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.357 handguns on big northern bucks?

Discussion in 'Hunting' started by Chain Smoker, Aug 7, 2014.

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  1. RWBlue01

    RWBlue01 Member

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    A ODNR guy I use to know told me, he used a 357mag for hunting. As he put it, it was kind of like bow hunting. He was only allowed himself to take perfect shots. This required dedicated personal control.

    On the flip side, .....I would go heavier. I really liked the S&W 460 with 8 inch barrel. The recoil wasn't bad with full on 460 loads, but if you can't (don't want to) handle the 460, you could do 454 or 45LC hot or 45LC old. This is the gun I want, not the gun I have.
     
  2. SleazyRider

    SleazyRider Member

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    This has always been my modus operandi, not only because of weapon caliber, but because of colorblindness. Thanks to my defective peepers I cannot track a deer using a blood trail, so I only take "guaranteed" shots. Doesn't make for a lot of great hunting stories, but what the hey.
     
  3. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Member

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    My recommendation for deer is 41 mag or larger and generally with a 6" barrel or longer. If you want more flexibility, move above 44 mag. But you still need to be able to hit what you are aiming at pretty consistantly. My rule... must be able to hit a 6" paper plate out to 50 yds and reasonably consistantly to whatever distance you believe you might take a shot with the handgun.
     
  4. Schutzen

    Schutzen Member

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    .357 vs .44

    My experience is only with whitetails under 200 lbs. I have taken deer with both the .357 and the .44 using 6" barreled revolvers. The .357 will work just fine, but you have to limit your shots to closer ranges and make a very good kill shot. The .44 does not increase your range as much as it is much more forgiving on the accuracy of your shot. I know, everyone here is an excellent marksman and can hit a 4" bulls eye at 50 yards with every shot every day. Unfortunately when hunting shots are never under "near perfect" conditions. I would use the .44


    PS Both of .357 kills were on deer that walked under my stand. Both shots were straight down between the shoulder blades from about 15'.
     
  5. buck460XVR

    buck460XVR Member

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    A shot thru the boiler room of a big buck kills it just as fast as a shot thru the boiler room of a buck fawn. Folks like to claim it's the "toughness" of a big buck that made it irretrievable after being wounded. Fact is, the reason is because of poor shot placement and/or poor tracking/trailing skills. Yes bigger, more mature bucks have more muscle mass and strength, thus will go farther before bedding down and either dying or allowing a hunter to get close enough to get a finishing shot, but big bucks do not have special powers to be able to magically heal themselves when hit in the vitals. Any shot that was poor enough to allow a big buck to live thru and heal up, would also let a 1 1/2 year old spike live thru. If Big bucks are so tough and resilient, why are they normally the first to die along with fawns of the year when winters get hard? This is because they wear them selves out and deplenish their fat reserve chasing and defending their does during the rut. Thus, they are also more likely to succumb to non-mortal wounds than younger bucks. Folks like to explain the reason they wounded and lost a big buck is because he was so tough. Sounds better and makes them feel better about the fact they made a poor shot or couldn't find it after the poor shot.

    Bigger guns, bigger holes, give more margin for error. They do not make up for poor shot placement. Any of us that started bow hunting before the invention of compound bows and used simple two bladed hand sharpened broadheads, knows they were just as deadly as the new modern compounds with their fancy mechanical open on impact broadheads. We were just limited to closer range and had to avoid the shoulder blade area. But when deer were hit in the heart/lungs, deer died just as quickly back then as they do today. Yes, even then, big bucks went a little farther before dying than small bucks, but they still died when hit in the right spot.
     
  6. swiftak

    swiftak Member

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    300 pounds?
     
  7. Armored farmer

    Armored farmer Member

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    .....well so be it then.
    The one above my mantle survived 45 min being shot through the chest with a .54 roundball. When I decided he had expired, I got down to tag him and he slowly stood up, so I shot him between the shoulderblades. While I reloaded my muzzleloader he hobbled about 75yds away and stood there while I shot him again with the .54. He then swam a rain swollen river and stood on the other side while I shot him again through the chest. At that point he turned back into the river and swam downstream and slowly sank below the surface as I stood in utter disbelief holding an empty Hawken rifle.

