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Location: Arvada, co
Joined: 10/07/2009
Posts: 23
Youth Rifle Help

Hello Everyone.

I need a little help.  I want to take my 10 yr old daughter on her first whitetail hunt.  We have access to some farmland in Nebraska and I would like to take advantage of the $6 youth licenses. 

The problem is I don't have a youth rifle that is adequate for such an adventure. (I am pretty sure my .30-06 is a little much for her first centerfire experience Shame on You! ) I have been looking online at .243's and have found a few deals on gunbroker for the rossi trifecta, the savage Axis, and the H&R single shot.  I am unsure as to the overal quality of these rifles. 

I am hesitant to spend alot of money on a new setup for her as she is excited to go on this  hunt, but I am unsure if she will get bit by the bug like I have.  Also, I started a new business in March and money is a little tighter than I'd like, so I know my wife will probably not quite see the advantages of a youth set-up over borrowing a friends full size browning lever action .243, which is likely my default.

SO my question for all of you knowledgable generous people is 2 fold:

1) any recs on cheap low recoil whitetail calibers/guns?

2) Is there anyone within a 2-3 hour drive of the north denver metro area that might be willing to rent or loan a youth model gun for either a test fire or the hunt (nov. 12-20 and/or Jan 3-18).  So we can test all this out before we start to make investments in equipment.  If she likes it this year I could work on getting her a good rig for next year.

Thank you all for the input.  I don't comment much, but I sure do appreciate all the information here.  This website has been an incredible learning tool as I have reentered the big game world in the last 2 years.

Cheers,

Critter's picture
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I applaud your effort to get

I applaud your effort to get you youngster out and into the hunting field but I personally think that no matter what you find it is going to give her a good little kick.  You might look around and see if you can find some Remington reduced recoil rounds.  They are usually loaded with 125 grain bullets over a reduced load of powder for a recoil sensitive shooter.  The only problem is that they might be hard to come by this time of year.  However Midway has them in stock right now.   You might also want to look into the caliber requirements for Nebraska and see if a .22-250 or .223 is legal, not all states are like Colorado that require a 24 caliber and above.  With the heaver bullets both of them are capable of taking a deer down. 

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Get something the right size

I can sympathize with your quandry.  I just bought a youth rifle this year after a couple of years of contemplating and "checking them out".  My son is very recoil shy at the range and always had a tough time of relaxing when shooting.  He's 12 now and still doesn't like to shoot the high-power rifles more than 3-4 shots at the range.  Here's what we did and it's worked out pretty good so far.

His first rifle was a 30-30 Winchester model 94 lever (with open sights).  He harvested a nice doe last year in Nebraska with this gun--the same gun I used to bag my first deer too!  This gun is small, only 18 inch barrel and we cut down the butt stock and put a limbsaver pad on it.  We also used the Remington managed recoil ammunition.  I thought it kicked about like a .223 after all of this.  This style of lever action gun is easily available at pawn shops for $300-$400.  Can't say I know a pawn dealer I'd recommend.  We did some shopping at local pawn shops but never bought a gun, only looked.

This year he came antelope hunting in Wyoming.  The 30-30 with open sights wasn't going to work.  We looked and shopped for most of the spring.  Most of the "youth" sized guns are pretty cheap--crappy actions, kind of sloppy, junky stocks, hard to load ammo, cheap/dark scopes, etc.  I was not going to buy a junk gun for $300-$400 that would probably be a lousy shooter and make it even harder for the kid to harvest an animal.  Not to mention needing to replace it out of necessity after a couple of years of poor results.  After months of looking, the 2 guns we really liked were the Browning micro X-bolt and the Weatherby youth size vanguard.  Remington and Winchester also have higher quality youth models, but I couldn't find a dealer (even large dealers like BassPro, Gander, and Sportsman's Warehouse) that stocked them; just the cheap crap was on the shelf.  Of those 2 guns above, we went with the Weatherby in a 7mm-08.  The gun was about $450.  We put a spare scope on it and used the strap from the 30-30 to complete the package.

