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Handgun deer hunting

Discussion in 'Hunting, Fishing & Camping' started by ithaca_deerslayer, Nov 12, 2002.

  1. ithaca_deerslayer

    ithaca_deerslayer

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    Who is going to use a handgun for deer this season? What distance will you limit yourself to for shots?

    Gun season for me starts Nov 18. I'm planning on using my Dan Wesson .44mag pistol, 8inch barrel, iron sights. I was practising the other day while specifically thinking about deer hunting. I think 50 yards is my range. In a real life hunting scenario (unrested shot, heart beating like crazy)I can get them inside an 8 inch diameter circle at 50 yards. That's probably the max spread allowed for a good kill zone.

    I think the most important thing isn't so much the distance, but the sight picture I get. If it looks like I can "see" and hold on the heart/lung area by the elbow of the deer, then it should be a good shot. At 100 yards, for example, my sight picture would crap and the I'd only be aiming at the whole mid-section and not the kill zone. So, 100 yards is too far for me.

    The .44 shoots pretty flat, so I don't have to worry about bullet drop inside 100 yards. If I had a scope on it maybe I'd be looking at 100 yards, if I could hold steady enough. But as things are, 50 yards is my practical limit.

    How about you guys?

    Edited to say: I'm asking more about your thought process regarding the distance you limit yourself to. I don't mean for this to be a question of what your skill level is. 50 yards is more my reference point than it is an indication of any ability I may or may not have.
     
  2. tjpet

    tjpet

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    Although I've killed one deer at 130 paces (under ideal conditions) I pretty much stay in the 75-100 yard range. You're already miles ahead as you realize the limits of your weapon.

    I use a Ruger Bisley .45 Colt with a V rear sight and a gold bead front sight. The stock sight system limited me, as you, to about 50 yards.

    Jeff Cooper always maintained that, if using a conventional revolver/auto with iron sights for BG hunting, a guy was good-to-go when he could consistently hit a beer can @ 75 yards when shooting off his knees from a sitting position.
     

  3. rfb45colt

    rfb45colt safe-cracker

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    I started handgun hunting six seasons ago. I also used a Dan Wesson .44 with iron sights, 10" barrel. Just as you, my limit for my shots was 50 yards, without a solid rest. If I had a solid rest, like a tree limb, I upped my limit to 75yds. But as it turned out, I killed three deer in two years with the .44, that were all under 30 yards. The first was a mere 15 yds away, beneath my tree stand. I then switched to using my 7.5" Blackhawk in .45 Colt. Because my 300gr hand loads hit 6" above POA at 25yds with the sights maxed out, I put a 2x scope on it. That upped my practical yardage limit a bit... say 100 yards with a good solid rest. I've shot five deer with the .45 Colt. But again, they were all under 30 yards. I missed one that was moving, at 45 yards. I hit a tree limb at 5 yards out that I didn't see until too late. My line of sight was above it through the scope, but my actually bullet trajectory wasn't. Dumb mistake. Live & learn. The closest was straight down from my tree-stand. No horizontal yardage at all... 11' vertical distance. I just pointed instinctively, without the scope, which was useless so close, and squeezed one off. I would've waited for him to get a little farther away, but he looked straight up (and I was afraid I was "busted") so I took the shot before he boogied. Hit him square between the shoulders and dropped him right there. Easiest "tracking and dragging" I've ever had. :
     
  4. ithaca_deerslayer

    ithaca_deerslayer

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    Thanks for the replies so far. Seems like 50 yards is the common max range for an iron sighted hunting handgun. Yeah, I'd like to hit the beer can everytime--guess I'll have to drink bigger cans of beer :)

    100 yards with a scope when rested? That sounds pretty good. What if unrested? Guess I should try it with my red dot .22 pistol just to see what happens off-hand at 100 yards target shooting.

