Handgun for Deer Hunting in Central Texas


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LJH
May 10, 2009, 11:46 PM
I am open for suggestions on what would be a good pistol / caliber for deer hunting in central Texas. In my hunting patch, due to being way overgrown and covered with cedar, I won’t get a shot more than 30 yards. Our place is littered with deer, but they don’t get over 100lbs. So I don’t think I will need a mega magnum. I have no preference to revolver or auto. In my limited free time I have looked at a Glock 20 and Ruger GP 100. Is there anything else I should be considering?

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TIMC
May 10, 2009, 11:52 PM
S&W 686, S&W 629 would be 2 goood revolver choices.

surjimmy
May 11, 2009, 12:26 AM
I just got me a Longslide(6in) Springfield Omega 10mm. Where we hunt in Oklahoma there are several stands where the shot won't be over 25-40 yards. Can't wait to try and bag a deer with it. You never know what size of deer will show up. A 357 mag will sure do the job, but I like the 10mm since it's about equal to a 41 mag.

jbkebert
May 11, 2009, 12:30 AM
http://i724.photobucket.com/albums/ww241/jbkebert/gnu002.jpg?t=1242012536

Ruger Super Redhawk .44 7 1/2" barrel open sights. This pistol has taken 4 deer and two hogs so far.:D

Dr. Tad Hussein Winslow
May 11, 2009, 01:07 AM
Yes, Savage Striker, in .30-30 win, .260 rem, 7mm-08, etc.

Grumulkin
May 11, 2009, 10:34 AM
Before you decide what to use, check the Texas hunting regulations regarding cartridges/handguns legal to hunt deer with. At least in Ohio, they have pesky rules like the barrel having to be at least 5 inches long, and in Pennsylvania, you can't use a semi-auto, etc.

For the shot range you specify, iron sights would be sufficient and any cartridge from 357 Magnum on up should do fine.

jbkebert
May 11, 2009, 10:36 AM
For the shot range you specify, iron sights would be sufficient and any cartridge from 357 Magnum on up should do fine.

Agreed you are not shooting long ranges. The OP said something about a 10mm I don't know about Texas but that would not be a legal round in Kansas.

Legal handgun for deer - centerfire handguns that are not fully automatic, fire a bullet larger than .23 inches in diameter, and use a cartridge case 1.280 inches or more in length, while using only hard-cast solid lead, soft point, hollow point, or other expanding bullets.
above quote from the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks website.

jmorris
May 11, 2009, 10:58 AM
The places I hunt have opportunity for longer shots than 30 yards so I use an XP-100 in 7mm BR with success. Inside 50 yards you have a lot more choices, 44 mag would be on top of the list of the non super magnums 357 would be as small as I would go. I assume if your shots are limited to 30 yards it would be a bad thing if the deer ran 100 yards before expiring so I lean toward too much gun (no such thing) in those cases 45-70 is pretty hard to beat.

Dr. Tad Hussein Winslow
May 11, 2009, 11:09 AM
Lemme just say these things, regardless of the range you are shooting/hunting at:

UNLESS you are just trying specifically just to increase the challenge/difficulty:

1. A rifle is ALWAYS preferred to a handgun, regardless of the barrel length of the rifle (SBR, carbine, rifle), due to the inherent extra stability of the use of the buttstock. If you're gonna use a handgun, you need a good rest. Handguns are pretty good for tree stands with a shelf to rest them on, but for walking-hunting, they are a very poor choice, again, regardless of range.

2. A longer barrel is ALWAYS preferable to a shorter barrel, up to about 16"-18"with iron sights, and up to about 10"-12" with a scoped weapon - iron sights to 18" for the sight radius, and scoped gun to 12" for the extra velocity & bullet stability. These are just rough rules of thumb.

3. To my way of thinking, a scope of good quality is ALWAYS preferable to iron sights when hunting, since the game you seek move the most at dusk and dawn, in low light conditions, and since a scope magnifies and enhances the image. A case can be made that use of a scope during low light, instead of iron sights, is actually MORE important in deep woods hunting (where ranges are short), than it is on the plains, since (a) the canopy makes it even darker, and (b) it is all the more important to pick out the small twigs & leaves and not hit them on the way to the target - a scope can do this where the naked eye cannot always. All of this is doubly true if you have less than perfect vision.

