Handguns can make deer hunting even bigger challenge

Published 12:47 pm Wednesday, January 3, 2001

Outdoors Columnist
It was one of those cool December afternoons that makes a hunter feel like it is his day. The temperature was in the low 40's with no wind. It wasn't really a planned hunt-one like outdoor writers like to do "how to" articles on, such as plotting escape routes, studying wind currents, etc., before you go hunting. I just grabbed my gun, an old camo field jacket, a hunter orange cap, and walked into the woods back of my house.
I had just sat down on the ground and leaned back against a medium size oak to watch for deer in a hardwood bottom directly in front of me. For some unexplainable reason, I felt sure I would see deer that afternoon. Sure enough, I had been on stand less than 20 minutes when I spotted a buck feeding in a bottom to my immediate right. I couldn't shift my body for a good two hand hold on the gun as it hadn't rained for several days and the leaves rattled like Halloween crepe paper at the slightest movement. The deer continued to feed closer to me. When the buck walked into a slight depression, I cocked and slowly raised my gun. The buck walked out of the depression and up on the hilltop. He saw me just as I completed the trigger squeeze. At the shot the buck bolted, ran 40 yards and dropped. I had harvested a trophy 6 point 147 pound buck.
Why was I so excited and why would I consider a mediocre 6 point, 147 pound buck a trophy? Because I had harvested him with a .357 magnum revolver rather than a shotgun or rifle, that made him a trophy to me. Just as in bow hunting, handgun hunting adds an extra layer of challenge and tilts the odds in favor of the game.
Hunters thinking about giving this exciting sport a try will find a vast selection of handguns and scopes to choose from. More deer are probably bagged with revolvers at present, but the single shot and bolt action shooting "rifle" calibers are gaining in popularity. Revolvers in .357, .41 and .44 magnum and the new .454 Casull are adequate for whitetail. Admittedly, the .357 is probably in the marginal category, but with a hot load and a heavy bullet fired from a long barreled revolver, it will get the job done at ranges less than 50 yards. Definitely a better choice is one of the .41, .44 or .454s in a revolver equipped with a long eye relief variable power scope.
Single shots, such as the Thompson Contender, chambered in .30-30 and larger calibers extend the hand gunners range. The single shot and bolt-action pistols are also more accurate because of their tight lockup.
If you are looking for a new thrill in deer hunting, something between rifle and bow, consider the challenging sport of deer hunting with a handgun.

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