There are many places you can shoot a deer with a 22 that will kill it. However, there’s a lot of debate about what the best placement is in order to kill it in the fastest and most humane way.
The best place to shoot a deer with a 22 is the heart and lung area since it is the easiest and largest target to hit the most often. Alternatives for sharpshooters include the brain, neck, and high shoulder shot due to their effectiveness and instant immobilization.
With a 22 rifle, it is all about the kill zone shot placement when it comes to the best places to shoot a deer. Since a 22 is a smaller caliber, a misplaced shot can leave the deer wounded but alive and suffering.
Let’s talk more about shooting a deer with a 22, how you should use it, which ammo types work best, and break down some more details about being humane while hunting deer.
What Is The Best Place To Shoot A Deer?
When it comes to whitetail’s range of hunting, the majority tend to go with firearms rather than bowhunting. This is because they cause a powerful and different wound compared to other forms of ammunition.
If the object is moving rapidly, it can easily break a bone and cause mortality instantly if the bullet is placed appropriately. They are great for shooting at longer distances, typically around 100, 200, and 300 yards, but depend greatly on the weapon used and the habitat where you are hunting. It is all about shot placement and the efficiency of the rifle or bullet you are using at the moment.
In this instance, aiming for the best kill zone shot for a deer is essential regardless of whether you are using a rifle or a bow. However, this article will only focus on the most effective placement to shoot a deer with a rifle, with its pros and cons.
- Brain shot: Is a fair and quick snap that can drop a deer almost instantly, but the tricky part is that it is a tiny target, and knowledge of the anatomy of the deer is required not to hit the skull due to its thickness.
- Neck shot: A great shot that has minimal meat damage and produces a quick loss of consciousness. The cons of this method are that, just like the brain shot, it has a small target area and can have a high survival rate, which sometimes will require a second shot to finish the duty.
- Heart-lung shot: This is the best choice since it has an ample target and a highly lethal shot with massive bleeding. However, meat loss, chances of recovery, and deflection rate from ribs may occur.
- Shoulder shot: With a fast-moving bullet, it can snap the spine quickly and have some effects on the nervous system and ribs, providing instant immobilization. The disadvantage is that it requires volatile bullets, which may cause a lot of meat damage, and it is easy to miss due to shoulder bone density.
Can You Even Take Down a Deer With a 22 Successfully?
Surprisingly, .22 ammo can be effective for deer hunting. The trick is to shoot in a strategic place like the brain or spinal cord, for example. It is all about knowing exactly where to strike.
Is the Head the Best Place To Shoot a Deer With a 22?
For an immediate kill, and if done accurately, the head is the best place to shoot a deer with a 22 in the most humane way. Headshots are proven to kill them instantly, so there’s no suffering.
While it’s clear that shooting a deer in the head with a 22 will kill it instantly, there’s still plenty of debate about whether or not it is the most humane way to do it. These debates are rather because of the possibility of an inaccurate shot than questioning whether instant death is humane.
Deer heads are difficult to hit because they move consistently. So, you’ll need to take your time and be patient when shooting a deer in the head. Expect the deer to move their head frequently, especially if they sense you nearby.
A clean headshot would be an effective, humane way of killing, but deer heads are notoriously difficult to hit. This can make the humane argument complicated because if you miss the critical headshot, there’s a good chance the deer will survive but not without injury. Plenty of injuries can occur from a gunshot to the head area, forcing the deer to die slowly from an injury or suffer from other issues.
So, if you don’t think you have enough skills to shoot the deer in the head, you may want to choose a different location to shoot at.
How Close Do I Need To Be to a Deer To Effectively Shoot It With a 22?
You need to be within 50 yards of a deer to shoot it effectively with a 22 because there is a much smaller area that you need to hit to kill it effectively.
If you want to be effective at killing a deer with a 22, you need to hit a small area in its head. So, you’ll need to be closer to the target to minimize the chances of misfiring.
Anything past 50 yards would be too far away to accurately and humanely kill the deer with your 22. So, get in close range to get the most accurate shot possible with a 22.
Best .22 Ammo For Hunting
Since many people tend to use .22 LR for animals and varmints such as squirrels, prairie dogs, deer, and foxes, we will review the best brands that produce this excellent and praised ammunition, perfect for hunting.
- CCI stinger: it is a staple in small game hunting due to its fast accuracy and how lethal it is. It is by far the best ammo for the sport.