    I love my Dan Wesson, but what I really want someday is a scoped Thompson Encore in .308, with a 14 inch barrel. Then maybe the range would be 100 yards plus. Part of that desire is because much of NYS is shotgun only, but any handgun is legal (bigger than .22). I think a Thompson should be able to outrange a shotgun.

    Yes, we dream of the long-range capability but most shots end up being close. The main advantage of a pistol, as I see it, is that you can be more multi-directional without having to move your whole body. If right handed, it is hard to shoot a long-gun to the right. But a pistol can easily be shot one-handed to the right, or two-handed to the left.
     
  5. Michigun

    Michigun Miss Michigan?

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    ithaca_deerslayer, I've used handguns for deer hunting before. I've owned 2 Ruger 44's in the recent past. 1st one was a Super Red-Hawk with a 7-1/2 barrel & the 2nd was a SS Super Black-Hawk (my favorite!) with a 10-1/2 barrel. I should have never sold either, but was made an offer I couldn’t refuse on each…

    Anyway, both guns had factory irons. 50 yards was my max as well with that set-up. I was going to mount optics on each to increase my “kill range”, but never got to it before each was sold. However, I did a lot of blasting with other “big bored” hunting handguns with optics to know exactly what I would have mounted to any hunting handgun I owned or will own. My choice will be a “red-dot” of some form or another. Mostly because of the problem rfb45colt ran into with his 11’ deer. During range shooting sessions with “power” (X1, X2, X2.5, etc, etc…) scoped handguns, I found the cross hairs hard to find in a timely manner. In field conditions I could see that becoming two-folded easily, especially without a rest! A “red-dot” is just the all-around best for me.

    After saying all that, the point I was getting to was that 100-yard kills with optics were very feasible as long as the shooter did his part. The guns I shot were very capable at those ranges! Off-hand with a “red-dot” was what I did best with all-around.
     
  6. marvin

    marvin sci-fi nut

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    i've used the 357 for a number of deer, and i've grown to think of it as a bow 35 yards max. which is fine as i hunt a lot in swamp areas where 20 yards is the most i can see most of the time;b ;b ;b
     
  7. 45acp4me

    45acp4me Pissed puppet

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    I just got the cheap red dot mounted on the 6" 686 last night. Zeroed it in for 25 yards with 180 grain Winchester supremes. This will be my first time out hunting period, so I'm limiting my shots to 45-50 yards rested and 35 off hand. I'm sooo geeked right now, I almost wish I had the dough for a slug gun, but this will be more of a learning experience. :) The swamp I'm in won't allow greater than a 50 yard shot anyhow.

    Regards,
    Glen
     
  8. rfb45colt

    rfb45colt safe-cracker

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    I practice at 100 yards all summer. Thankfully I reload, because I'll shoot a few hundred rounds at 100 yards each off season, with each handgun that I use for hunting. I now have a 2-6X32 Bushnell Trophy scope on my Dan Wesson. When I hunt from a certain stand sight (where it's poosible too even see 100 yards, I take the Dan Wesson. When I hunt from all my other stand sights, where maximum visibility is about 60 yards (except some rare narrow "windows" through the dense balsam trees) I use my Blackhawk. The Dan Wesson, with it's 10" barrel, is more accurate than the Blackhawk at 100 yards. But I only shoot over 50 yards with a rest. My treestand has a shooting rail with foam pipe insulation attached as a pad.

    Your Dan Wesson is more than capable of good accuracy at and beyond 100 yards, if you have a scope, a solid rest, and you do your part. I suggest that whatever handgun you hunt with... be it the DW, the TC Encore, a Ruger Blackhawk... that you always use a solid rest for any shot over 50 yards. And practice until it becomes second nature to make a long shot. Never exceed your capabilities... even when a monster buck appears, just a tad too far away.

