Wouldnt be my first choice for deer, but if I had to put meat on the table and that was all I had, A couple companies, Federal I think load specific ammo for deer while not ideal would be the best you can do, with the amount of money and expense involved in all the other aspects of deer hunting probably better off using enough gun, With a perect shot perfect angle it'll do the job but anyone who has spent any time in the deer woods knows how quickly things can screw up. The deer allways walks up behind your right shoulder.
I wouldn't be so quick to discard the .357 Magnum as a deer cartridge. It can be handloaded to truly impressive ballistics, and there is some great factory ammo out there as well. This ammunition will give ballistic performance equivalent to or better than the original .30-30 cartridge.
Buffalo Bore produces a 158 gr JHP load that will give about 2100 fps out of an 18 inch carbine barrel and 2175 fps out of a 24-inch Marlin Cowboy. They also make a 180-gr lead flatnose that will give 1800 and 1950 fps, respectively, out of the same guns. These loads are more than adequate for flattening deer and are equivalent to modern .30-30 loads.
I have also handloaded for this caliber using 158 gr and 180 gr Hornady XTP bullets that are very accurate and give velocities equivalent to the Buffalo Bore ammo. I would not hesitate to use my little Model 92 carbine with this ammo on deer out to 150 yards.
This is a very useful deer cartridge. Rifles chambered for it tend to be small, light lever actions that are easy to carry and comfortable to shoot even with maximum loads. They're ideal for kids or small women who don't like recoil and will be hunting within a reasonable range.
I'd be leery of using really hot loads in a '73; the toggle-link action wasn't up to hot blackpowder loads back in its day. Newer steels may have extended its capability somewhat (and I'm sure its proofed for standard loads) but no sense pushing it.
pff: You are absolutely right. I don't know HOW I missed the '73 reference in the first post. Forgive me, but I have been goaded into defending my 357 Mag carbines (Win 1892 & clones, Marlin Cowboy) as legitimate deer rifles in the past year or so.
This needs to be said clearly: NONE of the loads I described in my previous post are even close to safe in a Winchester 1873 or modern 1873 reproduction.
I would not recommend or use a 73 for deer hunting if it was chambered in 357 Magnum.