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Food for thought on smaller calibers for hunting big game.

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It's true that many of the rifles displayed in museums are .35 to .48 caliber. These rifles produce higher velocities and behave more like rifles as we understand them today. The men who wielded them usually only had one, and were expert in their use. They could and still can take anything east of the Mississippi. These rifles were made before the factory system was developed, were time consuming to make and expensive. One rifle could cost 6 months' to a year's worth of wages or trapping money to acquire. They were the singularly most precious item that a man would own in his lifetime. Since he could only have one, and really had no place to store a second, he needed one that could take both small and large game efficiently and without too much expenditure in powder and lead. Hence, the American long rifle, .35 to .48 caliber was born. Still a great choice!
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I worship the crushing overkill of the .62 round ball rifle. I don’t care much about the efficient use of powder or lead, because I might get just a few shots at big game all season/ year. I want every shot to be the best it can be, not be “probably good enough.” This .45 talk sounds like that Titan submersible…”it’ll work.” Nah. Not good enough. Give me instant back-flipping death of every bear and deer I point this at. Having a .62 flintlock rifle made, so i can retire the .54 and rest easy.
I hunt big game with .50s. A couple of years ago, I filled a bucket with sand as a bullet trap. The .50s would punch big holes & some sand would spill out. But it could take quite a few shots before losing much. But when I put some .62 balls in, the sand would spill & then run continuously until the level of the sand came down to the hole. It was surprising. I can't manage to shoot that trade gun very reliably yet. So I'm much more accurate with my percussion .50s and very confident in my ability to make solid hits with them. But I'm real tempted to look for a percussion 20, 12 or even 10 ga for hunting. A bucket of sand isn't a live animal. But it was clear to me which one is going to drain out faster.
Use a BB gun and see how good you really are.
Several years ago, while camping, a pesky ground squirrel was making mischief in camp. My son had brought his Red Ryder along so I figured I'd give that squirrel a thump on the rump. At the last minute, he came about 5 yards away and I figured I'd try for an eye shot & squeezed the trigger as he stared at me. To my surprise, I nailed it & his lights went out as the bb went into his skull through his eye. Admittedly, a lucky shot as even at 5 yards, I had to make a kentucky windage adjustment of about 1/4" left.

I don't think I'd ever try that on a deer though.
There are passionate hunters who don’t have a lot of time afield or access to great hunting habitat. There are hunters and landowners seeking a reduction of over abundant deer by any means necessary, but who choose to use or allow legal hunting tools instead of a semiauto and a spotlight. Those legal tools might only be Muzzleloading rifles. Hunting is not only a recreational pastime, it is or can be a cold blooded management tool, it is or can be spiritual, it is or can be personal or impersonal. A recurring theme on this website is that hunting is only recreational, and only high percentage shots should be taken, with gracefully made exact replicas of Daniel Boone’s pet squirrel gun, and if you make a bad hit or lose the blood trail you’re a bad hunter, etc. This arrogant judgmentalism and chest thumping and “I’m better than you” is demoralizing, not just because it’s negative, but because it’s the worst of keyboard commandoism among a group of humans who should be far away from that behavior.
Guys, I hunted flintlock with a real nice man this past season. He briefly admired my curly maple long rifle, and also kind of kidded me about it, saying something about the French Revolution. He was using a black plastic and stainless steel “Flamethrower” flintlock or some such trademark, and I asked why he didn’t upgrade to something custom. Tiger stripe maple. Nope, he said. The guys into the curly maple stocks and period accoutrements are purist jerks, he said, and he hasn’t met many of those people who he wants to be around.
Fact: Our sport is hanging on by its fingernails. Few younger people are joining our ranks. We risk losing all the gunbuilding infrastructure that’s been developed since the 1970s - barrel makers, lock makers, etc, if we don’t recruit people to take our spots as we age out. We cannot afford to drive people away from this sport/ lifestyle, and so I have a request: Please leave judgmental statements out of your comments here. If you have the time and opportunity to wait for the perfect broadside shot, then good for you, but remember a lot of guys don’t have that luxury. Don’t rag on them because they’re different than you. I guarantee you our sport is not recruiting anyone new who reads those negative comments. That stuff does indeed make all of us look like purist jerks who are no fun to be around.
That sir, is very well stated.
Just so some get off their soap box. When someone makes a comment on how THEY do do something. It doesn't mean that's the only way. It's just simply stating what they do..!
What you do is your business...
I just don't like to wound animals so I'm very careful when placing my shot.
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Actually, I am a rather excellent shot with a rifle, and have been since about age 10.
Have won several awards shooting civilian, law-enforcement, Army High Power Rifle and Combat Rifle competition. Set State Army National Guard Small-bore Rifle record high score that stood for several years ( and may still be the record score for all I know ).
Have hunted since age 7, and been fairly successful on deer and varmint and pest species. so I know a thing or two about guns and shooting.
The more I shot and hunted, the more careful I became about choosing my shots.
A lot can go wrong while making a shot, some of it being beyond control of the shooter.
I did not ask you all of that sir ! What i did say is if the shooter can't keep their projectile in the lungs . That is a fairly large area they need to get closer or shoot at targets. Shooting targets allows a person to learn how far they can shoot with support. Now you should not take offence at the answer as it was not at you personally. It was to the ? you posted as anyone would be the shooter ! I stand by my answer practice & if a person can not hit a 9"x12" set of lungs. Get closer n practice
Bet you've never made a poor shot (HUH) ,if for no other reason use something with a bigger hole and there's less guessing where he vanished to !
Bet you've never made a poor shot (HUH) ,if for no other reason use something with a bigger hole and there's less guessing where he vanished to !
Always seems to be those who can not put their experience & opinion down to a Thread starters ?. Naw they got to run down through the posts to find someone they differ from. I don't care if your the best shot in the world the OP did not ask that ?. Further more i could care less about your great feats of shooting. They don't help me none! My practice does n using rest/support does. I have made several shots in my lifetime that did not go as i planned. I reckon you could smirk n say your a better shot than i am. Personally its a moot point . Oh yeah n by the way i will still kill another dump truck load of tick toters with my .40 cal n few others before i pass on !
In Kentucky where I live there are no restrictions on the caliber of a muzzleloader. In the county I live in there are no restrictions on the number of deer you can take other than only 1 buck. I expect the same accuracy from any rifle I hunt with that I expect from my target rifles. Too many think massive foot pounds of energy will make up for their lack of accuracy. It doesn't matter how much energy a projectile has if you can't put it in the kill zone.
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Too many think massive foot pounds of energy will make up for their lack of accuracy. It doesn't matter how much energy a projectile has if you can't put it in the kill zone.

Yes, this seems to be a large problem with the modern guys and their rifles, and seems to bleed over to Muzzleloaders. I've heard too many "experts" telling folks that X is the minimum sized cartridge, usually something akin to a light howitzer, for taking deer where they hunt, and scoffing at my poor little .530 round ball. When in fact, it's more of an accuracy problem than an "energy" problem, they never having found nor developed a good accurate load. THEN every few years or so something old gets "rediscovered" and when you look at it, it's sometimes heavy, sometimes not, BUT it's an accurate load. They marvel at the "bang-flop" results, which we are pretty regular at getting. We KNOW we must have an accurate load..., this seems to be a great revelation to our modern brethren.

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