So, to summarize, do yourself a favor and:
-Used a scoped rifle
-Failing that, use an iron sighted rifle
-Failing that, use a long-barreled, scoped revolver or single shot
-Failing that, use a long-barreled, iron-sighted revolver or single shot
-Failing that, use a medium-barreled, iron sighted revolver or single shot
-Failing that, you'd better have excellent skills, because you're gonna have to get really really close to not wound animals and not have to pass up a lot of shots.

Again, UNLESS you are just trying specifically just to increase the challenge/difficulty.

About the best walking-hunting rifle in the woods is a carbine (such as a 16" levergun), chambered in .30-30, .45 colt, .44 mag, etc., and topped with a 1-4x20 or 1.5-4.5x32 or similar. When walking, keep it on 1x, 1.5x, or 2x, and if you stop to set up ambush, crank it to 3 or 4.

Combat handguns are for combat/defense, not hunting

IMO.

If you do go non-XP/Striker handgun, bullet choice is more important than caliber, but any of those mentioned will work - .357 mag, .44 mag, .45 colt. In .357 mag, you want to use a 158 gr or 180 gr soft point.

FWIW, if I am tree-stand hunting for deer, and the setup is such that there's a real chance that the deer could walk almost underneath the stand, making a shot with a rifle awkward or impossible, then I will lug up into the stand, in addition to my rifle of choice, a revolver in .357 mag or .45 colt, with a 4-6" bbl, strictly for under-5 yard spine shots from above.

jbkebert
May 11, 2009, 11:25 AM
I think Dr. Tad summed it all up.

I agree with him that if you are trying to add challenge to your hunt a handgun will definaltly give you that. I would not personally shoot the gun above iron sitghts at a game animal more than 40 yards away. I have another one indenticle to it with a 4x burris scope on it. I will take shots up to 60-70 max with it. Anything longer than that I would take my Encore 15" single shot in a rifle caliber. I have been handgun hunting for several years now and I can not or will not take a shot without some sort of rest. Shooting rail on my stand, steady stix, and tree a rock I don't care. The diffrence between 20 yards and 40 yards with a pistol is huge.

nathan
May 11, 2009, 11:26 AM
SKS !

~z
May 11, 2009, 11:31 AM
I have hunted those hillcountry dog deer with a variety of handgun calibers from .38 to .44 in wheel guns and autos. If you can place your bullets well, and keep within your comfort zone all will work well. Personal favorites are .357, .45 acp and .41 mag. These animals are not armored.
~z

LJH
May 11, 2009, 01:58 PM
Grumlkin- Just got off the phone with Texas Parks and Wildlife, It is not restricted to use any of the mentioned calibers to hunt deer in Texas. The game manager I spoke with did not elaborate any further than that.

Dr. Tad Hussein- I agree with your assessment of using a rifle, and to some degree I am increasing the challenge. But I should have been clearer in my OP. Due to the outstanding density of overgrown shrubs that are call cedar trees; there isn’t a spot on the entire property that even partial visibility is possible at 30 yards. And if I can’t see what I am shooting at……..

Jbkebert- Very nice setup. I now have something new on my wish list.
My wife does not thank you sir. :)

Grumulkin
May 11, 2009, 02:42 PM
If the range is 30 yards or less and if you decide to use a scope, it needs to be a low power one. Personally, I would go with iron sights, a red dot sight or a holosight for targets at those short ranges.

flipajig
May 11, 2009, 02:59 PM
I do hunt in central texas with a hand gun i use a super blackhawk in 44mag load my own. with jhp or hardcast wc. 240grn Iron sights and pratice pratice and more pratice. my max range is where i can hit a 10in paper plate every time not just once but every time. right now its 50 yards. Im curntenly working on my contender to try to extend my range. im using a 7-30 waters. A 22 will kill a deer shot plasement is every thing you owe it to the game that your hunting. i also bow hunt the best thing i can tell you is aim small miss small. and pratice untill you think your good and then pratice some more.

jbkebert
May 11, 2009, 03:31 PM
i also bow hunt the best thing i can tell you is aim small miss small. and pratice untill you think your good and then pratice some more.

