North American Animals - How Big Are They?
By Bob Beers
As a relatively new hunter pondering my sport, it occurred to me that in order to select a proper hunting cartridge and an appropriate bullet type and weight, the size of the game I intended to hunt is a critical factor. Logic suggests that bullets normally used to kill small pronghorn antelopes are probably not the proper bullets to kill big Alaskan moose. Logic further suggests that larger caliber, heavier, and tougher bullets must be used to kill larger, heavier, and tougher animals.
But just how "small" is a pronghorn, and how "big" is a moose? I gathered the information for the following table from a fairly extensive Internet search that included numerous sources, too many to mention here. (One of the best print sources is the table by Edward A. Matunas included in his article "The Optimum Game Weight Formula," published in the Lyman 47th Reloading Handbook. - Ed.)
The resulting table lists the typical weights of many of the North American animals commonly pursued by hunters. Although I believe the data in this table to be reasonably accurate, I make no claim to perfection. I do think that these numbers are in the ballpark and will be sufficient to serve as a rough guide.
There is the data; how you use it is up to you. I suggest that frangible bullets are appropriate for the varmints and small predators on the list (prairie dog through coyote). I also suggest that expanding bullets designed for big game hunting are appropriate for the rest of the animals on the list. For more information about those types of bullets, see my article "Bullets for Beginners" on the Bullets and Ballistics index page of the Rifle Information Page.
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