By Lynn Burkhead
As the 2019-20 deer hunting season approaches across the country, a visit to your local Academy Sports + Outdoors store — or to academy.com — is definitely on any hunter’s to-do list.
Why? Because from the latest in camouflage clothing, to the newest treestands and deer blinds, to a new rifle or scope for the upcoming season, Academy is your one-stop shopping source for all things related to deer hunting.
And that includes getting a box of shells for the deer rifle — top rounds that will get the job done when the buck of a lifetime steps out and an unused deer tag is burning a hole in your camouflaged back pocket.
That being said, the deer hunting ammunition market is a crowded field. How do you take the guesswork out of buying a top round (one that will sight in easily and perform well at camp)? Fortunately, the folks at Academy have helped take some of the uncertainty out of this decision by suggesting the following rounds for some of deer hunting’s most popular calibers.
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock in recent years, you probably know that the 6.5 Creedmoor is one of the hottest calibers on the deer hunting gun market these days. And when a hunter loads that rifle up with the Hornady ELD-X Precision Hunter cartridge, the result is a winning package that is more than worthy for your deer camp, lease, or farm.
Utilizing a 143-grain ELD-X bullet that comes with Hornady’s Heat Shield tip, this 6.5 Creedmoor round comes in 20-round boxes at Academy Sports + Outdoors. Once out in the field, the round helps hunters achieve terrific terminal end performance when that big buck steps out 250 yards away at last legal-shooting light. With high-end propellants and primers, the results of this Hornady round are as deadly accurate and consistent in the field as they are on the practice range at the bench.
Another outstanding round from this perennial American ammunition maker, the Hornady Outfitter in .308 Winchester is a 165-grain bullet that brings a lot to the 20-round box it is sold in.
These nickel-plated cases resist corrosion along with a watertight seal being delivered by the sealed case-mouth and primer. With the Outfitter’s monolithic copper alloy bullet construction, the result is a controlled expansion and solid weight retention of the round downrange. That results in deep bullet penetration, which will help you quickly put down the big, burly buck of your dreams.
Perhaps the most iconic deer rifle caliber of all time in America, the .30-06 Springfield still finds itself in many deer blinds and treestands all across the country each fall. If you’re carrying this classic deer hunting rifle, you probably know that there are a myriad of possible bullet options. One of the best is the Winchester Deer Season XP in the 150-grain bullet option.
With a large diameter polymer-tipped bullet featuring a contoured jacket, this round brings 2,920 fps muzzle velocity and 2,839 ft.-lb. muzzle energy to the table. Thanks to its streamlined profile, this offering from Winchester offers terrific ballistic performance downrange. Sold in 20-round boxes, this alloyed lead core bullet expands rapidly upon impact, delivers plenty of lethal power, and offers superb penetration on deer-sized big game.
Initially designed as a varmint/target kind of round, the .243 Winchester is a great deer hunting rifle for youngsters, women, and anyone looking to reduce the pounding of recoil upon the shoulder.
But make no mistake about it, the .243 isn’t kid stuff as a deer hunting round these days, thanks in great part to rounds like the Sierra GameChanger in 90-grain option, which you can find at Academy Sports + Outdoors.
With 20 rounds per box, this is high-end deer hunting ammunition from the Sierra Bullets folks — the Bulletsmiths, as they are also known. These lighter rounds are still able to deliver a knockout blow at deer camp when a big trophy buck steps into a clearing.
Famed gun writer Jack O’Connor loved the .270 — it was his favorite caliber, a round that he used to dispatch game all over North America and even Africa.
A neck-downed version of the .30-06 Springfield mentioned above, the .270 is still an all-American round today, delivering a reasonably flat-shooting, hard-hitting round that is perfect for many big-game animals including the white-tailed deer.
While some pass on the .270 for newer calibers like the 6.5 Creedmoor, the gun remains one of the best with plenty of great ammunition options like the Hornady Superperformance SST in a 130-grain bullet made just for the timeless cartridge.
With 3,190 fps muzzle velocity and 2,937 ft.-lb. muzzle energy, this is a hard-hitting option that is sold in 20-round boxes at Academy. Designed for large game from the white-tail on up, the Super Shock Tip bullet delivers quite a wallop despite the grain weight.
No discussion of American deer hunting calibers would be complete without the brush-busting .30-30 lever-action round created a century ago.
Another iconic cartridge, the .30-30 was developed in the late 1800s for the Winchester Model 1894 lever-action rifle. Still in use today, the bullet is an excellent choice in dense eastern and southern woods where brush busting is a way of deer hunting life.
With the Federal Premium Buckmasters Bonded Soft Point in a 150-grain offering, there’s nothing small or lightweight about this hard-hitting round.
Sold in 20-round boxes, this bullet offering from Federal Premium brings skived bullets featuring a boattail design and molecularly fused jackets. That’s nothing more than a fancy way of saying that this bullet performs — and then some — in the deer woods.
Whatever your caliber choice, Academy Sports + Outdoors has your deer hunting ammunition needs covered this fall. Whether it’s one of the rounds mentioned above or one of the many others that are found on the shelves of your local Academy store, stop by and find what you need for your next white-tail adventure into the American deer hunting woods.
The Essentials Gear Box.
Our editors have hand-picked these essential pieces of gear to make you a more successful hunter when you hit the game trails this season.