Me too this is why rifle hunting was no longer fun. I figure if I can take a deer from 10 to 30 yards with a bow. Why do I need a uber magnum rifle capable of taking a deer at 400 plus yards. Handgun hunting is not the same feeling as archery. It is however alot more gratifiy than rifle IMHO.

SPW1
May 11, 2009, 07:19 PM
You can legally use any center fire cartridge to hunt big game in texas. No minimum barrel lengths either. They pretty much leave it up to you here. Common handgun choices are 44 mag, 41 mag, 45 colt, 357 mag, 10mm etc. They will all easily work on central texas deer with shots under 50 yards(farther too, but past 50 yards or so if you have to ask about it you shouldn't try it) if the shooter can do his part. I am partial to the ruger redhawk in 44 mag but that is just my personal tastes.

MCgunner
May 11, 2009, 07:30 PM
Rifles my butt. Handguns are fine at the yardage you're talking about. They do take more practice and you will want to limit your range with .357 and/or iron sights to 50 yards. I've shot two with the .357 using handloads.

My go to gun for deer hunting is a scoped Contender in .30-30 Winchester, 12 inch compensated hunter barrel. I totally embarrass a lot of rifle shooter off the bench with it at the range. It is capable to 200 yards in my hands depending on the rest I have in the field. My shots rarely are more'n a hundred yards, though, as it's brush like you describe.

I like the Ruger Blackhawks for traditional handgun shooting, no need for a DA and they are so easy on the shooter with heavy calibers. If I was really into revolver hunting, I'd get a superblackhawk hunter in .44 mag and I'd scope it. I have a .45 Blackhawk and a .357 Blackhawk that are iron sighted, very accurate handguns and very capable on central Texas whitetail, .357 OR .45 Colt.

Rifle? Paleeeeeeease. :rolleyes: I don't need no stinkin' rifle! Some folks use sticks and strings, after all. Of course, the real challenge of the pistol is the steady rest, not the caliber. My Contender is like s stockless rifle ballistically.

T.R.
May 11, 2009, 07:38 PM
I've taken several mulies at archery distances with my 357 MAG revolver. But for more reach, 44 MAG has what it takes. This blacktail was toppled at approx 90 yards with my Marlin 44 MAG carbine. The animal never knew what hit it!

Good hunting to you.
TR

http://i26.photobucket.com/albums/c146/rushmoreman/44MAG.jpg

jbkebert
May 12, 2009, 12:13 AM
Rifle? Paleeeeeeease. I don't need no stinkin' rifle! Some folks use sticks and strings, after all. Of course, the real challenge of the pistol is the steady rest, not the caliber. My Contender is like s stockless rifle ballistically.


http://i724.photobucket.com/albums/ww241/jbkebert/parker020.jpg?t=1242097766

Yes that pretty much sums up what these are. I have taken more than a few dollars at the range with it. A couple guys just looked at me walking over to the 100 yard line and laughed. One bet me $10 that I could not even hit the paper at that distance.:rolleyes: The gun shot a better group than his model 70 winchester in 30/06

Grumulkin
May 12, 2009, 01:57 AM
http://www.orchardphoto.com/i19zsi99.jpgThat's a 1.5 inch group I shot at 200 yards with my T/C Encore in 460 S&W Magnum.

Art Eatman
May 13, 2009, 12:05 AM
"Skill is all." My father told the story of a hunt-gathering at a ranch near New Braunfels, maybe sixty years ago. The rancher noticed a one-armed man who had a revolver in a holster. He expressed concern about wounded deer. The guy smiled and asked if a demonstration might relieve concern.

There was a benchrest by the front porch, and a target all set up at 100 yards. The guy took his K-model .38 Special and did a six-shot group of about four or five inches, offhand. The rancher just grinned and offered the comment that he'd seen rifle guys do worse than that.

My notion is that my limit would be whatever distance was the end of my ability to reliably hit the end of a beer can.

MCgunner
May 13, 2009, 12:10 AM
Art, I can do that off a bench with my .357 Blackhawk, but not off hand, let alone one hand. :what: 50 yards, yeah. I have seen PPC guys that I bet could do that DA, though. I have seen some REAL impressive shooters like that.

jbkebert
May 13, 2009, 12:16 AM
Art
I think my ability to hit a beer can one handed would end around 25 yards with a .44 Redhawk. That is pretty darn good shooting.

publiuss
May 13, 2009, 01:05 AM
my 2 hunting sidearms are a 4 5/8 Blackhawk in .45 colt and 7 1/2 in. S&W 629. I never carry just a handgun, they accompany my rifle and are used for close shots just because it's fun.