The best part, this is a nice gun that won't have to be replaced for a long time, maybe even a lifetime.  It is comfortable enough for an adult to shoot well--I love shooting it.  The trigger is great and it's very accurate at 200 yards.  (I won't let the kid shoot past 200 yards yet, but he's working on proving he can shoot well enough to maybe start giving him some more distance on shooting opportunities.)  There are also 3rd party stocks available for $100-$200 so we can replace the smaller youth stock with a full size stock later if we want.  Weatherby also includes a plastic spacer that can be inserted between the recoil pad and the butt of the stock, but this gets back to the "cheap" part of the typical youth gun.

So....the biggest issues for us were the recoil (mostly mental here, but if the kids aren't comfortable and confident, they won't shoot well) and the weight of the gun.  The shorter barrel of the youth guns is BIG deal getting them comfortable and steady when shooting.  We practice with shooting sticks and "pack" rests at the range, but also practice shooting (mostly with .22's) off-hand in prone, sitting, and standing positions just to get comfortable and not need to rely on shooting aids when hunting.

The 7mm-08 is a decent all-around caliber that we can use for everything from antelope to elk.  I think it does kick a bit more than the 30-30, but it's still OK for my boy.  A .243 would also be a great gun for him, but I wouldn't let him use this caliber for elk.

Get a gun that your daughter can shoot comfortably but try to avoid the cheap guns you wouldn't want to use in the field either.  If she can shoot your friend's full size .243, that would be a great start.  If not, get her something that she's comfortable with.  First impressions are important, hunting is no different.  There's already enough uncontrollable difficulty getting good harvest opportunities for kids without the need for poor equipment to make it even more challenging.  I've put many rounds through the H&R Handi rifle and Rossi single shots--these really don't shoot well even at 100 yards.  The triggers are lousy (trigger job at a gunsmith will cost ~$80) and they're inconsistent with ejecting the spent shell (ever try to remove the shell from one of these guns with gloves on?).  I'm sure there are many others who would disagree with me, but this is just my personal experience using guns my friends have purchased for their kids.  Avoid the JUNK and get something worth keeping for a lifetime.  If your daughter decides hunting isn't her thing and doesn't want to continue, it's much easier to sell a good gun than a junky gun.  That's my just my opinion.

And good luck in Nebraska.  We hunted there last year for the first time and had a blast!

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Location: Arvada, co
Joined: 10/07/2009
Posts: 23
Managed Recoil loads

Critter,

The managed recoil loads are an interesting angle.  I had not thought of that and will look into those.

COMeatHunter,

Thanks for the info and your experiences with your son and the cheaper youth rifles.  Perhaps I will be looking more into the quality rigs next year.  As far as Nebraska goes, the area is a farm I hunted birds alot as a kid and is for sale. It could be the last year I have to share some of my favorite childhood memories first hadn in that area with my kids.  To  bad my son is only 4 . . . although I am sure he'd give it a shot if I'd let him! Whistling

Good input so far, Thanks and keep it coming!

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The reduced recoil loads

The reduced recoil loads worked great for my son and daughter to get more confidence shooting a 30-06 when they were about 15, The recoil is far less. We never harvested an animal with them as after the practice sessions I resighted the rifle with full power 150's and they never knew the diference when firing at game. I tried my daughter with full power loads when she was 12 and she did kill her first deer with it but took a good smack in the forehead and got very flichy after that.

I bought a Savage .243 youth model after that first year for 350 and it served very well for several years for both of my kids. As stated though it does have it's faults as the trigger is pretty poor, and the fore end flexes too much making the use of a bipod a bad accuracy choice. It comes with a cheap Simmon's scope but I have to say it has held up for 9 years now with never a problem or loss of zero.

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After writing I went to look

After writing I went to look what I could find and it appears that a .22 cenerfire is legal in Nebraska. I could be wrong but the guide book I read said it is leagal as long as the bullet used produces 900 foot pounds of energy at 100 yards. I have never used a caliber this small on big game so I can't comment on it's effectiveness but I guess if it was my kids usingit I would want to have a tag myself so I could legally shoot as well if needed. I would say a lot of practice would be in order to insure proficiency.

