I know a girl that hunts with a .223 62 grain. And she hears that often.
Gets a deer or 2 every year. Never lost one.
Then I will open a can of worms.
There is not 1 hunter in a 1000 that is qualified to use a caliber that small and a bullet that small on deer. Having said that opening statement, I will go on to say that there are deer and then there are big deer. My ancestors used anything they could get, they were not worried about losing one or ethics of a clean kill. They needed to eat. However, they were superb marksmen and woodsmen, they could track a deer across a hot top parking lot. My uncle's killed a bear with a .22 long rifle. Many of the hunters in the early part of the last century used cartridges that are very inferior to modern examples. My family moved on to the best they could buy as soon as they could. I remember well my father talking about his uncles back in the 40's using the Winchester .351 cartridge in a semi-auto. It was like shooting them with a bad handgun round. And contrary to the "thick" woods of Maine, they hunted meadows and blueberry fields by driving the game. Anyhow, a .223 will not penetrate a deer and come out. It is very rare that a .270 with a 130 or 150 bullet will do that. Next is the fact that the entry wound is so small that the animal will not bleed. I have shot a deer with a .35 Rem and had an entry wound big enough to stick my thumb in, and had it plug with a string of fat that hung out of the deer 6 inches. I found the deer through diligence and practice with real woodsmen, and plenty of my own time in the woods. That 217 lb. buck went over 100 yards without a sign of being hit or bleeding. And he was in a thicket.
Yes, small calibers can kill and are great for light weight people that may not handle recoil. But there is more to getting the animal then punching his skin with a needle. I have many more stories about trophy size bucks taking a shellacking with a large powerful round and heading for the next county.
Now, as I said, there are deer and there are big deer. You guys live in areas where there are gobs of deer and probably don't care much about losing one. I know people that will not even look if the deer runs out of sight. I am a light caliber guy myself, using a .250 Savage, a .270 Win, and a .308 Win. the heaviest bullets I use are 150 gr. Having said that, I have killed all bucks in my life, never a doe. I have 4 over 200lbs. and most of the others were in the 175 range or above. My brother has at least 8 over 200 and has taken many more then me. He would not even consider a bullet under 150grs. and I would not consider one under 100grs. And at that weight, the shot placement would have to be careful and solid. AND that is from 2 guys that have been called in to track wounded game for other hunters. Not bragging, just saying that we are rare birds in today's heater hunting crowd. Read, read, read, there are many theories on what is killing power. Some want an exit wound. Some think it is more important for the energy to be retained in the animal. Some think high velocity is "shocking power". My experience and my families generational experience tells me that an exit wound is great, but placement is paramount, with any cartridge that will penetrate to the heart/lungs of the intended game from the angle of the shot taken. And the unexpected will happen and you had better be able to follow up. That is where the skill comes in, anyone can shoot a gun.
It is still legal in Maine to use a .22 caliber gun, not the .22 Long Rifle, but from the .22 Magnum on up. If it was up to me it would be changed to the
.243 caliber and 100gr. bullets. Every single season we heard of a kid or some expert with his .223 hitting a nice buck and loosing it. Over and over. Year after year. They would be found dead after a week or so, just a waste of a fine animal. My brother taught hunter safety and every year he would have to bite his lip when junior would say with excitement that dad was outfitting him with a .223. Because dad was sitting there and that was what he used because it was so flat shooting and lethal and all. Bottom line, you cannot cheat physics which is the basis of ballistics. Velocity is good, up to a point and depending on the bullet construction. Weight is good, lack of it and much of it, up to a point.
That is why I have posted about people saying what a lethal round the .223 is. If you are going to shoot me, make it with a .223 please, not a 30-06. People think the .223 was developed with magic to make it more lethal. It was developed to JUST barely meet the minimum standards for the military. It will penetrate a helmet at 300yrds. and is accurate out to 600, although it has no gas left in the tank at that range. It allowed the men to carry more ammo and the object was cover fire or suppression fire. Deer or other animals are MUCH tougher them people.
The hunter must be able to shoot accurately. If this means he must use lighter rounds, then he must be ethical in picking his shot.
They must chose the right bullet/velocity combination for the game intended.
They must assume mistakes or "miracle" animals and prepare to follow up on wounded game.
Long winded to be sure, but there is a lot of thought and historical experience and that of others I hunt with behind those words. I probably could train to kill a deer with a knife lashed to a stick, but I will pass on that thanks. I do have a bow but only recently acquired it and have not taken a deer with one.
Feel free to give me a good tongue lashing if you like, but back it up with facts.
Oh an by the way, our military has had to return to the .308 Nato round and other guns for the conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan. The wide open spaces make the anemic .223 useless. Fine within short ranges for firing lots of shells, not so much for engaging at hundreds of yards with a superior AK-47 round.