    I guess he didn't get the memo that he should die just like a newborn fawn.

    I found him days later after the floodwaters receded. He was tangled in a logjamb 200yds
    downstream from where I last saw his antlers go below the water.
    My hunting buddies helped me drag him out of the river with one of my tractors. We performed an autopsy with some arrows poking them through the bullet holes. None of us could believe this buck was able to do what he did.
    The will to survive and the ability to ignore a mortal wound makes big old bucks hard to kill.

    Get a .44mag or a .45colt or a .460
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2014
  8. MCgunner

    MCgunner Member

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    Might consider Minie balls.
     
  9. Gordon

    Gordon Member

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    I recently sold my Python Hunter .357 with it's factory mounted 2x Leupold and Haliburton case for $3000 . It was in great shape but I DID hunt with it on and off for a decade :)
    It was big medicine on the 100-130 pound Coastal Blacktail out to 100 yards when rested on something so those 158-180 grain were delivered to a vital zone. The 180 Winchester load would bust both shoulders and exit, the 158 would bust both shoulders but on that shot usually not exit but seemed to kill faster, slightly.
     
  10. buck460XVR

    buck460XVR Member

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    ANY deer, shot thru the heart/lungs will expire in a matter of minutes, generally within single digit minutes. It's called biology. Loss of blood and oxygen to the brain kills within minutes, regardless of how big or "tough" animal is. Shooting a deer in the heart/lungs deprives that animal of blood and oxygen.....period. Your deer lived for 45 minutes because he was not hit in the lungs or heart...simple. He did not "will" the hole to seal in his heart or lungs, he just wasn't hit there. He did not "ignore" a mortal wound, there is no such thing. Wounds can be mortal and not kill immediately. This is why we let deer lay for an hour before trailing when bowhunting. This is why we refrain from following a deer with a questionable wound too soon after the hit. The size of the kill zone on a small buck is about the same size as it is on a large buck, this means there is more room to miss on a large deer and still get a hit. Just hitting a deer in the chest does not automatically mean a mortal wound.

    Guess you were lucky he drown.......

    Again, a larger caliber or more powerful caliber will give one more margin for error and may help with marginal hits as compared to using a .357. They also give deeper penetration which can be of assistance when game is large or thick skinned. This is why in my first post I stated that range and bullet construction were high priorities when using .357 for deer. But a deer hit in the heart/lungs with .357 will die just as fast as a deer hit there with a .460. I know this from experience. Odds are a deer hit poorly with .460 will suffer just as long as a deer hit poorly with a .357.
     
  11. HankB

    HankB Member

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    Deer are not armor plated - humans have been successfully hunting them for thousands of years with what amounts to a small sharpened stick (now called an arrow) so a modern magnum handgun is just fine.

    A .357 mag with a proper bullet will be fine for deer, so long as you place your shot properly.

    A .44 magnum will hit harder than a .357 and make up a little for substandard shot placement . . . but if you get sloppy with your shooting you'll still have a problem.
     
  12. MCgunner

    MCgunner Member

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    ^^^that^^^

    And, with a .357 handgun, I'd say don't exceed 50 yards.
     
  13. Armored farmer

    Armored farmer Member

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    OK, well thanks for the bio lesson.

    The OP asked if anyone had experience with handguns and big bucks.
    I do.
    I changed from .357 to .45colt because.....
    Big bucks are hard to kill.
     
  14. Armored farmer

    Armored farmer Member

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    In theory, a double lung shot will cause a deer (or anything else) to quickly bleed out and expire. the reality is that sometimes a broadside shot doesn't seem to expand even a good bullet like a Hornady XTP. Also, some of us like to cast our own bullets. I hunted with my own 158gr LNFP (Keith style) bullets. Great penetration,super accurate...no expansion. What you end up with is a wound channel and entry/exit wound about the diameter of a pencil. About like a bowhunter using a field point.

