What is the right Calibre for Muntjac

The first centre fire rifle calibre I ever owned was a .22 Hornet. Having only used Rim fire rifles in the past I was in awe of this calibre and could see the vast gulf in performance between my .22LR and the .22 centre fire.

Witnessing the energy that this type of round could deliver and the ease with which it dispatched many a fox I was convinced that there was no good reason why it could also not be capable of dispatching a deer.

However once I took up Deer Stalking properly I soon learnt just how robust deer could be. I was astonished at first that a fallow deer shot through the heart and lungs with a .243 could run nearly a hundred yards before collapsing!

Needless to say witnessing this changed my mind somewhat about the capabilities of my .22 Hornet for larger deer. None the less I remain convinced that had the .22 Hornet been included in UK legislation this might still have been an excellent calibre for Muntjac.

The law as it stands permits the use of a .22 Centre fire cartridge on Muntjac provided a bullet weight of no less than 50 grains is used and that it produces at least 1000 ft lbs of energy at the muzzle. The .22 Hornet which propels a 46 grain bullet at around 700 ft lbs is somewhat short of these criteria and therefore deemed unsuitable. Personally however I think it could have been just the job.

Having seen the damage calibres of .240 and upwards do to the forequarters of a Muntjac I think it is somewhat 'over kill'. Does that matter I hear you say? Well if it's all about dispatching something as unequivocally as possible then no it doesn't matter, however for many stalkers there is a Venison issue and these larger calibre rifles seem to be a little like using a hammer to crack a nut.

The alternative of course is to take advantage of the legislation that allows a .22 cartridge and do so with a deer legal combination of energy and bullet weight. Something such as a .223, or 22-250 are both excellent. However for many the issue is that when heading out deer stalking Muntjac are not necessarily the objective but rather a species that is chanced upon, and for that reason most stalkers will stick with calibres of .240 upwards.  

Personally provided I know that it is Muntjac and Muntjac alone that we are after I am a big fan of .22 Centre fires, their lack of any significant recoil makes them very pleasant to shoot and the absence of meat damage that results makes them an ideal choice. Indeed I would go one further and like the Scottish legislation also include their use for Roe. 



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