    That's the best advantage to using a handgun, especially when the deer may be in real close. When I hunt with a handgun, I use the same treestand set-ups (location-wise)I use during bow season. I use the same treestands, but I have a shooting rail that I attach to each for gun season. But I use the same tactics as bow hunting.
    (Call 'em in close, if you can.) I just swap the bow for the pistol, and put on a blaze vest and cap, right over my bow hunting camo, and do what I've done since September's beginning of bow season. I don't take extra long shots beyond the ranges I practice at... not with my bow, nor my handguns.
     
  9. rfb45colt

    rfb45colt safe-cracker

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    Here's the "evolution" of my sighting system on my Blackhawk. I started out with a red dot. The iron sights do not have enough adjustment for my 300gr kickasss handloads. They hit 6" high at 25. So I put a B-Square full length mount on it, and a Simmons 30mm red-dot sight which I bought from Cabelas. It took about 6-7 shots to get it zeroed (1" high at 50). About two thirds of the way through a box of 50 hunting loads at the range, the rheostat knob on top fell off, and the dot went dark. It was busted from the recoil. I called Cabelas, and they sent me a BSA red-dot as a replacement (which I requested). The BSA held up to the recoil just fine... but it has a blue tint to the lens, that makes it difficult to see through in low light, early and late. I had a very hard time finding a holster rig that this gun with the red-dot on top would fit into. The Mil-Tech bandolier scoped pistol holster was the largest left-handed rig I could find. It fit, but just barely. Sometimes going in, the rheostat would get turned on, or off. Because of this, my battery went dead on the 3rd day of the season. I had a spare in my pocket, but as Murphy's Law exists, a nice deer appeared as I was trying with very cold hands to change the battery. Needless to say, he was gone before I was done. I did manage to shoot two deer with the BSA red-dot on, but I wasn't very happy with the situation. Way too much trouble with holsters, batteries, low light problems because of the tint. So before the next season came along, I bought a much smaller, and what I figured to be, much better Tasco Ultima 2000. It was great. I could use a regular holster, the battery was supposed to be good for a year or more, no blue tint... I was set. I practiced a lot with it, almost every afternoon. I was a damn good off-hand shot. Opening morning of deer season came. I was in the woods an hour and a half before sunrise. I was pumped. Five minutes into legal shooting time, 3 deer appeared, not more than 25 yards away. I slowly raised the Blackhawk to take aim at the biggest one. NO FREAKIN DOT!!!! The Ultima 2000 has automatic brightness control. It was not light enough at 25 minutes before sunrise to activate it. The freakin' thing, all $150 worth, was useless during the best hunting time. The deer walked away. I swear they were laughing at me. I went home and got my rifle to finish the day. The BSA was back on in the morning.

    Now... it's NEXT season. Over that summer, I bought a BSA 2X pistol scope. Opening day... wham, bam, bam... 3 DEER DOWN BY 9AM, including the 11' vertical down one... 3 shots fired... no tags left, season over for me in under 3 hours. I loved that little BSA 2X scope. It fit in the holster real nice and no stinkin batteries to die at the worst time possible. But... practicing this past summer, it too self destructed from the heavy recoil. One of the inner lens or mirrors got loose. It's all blurred. So I sprung for a Leupold. It's all sighted in and ready to go. If you shoot with both eyes open, and practice that way too, quick target acquisition is no problem.

    There was a point in time, when I too thought the red-dot was the best way to go. But I learned differant. If Leupold made a 1X handgun scope, I'd have one. I had to settle for the 2X... but it's slimmer, lighter, and no Murphy's Law battery problems.
     
  10. ithaca_deerslayer

    ithaca_deerslayer

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    rfb45colt, great information!

    Makes me want to just stick with iron sights. I've never thought about putting any scope on my DW. It is just too perfect now for what it is: a long barreled revolver that is easily carried, has plenty of punch, low recoil, and is accurate for medium range. It probably is long range accurate if I scoped it and was a good enough shooter. But for a scoped handgun, that's where I think I'd get a Thompson Encore and have thus have a sort of mini-rifle that is legal in NYS shotgun zones.
     
