So you’re a new hunter looking to conquer the great outdoors. That’s great but you can’t just tromp into the woods unprepared and uninformed and expect to be successful. You need knowledge, insight, and just a touch of luck.
With this series we’ll present you with the best information to get you started in the world of hunting. And for those of you with a few seasons already under your belt, maybe we can give you a refresher on The Basics.
The topic of the perfect deer rifle continues to spur late-night conversations and passionate debates around camp fires. Each hunter has his favorite configuration for downing deer and usually isn’t shy about singing the praises of this gun or that. Given the touchy subject matter, this entry of The Basics will help you decide what style of firearm might fit your needs. We’ll leave the brand reviews and comparisons for another day.
The Slug Gun
Some states limit the type of firearm you are able to use to hunt deer. Always know your state and local regulations when choosing your firearm and when hunting. Picking a hunting shotgun can be an exercise in trial and error. Depending on the land and situation you’ll be hunting, you’ll need to decide between types of barrels, ammunition, and sights.
For open terrain and woods with little under brush, you’ll want to have either a rifled barrel or a screw in rifled insert, called a choke, to make your longer shots more accurate. Also, look for saboted slugs and think about adding a scope to push your range that much farther. Remember though, even with a shotgun dressed to the max, the range for a slug gun is only about 100 yards.
Few firearms conjure such a romantic image as the lever-action. Favored by cowboys and military in the in the late 1800s for it’s capability to fire many rounds quickly and accurately, the lever-action rifle has been prized by hunters for its nostalgic appeal and dependability for generations. A .30-30 or .45-70 caliber rifle will make for a great brush gun, easily capable of dropping a deer in a thicket.
Design limitations keep this style of rifle from being a top recommendation for new hunters. Most models offer no safety button or switch, instead the hammer must be gently released, leaving the possibility of a unintentional discharge of the weapon. Another disadvantage is the reliance on open sites. Mounting a scope is awkward or, in some cases, impossible leaving the long range shots out of reach.
The Bolt Action
This is where the real debate begins. Remington or Savage or Weatherby or Browning, a solid bolt-action rifle is the perfect tool to take down your first deer. Then there’s the arguement over calibers. Simply put you can’t go wrong with .270, .308, or .30-06 for killing a deer. You can also use .243 if you’re looking for less recoil.
Modern bolt-action rifles are easy to use, easy to fire, and easy to clean. And most models come pre-drilled for scope mounts. Heck, some rifles are sold ready-to-go with scopes already mounted. Most importantly, find a rig the fits you. Handle it before you buy, bring it up to your should and get a feel for the rifle. When you find a rifle that feels right, you’ll know and you’ll be more comfortable shooting it and hopefully more accurate.
You’re set with equipment and you’ve chosen the style and brand of rifle that fits your needs but there’s one more step before you buy. . . The Basics: It’s a Matter of Caliber.