The best cartridge for deer… or elk… or bear is bound to prompt a “discussion” whenever two hunters share opinions– which is often. Richard Mann, in this post from the Sporting Classics website is an avid and creative shooter who has developed several wildcat rounds that haven’t made the popular press such as the 6.5 Creedmoor. You will chuckle as to why he hates the .30-06.
I hunt in a Colorado elk camp during the second rifle season where licenses are available over the counter. As a result, the camp has a number of fresh faces and calibers passing through each year. Typically, a camp newbee will ask the outfitter, “What’s the best caliber for elk?” and the predictable response will be, “Whatever you shoot best.”
I became a regular deer hunter in the era of the 7mm Remington Magnum when many hunters believed they needed the extra velocity and knockdown power of the magnum round. Ironically, the most frequent stories I heard in the woods was a deer missed or wounded. Ironically, performance on deer had little to do with bullet selection or amplified velocity. I believe, the recoil of the rifle impacted the caliber’s result. In other words, hunters were so concerned about getting “kicked” that they didn’t take their best shot. That’s the reason the outfitter recommended the rifle a hunter shoots best, regardless of caliber.
Versatility is the sweat spot of the ‘.06 with bullet weights from varmint weight to the heaviest of big game bullets, all from the same rifle. With one quality rifle and scope, you can literally hunt all but Alaskan brown bear in North America and plenty of the big bears have fallen to the .06 over the years. Here’s more:
Shooters are very passionate about cartridges, often to almost a Frosty the Snowman level of hysteria. They think there “. . . must have been some magic in . . .” this or that cartridge. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but there is no real magic.
In its absence, we have passion, and passion can, in a way, be like magic — good or bad magic. I grew up in a hunting family. I spent 51 weeks each year looking forward to the 1 week of deer season. I loved the atmosphere and the stories. More than anything, I loved the guns and the ammunition. I was fascinated by the sound of rifle actions working, the shapes of cartridges and bullets, and the numbers and letters stamped on cases.