    I strictly bowhunt with a recurve now.

    Yes. This is exactly my point thank you.

    OK...
    If the OP is going to buy a new hunting handgun, there are some guys who clearly think that a .357 is the optimum hunting gun. Not me, I would go bigger, based on experience.

    I'm surprised they are even still making calibers larger than .357 since it is so deadly. I wonder why they don't hunt griz and cape buff with 'em too. I learned that a double lung shot will put anything down regardless of size inside 10min. Biologically speaking, of course.
    Let's see...how far can a deer run in say 8 min at 10 mph(easily)......uh, lets see that's
    1.33miles.
     
  15. herkyguy

    herkyguy Member

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    I'm actively working up a load for 158 gr lead bullets donated by a very generous gentleman. With Win 296, I'm at 1230 fps out of my 6" Ruger GP100 and feel more confident than ever that I can successfully take down a deer here in NC at ranges around 20 yards.

    I've gone back and forth with it, since I shot a buck several years ago with it and never did find him. But I have a particular stand that is in thick woods at an intersection of trails that is frequented by deer on a daily basis. It doesn't offer any shots beyond 20 yards, so I think my .357 is going to be the go to gun.
     
  16. Armored farmer

    Armored farmer Member

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    I have nothing against anyone using a. 357 for deer. I have many times. Go for it.
    If you are shopping for a hunting handgun, why not go bigger?
     
  17. Bezoar

    Bezoar member

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    people have successfully taken animals of massive size from white tail to moose with handguns and rifles in calibers that vary from 22lr to 44 magnum.
    it came down to range, and accuracy.

    after all a snub nose 38 shootist that puts the slug through the deers head gets the deer down quicker then a 44 magnum slug through the gut.
     
  18. buck460XVR

    buck460XVR Member

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    Big difference in killing and incapacitating. Many folks like a shoulder shot on a deer because it incapacitates it till it bleeds out and dies. Most deer when double lunged are incapacitated several minutes before they die, regardless of what they are shot with if not incapacitated in any other way. Again simple biology. This is why they run maybe 60 yards and then lay there several minutes and bleed before they die. Larger bucks may run 80 yards while little ones will only run 40. Both tho, die within the same approximate time frame. While the tougher buck may run farther, it doesn't live any longer, nor does it "will" the mortal wound to heal and it lives to see another season. Nor does a buck shot thru the heart/lungs four times live for 45 minutes before swimming away. After every deer season there are multiple posts on hunting forums from guys that claimed they "double lunged" a big buck and after trailing it for 2 miles they lost it. Never could figure out how they knew they "double lunged" it when they never recovered the deer, much less the inability of a deer with lungs turned to mush to live for more than a few minutes.

    The reason many of us hunt with handguns is for the challenge. Same reason some bowhunt and why some use a longbow or recurve altho compounds with 80% let-off and much longer range capabilities are readily available. Hunting with a .357 handgun for deer is definitely more of a challenge than using a .44 or .460. I have used all three to kill deer. The difference between them is basically distance and shot placement. The bigger the caliber, the more range I have. The bigger the caliber, the less concern I have over hitting the shoulder bone and reducing penetration. Back in the days of recurves, one avoided the shoulder blade like the plague. Nowadays, modern compounds blast thru them like nuttin'. Regardless of what you use, you need to be aware of your and your weapons limitations, and hunt appropriately. This is true regardless of the platform. This is why caliber wars are so silly. In most cases, it isn't the weapon that fails, it is the hunter that fails to use it appropriately. There are many platforms out there that are better than the .357 handgun for hunting deer. That does not mean the .357 is not an appropriate or effective weapon for deer when used within it's limitations. Same can be said for larger caliber handguns. If one is more proficient with .357 than a .44, there is justification to use the .357 over the .44. If there are reasons that a .357 will work better for the OP than a .44, there is no legitimate reason he cannot use it for deer and be successful.
     
