So you want a new Deer Rifle, huh?

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shaman
 
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So you want a new Deer Rifle, huh?

Postby shaman » Mon Jun 08, 2009 4:39 am

It occurred to me the other day that this might be a good time to start a new conversation about deer rifles.  Guys will be thinking about possibly buying a new rifle about now, maybe their first.  So it is probably a good thing to throw something up on the wall and get the ball rolling.

To be honest, the best time I've found to buy a new deer rifle is just after season ends.  A lot of guys sell their rifle to pay Christmas and winter heating bills.  You get a lot of good deals.  However, now is also  agood time to be out there getting a new rifle broken in.  I usually break out the deer rifles just after putting away the turkey guns. The worst time to get a rifle is the night before season.  We've all seen it:  you show up at Walmart on the eve of season and see somebody handling the stock.   What are they thinking?

First off,  I want to get something off my chest:  there is no single perfect deer rifle.  We all have favorites, but it is all based on our own peculiar experiences.  The fact of the matter is any center fire rifle cartridge that is legal in a state is going to be adequate for killing deer.  Although I do not recommend this practice, 25 ACP will kill a deer.  In some states it is legal.  There is also no perfect action for deer.  Some guys like levers. Some guys prefer bolt guns.  I started with a semi-auto.  About the only action I do not recommend for beginners is a single-shot.  The only reason for that is that it does not allow for a fast follow-up shot.  I am a big advocate of at least being ready to take a second or third shot if the deer cooperates and does not run off.  Most times, my scope falls back on 4 sets of toes in the air, so the point is moot.  

Scope?  I use a scope.  I am now past fifty and my eyes are not what they were.  A scope is almost a necessity for me. Whatever you pick, be willing to practice until you are competent, and be willing to accept the limitiations.  My kids did not hunt until they could hit a pie plate offhand at 50 yards. One preferred doing it with irons. One started with a scope.

Lastly:  Recoil does not kill deer.  Shot placement does. You do not need a 300 Rem Mag  or a 7mm Rem Mag to kill deer.  Buy a 30-06 or a 270 Win and enjoy yourself.  Most guys dream of taking deer out past 200 yards.  Most guys shoot deer inside 100 yards.  I do the bulk of my work inside 50 yards.   Find a deer rifle that will shoot accurately and practice with it.  You will not be able to make up for a bad shot by having a bigger rifle.  Do not buy a rifle, because your last rifle did not produce a "bang-flop" kill. Deer sometimes run; it is just the nature of things.  

The big take-away from this rant should be that whitetail deer are not that hard to kill.  This is a sport that is more about good woodsmanship than technology.  Do not over-brain this thing.  Go for what makes you feel the best.

What are my favorites?  I'm a big proponent of the middle way.    I'm not into the fastest bullet, the biggest bullet, the farthest shot, the most expensive shooting system.  I personally feel there is a fairly narrow window of what you can do with the basic equation of Force= Mass X Acceleration before you either A) Exceed the performance of the lead/guilding metal of the bullet and blow it up or B)  Exceed the performance of the deer's innards and exit the animal.  Somewhere in there, you have to figure in proper expansion of the bullet.   Bore?  40-something is on the high-end, 20-something is on the low end.  In the middle is 30-something.  Hmmmm.  about .308 or thereabouts for a nice middle ground.  I believe the 30-06 is overkill on deer, but the best overall cartridge for game on the North American Continent.  30-30 WIN?  It is definitely a good deer cartridge, but it is not my favorite.  

300 Savage.  Personally, I don't own a 300 Savage, but I do own 30-06, and 30-30 WIN and .308 WIN.   I reload.  I took the 308 WIN and backed it off to 300 Savage levels and found a recoil level that I could call  home.  It's a bit more than the thutty-thutty, but it has a range that will take a 165 grain bullet out to 200 yards. Beyond that, and I'm getting up and moving closer.   I shoot these out of a Savage 99.   This is my favorite, but before you run out and try to buy one, remember that the Savage 99 lever has not been made in over a decade.  300 Savage rifles and ammo are still out there, but they are both harder to find than 308 WIN.  I am primarily hunting out of stands, and I seldom take a deer out beyond 80 yards.

The bulk of my deer rifles are in 30-06.  I have bolt-actions and semi-autos.  Yeah, it's overkill, but overkill can be a good thing up to a point.  My son shot my M1 Garand for several years as a youth rifle.   He was good with it.  It fit him.  The gas-operated semi-automatic action reduced the recoil considerably.  I also shot a Remington 742 semi in '06 for years.  

