Red deer hunting
A .25-06 is adequate for red deer stags, though Nick was using his 26 Nosler when he bagged this magnificent 15-point trophy

It’s where you hit that counts

Q: I am going on a red deer hunt and have been told by another hunter that my .25-06 is not enough gun for this size game.

He recommended that I trade it for something bigger, like a .270 Winchester or .30-06. What do you think?

Roy Whittaker

A: A mature red stag seldom weighs heavier than 180kg (400lb) and I’ve never lost one if the shot was properly placed. 

The .25-06 is adequate for red stag; it’s what I am currently using. A shot placed behind the shoulder goes through the ribs and lungs and quickly kills any game up to around 225kg (500lb).

I’ve scored over 30 one-shot kills with my .257 Roberts shooting the Barnes 100gn TSX. Two or three ran about 50m before keeling over, but the X-Bullet left a copious blood trail. The .25-06 is just a bit more of a good thing.

Many hunters have been led to believe that a difference of 10 or 20 grains of bullet weight, a few thousandths of an inch in bullet diameter or five percent in muzzle velocity can make one cartridge inadequate and another devastatingly effective. 

Obviously larger, more powerful cartridges offer an increase in killing power, but the bullet must still hit ’em in a vital area.

The light recoil of your .25-06 will make it easy for you to place the bullet where it will do the most good. 

By my rule of thumb, bullet choice is just as important as the calibre. 

Ask that so-called expert of yours how many deer he has actually shot and what calibre rifle he uses.




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Nick Harvey

The late Nick Harvey (1931-2024) was one of the world's most experienced and knowledgeable gun writers, a true legend of the business. He wrote about firearms and hunting for about 70 years, published many books and uncounted articles, and travelled the world to hunt and shoot. His reloading manuals are highly sought after, and his knowledge of the subject was unmatched. He was Sporting Shooter's Technical Editor for almost 50 years. His work lives on here as part of his legacy to us all.