I'm thinking the .17 would be better suited for gophers, prairie dogs, squirrell, etc.
I'm not saying you can't hunt with one, but I'm not sure I'd take one specifically on a hunt like that.
I've never hunted with my .17 HMR, just shot holes in paper. I was surprised to find out that a .17 will, at 20 yards, go through 500 sheets (an entire ream) of paper.
That would lead me to believe it would make a nasty wound for something the size of which you are asking. I also wonder what it would do to a human if you shot them in the ear. I'm thinking you could kill someone or seriously scramble their brains...