- Remmington thunderbolt: very affordable, but sometimes it is not suitable for every gun, so it is ideal to test them out first. Regardless of this, they have become a favorite for .22 LR owners because it covers a broad range and is a best seller.
- Aguila Super Extras: a Mexico-based ammo maker that is relatively inexpensive and has high-velocity rounds, which are incredible for target shooting that provides excellent accuracy and consistent performance.
What’s the Best 22 Ammo for Hunting Deer?
The best 22 ammo for hunting deer is the 223 Remington cartridge. Not only is this the most popular ammo for killing deer, but it’s also effective at a decent range.
The 223 Remington ammo is definitely a popular choice for deer hunters, and that’s for a good reason. The shape of the cartridge allows for maximum penetration, making it easier to kill the deer if you can get the shot right.
There isn’t a lot of shooting power with this ammo. So, don’t expect to get insane travel from it. But using a 22 to shoot a deer gets rid of that issue anyway because it means you need to be at a close range. And the close range is where this ammo really shines.
The 223 Remington ammo stays held together while traveling long distances after firing. So, it will ensure that your shots penetrate the deer and reach the intended spot as long as your aim is accurate. So, try this ammo for deer hunting if you want to ensure that your bullet does the most possible damage when it reaches the deer.
Should I Even Hunt Deer With a 22?
There is a debate on the ethics of hunting a deer with a 22. However, you should hunt deer with a 22 if you know you can be accurate enough to kill them quickly.
While we aren’t here to argue the ethics of humanely killing a deer, it’s certainly an important part of the discussion. Many believe that using a 22 to kill deer is not ethical because it’s a smaller caliber. This means that a poorly aimed shot can injure a deer rather than kill it. It may leave deer out there injured, left to starve, or die slowly over time while hurt.
When it comes to hunting ethics, that’s not something we want to do. So, many hunters shy away from using a 22 for fear that they will do more harm than needed and leave deer running around injured and suffering.
So, to decide whether it’s appropriate for you to use a 22 to hunt deer, you need to understand your experience level. If you’re sure you’ll get a clean shot without leaving the deer alive to suffer, then there’s nothing wrong with hunting using a 22.
Different Types Of Ammo
After discussing the importance of choosing the most suitable weapon for hunting and the best aiming placement, we can now talk through the distinctive kinds of ammo.
This can sometimes be a very intimidating topic if you are inexperienced in the field. That is why selecting the correct ammunition and knowing what different types can do, is necessary for safety and optimal performance. Regardless of this being a pervasive topic, we will simplify it and adapt it to your necessities.
Here are the most basic types:
- Rifle ammo or Handgun: they can be divided into two groups which are rimfire and centerfire. The difference relies on where the primer strike happens on the cartridge case. The rimfire’s primer is near the base of the case, while the centerfire’s primer is in the center.
- Shotgun shells: have three main types: slugs, birdshot, and buckshot. The difference is that the slug is a single metal projectile often made with lead or copper. In regards to birdshot and buckshot, they are made of metallic pellets, and the birdshot is smaller in diameter.
What’s the Best Caliber for Deer Hunting?
The best caliber for deer hunting is the 30/06 Springfield. This caliber has a great balance between power and stability, making it great for expert and new deer hunters alike.
The 30/06 Springfield has been around for a while. It was heavily used in World War II and continues to be one of the leading calibers for deer hunters everywhere. That’s because of its dependability and versatility.
The 30/06 is stable, meaning that you won’t have a ton of recoil when shooting it. This feature is great for accuracy when hunting deer, which is especially important given how fast they run and how much they move after being shot.
However, stability isn’t the only thing the 30/06 offers. Often when we have stability, the power of the shot suffers, but that’s not the case with the 30/06 Springfield. What makes it so perfect for deer hunting is that this caliber offers a unique mix of stability and power. So, your shots will be accurate and able to pierce the thick skin of large game, like deer.
It is necessary to consider the bullet size since, depending on it, the function may vary. In relation to guns, a “caliber” refers to the diameter of the gun barrel and is usually measured in inches or millimeters.
Here is a brief explanation of what each type of ammo does, depending on its size:
- .22 LR Ammo: is usually lightweight, affordable, and many have used it as their first ammunition. It’s great for starters and famous for firearm enthusiasts. It is often preferred for long expeditions, and despite its small size, it is still capable of hunting and defending. The best thing about this caliber is that many manufacturers make them due to its popularity, and it is available for all sorts of pistols and rifles.
