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Best .243 Rounds for Pelts

Old 09-16-2017, 08:55 AM
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Question Best .243 Rounds for Pelts

I have a .243 rifle and that's it. No, I can't buy myself a .22 or an airgun. So, with this in mind, what are the best .243 cartridges that will drop any of these animals without ruining their pelts? I tan them. (I can sew up a hole up to 1-3in. wide, but usually nothing worse than that.) Preferably I'd like a cartridge that will produce no exit hole, or one as small as possible.
Also, if the cartridge you suggest won't work on all of these animals, let me know which ones it won't work on and why.
  • Fox
  • Groundhog
  • Bobcat
  • Coyote
  • Raccoon
Where should I aim on these animals? Head or vitals? If you answer this part say why you chose either head or vitals. (Or another shot if you want to suggest something not head, heart, or lungs.) I'm not an amazing shot so head isn't preferable but if I have to take it and it's the only way not to ruin the pelt I'll practice and take it.
Finally, where are the vitals on all of these animals? And can I take a frontal shot to kill the animal or does it have to be broadside? I'm a deer hunter so a little inexperienced with this. I have called animals (Dogg Catcher e-caller) to see which ones respond to it (all of the ones listed except groundhog, which responds to a corn pile), but not shot at them yet.

Thank you!
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Old 09-16-2017, 09:19 AM
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While I don't have any experience shooting small game with them, you might consider some heavier Barnes TSX or TTSX suitable for deer hunting. On the smaller game you mentioned, they probably won't open enough to do that much damage.
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Old 09-16-2017, 09:23 AM
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If you handload, you might also try the Sierra 90 grain FMJ.
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Old 09-16-2017, 09:53 AM
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I shoot many Fox with .308 deer loads, Core Lokt bullets. Mid chest just behind the shoulders (lungs), the vast majority are hole in, hole out, very little damage. I avoid areas with a lot of bone, shoulder, head ect. Neck or lungs is your best bet.

Gut shots are to be avoided, they usually make a grizzly mess. A head on shot may also explode the guts.

Smaller animals I use a shotgun, with rifles they tend to explode.
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Old 09-16-2017, 02:26 PM
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If you can shoot a .308 into a red fox and salvage a pelt, then I can do that with a .243. Do you suppose FMJ rounds would drop 'em? Or would I have to track?
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Old 09-16-2017, 03:55 PM
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I've never used a FMJ round, I have a lifetime supply of Core Lokt 165 grn. IMO it takes a certain thickness of meat (or guts) to get any expansion. Ribs, lungs and ribs in a Fox sized predator, isn't enough resistance to get much expansion most times. I have gut shot a few, some have moved just as I shot, it generally does more damage than the chest area. Fox shot anywhere in the chest cavity go down, shotgun can sometimes be iffy.

I have shot Fox from above, from a high seat and close. Same thing, keep it in the chest cavity and most times there is little pelt damage.

My .222 sometimes does more damage than my .308. Best guess is a heavier bullet is less likely to tumble.

Some other guys on the board are more knowledgeable about bullets than I am, they may be able to recommend a low expansion bullet you can use for Fox, Bobcat or Coyote and still use for Deer.

I have shot Hare with my .222, about a fifty fifty chance it will mess them up pretty good. Ground Hogs and Coons may be tougher than a Hare, *maybe* you can salvage the pelt? Shooting Hare with my .308 never crossed my mind.

I'm having the same conundrum right now, I'm planning on taking some Nutria this winter and am trying to decide whether to take my shotgun or my .222. I guess the only way to know for sure is trial and error. I have a combination gun, 12 gauge and 7X57R, I wish it was 12 gauge and .222

Last edited by MudderChuck; 09-16-2017 at 04:04 PM.
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Old 09-16-2017, 08:21 PM
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Curious what is your experience ?
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Old 09-18-2017, 03:13 AM
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Originally Posted by MudderChuck
I've never used a FMJ round, I have a lifetime supply of Core Lokt 165 grn. IMO it takes a certain thickness of meat (or guts) to get any expansion. Ribs, lungs and ribs in a Fox sized predator, isn't enough resistance to get much expansion most times. I have gut shot a few, some have moved just as I shot, it generally does more damage than the chest area. Fox shot anywhere in the chest cavity go down, shotgun can sometimes be iffy.

I have shot Fox from above, from a high seat and close. Same thing, keep it in the chest cavity and most times there is little pelt damage.

My .222 sometimes does more damage than my .308. Best guess is a heavier bullet is less likely to tumble.

Some other guys on the board are more knowledgeable about bullets than I am, they may be able to recommend a low expansion bullet you can use for Fox, Bobcat or Coyote and still use for Deer.

I have shot Hare with my .222, about a fifty fifty chance it will mess them up pretty good. Ground Hogs and Coons may be tougher than a Hare, *maybe* you can salvage the pelt? Shooting Hare with my .308 never crossed my mind.

I'm having the same conundrum right now, I'm planning on taking some Nutria this winter and am trying to decide whether to take my shotgun or my .222. I guess the only way to know for sure is trial and error. I have a combination gun, 12 gauge and 7X57R, I wish it was 12 gauge and .222
I'd say try the .222 but only because I'm a rifle girl...shotguns aren't my thing! I'll give the heavier bullets a shot (no pun intended). I'll just grab the heaviest bullets I can find in .243 and shoot 'em. They should do for deer and predators. Do you think a cat shot in the chest would drop like a fox? Cats are what I'm mainly hunting in that list although a few of the others too.
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Old 09-18-2017, 06:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Wolven
I'd say try the .222 but only because I'm a rifle girl...shotguns aren't my thing! I'll give the heavier bullets a shot (no pun intended). I'll just grab the heaviest bullets I can find in .243 and shoot 'em. They should do for deer and predators. Do you think a cat shot in the chest would drop like a fox? Cats are what I'm mainly hunting in that list although a few of the others too.
I wouldn't use a hollow point or a soft point bullet.

Put it in a six inch circle behind the shoulder and it isn't going far. The trick is patience, wait for your shot. Always nice to know someone with a blood tracking dog, just in case.

I'm far from a Cat expert, I've only taken one Bobcat and one Lynx. I messed up the Lynx, took a head shot, the only part of it I could see above the Wheat. Lynx are a shoot them when you see them animal in the Czech republic, classified least concern on the endangered list. Side note, a Czech Lynx can get up to 50-60 pounds.

Bobcat are so rare where I live in the States I don't bother them, they don't bother me.

I tend to hunt pests and prolific animals. I always figure part of my responsibility is helping to keep the balance. Thin out the animals that need thinning. The vast majority of my hunting now is Fox and Hogs, both are prolific here, we are encouraged to thin them out.

Last edited by MudderChuck; 09-18-2017 at 06:43 AM.
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Old 09-18-2017, 11:15 PM
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The exit hole with a Nosler Partition is pencil small. That's big game. Let us know how it does on small game
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