I have one 30-30 WIN Marlin 336.  There is nothing wrong with it. #3 son is 11 and he's taken deer with it.  I personally feel (not think) it is a bit under powered compared to the rest of the rifles in my rack.  My point in including this rifle is not to knock it. Rather, I want show that even the most popular deer cartridge of the last 100 years is not everyone's favorite, and that those preferences are not always rational.  If you are looking for what I feel is the bottom-end of that "middle way" this is it.  On the top end is my next choice.

On the other end of the spectrum, I have a Remington 7600 in 35 Whelen that I use on the deer.  It makes them dead as a 30-06 to be sure.  It does not make them any more dead.  In fact, I was a bit surprised that Whelenizing a deer didn't do all that much more than any of my other rifles.  "DRT" or "BANG-FLOP"  is an ideal, nothing more.  The first buck I shot with this rifle stood and took 3 rounds into the heart/lung area at 80 yards and just kept staring at me without flopping over.  It felt like I was shooting blanks. It was a fluke, however. A bunch of deer have all gone down smartly since.  The only reason I mention this is another guy might conclude that he needed a bigger gun, or premium bullets or some other fix.  About all I did was switch from Remington PSPCL Corelokts to SPCL Corelokts, and I cannot be sure that fixed anything.  Somebody just suggested the spire-pointed Corelokts might be a little slower to expand than the round-nosed ones.  

What I really like about this rifle is that it is a pump. It is a bit faster for me  to operate than my bolts or levers.  It is not as complex or as picky as my semis.  It is certainly one of my more accurate rifles.   I  can strip it down after a soaking rain and not loose zero on the scope.  I can fully  operate the rifle with gloves on. As a result, this has become my designated rain gun.

Best deer rifle?  At normal treestand distances a 12 GA shotgun with 2 3/4 Remmie Sluggers will do as good a job as anything.  If you like a 30-06 at 200 yards, you should see what it does inside 10 yards.  The next guy up may throw .223 Rem on the wall, and after him some guy will make the case for .375 H&H.  Best is what you feel confident practicing and using.  I have given you my best advice.  What's yours?
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69Viking
 
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RE: So you want a new Deer Rifle, huh?

Postby 69Viking » Mon Jun 08, 2009 5:50 am

Shaman that is some great advice you've given! I don't think there's much I could really add to it other than shoot what you are comfortable shooting at the range you are comfortable shooting at. Everybody is going to be different. Take your time when selecting your guns, do the research before making a purchase. There are so many resources online now you can't go wrong if you do the research! Happy rifle shopping everyone!

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passin through
 
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RE: So you want a new Deer Rifle, huh?

Postby passin through » Mon Jun 08, 2009 9:06 am

Shaman--- Really like your rifle posts....they are generally well thought out and very informative to anyone.  I agree with everything you post here with the possible exception of the single shot not being for beginners.....if properly trained or shown they should know they only have the one shot and make it a good one.  Which, I think, tends to make for better shots in the long run...that being said, it should be the beginners choice as to which action they want to use.  My kids will have their choice.  I will say this though ... I would strongly discourage any beginner from starting with a semi auto loaded to the gills unless that beginner has a very good coach and doesn't get nervous on the trigger.  I totally agree with your premise that this whole deer killing thing should not be over thought or over gunned.  If you are hunter enough to get in range, get a clear good shot and shooter enough to hit where you aim at, whatever you are toting should do the job if you can shoot it.  Shot placement does indeed kill deer.  I have seen whitetails taken with anything from broken bushhogg blades, hammers, and 22 shorts up to your afore mentioned 375 H&H and once even a 416 rigby.  It does not take much if you put it in the right spot.  For myself I like the 30- something as well and am at home with the venerable 308 win.
It matters not the weapon nor its caliber, rather the caliber of the one who wields it.

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shaman
 
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RE: So you want a new Deer Rifle, huh?

Postby shaman » Mon Jun 08, 2009 11:19 am

I just want to add something about single shots.   Normally it takes just one shot.  Normally it takes me one shot.  That means a single shot should be enough. Right?  I prefer a repeater, but the next guy may say different.  My preference is to try for a second, well regulated  shot whenever possible.  Think of how many deer have run on you.  Think of how many deer have just stayed there. Think of how many ran. Think of how many deer just went down like they had been pole-axed.  By comparing those three numbers, you will find your own answer as to how important a follow-on shot is.

