QUESTION: My wife wants to start deer hunting. She weighs 130 pounds and stands at 5-foot-2. She tends to be a bit recoil-shy with anything heavier than the .243 rifle. I recall that you once wrote that the .243 was minimal for deer hunting. How can I tweak this caliber so that it is satisfactory for her to use on whitetail deer?
ANSWER: Based on her frame size, my first consideration would be to give her satisfactory eye relief to the telescope sight. By placing the butt of the rifle in the crook of her arm (inside the elbow), the trigger finger should nestle comfortably around the trigger. If her trigger finger is short of a comfortable position, she should either use a youth model rifle or have the stock from a standard rifle shortened by a competent gunsmith. I can furnish you with the telephone number of such an expert.
While I still consider the .243 to be minimal, it will be satisfactory with the right ammunition. While there are certainly others, my best success with the .243 has come from the use of Remington 100 grain Core-Lokt bullets. This bullet is a PSP (pointed soft point) and is designed to expand but not come apart. This usually results in the bullet making an exit hole large enough to offer a good blood trail in case the deer runs a bit after the shot. Be sure that your wife has practiced enough to be a competent shooter. Beyond that, teach her the basics of deer anatomy so that she knows proper bullet placement.
QUESTION: I want a new telescope sight for my deer rifle. What size and magnification should I get? Will a bullet-drop compensator be of any value? Finally, do I need an adjustable objective lens?
ANSWER: I have never felt the need for high magnification on a telescope sight used for whitetail deer. A standard 3x9 is more than adequate. You might opt for an objective lens in the 50 millimeter class for added light gathering qualities. Most deer hunting is done with the scope dialed to the lowest magnification.
Most deer rifles zeroed to be an inch high at 100 yards will place the bullet very near zero at 200 yards. I really dont recommend taking a shot at more than 200 yards. While the BDC (bullet drop compensator) is fine for 300-to-400 yard shots in the western states, I see little value having one on a Georgia deer rifle.
The adjustable objective lens adds to the accuracy of any rifle by eliminating parallax, and while it is a nice addition to a rifle used for shooting long-range varmints, it is not at all necessary for an eastern deer rifle.
So plain vanilla scope, 3x9x50, is all you need for Georgia deer. If you want to spend the extra money to upgrade, it doesnt hurt a thing -- except your wallet.
Emory Josey writes a weekly outdoors column. Send questions for him to The Telegraph, P.O. Box 4167, Macon, Ga., 31208-4167, or email him at email@example.com