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Location: Georgia
Joined: 12/26/2004
Posts: 2
Newbie

Hi,

I am a newbie interested in hunting. As most newbies, I was wondering what kind of gun I would need to hunt deer in the southern states. I live in GA. I have read about people getting a .22 LR Rimfire for hunting with first. Not sure if I could hunt with a .22. I also own a Benjamin Franklin pump pellet rifle and an Ithaca M-66 .410 shotgun. I guess those would be good choices for practicing with to build up my shooting skills. As far as a deer hunting gun, I am clueless. Any suggestion would be helpful.

Thanks,

Chris

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Moderator
Location: Nova Scotia
Joined: 08/17/2002
Posts: 1762
Newbie

For your first deer (new) rifle I'd suggest the 308 win. or the 30-06. Both are very able calibres and have mild recoil. Of course the list goes on as to what other calibres will work and it all comes down to opinion. You will not be disappointed by either of the above.

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Location: Southeast Washington State
Joined: 09/28/2004
Posts: 117
Newbie

For a deer rifle in the SouthEast, you need to consider two things: action type, and cartridge.

The action type is probably more important than the cartridge for beginning shooters, as long as we are considering only standard deer hunting cartridges. As far as action types go for rifles, you can choose a break action(such as a Thompson Contender), a falling or rolling block action(such as a Ruger #1), a bolt action (such as a Remington Model 700), a pump action (such as a Remington 7600), a lever action (such as the Winchester model 94), or a semi-automatic action (such as the Browning BAR). For someone new to shooting and hunting big game, my recommendation is to find a good bolt action, with consideration also for a break action or a falling block.

Bolt action are fairly common, very strong, reliable, and relatively easy to operate. Most bolt actions are repeaters, which means they have a magazine capable of holding additional rounds. Break actions and falling block actions are single shot rifles, and while easy to operate, rarely allow for second chances, even in the hands of experienced hunters. Lever actions, pump actions, and semi-automatics require a higher degree of proficiency than first time hunters are usually qualified for, so I tend to avoid them. Unless you have time to spend at the range and someone experienced in their operation, I would not recommend starting out with one of those three types.

You should be able to acquire a nice new rifle for less than $500 these days, a good used one will be cheaper, but if you do not know what to look for, you may get stuck with a lemon, or worse. You will also want to invest a nearly as much in a good telescopic sight to put on the rifle. There are a number of decent sights for under $100, but there are a lot more that aren't. I recommend Leupold telescopic sights because they don't have any "cheap" sights in their product line that aren't worth owning. I would say anything that costs you more than $200 will probably do. You will most likely want a sight that is variable power, the most common being a 3 to 9x, with a 40 mm objective. That may not mean much to you now, but if you stick with those values, you really can't go wrong.

As far as what cartridge to load, I think the 30-06 is perhaps too much for first timers. The 308 winchester is a really good load for a full grown man to start hunting with. It is powerful enough to reliably and confidently kill a deer inside of 250 yards, yet not overwhelming in recoil. It is close enough ballistically to a 30-06 yet it has many advantages over the older round. It is one of the most commonly loaded hunting cartridges, so product support in the market is likewise reliable. I can walk in to almost any little general store out in the sticks that would sell ammunition, and they pretty much all stock some 308 ammo. My first hunting rifle when I became an adult was an Interarms Mark X in 308, and I was quite happy with it until it burned up in a house fire some years ago. I do not recommend any of the new short magnums or anything with magnum in the name for first time big game hunters. Stick with what works and has been proven by the market for a long period of time. The smallest cartridge I would recommend for first time deer hunting would be a 243 winchester, though it may not be appropriate in all situations. Regardless of what your state law may or may not allow, do not use 22 caliber anything on deer sized game. Once you have some experience with harvesting big game, you might consider it if the law allows, but most people I know do not consider 22 caliber centerfire cartridges to be suitable for deer sized game. It can be done, but there are too many better alternatives out there.

Most important of all, practice marksmanship before you go hunting. For first time hunters, I instruct them to expend at least 200 rounds at the range with the firearm they intend to hunt with. It takes that much to break the firearm and yourself in. It helps if you have someone to practice with who has enough experience to help you out, but even if you don't , most people can figure it out for themselves along the way. Also, study hunting the type of game you are after. Learn their habits, the vital areas to aim for, proper game recognition (yes, even for deer), the list goes on.

Be an ethical hunter. Find out what that means, and make that your ultimate goal out in the field. It is more important to maintain hunting ethics than it is to bag game!!! You will find that being an ethical hunter encompasses all that is desirable in hunting anyways, and it will make it that much more special for you.

Good luck, and welcome.

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Joined: 10/30/2004
Posts: 117
Newbie

Benjammin makes many good points.

I'd add a few. For shotgunning I'd dump the 410 in favor of a 20 gauge with a good recoil pad. Buy an 870 - maybe youth model, capable of 3 inch shells and with screw in chokes and you should be set. Actually you could go to a 12 ga and use light loads for most anything at first. The light loads 7/8-1 oz really don't have recoil. And by going with a 3 inch chamber you can go full blast later. Cut the stock down if you have to. You can buy a full sized stock later as you grow. Stock length or Length of pull is critical in a shotgun.

For the rifle-- To save money before you really jump in deep- I'd buy a single shot like HR. In something like a 308 or if you can find it(dont' know what HR offers) 300 savage, 7x57, 7-08. I think they are making reduced recoil even in 308 which makes it a great option. 243 is very useable and I've killed many deer with it and never lost one, but knowing what I now know- I'd opt for a bit larger bullet, but speed is not so important. Then spend money on a good trigger tune up for that gun. And spend as much or up to twice as much on a good scope so you can see when it counts. Simmons is not in this formula.

The scope can be moved to a bolt action of your choice(or whatever) later on and will not loose its value so spend well on the scope. Its seldom you get more than one shot at an animal anyway. And you need to learn to make that shot count.

Then burn up brick after brick of 22 ammo practicing when you can. The more you shoot, the better you get.

If you delve off into pistol start with a 22. And learn that anything less than 357(and thats even questionable to me) is light for deer type game. I'd go 41 and up if you ever get that far.

Best of luck, Jeff

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Location: Georgia
Joined: 12/26/2004
Posts: 2
Newbie

I forgot to mention in my post that I am 27. I am not sure if weight and height have anything to do as far as buying a gun or hunting, since they will sell anyone a gun as long as you are of legal age. I iwll take the suggestions here and start researching different makes and models until I get ready to buy a gun.

Thanks,

Chris

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