A single shot is usually lighter than a repeater-- not always, but usually.  I prefer the extra weight.  It helps absorb the recoil.  Case in point:  I did up a Savage 110 for KYHillChick in 30-06 as a bench gun.  She found the recoil unpleasant.  7 lbs of lead in the stock, later it's a kitten.   I don't mean you should go out deer hunting with a 15 lb rifle, but you see where I'm going.  #2 son, Moose, loved the M1 Garand for a yute rifle for the same reason.

Lastly:  I've tried to reload a muzzleloader with a quizzical doe looking at me.  I've also tried a rapid fire drill with a break-open deer rifle, and the spares in my fingers.  I failed the former miserably. The latter. . . well, some of the extra rounds ended up on the ground. It was going to take a lot of practice.  I know my limits. If it is going to be a beginner's rifle, I would suggest something else for the aforementioned reasons. I'm a big fan of a used rifles, and you can usually find a nice lever or bolt in the same price neighborhood as a new single shot.

As to semis, I started with one, but I had a marine armorer, a gun rag editor, and a veteran of the Bulge for coaches.  #2 son started with a lever action 30-30, but Moose fell in love with my M1 Garand as soon as he tried it. He had me for a coach.  A semi-auto center-fire rifle is not to be trifled with, but really neither is any other. Kentucky requires the parent to be where he can take control of the rifle at all times anyway. When Moose graditated from yute-dom, I gave him a nice '06 bolt gun and took the Garand back for myself. My personal favorite beginner's gun is the exposed-hammer lever, because Dad can see the current status of the rifle at all times, and you don't have to rely on the kid's proper use of the safety. My second favorite is a bolt gun with nothing up the spout and no more than 3 in the mag. That's how I generally hunt with them--- from an empty chamber. However, the Garand-type safety is very visible.  When I was being Dad, I had no problems.

Now, broken bush hog blades and hammers?  You've got my attention.  I personally have thought about trying for one with a claw hammer and an oatmeal cookie, but never gotten the technique down to where I was confident. The bush hog blade sounds really novel.  Do tell.
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RE: So you want a new Deer Rifle, huh?

Postby passin through » Mon Jun 08, 2009 12:41 pm

The busted blade thing was me unfortunately....a few years ago I was traveling in a neighboring state and saw a grown deer get it spine broken just above the pelvis.  I pulled over and being on the side of the interstate I could not hop out with a firearm and put it out of its misery.  Nor was i going to cut its throat as i had on dress clothes.  I figured to find something as I walked to it and happened across a bush hogg blade that had been snapped off.  I guess it came off one of the state hwy dept tractors that hogg' the medians.  Anyways I proceeded to the animal, got into its blind spot, and gave it a strike between the ears comparable to what we used to hit hogs or beef during slaughter time.  The difference there was we use a maul and the old blade rang my hands pretty bad.  It worked though.  Then I called highway patrol told them the approximate location and the time of death so they could come get it if they wanted it for the prison farm.  They thanked me for calling and said they did want it and would be right on out.  I got in my car and went on about my business.
It matters not the weapon nor its caliber, rather the caliber of the one who wields it.

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RE: So you want a new Deer Rifle, huh?

Postby cdn1 » Mon Jun 08, 2009 1:50 pm

Shaman I'm not sure I could add to anything that you have stated above.
Good marksmanship and the ability to put the bullet where it needs to go is a learned skill, Practice is what will make the biggest difference when the moment of truth arrives.  The the size or number of the swords is secondary to the swordsman. PRACTICE...PRACTICE and PRACTICE some more would be my advice.
 
As for my Caliber of choice the .270 will do wonders in the deer size game
catagory. 
One other thing that I would add.  I have always tried to stick to popular calibers .270, .30-30, .30-06 etc.. if for only the price of a box of ammo
and the avalibility of it.  There is nothing like trying to find a box of 6.5x55
100gr swedish mauser at 5:36pm on the Sunday before deer season opens, so your buddy doesn't have to drive 6 hrs home to get his reloads. (not that this has ever happened to me)
Cdn1

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RE: So you want a new Deer Rifle, huh?

Postby John1961 » Tue Jun 09, 2009 2:09 am

I think Shaman could write a book on anything.  LOL I think something to think about when choosing a new firearm if fit and comfort. Fit meaning do you have to hold the grips on a rifle or shot gun with your fingers or can you rap you hand around the grip. Is it to heavy, to light ? Comfort,  How does it feel to you as you hold it to your shoulder, arms extended like your going to take a shot.

I favor the Marlin line my self. I have a 30-30, 35, and a 44 mag. All lever action. They fit me and they are not heavy and they don't shove my shoulder around the other side of my back when I fire them. I have a few others but I don't use them for hunting.

