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My First Handgun Buck

Discussion in 'Hunting' started by Bowhunter57, Dec 10, 2013.

  1. Bowhunter57

    Bowhunter57 Well-Known Member

    This is my second year of chasing deer, in hopes of getting my first deer with a handgun. I've been hunting with handguns for over 30 years, but never gave a thought to hunting deer with one. I figured that I've killed nearly everything else with a handgun, so why not a deer. Plus, I've killed deer with everything except a handgun.

    I was standing just inside the woods, looking across a ravine and listening. After hearing several shots in the distance, I see a buck and 3 does walking along the south edge, traveling west. Suddenly, they spook, decide to back-track and come into the woods with me. They didn't seem to be interested in crossing the ravine and as they walked by, so I rested my .44 Mag. Ruger Super Redhawk on a sapling. The buck hesitated, I settled the red dot on his shoulder and squeezed the trigger.

    At the recoil the buck walked off, while the does ran off to the east. I wasn't totally sure I'd hit him, even though the shot felt good. I waited 10 minutes and decided to slowly cross the ravine and check for blood. No blood, but I noticed the does running off, while the buck was bedding down. I crept one foot at a time, toward him, while he got up and bedded back down 5x...over the next 2 hours.

    Around 11:00 he got up and bedded on the other side of some blown down trees. I kept creeping closer, one foot at a time and by 12:15 he'd stood up and laid back down for the 7th time. The last time was in his 5th bed, facing to my right, while his chest was toward me. There was the shot that I'd been waiting to present itself. He looked my way, while I leaned against a sapling for a rest, settled the red dot on his brisket at 40 yards and squeezed the trigger.

    When the Ruger recoiled, the buck rocked onto his back and I ran up to him. He attempted to get up and was throwing his rack at me...I was 10 feet from him. I gave him a second to settle, he moved his head away from his vitals and I shot him through the lungs. I'm getting him mounted, as I'll never forget this hunt with a handgun.



  2. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator

    If you don't mind saying, will you tell us where the other two shots turned out to have hit him?
  3. Bowhunter57

    Bowhunter57 Well-Known Member

    I hated the long wait to put the finishing shot(s) on him, but I didn't want to "bounce" him out of his bed, as I don't care for running shots and I didn't want to chase him all over creation...taking a chance on losing him. I had a single thought of rushing him...then I thought, "patience is the hunter" and I figured it would be best to wait him out.

    The second shot was when he got up and laid down, for the 7th time. His body was directly facing me, so it was a brisket shot and it rolled him onto his back.

    At the shot, I ran to 10 feet from him and he was attempting to get up...at or toward me. All the while swinging his rack, back and forth. I waited till his head cleared his rib cage, for a vital kill shot and that's when I took the third shot through his lungs. :cool:

    The rest of the day was dressing, dragging and lots of pictures. I'm getting the head mounted in a "sneak mount", which won't be back until late March or early April. I can't wait to see it. :)

  4. gspn

    gspn Well-Known Member

    Wow. Great looking deer and sounds like quite an adventure.

    What was the distance on the first shot? And where did the first shot hit? Sounds like he was maybe gut shot from the reaction and how long he lasted. Not criticizing at all...those things happen. I'm just curious as I plan to do some handgun hunting this year. I've hunted them for years with every other weapon...trying to learn all I can before I go after them with the pistol.
  5. MrBorland

    MrBorland Moderator

    I think I'll keep using my rifle for deer. :uhoh:
  6. Bowhunter57

    Bowhunter57 Well-Known Member

    The first shot distance was 58 yards. The shot was on the left shoulder, where I was aiming. I was resting my arm on a small tree to get a steady shot.

    I have this revolver sighted in at 50 yards and it shoots 1" groups at that distance with my reloads. I'm shooting a 240gr. hard cast SWC with 19.0gr. of 2400. The sight is a Sight Mark Ultra Reflex.

    Looking back, I should've put the shot in the "pocket" just behind the shoulder, like I do on bow hunting shots. Live and learn. :)

  7. v8stang289

    v8stang289 Well-Known Member

    Nice Deer, Did the first bullet not penetrate the shoulder? Or did it glance off and not hit vitals?
  8. 41 Mag

    41 Mag Well-Known Member

    Congrats on your first handgun deer.

    That said you have also found out that while your revolver and loads are capable of the accuracy needed, the shot placement is still critical.

    I have hunted for years with my Redhawks, both with a scope and with the standard factory sights. Out to 50+ yards they are usually on the spot if I do my part. For the hogs we hunt the most with them, I have take several out to the 100'ish yard range but the shots were out in wide open pastures where there was no chance of getting closer and usually on already very alerted hogs.

    For the couple of deer I have taken with them the range have been in the typical archery type ranges of 20-25yds or less. The only exception was my very first which I shot the first time at 73 steps, and the second time at about point blank range when it came out of a cedar thicket when I came up on it. The second shot on that one was right through the boiler room and it didn't make it 10yds before it was rear over ears piling up.

