.300 Weatherby Magnum for Whitetail Deer Hunting? Best Ammo (Round, Lo – Foundry Outdoors

.300 Weatherby Magnum for Whitetail Deer Hunting? Best Ammo (Round, Load, Cartridge) for a Successful Whitetail Deer Hunt

Is the .300 Weatherby Magnum a viable caliber/load/round/cartridge for whitetail deer hunting? The accurate answer is “it depends”. However, the goal of this article is simply to address the question of whether the .300 Weatherby Magnum is within the ideal range of suitable calibers to harvest whitetail deer.

As with anything, the devil is in the details. To answer the question completely, we would need to evaluate the downrange distance to the whitetail deer, the bullet type, the grain weight of the bullet, the physical condition of the firearm, the size of the whitetail deer in question, the shot placement, the local wind conditions, the expected accuracy of the shooter, the ethics of the ideal maximum number of shots – the list goes on.

What we can do is provide a framework to understand what average conditions might look like, and whether those are reasonably viable for a shot from the average shooter to harvest a whitetail deer in the fewest number of shots possible, i.e., ethically.

Let’s dive right in. In the question of “Is the .300 Weatherby Magnum within the ideal range of suitable calibers for whitetail deer hunting?” our answer is:

No, the .300 Weatherby Magnum is OVERKILL for whitetail deer hunting, under average conditions, from a mid-range distance, with a medium grain expanding bullet, and with correct shot placement.

Let’s look at those assumptions a bit closer in the following table.

Assumption Value
Caliber .300 Weatherby Magnum
Animal Species Whitetail Deer
Muzzle Energy 4070 foot-pounds
Animal Weight 210 lbs
Shot Distance 150 yards

What is the average muzzle energy for a .300 Weatherby Magnum? In this case, we have assumed the average muzzle energy for a .300 Weatherby Magnum round is approximately 4070 foot-pounds.

What is the average weight of an adult male whitetail deer? Here we have leaned conservative by taking the average weight of a male individual of the species, since females generally weigh less and require less stopping power. In this case, the average weight of an adult male whitetail deer is approximately 210 lbs.

What is the distance this species is typically hunted from? Distance, of course, plays an important role in the viability of a given caliber in whitetail deer hunting. The kinetic energy of the projectile drops dramatically the further downrange it travels primarily due to energy lost in the form of heat generated by friction against the air itself. This phenonemon is known as drag or air resistance. Thus, a caliber that is effective from 50 yards may not have enough stopping power from 200 yards. With that said, we have assumed the average hunting distance for whitetail deer to be approximately 150 yards.

What about the other assumptions? We have three other primary assumptions being made here. First, the average bullet weight is encapsulated in the average muzzle energy for the .300 Weatherby Magnum. The second important assumption is ‘slightly-suboptimal’ to ‘optimal’ shot placement. That is to say, we assume the whitetail deer being harvested is shot directly or nearly directly in the vitals (heart and/or lungs). The third assumption is that a projectile with appropriate terminal ballistics is being used, which for hunting usually means an expanding bullet.

Various calibers

A common thread you may encounter in online forums is anecdote after anecdote of large animals being brought down by small caliber bullets, or small animals surviving large caliber bullets. Of course those stories exist, and they are not disputed here. A 22LR cartridge can fell a bull elephant under the right conditions, and a newborn squirrel can survive a 50 BMG round under other specific conditions.

Again, the goal of this article is simply to address the question of whether .300 Weatherby Magnum is within the ideal range of suitable calibers to harvest whitetail deer - and to this question, the response again is no, the .300 Weatherby Magnum is OVERKILL for whitetail deer hunting.

This article does not serve as the final say, but simply as a starting point for beginner hunters, as well as a venue for further discussion. Please feel free to agree, disagree, and share stories from your own experience in the comments section below.

Disclaimer: the information above is purely for illustrative purposes and should not be taken as permission to use a particular caliber, a statement of the legality or safety of using certain calibers, or legal advice in any way. You must read and understand your own local laws before hunting whitetail deer to know whether your caliber of choice is a legal option.

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Robert Workman - Dec 13, 2021

Before you scoff, please entertain this concept:

A gun that suffers zero twig deflection, pokes one half-inch hole through the animal, has enough knock-down power to ensure that the animal does not run regardless of bullet placement, is accurate to 150 yards, and eliminates meat spoilage due to zero bullet expansion. This would be a .460 Weatherby with a full metal jacket bullet. Your thoughts?

John - May 23, 2023

This is an interesting take and delivery of a single opinion. As an Aussie deer hunter I regularly use 30-06 to shoot Fallow deer, primarily does as they are an invasive species here in Oz and taste better than stags.
Fallow does are about 120lbs and the 30-06 with cup&core bullets in the 150/165/168 grain range work extremely well, especially Hornady SST/Interlock or Nosler Ballistic Tips.
Your equation would make the 30-06 too much gun and you would be wrong.
The hunter with a 300Wby could simply dial back a good stout heavy bullet load to 300H&H velocities, place the bullet in the right spot and get little meat damage. I’d call that a win! Second option would be to load a Barnes TTSX 130 grainer at warp speed and deliver well beyond your average distance with little drop correction.
What isn’t right is sub 243 calibers, and sometime 243 isn’t appropriate, shooting at 210lbs deer when there are better options such as the 300Wby.
Use enough gun for when things go wrong, not when they are perfect and learn to shoot it properly.

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