- 308 ammo: also called “308 Winchester Ammunition,” and related to the category of 7.62×51 mm round since they are very similar in size. It was initially introduced around 1952, and it is an excellent alternative to the .22 LR. It is also one of the most popular calibers used by hunters in America. In addition, it is commonly used for target shooting, military sniping, and police shooting. Furthermore, this ammo has incredible long-range capabilities and is beloved by many deer hunters.
- .223 ammo: often called “.223 Remmington rifle cartridge,” they are included in the category of the 5.56x 45mm since they are close in shape and size. It is typically used for hunting as well as for self-defense. They are accurate and great for practicing as well. It is also capable of killing beyond its range and causes injuries due to its velocity, which makes it a deadly bullet.
What Caliber Has Killed the Most Deer in the USA?
Even though there hasn’t been any accurate data confirming this statement, it has been said that it is the 30-30 Winchester cartridge, well-known for its solid cases, has killed more deer than any other caliber.
Also, it has come at the top of American cartridge sales for more than a century. Something important to add is that this round has existed for around 130-150 years, and there were large numbers of Winchester and Marlin rifles that were produced to use this ammunition.
Interestingly enough, some people believe it will be .22 ammo. Still, it hasn’t been taken into consideration since it is questionable if it was legal and if there is any convincing statistic to prove it.
What Is the Smallest Legal Caliber for Deer Hunting?
While the smallest legal caliber for deer hunting varies from state to state, most states require you to use a 22 caliber for deer hunting to remain ethical. One thing they all agree on is that the ammo must be centerfire rather than rimfire.
Otherwise, two options often spoken about are the .243, which is adequate to get the job done, but some people also use ethical rounds, the .223 ammo, or perhaps 22-250. It all depends on the shooter’s abilities and what they are comfortable with.
Before you start hunting, make sure you know about the laws specific to your state. Some states require you to use something more powerful than a 22 caliber when hunting big game like deer. Check out the US Fish and Wildlife website for information specific to your state.
While some states do require something a little bigger, your state will most likely require at least a 22-caliber gun to hunt deer with. That’s because of the ethics involved in hunting deer. Smaller calibers may not kill larger game like deer and could leave the deer injured, wounded, and in pain. So, it’s not humane to hunt deer with them.
Some states don’t have much of a rule regarding caliber size, but they do uphold rules regarding rimfire ammo for hunting deer. The ammo that you use to hunt deer needs to be centerfire rather than rimfire to be legal and humane.
Rimfire ammo doesn’t have as high pressure or velocity as centerfire ammo. This means it’s harder to kill large game with rimfire ammo because it’s less likely to pierce their skin and fur. This limitation makes them relatively unpopular for self-defense and large game hunting because they won’t do as much damage as a centerfire bullet can do.
Rimfire ammo is still a popular choice because it doesn’t have the recoil you get from centerfire ammo, but the lower velocity and overall power mean that it doesn’t work well for large game. So, rimfire is illegal to use to hunt deer, but it can still work well for smaller animals and target practice.
Besides choosing the correct equipment and knowing the best places for activity, one of the most fundamental things to consider when getting into deer hunting is where to aim. This is not an easy task since it requires knowledge and experience.
To summarize everything stated in this article, we can affirm that it is possible to shoot a deer with a 22 LR caliber, and the best kill zone shot placements would be the heart/lung shot for most hunters, otherwise the head, neck, or high shoulder for more experienced people.
It is pretty interesting how this question is more common than you may think, but using smaller bullets has its advantages, such as very little meat spoilage, quick drops, and cleaner shots. The main downfall is that you are risking velocity and power, but this should not be underestimated since it can also be effective in getting the job done.
Get as close to the deer as you can to avoid misfires and ensure you shoot the deer to kill it instantly. Plus, it helps to use suitable ammo, like the 223 Remington cartridge, thanks to good penetration.
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Christian grew up in the Ozarks where he spent much of his childhood on his grandparents’ homestead learning about guns, hunting, and the great outdoors.
An avid traditional bowhunter, much of his writing covers this and other similar topics, but he also covers just about everything from history and economics to motorcycles.
See more of his work at ChristianMonson.com.