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If I was going to buy my son

If I was going to buy my son a new rifle for deer or maybe even antelope.  I think I would go with a .243 or a 25.06.  I also would buy him a Stevens model...they are made by Savage and just do not have the accutrigger.  No bells and whisles on these guns perfect for a kid to get them started and they will not break the bank.  I have a buddy that has taked two of the and rechamber them and they are fine shooting gun...even beofre he messed with them.  The are a inexpensize gun not a cheap gun, so it he or she drop it sratches it no biggie, better than one of the guns in the safe that is harder to replace or repair.

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I would like to second what

I would like to second what COmeathunter said.  Get something in the lever action line, as long as she can comfortably work the lever.  My first rifle, when I was 13 or so, was a Marlin 30-30 lever action, and I even still use it today in Vermont whenever I go home to hunt there.  Love that gun.

Of course, it does not do well on the longer shots, and since you're talking about Nebraska, it's long and flat.  So, maybe as Critter said, the .243 or the 22-250, if legal, would be a good way to go.  I would personally take her to a place where she can testfire some different guns, and let her get what makes her feel the most comfortable.

Good luck!

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Location: Arvada, co
Joined: 10/07/2009
Posts: 23
Plan b

Well, I talked to by buddy with the .243. Turns out he sold it last year....

I have looked into the reduced recoil rounds and think I will try to scrounge up a box or two and take the girl out this weekend. We will see how that works and I'll keep you posted.

Where do you all go to try out different rifles?

Thanks for the input so far... Keep it coming.

Also anyone up for loaning or renting?

Cheers

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Location: NE NV
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Buy Quality & Buy it for Her

I'm always amazed at how often we downgrade our kids needs or wants when it comes to hunting equipment but don't hesitate to get them the best (at least today's best) new computer gadget.  Kids know when they get budget equipment that has to make do in terms of caliber, how it fits, looks or performs.  Recruitment of new hunters is pretty poor these days.  If your child knows that you went that extra distance to make sure she has what she needs & has something she can be proud of, the more likely she'll be to stay with it & the more likely you'll have a lifelong hunting partner.

Pick a quality rifle (& that doesn't mean expensive) that SHE has helped pick out, one that fits her reasonable well but will still work well as she grows.  Calibers like the .243, .257, .260, .7-08 work well on a variety of game and are easily found.  Wouldn't be surprised if you see your grandchild using her Mom's rifle later down the road.

I'm not comfortable with having kids use .22 caliber centerfires on any big game for the same reason I don't care for .410's for a kids first shotgun - not enough of a good thing.  OK for seasoned hunters with alot of field experience but too easy for things to go bad when used by new hunters, regardless of age.  Also I can't get behind her using your '06 - it's just too much.  The reduced loads work prety well (used them in both .260 & .7-08 for my two daughters) but forget just once at the range and load her up with with a full power load & she just might give it all up right then & there.

Oh, and buy a brick or two of .22 rimfires for her to shoot up too (of course you have a .22, right?).  Quality trigger time with no worries about recoil or expense is one of the best thing you can do and provides some absolutely great family time with the child too.

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I can't agree more with you!

I can't agree more with Hal Fast.  From comfortable boots to warm, dry clothing, to the gun they are shooting, good quality gear is important to increase the fun factor.  We all know how quickly the fun fades for us when we're wet, cold, or have a bunch of blisters on our feet.  And, it's really not as expensive as you might think--with a little planning ahead.

I have purchased many high quality items on Ebay during the spring and summer and completely outfitted my kids for under $50 each.  That included Danner boots (last year), BassPro fleece jackets, camo pants and long sleeve shirts, and a nice North Face rain slicker.  We look at the item listings together and bid on things the kids like best.  It takes a few weeks to get everything and you have to watch and bid low, but you can get good gear that still has a lot of life left for pretty cheap.  This year we bought a set of insulated Walls camo coveralls, brand new, for $30 including shipping.  And we sell our gear on Ebay that we've outgrown and that makes the overall investment each year very low.

You can't buy a gun on Ebay though.  That one you'll probably need to check out in person at your local sporting good/gun store.

And I second Hal's comments on .22's at the range.  We shoot several bricks of .22's each year just plinking and having fun.  And the kids are practicing all the while!  It really helps them learn handling their guns safely and good shooting technique.  Quality time for everyone on the cheap.

 

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