22-rimfire
May 13, 2009, 10:18 AM
Handgun hunting for deer is a great challenge. It works too. I think of it as archery hunting except you are using a handgun with probably a bit more reach than a bow.

Some say the 357 mag is sufficient for whitetail hunting with a handgun. It probably is if you are a reasonable shot. My first "deer hunting handgun" was a 6" Python. Read a lot on the subject and decided on a bit more power. I prefer to up the power level just a little (about 30%) and go with a 41 or 44 magnum revolver. All it will take is one shot, but it's nice to have another couple just in case.

The preferred smaller calibers are 45 Colt, 41 Mag, and 44 Mag. Each can give you just enough power to be effective without the sometimes punishing recoil of a larger caliber handgun. Contenders are different.

I played around using a 41 mag for a number of years and didn't get or take shots as I had a rifle with me. Then I got a 480 Ruger in a SRH. That became a primary gun and I leave the rifle home unless I'm hunting fields. I would have used the 41 mag, but I just hated the idea of drilling a nice 8 3/8" Model 57 Smith for a scope. I have to say though I shoot it better than I have ever shot my 480. My Ruger carries a 2x Leupold scope.

Austinite
May 15, 2009, 02:07 AM
I've shot 4 central Texas deer with a 6' S&W 686 topped with a red dot scope. I used full power 357 magnum factory loads (158 gold dot, 158 XTP, and 180 partition gold). It's got plenty of pop for our small deer.

Many don't realize how small our deer really are. Our does dress out between 65 and 75 pounds and the largest buck ever taken from our place (Kimble County) dressed out at 120. All white-tails are not created equal. :)

moosehunt
May 17, 2009, 05:38 AM
In regard to the original gents question, as stated 30 yards maximum, may I suggest the old .45 Colt. Pick your make--I like the Ruger Bisley--but that's immaterial. I went big time poke for a while--.44 Mag, even went so far as a big Alaska moose with it (scoped, 80 yards). Decided that the old Colt with iron sights was more fun and damn sure as effective (if not more so). Suit yourself, but consider fun over popular "wrist twister" and try the old Colt. I doubt you'll ever regret it! Have fun!!! And practice!

LJH
May 17, 2009, 10:56 AM
I would like to thank all who posted with your advice and experiences. I just so happened across a deal that was too good to pass up and incidentally was on my “must have” list to begin with. I picked up a Ruger 6” GP 100 in Stainless.

jbkebert
May 17, 2009, 11:04 AM
Congrats on the new GP100 with the ranges you are talking about I am sure it will serve you well. I do have one peice of advice for you. When you practice try and use the same cylinder sequnce. At least with my Redhawk I have found that four of my cylinders shoot a little better than the other two. Might be a slight diffrence in gap or something like that. If you do find a sequence that groups tight mark your cylinder and line those up first. I started doing this with a sharpie marker which cleans off easily. Then when I found the right one. I made a small mark with a stamp and brass hammer.

jmorris
May 17, 2009, 06:28 PM
I can’t believe that I missed the opportunity to post some hunting handgun porn in my 1st post. So here goes, the XP top left has done the job out to 240 yards so far.

http://i664.photobucket.com/albums/vv5/qvideo/gn/hunting.jpg

jbkebert
May 17, 2009, 07:24 PM
Mr. jmorris:

That is the kind of filth that makes the THR a great place to visit.:evil:

41 Mag
May 19, 2009, 07:07 PM
I would like to thank all who posted with your advice and experiences. I just so happened across a deal that was too good to pass up and incidentally was on my “must have” list to begin with. I picked up a Ruger 6” GP 100 in Stainless.

LJH,

Personally for the ranges you mentioned I believe you made an excellent choice. If you handload, there are several great bullets for that caliber which will serve you well. My first deer taken with a handgun was in Llano, and was using a GP-100 and taken at 73 yards. I was using the now discontinued Speer 146gr SJHP and had no issues with tracking, one shot DRT.

