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Critter's picture
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Location: Western Colorado
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Venerable 30-30

Why is it that when a young man turns 12 years old and is able to purchase a hunting license that his father or grand father thinks that it is the right thing to do to let him use his old trust worthy hunting rifle the 30-30 for his first hunt?

My problem or the young mans started this morning at about 7:30 am when in his sights he saw and attempted to take a 200 yard shot with a 30-30 with his father at his side. At the shot the deer lurched as if he had been hit but didn't go down. I came upon this situation this morning at about 8 am and was told that the young man had hit the deer and that they had found blood but had lost the blood trail. Well, being the helpful person that I am I volunteered my services to see if I could help the young man find his quarry and forgo my scouting trip for the day. After much searching from the spot that they had last seen blood I picked up a faint drop of blood on a piece of sagebrush. Then another and another over about 100 yards then it was time to look harder for it since it wasn't flowing as it should but he had hit the deer.

Well, fast forward to now 9 pm Mountain Standard Time and I was on the track for 12 hours trying to find that buck to no avail. The last trace that I saw of his tracks or blood was in a deep side canyon leading down the the Eagle River that flows along side I-70. I hated to do it but I had to give up and the young hunter was beat. I doubt that he was awake much longer than 5 minutes after he sat down in his dads truck.

I don't think that this deer is dead or is going to die (I hope) but we gave it a valiant try to find him.

My big gripe about this story is the great fire arm a Winchester M94 in .30-30 shooting a 150 grain round at a range of 200 yards with a unexperienced hunter shooting it. Now before all of you jump on me and tell me that the .30-30 has killed more animals than just about any other round since smokeless powder I'll agree with you, just not in the hands of a 12 year old on his first hunt.

So dads out there when your youngster decides that he or she wants to take up the family tradition of hunting and providing for the family get them a nice modern rifle to take care of the job. A .243, .257 Roberts, .25-06, and 7mm-08 are all easily available to purchase either new or used and perhaps when that young tenderfoot takes his first shot at a game animal at 200 yards that animal will die a quick death. Save that trusty heirloom for when you young hunter is a little bit more experienced.

OK, I'm off of my soap box.

SGM
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Location: Canon City, Colorado
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Critter, you get a gold star

Critter, you get a gold star in my book for helping the young hunter and his dad out. Like you said the 30-30 has killed a lot of deer and even elk but I have never been a big fan of the round and for sure not much over 100 yards if I did use one. Depending on the size of the 12 year old I would go with a 243, 270 or 308 before I would ever use a 30-30. My oldest boy is very small and I simply got him out shooting his 243 and 308 a year before his first big game hunt to get him use to shooting it. Not to say the young hunter would have done better with a different rifle as buck fever still gets some senior hunters, but at 200 yards the odds would have been increased greatly. To answer your question as to why; maybe it is tradition, maybe they think that is all the kid can handle or maybe they are simply to broke or cheap to get another gun. I just hope this does not put a sour taste in the young hunters mouth and he continues to hunt.

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Well, I partially agree with

Well, I partially agree with you.  I don't think it's so much a problem of the age of the shooter, but the distance of the shot.  My first rifle was a Marlin 30-30, and I still use that gun when I hunt in Vermont.  However, I hunt in an area that I can shoot at about 75 yards max.  The 30-30 drops alot of energy over 150ish yards or so, with alot of drop in the round.

Now out west, i have a 30-06 that I use, primarily because I espect to take a 300 yards shot.  Not much call out here for a "brush" gun like a 30-30.  I would never have shot at a deer at that sdistance, with that gun.

Just my opinion though.......

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Well, I'm back from my

Well, I'm back from my scouting/tracking trip for the day and I do have some good news on the wounder deer problem from yesterday. After not seeing any nice bucks for my hunt in a week I went back to where I had left off last night on the trail of the wounded buck. He had bedded about a quarter of a mile from where I left off last night and I jumped him this morning. He was up and off like a shot. After running about 500 yards across a sagebrush flat he slowed to a walk. He was limping a little but he looked just fine to me and won't be coyote bate anytime soon. As for the age of the shooter and a 30-30 what I was getting at was that a more experienced shooter and his father would or should know better than to try to take such a long shot with that rifle. It appeared to me that the boy held right on the bucks shoulder when he fired and hit the deer in the lower leg or grazed it. As I watched the deer through my spotting scope I could not tell just where he was hit at but he did have a noticeable limp.

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Okay, I agree then.  I

Okay, I agree then.  I thought you were saying that an older person could have made the shot.  But, you're saying they never would have even taken one.  Got it.

Glad to hear he'll survive this.

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I would agree a responsible

I would agree a responsible shot is needed for young hunters, especially those who are trying to harvest their first big game animal.  However, I would not place blame on the caliber of the weapon for not getting the job done.  I don't see the above situation as a 30-30 problem--this is a crappy mentor (read the kid's dad) problem.

My son is a young and inexperienced hunter.  He had no trouble killing his first deer, at 11 years old, with the venerable 30-30 model 94 Winchester.  The fact that this 30-30 was the same gun I used to shoot my first deer meant a lot to both of us.  When he tells others about the experience he always mentions the gun and how cool that is.  BUT, he had practiced and shot that weapon many times and prepared himself to hunt with that weapon.  We had talked, a lot, about how far he could shoot, what made for a good broadside shot, where to aim to hit the vitals, etc.  It was no accident that he hit the deer and dropped it.  He had worked hard preparing himself for the opportunity.

It wouldn't have mattered if he were shooting a .243, 25-06, 7mm-08, or a 30-30.  He needed to understand how to operate the gun safely and what makes for a good and ethical shot.  That is something that needs to be coached by a mentor for months in advance of actually hunting.  Putting any gun of any caliber into the hands of an inexperienced hunter and telling them to shoot something 200 yards away is just STUPID and likely won't end too well most of the time.  It wasn't until earlier this year that my son had taken a shot over 200 yards at a big game animal--3 seasons and 6 hunts into his hunting career.

I too appreciate your willingness to help out this young fellow and his dad.  Too bad he wasn't able to finish with his first deer in the back of the truck.  I also hope it doesn't discourage him from continuing to pursue hunting in the future.  But it sounds like his dad (or whomever is mentoring him) might need some mentoring too for the results to be changed into a consistently positive experience.

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