One can argue that a hunter familiar with trajectory using a 200-yard zero can just hold low on the chest when ranges are estimated to be 50 to 125 yards or so. True. And this does work for some hunters. But it interjects a bit of uncertainty when one doubts his or her range estimation. Doubt isn’t an issue on a known range, say a familiar stand overlooking the same field or cutline where one absolutely knows distances to all points. (I’ve seen stands in which were posted crude maps showing distances to landmarks such as a big rock, fence post, bush, treeline, etc.) But anyone hunting varied terrain and new locations will face the range estimation issue. Seems to me knowing a center hold hits pay dirt to 200 yards covers more situations.
If you’re thinking a 200-yard or even farther zero would help with longer shots, say 300 to 400 yards, I ask you to look hard at those trajectory tables, especially the remaining Energy column. It’s often said that an impact energy of 1,000 foot-pounds is minimal for an effective deer bullet. I don’t think it’s that cut and dried, but the 576 f-p remaining in the 150-grain RN at 300 yards should raise some eyebrows. and at 400 yards that bullet is struggling along with just 424 f-p. Still capable of killing, but hardly inspirational. If that isn’t enough to dissuade you from contemplating a 30-30 shot at 300 yards or farther, check out both the drops and wind deflections. Even with a 200-yard zero, at 300 yards you need to compensate for 19 inches of drop. That’s a full chest span of a deer. At 40 yards there’s a 58 inch drop. That’s almost 5 feet! Ten mph right angle wind deflections of 22- and 42 inches are a lot to overcome, too. No, if you wish to entertain 250-yards and longer shots at deer, you should invest in a faster, more modern bottlenecked cartridge.
Best 30-30 Zero Range for Deer Hunting — Ron Spomer Outdoors is written by Ron Spomer for www.ronspomeroutdoors.com