Just a few things I think of when buying a new firearm. Oh and moving sales are great for picking up a new boy toy as well. Image
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U.S. Army Retired and Proud American
Black Water Hunting Club
" BUY AMERICAN "

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shaman
 
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RE: So you want a new Deer Rifle, huh?

Postby shaman » Wed Jun 10, 2009 6:58 am

ORIGINAL: passin through

The busted blade thing was me unfortunately....a few years ago I was traveling in a neighboring state and saw a grown deer get it spine broken just above the pelvis.  I pulled over and being on the side of the interstate I could not hop out with a firearm and put it out of its misery.  Nor was i going to cut its throat as i had on dress clothes.  I figured to find something as I walked to it and happened across a bush hogg blade that had been snapped off.  I guess it came off one of the state hwy dept tractors that hogg' the medians.  Anyways I proceeded to the animal, got into its blind spot, and gave it a strike between the ears comparable to what we used to hit hogs or beef during slaughter time.  The difference there was we use a maul and the old blade rang my hands pretty bad.  It worked though.  Then I called highway patrol told them the approximate location and the time of death so they could come get it if they wanted it for the prison farm.  They thanked me for calling and said they did want it and would be right on out.  I got in my car and went on about my business.


I feel for you. I've had to do something similar with a tire iron.  Icky, but sometimes necessary.

I just HAVE to include this link:
[url=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uNaYek0h6wA]
Slingblade[/url]
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69Viking
 
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RE: So you want a new Deer Rifle, huh?

Postby 69Viking » Wed Jun 10, 2009 7:28 am

ORIGINAL: shaman

ORIGINAL: passin through

The busted blade thing was me unfortunately....a few years ago I was traveling in a neighboring state and saw a grown deer get it spine broken just above the pelvis.  I pulled over and being on the side of the interstate I could not hop out with a firearm and put it out of its misery.  Nor was i going to cut its throat as i had on dress clothes.  I figured to find something as I walked to it and happened across a bush hogg blade that had been snapped off.  I guess it came off one of the state hwy dept tractors that hogg' the medians.  Anyways I proceeded to the animal, got into its blind spot, and gave it a strike between the ears comparable to what we used to hit hogs or beef during slaughter time.  The difference there was we use a maul and the old blade rang my hands pretty bad.  It worked though.  Then I called highway patrol told them the approximate location and the time of death so they could come get it if they wanted it for the prison farm.  They thanked me for calling and said they did want it and would be right on out.  I got in my car and went on about my business.


I feel for you. I've had to do something similar with a tire iron.  Icky, but sometimes necessary.

I just HAVE to include this link:
[url=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uNaYek0h6wA]
Slingblade[/url]


That was an incredible movie, especially that scene!

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shaman
 
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RE: So you want a new Deer Rifle, huh?

Postby shaman » Thu Jun 11, 2009 10:24 am

Several years ago, I wrote a piece about picking a deer rifle from the shamanic point of view.  John1961 mentioned fit and comfort.  Take that a step further, and you get an idea what I mean. How does it fit you spiritually? That's a lot more important than most guys think.

Let me give you an example.  First off, remember that dead is dead, and any extra nuance is in the mind of the hunter and his companions.  I got a story from a guy who grew up in a camp that all liked to hunt with 44 Magnums.  Then one of the older guys showed up with a 444 Marlin.  Wow!  That made them. . . that made them extra dead.  Pretty soon, everyone was switching over to 444 Marlin. You didn't want to be without that extra deadness.

So what happens when it is your turn to come of age in that camp. What do you show up with?  One guy might pick a 270 WIN and go classic dead.  Another guy might go out and buy a 25 WSSM and go ultra-modern ultra-fast dead.  Somebody might buy a 45-70 Govt and go Ultra-heavy dead.  Then again, you might just pick a 44 Mag and make your statement that you want to honor the past, or a 444 Marlin and want to be just one of the guys.

In my case, all my buddies were big on 30-06.  I was a complete newbie, I trusted them implicitly. I knew anything else I'd pick would be going against all the advice I was given, and I didn't get off 30-06 for a deer rifle for 18 years.  By the time I changed cartridges, everyone else was dead, and so many of my friends were croaking within just a few years of that first deer season, I just could not go afield without the rifle they'd help me set up.  Probably in the first 5 years, I was a 30-06 snob, because I didn't know any better.  The next 10 years, I was holding on to the 06 because I couldn't bear to part with it. The last few years, I was spoiling for something else and couldn't make up my mind.  Now I'm back to taking about half my deer with '06, and it feels good to be home.

Then again, there's another thing going on here.  Here's a link to my weblog:

In the shamanic Loading Cave
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