    While the SWC type bullets have taken a ton of game, for a bit better performance the wide flat nosed designs have really come into their own. They don't need to be driven to the top end just somewhere in the 1300'ish FPS range. I have used them in my 454, as well as my 45 Colt so far with excellent results. The 454 literally rolled a 200'ish pound hog at 87yds with the Lee 452-300RF loaded to 1550fps. With teh Colt I only load to around 1000fps even though it is coming out of a Redhawk. More is simply not needed.

    Here's wishing you many more exciting hunts with your revolvers. It is VERY addicting and a heck of a lot more challenging than most who have never done it will ever realize. I'm not sure if we are lucky or cursed to have the hogs to chase around with ours but I know it has made me a much better handgun hunter in doing so.
  9. critter

    critter Well-Known Member

    I love handgun hunting and have taken several deer and hogs with handguns. Many of them were taken using a Ruger Blackhawk Hunter in .44 magnum. I also used a S&W model 25 in .45 Colt for one of them. Others were using a TC Contender in 30-30.

    With the .44 and .45's, I have used both the JHP's and hard cast lead SWC's. They both work, but differently. And, yes, CAREFUL shot placement is paramount.

    Quite an ADDICTING sport!
  10. MCgunner

    MCgunner Well-Known Member

    I've had several bang flops with my handgun and didn't have the .357 kill run more'n 25 yards. My .30-30 contender is a bang/flopper so long as the hit is lungs or shoulder. Even rifles don't anchor deer immediately if you don't put the round in the right place and sometimes even if you do, they run for a while.

    Anyway, congrats on a nice first handgunned deer!
  11. gspn

    gspn Well-Known Member

    Absolutely right on that. I've had deer with their hearts blown out run 100 yards before piling up.

    Another time I shot a buck with a .50 caliber black powder rifle at a distance of maybe 50 yards. When the smoke cleared he was still standing there...stone still. I couldn't believe he hadn't dropped or run off due to the smoke and commotion.

    I studied him through the scope and after about a minute or two I noticed a little bit of blood trickling down his fur. I couldn't reload because he was standing basically right in front of me at short range. He walked off the trail into some brush and bedded down. I reloaded and waited. After about 5 minutes he got up to move and I anchored him.

    The first shot was a quartering toward shot and it only got one lung...but I was still shocked that a .50 caliber bullet bullet sitting on 150 grains of black powder didn't do more damage.

    Things happen when you start firing bullets at things...we always strive for perfection but reality occasionally gets in the way.
  12. Patocazador

    Patocazador Well-Known Member


    Very nice deer for your 1st with a handgun. You certainly were right not to roust him from his bed.

    I have killed a number with handguns but only 2 were taken with handgun cartridges. The first was with a .44 mag. S&W model 29 with a factory 180 gr HP and the second with a handloaded .45 Colt with a 250 gr. Hornady XTP in a Ruger Blackhawk. Both were with open sights at ~ 40 yards. Both hit the neck or spine so it was bang-flop.
    Since those 2, I have used a T/C Contender and a Rem. XP-100 in rifle cartridges. The results are the same as using a rifle. The majority were taken using a .250 Savage cartridge.

    You might experience quicker kills on deer with your .44 using a well-constructed HP bullet and aim for the lungs. Deer are not especially tough and a hollow point will expand reliably in the heart/lung area. A hard-cast SWC doesn't expand and placement is crucial.
  13. Hanshi

    Hanshi Well-Known Member

    That is a very fine buck. Congratulations.
  14. Bowhunter57

    Bowhunter57 Well-Known Member

    The first shot hit the shoulder, where I was aiming and penetrated the shoulder which broke its' left front leg and shoulder. This is what kept him from running off when the does ran off. He walked away, to approximately 80 to 100 yards and laid down by a blown down tree.

  15. flipajig

    flipajig Well-Known Member

    Congrats on your first hand gun Deer. Mine was a nice Doe with my SBH 44 mag at about 17 yards off hand with open sights. I love to hunt with my pistols I have since moved to a Contender and a Encore to extend my range.
    I'm also a bow hunter and it's the closest thing to bow hunting there is. I know what it's like with your first.
  16. stressed

    stressed Well-Known Member

    Were you able to recover the round during butcher? Did you get an idea for penetration depth?
  17. Bowhunter57

    Bowhunter57 Well-Known Member

    I field dressed it, skinned it and took the carcass to a local butcher for processing.

    * The first shot or shoulder shot penetrated the left leg/shoulder, but I didn't find the bullet. I'm guessing that it was mixed in with the vital organs when I field dressed it, as there was no exit wound.

    * The second shot to the brisket had exited just ahead of the top side of his hips (on his back) with very little deformation to the bullet.

    * The third shot was broadside at 10 feet, through both lungs, so it would've been in the dirt behind him.

    I may try some JHP bullets in 240 grain, before next year, to see how accurate they are, compared to the hard cast bullets.


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