Hunting California Deer with an AR15 in 5.56 Caliber

A Hillside View on the Ranch in Livermore, CA.

A Hillside View on the Ranch in Livermore, CA.

My hunt started on the second day of the 2014 California A-zone deer season.  It was during the mid-afternoon, Livermore, California heat, when I spotted a really tall forken horn buck feeding above a spring.   The buck was about 1000 yards away, so the stalk was on!

I took my time sneaking into shooting distance on this blacktail buck, stopping every once in a while to make sure he didn’t spot me sneaking up on him.   At about 354 yards, I realized that was the closest I was going to get to the buck, while still having a clear shot.  I was on top of a finger, across from the spring, where he was feeding above.  I pulled out my Leupold RX-1000i TBR and ranged the buck.  He was 354 yards away and feeding perfectly broadside. He had no idea I was there, so I took my time.  Laying down, I leveled out my AR with my US optic level and locked it in using my Harris bipod.  With my Nikon P223 scope I put the 350 yard hold-over crosshair on the bottom of the buck’s chest, just behind his shoulder and squeezed the trigger.  At the shot, I heard the bullet connect on the buck, as he stumbled down the hill collapsing 30 yards from where he was shot.

California Blacktail Deer Taken with an AR15 in 5.56.

California Blacktail Deer Taken with an AR15 in 5.56.

I stayed in my spot, with the crosshairs on the buck, waiting, to make sure he was down.  After a minute of waiting, I hiked over to the downed buck.  When I got to him, I could clearly see the entrance of my bullet, a perfectly placed heart shot. I rolled him over and there was a baseball sized exit wound.  I couldn’t have been more excited!  After about ten minutes of just sitting there in awe and thanks, I began the hard part of packing the buck out.

On this hunt, I was using my first AR15 build.  It is a Franklin Armory lower with a Stag Arms upper (Model 6HL) in 5.56.  I have a 3.5 CMC single stage trigger with a US optic level.  The scope that I have on my rifle is a Nikon P223 4-12×40 BDC 600. My bullet of choice is the Barnes VOR-TX 55gr TSX, Lead Free BTHP.

The Author with his California Blacktail Deer after a Successful Hunt.

The Author with his California Blacktail Deer after a Successful Hunt.

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Joey Ploshay

Joey Ploshay

I'm 22 years old and have grown up hunting since I could hold a gun. I am the owner of California Hunting Addiction on Facebook.I created it to help bring the California hunting community together, share stories, and make new friends.
Joey Ploshay

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