So you want a first yute rifle, huh?

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shaman
 
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So you want a first yute rifle, huh?

Postby shaman » Tue Jul 07, 2009 5:22 am

I'm going to throw out some ideas on youth rifles for deer hunting.  Maybe we'll get a conversation going. Maybe not.  This is just like the previous thread about deer rifles. It is about time to be thinking of what Junior's going to be shooting this year for yute season.  You know: yutes.  The yutes go out with their little yute rifles and shoot da deer wit dem.

Anyone who wants to go out and get a new store-bought youth deer rifle for their kid is welcome to.  There are a lot of them out there-- short stocked, short barreled rifles in classic yute offerings like .243 WIN.  If you have the scratch and the will to do this, by all means do.  If you plan on making it the official family first-rifle and pass it down from young-un to young-un, it will probably pay for itself.

I did not go this route.  For one thing, I did not have a lot of money to throw at dedicated yute rifles.   I had two sons who wanted into the sport. They were big kids. They were going to be starting at 10 and outgrowing their rifles by 12 or 13.  I wanted an interim fix.

The most important issue with picking a yute rifle is recoil.  If the yute flinches, it's all over.  That doesn't mean that you should go out and buy the rifle with the least recoil. It means that you just need to be concerned.   It means it might be a good idea to start the yute out shooting a .223 Rem or something of that ilk to get them accustomed to the functioning of a centerfire rifle and gradually build up to a reasonable amount of recoil.   It may mean waiting an extra year.  At these ages, it is not as important to take a deer. Kids just want to be out hunting with you.  Pulling the trigger is not as important as you think.  Do not force the issue. The important thing is to go slowly.  A lot of the recoil problem is solved through proper stock fit.  However, this is a moving target. What fits them at 7 does not usually fit at 10.  

Selection of venue is also very important.   A yute out in the woods, sitting on a stump and shooting at deer offhand requires a rifle that can be shot by the yute offhand.  If the yute is going to be up a tree in a stand with a shooting rail, he can be shooting a much heavier rifle. If he will be shooting off the sill of the window of a hunting blind or shooting off sticks or shooting out of the back of the barn off a folding  card table, it is a considerably different than hefting a rifle and keeping it steady while unsupported.  My recommendation is towards fixed positions.  I weaned both kids on hunting blinds and then moved them to buddy-style ladder tree stands with fixed rails as soon as they were able to handle the height.

There are a lot of things that can fill the role of a yute rifle, given a little ingenuity.   A 20 GA semi-auto shotgun with a skeet barrel is a great first yute gun.  20 GA slug is a potent deer killer close in.  So is a Mini-14 or a Mini-30 or an SKS.  You just need to be creative.  Unless the yute is shooting offhand, you can get them a heavier rifle and let them use a prop.  Both of my sons started with a Marlin 336 in 30-30 WIN.  It had a naturally short stock.  It had an external hammer that let Dad know the state of the action at a glance.  It has been an ideal yute rifle for my kids.  #2 son graduated to an M1 Garand after 2 season.  What's a 12 year old doing with a 10 lb rifle?  Easy-- bigger rifle, less recoil.  It did not matter that it weighed so much carrying it out to the stand. Where it mattered was that between the weight and the gas-operated action, the Garand is a pussycat to shoot.

So what about all these marginal cartridges I mentioned:  223 REM?  7.62X39?    Yes, they are okay, but you have to be willing to limit the kid's range.  Be thinking about extended bow-hunting ranges.  Nail a deer with a 223 REM, a 7.62X39, a 44 Mag rifle, or some such round and that deer will go down-- provided the yute has made a good shot.  Bad shots with any of these cartridges are going to get lousy results, but then they probably would have been lousy with a 30-06.   These are not going to be beanfield rifles.  For any yute rifle, be thinking about finding a venue that offers a 20-50 yard shot for the kid's first deer.   

