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Deer rifle for a novice hunter

Esox

I didnt know
Ambassador
Wow. Do you practice long range shooting?
I use to, yeah. When I moved to Saskatchewan in 1982 I got my first .270, a Browning BBR. That was a nice rifle and it shot Winchester Western 130 grain Silvertip factory loads really well. Because its so flat and open there I asked the guy at the gun shop how high to sight in at. He said 4"s high at 100 so thats where I set the 2-7 Burris that was on it.

I got pretty good with that rifle. Standing in a tight sling, resting my left elbow on my hip, biathlon style, I could put 4 shots in a cigarette package at 400 yards.

The first deer I shot was a Mule deer buck in Southern Alberta. I still dont know how far that shot was. He was standing dead still quartering towards me and I was looking at his left side. There were two does about 5 feet behind him to the right. All were standing watching, wondering what I was as my head came over a ridge line. They were across a small valley near the crest of the next ridge.

I went prone and crawled so I could see over the ridge, curled into the sling, held on the top of his left lung and watched the first shot hit dirt right between his front feet. None of them moved. I gave a bit of daylight over his back and that shot went high. I held right on the line at the top of his back and sent the third shot. He fell on his feet and didnt even twitch an ear. I had to run the does off when I walked over to him.

That 130 grain Silvertip entered tight behind his left shoulder, went all the way through that big old buck and was just under the hide on his right hip. It did a massive amount of damage. The right rear leg was so congealed with blood most of it had to be thrown away. Lungs and heart were just a blackish red mass of jelly.

4"s high at 100 and holding a good eight inches higher than that, he was out there a long way and that bullet still penetrated the entire length of his body. The taxidermist said he was 9 years old from the wear on his teeth. He also said thats why his antlers were small and that I'd saved him from a slow death over the coming winter.

first buck.JPG

I was 15. His shoulder mount is on my wall and I can still visualize the whole scene in my mind. I think I still even have the bullet somewhere but no idea where it might be now.

Long shots are the norm hunting in the west. This is the Milk River Valley Alberta, not far from where that deer was shot.

Milk River Alberta.JPG

Milk River Alberta_02.JPG

I took a friend woodchuck shooting one day. I had my Savage .22-250 110 single shot and the old Sako AIII .270 with those Ballistic Tip loads. That friend had never shot a rifle before so we set up at the base of a hill over a hay bale, him on the rifle me with binocs. I spotted one standing at what I guessed 700 yards. His first shot was 3 feet low and about a foot left. His second shot landed on the base of the mound and chased the chuck into his hole. When he came out and stood up again I told him to hold over his left ear about 3 woodchucks high and send it. That did it.

The Winchester .270 is an awesome round for every thing up to deer, anywhere and at any range, assuming the shooter can do his part. Its a bit light for Moose, Elk and big bear but it'll still do it if it needs to be done with the right bullet.

The .338 Lapua is a whole different animal. It shoots incredibly flat at long range. One day we were shooting at woodchucks in the next concession over from where we were. One concession here is a mile. Shooting at ranges like that I loaded a Sierra Game King 250 grain boat tail at 3030 fps. Recoil is brutal from that light rifle, especially prone, but when you really need to reach out and touch something, it'll do it. Its accurate too.

This is 3 groups. Top left is a 5 shot group. The other two, the first two shots from a cold barrel while sighting in at 100m with a Barnes TSX 225 grain boat tail bullet at 3200fps from a Sako TRG-S .338 Lapua.

2011-07-09 14.03.57.jpg

I havent done any formal benchrest shooting. The only time I shot from a proper benchrest was working up loads and sighting in. All I've ever done is field shooting.
 

Esox

I didnt know
Ambassador
Yeah, that's good shooting. I get scared past 300 yards.
My 'lizard brain' has shrunk over the years. I cant shoot, or even shoot groups, like that anymore. My nephew and his buddies though, they're still in their 30's, can really shoot. His friend can shoot my Savage .22-250 tighter than I ever could.

My nephew started with a Ruger .44 mag Super Blackhawk when he was 8 lol.

Image-01 (3).JPG

He shot those .338 Lapua groups, typical for him. Mine were that good on my best day. It's not fun to shoot prone or off the bench. I made a recoil pad of 1" high density foam, folded it in half and wrapped it in duct tape for working up loads. The old Winchester Fail Safe 230 grain at 3150fps ripped that pad. The rifle is only 9 1/2lbs. I did all my shooting with it in the 1990's. I was much younger then lol.
 
I shall divulge why I asked (I shoot 30 cal):
I am thinking of close range at small deer & hogs, what velocity one might want.
My intuition says 3500 fps is way too much for small deer up close.

Jody
 

Esox

I didnt know
Ambassador
I am thinking of close range at small deer & hogs, what velocity one might want.
My intuition says 3500 fps is way too much for small deer up close.
You wont need the velocity for close range. Smaller deer and pigs at 100 yards or less I'd look at the 30-30 but I'd likely use a .44 mag carbine or something similar.

A bullet with a large frontal diameter and medium velocity would do the job and damage less meat.
 
What up y’all!

I’m in the market for a deer rifle. I’ve never gone deer hunting. Well....any type of real hunting for that matter.

I’ll likely go deer hunting once per season. Maybe twice. So I don’t want to spend an arm and a leg.
I think my budget is $700 or less. Any in that price range worth it?

Probably need a scope too?

Will be hunting Middle TN landscape. November - January

Thanks!
What up y’all!

I’m in the market for a deer rifle. I’ve never gone deer hunting. Well....any type of real hunting for that matter.

I’ll likely go deer hunting once per season. Maybe twice. So I don’t want to spend an arm and a leg.
I think my budget is $700 or less. Any in that price range worth it?

Probably need a scope too?

Will be hunting Middle TN landscape. November - January

Thanks!
Marlin 30-30. With decent scope less than $400 new, much less used, and they’re everywhere.
 

Acmemfg

Contributor
Ambassador
@Toothpick
Deer season is over in TN. Now is a great time to scout around pawn shops and gun stores. Lots of good deals can be found on rifles that their owners think they no longer need or want....deciding the hunting scene wasn’t for them.
 
Join a local gun club, get a marksman 's databook and train with your rifle. For where you are at, a Marlin 336, Winchester Model 94, or a Savage Model 99 will be fine.
 
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