I have since moved on to using the Oregon Trail 158gr FPRN. It sports a wide flat nose which does it's job very well. I have taken several feral hogs using this bullet loaded to around 1600fps, and experienced no noticeable leading to speak of. If it's there I haven't had any issues with it and it shoots very good out to 75yds.

As for my general carry revolver, it's a Redhawk in 41 magnum, and it has several hogs to it's credit but only one deer to date. I wouldn't hesitate if the situation presented it's self and conditions were right out to 75yds with it. In showing a friend the difference in one crimp verses the one I generally use, here is the difference in groups at 40yds off hand, easier to see if you click the pic.
http://thumb2.webshots.net/t/62/662/8/8/32/2053808320043012562lIDLdz_th.jpg (http://outdoors.webshots.com/photo/2053808320043012562lIDLdz)

With the .357, you can load cheaper and shoot more for practice and not leave with a sore hand or wrist as with some of the other calibers. They are actually fun to shoot. My daughter and wife have taken both of mine over so, now I simply load for them to shoot. I do however sneak one out evey once in a while just to play with the piggies.

Good luck with your's, and if you want to upgrade the sights, you might look up these on the Ruger website under the Redhawk parts, Part # GBVR and order a set. They should fit right in, and allow a very fine sight picture for hunting. However they do get a bit hard to see in lower light situations. I have however seen many better deer moving during the mid morning to mid day hours as well. I have a set for both of mine, and also use some from this link as well,
http://www.brownells.com/aspx/NS/store/ProductDetail.aspx?p=16337&title=FIRE%20SIGHTS

doublebarrel12
May 20, 2009, 02:00 AM
I hunt in an exact location of which you speak! It is almost ridiculously thick but crawling with deer. Most of the deer walk directly below me or no more than 30 yards away on the 2 trails you can make a shot at from my stand. I took a lever action .44 mag my first trip but decided my pistol was alot lighter and just as effective. I use an 8in barreled 45 long colt with iron sights at my present lease and took a nice 9 point at about 25 yards. Just make sure you don't buy that funky cowboy action ammo in whatever wheelgun you shoot!! Sure most rifles are more accurate at distance than most pistols, they don't carry to my stand the same though. Gotta love the Texas foliage and briars!!

libertyfirst
May 20, 2009, 09:01 PM
My hunting handgun is a Smith & Wesson 1917 45 auto rim that was originally a
military issue gun in Brazil. I have a 1 1/2 power scope setting on the top. I use hard cast 215 grain bullets and have an exit velocity of 900 fps. When I do my part from the bench this handgun will do 1 1/2" at 50 yards. I have never lost a game animal with this combination. I've only shot 2 deer with this piece. One went down after about 30 yards. The other. went about 90 yards on a dead run. The blood trail was tremendous. It's very hard to find brass for this cartridge and I hate the half moon clips.

MCgunner
May 20, 2009, 11:14 PM
They got deer in Llano? Hell, i thought them was jackalopes. :rolleyes:

:D

kanook
May 21, 2009, 09:18 AM
My hunting handgun is a Smith & Wesson 1917 45 auto rim that was originally a
military issue gun in Brazil. I have a 1 1/2 power scope setting on the top.post pictures of this please. :D

Husker_Fan
May 21, 2009, 10:24 AM
I used a 6in GP-100 this past fall and it worked wonderfully with the Buffalo Bore 180 grn hardcast load.

As for hitting a beer can at 100 yards, I haven't tried, but I think I could do it. Provided, of course, that my beer can is a quarter barrel.

jbkebert
May 21, 2009, 10:57 AM
As for hitting a beer can at 100 yards, I haven't tried, but I think I could do it. Provided, of course, that my beer can is a quarter barrel.

I am going to give it a try this weekend. I can assure you that if i pull it off. I will be posting the feat on the miracle shots thread.;)

Husker_Fan
May 21, 2009, 11:34 AM
I am going to give it a try this weekend. I can assure you that if i pull it off. I will be posting the feat on the miracle shots thread.

Note that I made no representation on how many shots it would take.

jbkebert
May 21, 2009, 12:05 PM
Me neither I think I'll give it 12 rounds with a big ole peice of cardboard behind so I can see where I am hitting. If I can't do it with two full cylinders I should quit wasting my ammo. I'd try one handed with that scoped encore but I think you would need to have the arms of popeye to hold it that still one handed.:p

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