So what about semi-auto guns?  Yes, they do offer a challenge for the supervising adult.   However, there are a couple of tips I would recommend for any yute rifle.  First,  limit the number of rounds.  My kids started with 3 rounds. That is the number of rounds I usually load as well.  Sure, the magazine will hold 5, but after 3 shots you probably should take a break and re-think your strategy.    With a semi, you might want to start the kid off with just 2 rounds.  Honestly, I have had over a decade's experience with kids and rifles.  Basic firearm safety is basic firearm safety.  If the child cannot be trusted with a Mini 14 loaded with 5 rounds, he should not be trusted with any firearm.    The other tips I can give you is fairly basic as well:  Do not trust safeties.  My kids started with a lever with three in the magazine.  When the deer showed up, they worked the action and brought a round into the chamber.  Unless it was showtime, my yutes never had  a hot one up the spout.

So let's just say that I have been somewhat unconvincing.  You don't want Junior out popping his first with your grouse gun and slugs. You want a yute rifle, but you don't want to spend a whole lot of money.  Here is my advice:  buy a used adult rifle in a caliber Junior can handle and buy a youth stock for it.  Spend an extra $50  for an inexpensive Tupperware stock.   It is quite a bit better in my mind than finding a youth rifle and then trying to find an adult-sized stock for it later on.   My reasoning is simple:  The yute is going to grow quickly, and be needing that adult stock in seemingly no time.    In the interim, a little extra barrel will improve the stability of the rifle.  

What was my ideal yute rifle?  I tried a bunch of things.  Most of them I have already described.  Out of all of them, I liked the Marlin 336 in 30-30 Win as the starter rifle for both my yutes. As I mentioned previously,   I liked the exposed hammer.  It made it very easy to see what state the rifle was in. I liked the range; inside 50 yards 30-30 is a death ray. The kids liked the recoil and the fit of the stock. It was an adult rifle that fit both of them beginning at age 10.  If I were not reloading, this would be my only pick.

My second choice for an ideal ersatz yute rifle was a Mosin Nagant M44 .  This was a $60 bolt-action rifle.  The rounds were that funky  7.62X54R, but I reload so it was no problem for me to buy the dies, some brass and some .311 bullets.  I lopped off an inch of stock, removed the bayonet, and put on a recoil pad.  The case of the 7.62X54R is like a rimmed version of a .308 Win with totally eccentric dimensions.  Using H4895 powder I loaded up loads that mimicked a 30-30 WIN, a 300 Savage and a 308 WIN.  All three were decent deer killers.  I also bought a second stock for the M44 for about $25, so that  I could restore this horribly bubba'd - up rifle when it's yute hunting days were through.  

If you reload and you're interested in reloading for yutes, the Youth Load section of Hodgdon.com is a great reference.  Basically H4895 is THE powder for youth loads.  It is a medium-burning powder that can still give consistent velocities when loaded well below the maximum.  The yute load listed for the 30-06 is roughly the same specs as a 30-30 WIN.    If you can reload, seriously think about  coupling this with my idea of the adult rifle and the additional yute  stock.   Buy junior a 30-06, or whatever you'd like to buy him for his 18th birthday.  Order  a  Tupperware yute stock for it, and couple it with some nice yute loads from the Hodgdon site.  One deer rifle, 10 years or so worth of use, and the  kid  walks away with his first adult deer rifle.  You keep the yute stock at your house, start hitting the pawn shops to look for a good deal on something to fill it and begin dreaming of grand kids.
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RE: So you want a first yute rifle, huh?

Postby shaman » Wed Jul 08, 2009 4:19 am

I got to thinking about this overnight and I just wanted to add some thoughts about yutes.

First off, Kentucky does not have lower limit on age.  I've once met up with a 3 yr old at the  check-in station in Willow.  He came over in his Power Ranger pajamas and his red rubber boots and eyed the deer in the back of my truck and announced, " Yep, that's a nice doe you've got.  Mine was bigger."

To me, that's a little too young, but to each his own.  I set limits on my kids.