  11. Michigun

    Michigun Miss Michigan?

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    rfb45colt, I respect your likes & opinions, but cheap red-dots aren't a good gauge.
     
  12. rfb45colt

    rfb45colt safe-cracker

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    Good point, and well taken... especially concerning the Simmons and BSA red-dots. But there's nothing "cheap" about the Ultima 2000, and unless you have a Trijicon Reflex, you've still got batteries... and holster problems. When I bought the Leupold 2x scope, it almost came down to a coin flip between it and the Reflex. But I wanted the light gathering abilities of the Leupold. My 52 year old eyes aren't as good as they used to be... and I doubt they'll get any better as I get older.
     
  13. ithaca_deerslayer

    ithaca_deerslayer

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    I've got some tax money my wife is letting me use toward a new handgun, so I've been discussing in the Glocking forum, and the 1911 forum, whether to buy a Glock 30 SF .45, or a 1911 .45 such as a Springfield mil-spec.

    But my other choice is the Encore. As of this morning (and news to my wife since last night she thought I was leaning toward the Glock), I'm leaning toward the Encore hunter's package 15" in .308 .

    I deer hunt and target shoot more than I do much else with a gun. My Glock 26 9mm is a great carry gun. My Beretta 92 9mm is a great target gun. My Dan Wesson 8" and 4" revolver is a great iron sighted hunting gun.

    I think that of a G30, a 1911, and an Encore, the Encore fits what I really need: a scoped long-range hunting handgun. And I've been talking about one for years. So, now is the time!
     
  14. CanyonMan

    CanyonMan In The Saddle

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    Hoss, sounds like your mind is made up prety much on the Encore, or the G30. ;)

    Like I was saying to you on the other forum about this deal.... 1911's are the cat's meow (to me) for carry. They can kill deer. But, for your use and desires, it is NOT ideal. If you want a good carry gun, the 1911 is it, or the G30. (i prefer the 1911), but Not to consider it for a "bunch of hunting."

    Go with what you really want, and are going to use the most, for what you do the most of.

    As for the deer hunting handgun question. I limit myself to 100yds. I like them closer, but that is the limit. Ruger Black Hawks 45LC/SBH's 44mag/44special with iron sights. The G20 (we talked about on the other forum), with Meprolight adjustable click rear sights... tunes right in at this distance. I do prefer the Revolvers, orver semi auto, and again, do prefer 25/50yd shots, but 100 is MY max.


    Good luck to ya..


    CanyonMan
     
  15. ithaca_deerslayer

    ithaca_deerslayer

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    Good news is, the wife says we can also buy a 1911 in the Summer, after we build up some more savings. So, we'll get one then, just for the pure fun of having one. And we kinda like that SA mil-spec. She said we could go for the SA loaded, if I want. So, we'll do some shopping, and probably actually try some some glunclub buddies' 1911s to see what we want in that.

    The Glock 30 will probably just be out of my list, because as the more I think about it, the more I'll just stick with my 26 for carry. I had just been thinking that it'd be neato to have the .45 ACP in case a big bear attacked me or I wanted to shoot a deer with it. But for hunting I'll actually typically use the .44 or bigger. And if a big bear comes after me, the 9mm will have to do. I mean, really, if think I need bear protection I'll carry my .44 in the woods.
     
  16. CanyonMan

    CanyonMan In The Saddle

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    That a boy, save up and get ya a real nice 1911..... ;) Keep those hoglegs for your hunting. Good decision.


    Stay Safe


    CanyonMan
     
  17. ajstrider

    ajstrider Silent Warrior

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    I have 5 different single action revolvers I use to hunt deer, all Rugers with iron sights. I use the paper plate idea too, I assume a good hunting/shooting position and as long as I hit the paper plate I am good. I hunt in some deep thick woods usually, so I don't practice much further than 25 yards, so 25 yards is my limit. I am happy with that and it works for me!