What is the Best Mule Deer Caliber?
When you’re considering hunting any animal for the first time, one of the most important things to decide is what caliber you’ll use. When it comes time to pull the trigger on your hunt of a lifetime, you want to be confident that the caliber you chose can make the shot successfully and ethically.
Mule deer hunting is very exciting and tons of fun, especially if you’re only used to hunting whitetail deer in the eastern part of the country. A mule deer hunt is unlike any whitetail hunt you’ve ever been on, and you’re going to love it!
Picking the best caliber to use when hunting mule deer is no different than picking the best caliber for any other game species. Consider where you’ll be hunting, the environment in which the game spends most of its time, what methods of hunting you’ll be using, and more.
Generally speaking, a good mule deer caliber will be one that is accurate at long distances, has a relatively flat trajectory, is heavy enough to resist wind conditions, and is powerful enough to deliver a knockdown punch at said long distances.
All of that will go into determining what caliber you should use. Of course, this can be a daunting task, so we’ve narrowed it down to five of the most popular calibers for mule deer. Let’s take a look!
Mule Deer vs Whitetail Deer
To the average observer, the difference between a mule deer and a whitetail deer might not be immediately apparent. Make no mistake, though, as they are definitely two different kinds of deer.
Ears are definitely one of the biggest differences between the two species. The ears of a mule deer are larger than those of a whitetail deer. That’s where the name “mule deer” comes from. Mule deer ears also tend to be set at more of an angle on the head when compared to the more upright ear placement on a whitetail deer.
Whitetail deer antlers typically grow a main beam with single points coming off of that main beam. Mule deer antlers fork, with the points that come off of their main beam split into two points.
Mule deer fur tends to be more gray-brown in color, while whitetail deer fur is more red-brown. While both have white fur on their throats, the fur on their faces is different. A mule deer’s face is mostly white between its nose and eyes, whereas a whitetail deer’s face tends to be browner overall with white only around the nose and eyes.
The tail of a whitetail is brown on the top and white underneath, which is where the name “whitetail deer” comes from. Conversely, a mule deer’s tail is white with a black tip to it.
While there’s some definite overlap when it comes to body size, mule deer tend to be larger and heavier than whitetail deer in a similar age and class range.Join Our Inner Circle Today!
Best Mule Deer Calibers
If you ask ten different hunters what the best caliber for mule deer is, you’ll get ten different answers! That’s obviously an exaggeration, but opinions do vary from hunter to hunter. Nonetheless, there are some calibers that you’ll definitely hear hunters mention time and time again when it comes to the best mule deer caliber.
The 6.5 Creedmoor cartridge is absolutely everywhere these days. Plenty of people thought it would be nothing more than a fad and a passing fancy, but the 6.5 Creedmoor is definitely here to stay. It may not be the “end-all-be-all” cartridge that some people want it to be, but it’s definitely a respectable cartridge for mule deer. It’ll perform well at the longer distances you may be shooting for a muley, and it has the benefit of less recoil than some other calibers.
.300 Win Mag
If you’re a “go big or go home” kind of person, this might be the cartridge that you’re looking for. Packing a substantial wallop at tremendous distances, the .300 Win Mag is no slouch. It has been one of the go-to cartridges for mule deer hunters for almost a half-century. It offers excellent muzzle velocity and energy at extreme distances. This means that you won’t have to pass on that trophy mule deer simply because he’s “too far away.” The .300 Win Mag does away with that concept.
In the hands of a skilled hunter, the .25-06 Remington cartridge is a very capable mule deer killer. Begun as a wildcat offshoot of the .30-06 in the 1920s, it steadily grew a following for decades until Remington made it a regular cartridge in their lineup in 1969. The .25-06 is a cartridge that offers high velocity and a flat trajectory with the added bonus of minimal felt recoil. In fact, the trajectory is similar to that of the 7mm Rem Mag and the .300 Win Mag – both of which are on this list.
At almost 100 years old, the .270 Winchester cartridge still holds one of the top spots when it comes to the best big game hunting calibers of all time. It offers fantastic ballistics, pushing bullets at a high velocity and transferring substantial amounts of energy into big game at long distances. Outdoor writer Jack O’Connor brought the cartridge into the limelight and it refuses to leave the stage. Although with the cartridge’s overall stellar performance across so many hunting scenarios and species, it’s not like anyone is actually asking the .270 Winchester to step aside anyway!
7mm Remington Magnum
The 7mm Rem Mag has been knocking down big game for a half-century now and there’s no end in sight. It performs well at long distances, flying flat and true, and retains the knockdown power you’ll need to put the often stubborn mule deer on the ground and in your freezer. While still producing a stout bit of recoil, it’s less than that of the .300 Win Mag, so that can be a deciding factor for some people.5 Reasons To Start Shooting Suppressed!
See Your Mule Deer Drop by Using One of These Calibers on Your Next Hunt
Ultimately, the decision is up to you to decide which caliber is the best for mule deer. However you end up at your chosen caliber, one thing is for sure: if it’s a caliber from this list, you can’t go wrong. So long as you as a hunter do everything right, any of the cartridges on this list will make sure to do everything within their power to drop that big muley when you pull the trigger.
After you decide what caliber and rifle you’ll be taking along on your mule deer hunt, it’s time to decide what suppressor you’ll be using, too! The only thing better than a muley hunt is a muley hunt with a suppressed rifle. Once you try it, you won’t want to hunt any other way ever again.
Give us a call and let’s get you started down the path to suppressor ownership and suppressed hunting today!