1)  They had to pass Hunter's Ed.  Moose passed at 10.  Angus passed at 8. I wanted them to feel the need to work for the privilege of hunting.  I also wanted them to fully understand what we were up to.  It also gave each kid a few years to be out with me and see how it all worked. Nowadays kids in KY cannot take Hunter's Ed until 12, but still can hunt without their card under close adult supervision.

2)  They were going to shoot an adult rifle.  I had big kids.  I knew each kid was going to have a convergence point between their physical size, mental maturity, and will to hunt.  It was all going to come together sometime between 8 and 11, and I just wanted let them hit that critical mass at their own pace.

Moose passed Hunter Ed when he was 10 and was out hunting the next weekend.  Frankly, his maturity still needed some work. He was still falling asleep on the stand. That wasn't so bad. It was the snoring.  Angus passed Hunter Ed at 8, but his rifle skills were still wanting.  We worked at it, but he did not improve.  It was maturity thing.  To him, it was all bound up with an overall reluctance to move on in his life.  He wanted to be a kid, and it took him a while to find his way through that.  When he resolved those issues, his rifle skills improved tremendously.

In my experience, there is no sense hurrying things.  It all seems like it can't wait, but then it is all over way too soon.
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RE: So you want a first yute rifle, huh?

Postby shaman » Thu Jul 16, 2009 12:41 am

Dang! 

Either a)  I got this yute rifle thing down so good that everyone agrees or b) It's such a dead skunk that no one wants to get near it.
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RE: So you want a first yute rifle, huh?

Postby nhdeerchaser » Mon Sep 07, 2009 1:31 am

I'm in shaman!
I went with a .243 winchester Rossi single shot topped with a bushnell trophy 1.5-4x32. I love the knowledge that he has to concentrate on bullet placement. I agree totally with the point you made regarding maturity. Not every child will get there at the same pace. They wil get there, but on there time not ours.
In the meantime, I take him out, and work on the fundamentals of shooting with his .22 which came with the .243 barrel. I like the fact that it mounted on the same platform as his .243, so all the same practicing with the .22 mimicks the .243.
I know that I'll be taking him out for youth weekend.
If he gets a deer great. If he does'nt, great. When he is in the woods with me, I know where he is.

Mike
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shaman
 
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RE: So you want a first yute rifle, huh?

Postby shaman » Sun Sep 13, 2009 12:59 am

Cool!!!

Remember that there will be serious jitters when that kid first puts his sights on the deer.  Both of mine got bad cases of it.  Try to pick a hunting venue that allows for close-in shooting-- archery distances if possible. That gives them a bigger target to shoot.  Practice helps, but there is no telling what happens when they get brown in their scope for the first time.  To be honest, it took about 4 seasons for my #2 son to cool down. 

#3 is on his way, but he also has a lot more outside activities that make him able to control stress.  He's a bagpiper and so he has that breath control thing down pat.

I have also found that hunting from a raised stand seems to help a lot.  I use buddy style ladder stands.  The kids started with me in ground blinds, but went aloft as soon as they were physically able to.  The stand keeps them in close contact to you and   close contact with the shooting rail.  The elevation provides a better chance for them to see the deer and less chance for the deer to see them rooting around.
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RE: So you want a first yute rifle, huh?

Postby MSHunter » Sun Sep 13, 2009 6:47 am

nhdeerchaser,
How has the Rossi worked out? I've always heard the quality is less than desirable. I'd PM Shaman on this issue as I want to get my 9 yr old a rifle/combo to shoot with. I haven't purchased his outfit yet. I think I'm going to go with a 270Win though, versus the .243.

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RE: So you want a first yute rifle, huh?

Postby shaman » Mon Sep 14, 2009 4:12 am

The Rossi isn't such a bad rifle for what it is trying to be.  You should be able to get minute-of-deer accuracy out of them, but then most rifles can get there with a tweak here and there.  Heck, my SKS was barely able to stay on a bushel basket at 50 yards, but I switched from  the cheap stuff to some halfway decent Remmie green box loads and it does okay.  The trick is to stay close enough where the accuracy of the rifle and the shooter together are not going to be a problem.

