A .223 For Whitetails
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Pick a favorite deer caliber and you’ll find plenty of bone chasers to debate it, but take a stand for the .223 as a viable deer cartridge and you’ll find your back against the wall.
Up until this point, I’ve never attempted to harvest a whitetail with a .223. Sure, I’ve smoked some predators with the zippy round, but nothing more than 30 pounds. Then I received an e-mail from Matt Rice with Blue Heron Communications. He asked if I’d like to help a whitetail rancher thin his deer herd using an AR chambered in .223. My Southern drawl might sound a little slow, but my answer was a quick, “Hell yeah!”
Within a couple of weeks I was in Missouri. I packed light—temperatures in the 80s. It’s early September, but I was on my way to East Fork Ranch in northwestern Missouri. State game laws don’t apply to high-fenced operations, so we can harvest as many deer as the landowner wants.
This landowner just so happens to be part owner of Dynamic Research Technologies (DRT). DRT produces non-lead powder-core rifle and handgun ammunition. The landowner was supplying my ammo and live targets, and Smith & Wesson was providing an M&P15 PC rifle to aim with—can it get any better?
Shortly after arrival, a few other outdoor journalists and I are escorted out back to the shooting range where we can see the ammo in action. Little did I know that country music singers Louise and Irlene Mandrell (also involved in DRT’s operations) would be demonstrating the firepower by shooting pistol rounds into ballistic gel. Good-looking country music stars squeezing the triggers on pistols—OK, it just got better!
Next, Dustin Worrell, the landowner’s son and DRT bullet manufacturer, shot the ammo out to 300 yards to prove its accuracy. So far, so good, but we are ready to squeeze the trigger. One by one, we each settle in behind a Smith & Wesson rifle loaded with DRT’s 60-grain .223 ammo. From 100 yards, I place both of my shots in the small circle target—it’s time to hunt!