Not enough room on this page to teach you. Find an experienced hunter to mentor you. Check out You Tube, lots of vids on hunting, cleaning and processing game and the equipment needed. Good luck. :+1:
That being said I would recommend the .308 also in an AR, it will take any game in your area.

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Without knowing what environment you will be hunting in your first time (desert, forest, etc.) I will throw this out there; sectional density is even more important at longer ranges, i.e., greater than 300 yards. Sectional density of bullets is often overlooked, but very important we hunters understand it. Yes, accuracy/shot placement is very important, but it’s not going to matter if at 300 yards the bullet doesn’t create a wound channel affecting a vital organ.

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Took my first deer with a .58 caliber rifled musket, a la civil war infantry. He walked out at about 25 hrs and collapsed 10 feet from where I shot him. Hunting with a muzzleloader will really make you focus on shot placement. Around here the a average shot at a whitetail is usually 75 yds or less, though some farm fields are big enough to stretch out as much as several hundred yards. These days the problem is finding private land that isn’t closed to hunting or leased out to a group of hunters, usually from out of state. There are a few public lands available but they are crowded and dangerous.

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I think it is time for some facts. The .224 Valkyrie due to its size does not offer much in realm of bullet expansion. Next at what range are you going to try to bring down you deer?
The .224 Valkyrie has a average bullet speed of 2700 FPS(feet per second) at the muzzel the bullet has 1457 Lb Ft of force.
The .308 Springfield round has a bullet weight of 150 Grains the Valkyrie bullet weight is around 90 Grains
The .308 leaves the muzzel at around 2822 FPS. with a force of 2822 Lb Ft. The .308 bullet is designed to expand making a large wound channel and a faster kill.

In my opinion since you are new at this hunting thing you amy want to give yourself the best possible advantange. Go with the .308. If you like the AR platform go with an AR 10.

Just an opinion.

Larry

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I’ll go a little different route here, buy a standard AR. Then, buy a 350 legend upper, and magazines. Another option, if you have a shotgun already, is slugs. Slug guns are good, out to 125-150 yards, with the right slugs. I’m hoping to put together an AR pistol in 350 legend, for this years Illinois deer season.

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I want to say that I really appreciate all of the responses. I know I have a lot to learn, and you guys are helping me a lot. Thank you very much.

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I’m not a hunter, but I have a couple friends in the Midwest that do or take deer meat in trade for some services. I was wondering if you have heard anything about the sickness that has been appearing in Midwestern deer that is dangerous for humans. Has it gone away? I heard this was an issue a couple years ago.

CWD Presentation - Kelly Straka and Chad Stewart

Occurrence | Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) | Prion Disease | CDC
https://www.cdc.gov/prions/cwd/occurrence.html

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The first thing you should do is take a Hunter Education course. Then take the bowhunting version, even if you don’t intend to hunt with a bow… because that course teaches more field craft and tracking.

Then consider starting small… as in small game hunting… get an inexpensive shotgun and sit in the woods to shoot squirrels. It will teach you a lot about patience and the habits of animals. And you can learn about things like field dressing and preparing game on a small scale.

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Lots of great opinions and suggestions!! Many moons ago I started with open sight .270, then progressed to scope. My mentor was a 30-06 dude, and harvested many animals. I have been tempted to stray from the .270 to something else and even a different brand other than my Winchester. Then with sad eyes I examine my tool, and the game I have harvested, and the fun I had hunting with my mrs and family, so then I say “ok old friend, Ill keep ya!” I guess I am old school…LOL

KevinM stated about taking a hunters ed course. Def recommend!

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