There are going to be guys that disagree with me, but I prefer not to shoot with a single shot, and I did not train my kids to work with a single shot.   The reason is that I am trying to teach my sons to be ready to take a second shot and even a third if the are able to do so. 

This is not a matter of pumping lead into fleeing deer. The point is to keep them from acquiring Golfer's Syndrome.  Sometimes the first shot will glance off an unseen branch.  Sometimes, even a well placed shot doesn't bring them down right away.  The trick is to stay focused and on task and not let up until they see toes in the air. Having a repeating rifle with a couple extra in the magazine helps this.

. . . but then that's just me.  Other people have other things on their mind.  I hope you all understand I'm not here to criticize how other folks  hunt with their kids.  I'm just throwing out ideas.

As to the question of cartridge,   Given the choice for my kids, I'd be inclined more towards .270 than .243.  Of course you are talking  to a guy that let his yute hunt with an M1 Garand.   Go figure. However, if you look at my situation, you can see why:

1)  My yutes are big kids
2)  My yutes started at 10
3)  My yutes don't have to schlep a rifle all that far or long
4)  My philosophy is that kids don't have to pull the trigger to have fun deer hunting. They just want to be out with Dad.

Some people opt for a light rifle and a light cartridge for their yutes.  I opted for a big heavy rifle and a moderate cartridge, because:
1) A heavy rifle soaks up recoil. 
2) They were going to be firing off a fixed position
3) They were going to be hunting with Dad and Dad could carry the rifle if it got heavy.

.270 WIN vs. 243 WIN  vs 30-30 WIN (my choice for a 1st time yute cartridge)


If you look at all three of these. They all work on deer equally well at 50 yards.  You could throw any one of a number of cartridges out there, and they'd all drop deer with the same results.  The difference in all of them starts showing up beyond 100 yards.     If you get into the classic debate of .270 WIN vs 30-06, the real differences of the flatter shooting .270, you are talking about ranges of 200 yards and beyond. 

On the other hand. . .

Let's just say you have a 270 single-shot vs. a .270 bolt gun. I ran some numbers just now through POINTBLANK  and found that if you have a 6.5 lb. single shot and compare it to 8.5lb bolt action, you're talking about a 4ft/lb difference in recoil energy and a  3 fps difference in recoil velocity.  That is a substantial increase in kick.

Be careful with these yute rifles-- you think you're doing the kid a favor by getting him a light rifle starting out, but even with a lowly .243 WIN, the recoil doubles going from a 6.5 lb single shot to a 8.5lb adult-sized bolt gun.

The real issue should be: How is my yute going to perform? My advice on yute hunting goes back to this:  try and keep the range to target as tight as possible, use what is immediately at hand, and let the kid take a deer or two before making a commitment to a piece of hardware.
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RE: So you want a first yute rifle, huh?

Postby nhdeerchaser » Wed Sep 16, 2009 10:55 pm

mshunter,

The rossi shoots pretty well for a cheap, 3 barrell option. I can put 3 rounds in the 8 ring in from 50 yrds out. For my son, that will be fine. I'm gonna take to the range in a couple of weeks to fine tune it more, but I think that will be fine for him.

Mike
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RE: So you want a first yute rifle, huh?

Postby nhdeerchaser » Sat Sep 19, 2009 12:35 pm

Got the rossi .243 dialed in to what I think is very acceptable. It is shooting a tight 3" group with two bullets kissing about 1.5" to the right of dead bull at 50 yrds.
I agree with shaman wholeheartedly that the deer should be in archery distance ranges. I just got my son a youth harness, so he will be safe with me in a tree, where he will hopefully see the deer before they see him.

Mike
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shaman
 
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RE: So you want a first yute rifle, huh?

Postby shaman » Sun Sep 20, 2009 12:20 am

So tell us more about the stand arrangement.  Is it one of those buddy-style ladder stands?
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