  19. Armored farmer

    Armored farmer Member

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    Well, Im done with this verbal pushing and shoving.

    I haven't heard from the OP anyway. I think it's just you and me buck460. I just wish I had switched to a .45Colt before I did. I really like it as a deer handgun. Maybe I wouldn't have bought so many .357s.

    I will say my deer story in post #33 is absolutely true except that the buck(that I had been hunting for two years) was actually shot twice with my .54 and then laid for 45min while my buddy drove my 4x4 to the woods to help me load the big buck. I stayed in the stand 'til he got there. He witnessed the rest of the story.
     
  20. MCgunner

    MCgunner Member

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    All this talk about bigger holes. My favorite hunting handgun shoots a .308" diameter 150 grain bullet at 2150 fps. It is a bang/flopper right out to 90 yards (my longest shot). It is sighted for 200 yards, shoots 3" high at 100 yards, and shoots 3" groups at two hundred. It has taken five deer so far, but they were Texas deer. I reckon it'd probably bounce off those northern deer, especially if a 54 caliber RB bounces off....:rolleyes: Might need to carry a .460 Weatherby up there, I guess.
     
  21. buck460XVR

    buck460XVR Member

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    Wasn't trying to push or shove. Only stating a opinion based on personnel experience.

    Generally when someone comes here and asks about a first handgun, most folks tend to shy them away from .44 mags, and for good reason. Hunting with a handgun, any true handgun is a challenge and takes practice. If that practice is not enjoyable, folks tend to not do it. Thus in my opinion a newbie that is proficient with a smaller bore handgun makes more sense than a newbie with a big bore handgun they are not so proficient with. As long as they understand their and their firearm's limitations.

    Your story of the deer shot 4 times with a .54 is proof that bigger does not always guarantee a quicker kill. Your claim of hunting with a recurve bow means you, like folks that hunt deer with a .357, are accused of using a "marginal" weapon and are told there are better options. I hunted deer with my .357 for many years and never lost one. But it was never my primary weapon...it was always a back-up and used only when the shot was appropriate. I went bigger because I wanted to leave the long-gun at home. The bigger bores only gave me more distance over the .357. Used within it's parameters, it still did the job just as well as the .44s and the .460. This is all the point I was trying to make.
     
  22. Dinosaur1

    Dinosaur1 Member

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    I shot alot of deer with the .357 and unless you're very proficient with it, I would say no. A .44 mag is a better choice but it comes with more recoil. You should always get some kind of hearing protection when hunting with a handgun.
     
  23. Jason_W

    Jason_W Member

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    If I were to hunt deer with a .357 mag revolver, I'd limit shots to bow range and make sure I was proficient enough to put a minimum of two well placed bullets into a deer.

    I could never hit the broad side of a barn with any sort of handgun, so I quickly abandoned all fantasies of hunting with one. For me, it's hard enough with a scoped rifle.
     
  24. Bezoar

    Bezoar member

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    well heres a subtle question for everyone. velocity issues.
    the standard factory "hunting" load is a 158 grain jsp at 1150-1200 fps in a 4 inch barrel. the only real hunting ammo i can find in 44 mag is the barnes vortex 225 copper hollow point.

    when im using my 357 revolver i pull the trigger, "booom' and when the smoke clears i see the hole in my target.
    when using a lever gun in 44 mag and that barnes xpb bullet in factory ammo, its pull trigger "booooom"..pause...."thwack' of bullet hitting target.

    i know the barnes isnt a very fast load in a handgun. i believe a rough 800 fps . but is that really fast enough for deer?
     
  25. MCgunner

    MCgunner Member

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    Wow, if factory loads are THAT pathetic, I'm glad I've not fired one in 35 years. For hunting, I handload the .357 with a 180 grain XTP to 1400 fps/785 ft lbs from a 6.5" Blackhawk.
     
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