How to Hunt Deer With a .243 Winchester

Written by arthur barnhouse
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How to Hunt Deer With a .243 Winchester
Deer have good reason to fear a hunter equipped with a .243. (deer image by Henryk Olszewski from

A rifle chambered for the .243 Winchester cartridge is an incredibly versatile firearm. It can be used effectively on everything from varmints to black bear. Of course, the .243 is also a popular choice among deer hunters. It can be used to take down deer from long ranges as well as in thick cover. Because it is a smaller calibre rifle, the .243 offers the benefits of low recoil and muzzle blast, which often makes it an appealing choice for young hunters. (See References 1)

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Several boxes of 90 to 100-grain .243 Winchester ammunition
  • Targets
  • Sand bags or bench rest

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  1. 1

    Choose the proper .243 ammunition for deer hunting. Bullets in the 90 to 100-grain class are most effective for deer. Bullets lighter than 90 grains are more suited for varmints and lack the stopping power necessary for larger game. (See References 2) Buy several boxes of ammunition, enough to practice and sight in with your rifle. It's important that you use the same brand and grain of bullets for practice as you will use for hunting.

  2. 2

    Set up targets 100 yards down range from your bench rest or sand bags. Load three rounds of the ammunition you plan on using during deer season into the rifle. Fire the three shots at the target. Generally, you will want to group your shots 2 to 2 ½ inches above dead centre. Thus, at 200 yards, you will still hit slightly high and slightly low at 300 yards. This will allow you to utilise the full potential of your .243 and take deer at up to 300 yards.

  3. 3

    Continue firing groups of three shots until you are placing them consistently close together a couple of inches above dead centre. Adjust your scope accordingly in order to move the shots up or down, left or right. After you have your .243 sighted in, continue to practice until the start of deer season.

  4. 4

    Scout the area in which you plan to hunt for deer. Understand the movement of the deer and their habits. It's best to find their feeding grounds, as well as where they tend to bed down for the night. Also, look for trails and signs of buck rubbings or scrapes on small trees.

  5. 5

    Choose a deer stand somewhere in the area you've scouted. Remember to keep in mind the characteristics of your .243. If you've sighted it to be effective up to 300 yards, you don't want to limit yourself by standing in thick cover. Choose a location that provides the best sight lines possible in all directions.

  6. 6

    When deer season begins, walk to your stand and get set up before sunrise. If you remain patient and are lucky enough to see a deer or buck, aim for the area just behind the front shoulder of the deer. This area has the highest concentration of vital organs and major arteries and offers the greatest chance for a clean kill.

  7. 7

    Inhale deeply and exhale slowly as you pull the trigger on your .243. If you have chosen the correct ammunition and have practised diligently, it should require only one shot to bag the deer.

Tips and warnings

  • When sighting in your .243, you may start out at 25 yards and gradually work your way up to 100 yards. This is often the better choice if your rifle and/or scope is new and you're sighting it in for the first time.

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