Deer rifle/shotgun

Discussion in 'Hunting' started by OtG, Aug 15, 2011.

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  1. OtG

    OtG Member

    May 9, 2004
    I'm thinking about deer hunting for the first time this fall, and I'd like to be sure that I have an appropriate gun for it.
    Background: I'm 28, living in NW Vermont, and have a modest collection of guns, but have never hunted.
    Any hunting that I DO end up doing will be in VT, so figure mostly woods with the occasional clearing or cornfield. Terrain likely to be quite hilly if not mountainous.
    I'll be taking the hunter safety course this fall, and will be hunting with an experienced friend.

    The guns that I have:
    H&R 20 gauge single-shot
    Yugoslavian SKS (unissued but shot quite a bit by me, with bayonet & grenade launcher)
    Savage 23D in .22 K-Hornet

    Of these, the SKS seems to be the "best", but it's a hefty thing, and I can't say that the grenade launcher or bayonet seem all that useful. Also I'd have to block off the magazine somehow to keep it legal ( <6 rounds in an autoloading rifle)

    The 20 gauge would work, and is nice and light, but I'm unsure of its accuracy with slugs. Guess I need to go to the range.
    Also the sights leave something (quite a bit, actually) to be desired.

    The Savage is a nice rifle, and I haven't found any caliber restrictions for Vermont, but I'd prefer to stick with something a bit more powerful.

    So those are my current options.
    OR I could go out and buy a deer rifle! Only problem is that I AM on a budget. I can spend probably $300 without breaking the bank.
    I'm set up to reload, so ammo cost isn't a huge concern.

    The local shop has some used 30-30 lever guns for around $300.
    Pros: Light, handy, classic deer rifle.
    Cons: ammo more expensive, would have to reload to get much practice with it.

    I could try to find a cheap SKS or other surplus rifle. I'd like to have a "beater" SKS anyhow, just because I don't want to modify the Yugo. Or a SMLE. This would be a great excuse to get one of those.
    Pros: cheap surplus ammo (7.62x39) for practice, inexpensive rifle.
    Cons: questionably accurate, hunting ammo harder to find. Lousy sights, would probably get a set of aftermarket peep sights.

    Pros: solid, powerful bolt action. damn cool rifle.
    Cons: ammo a bit harder to find. Heavier than the SKS or Winchester.

    So let me know what you think!

  2. bejay

    bejay Member

    Aug 2, 2008
    the sks would work if you could limit the magazine capacity, maybe the best option would go buy a used deer rifle you could probably find a good used 30-30 or even a bolt action in calibers like 30-06, 270,243 in your price range.
  3. kludge

    kludge Member

    Jun 15, 2006
    The SKS would be perfect. Use good SP ammo and you're good to go. 150-200 yards will not be a problem if you can hold your groups together. In wooded areas with clearings, most shots will be under 100 yards anyway.

    I can hold the black on a NRA 100 yard bull with iron sights and old Chinese surplus ammo, and that's good enough. With younger eyes (before astigmatism) I used to shoot 3" groups with the same ammo.
  4. Steel Talon

    Steel Talon Member

    Mar 20, 2006
    Cochise County AZ
    Buy a new rifle look to Savage for their affordable line. at minimum get a .243 caliber However since you hand load consider the 25-06 my absolute favorite deer caliber.
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2011
  5. interlock

    interlock Member

    Oct 17, 2008
    Lincolnshire, England
    I would suggest you buy a new rifle in a popular high velocity round 7mm08, 308 win, 30-06, .260 etc. the performance of these rifles is going to give you the best possible chances of success and a humane kill. no disrespect intended to the sks shooters out there but you need to be shooting within a couple of inches at 100 yards. maybe a surplus mauser, springfield or lee enfield will be good for this? hunting ammunition is readily available in these rounds. They all are proven killers. See if you can team up with another hunter... i am going out in the morning. However, you have to get to england and be at my house for 0400. and bring a flask
  6. bad_aim_billy

    bad_aim_billy Member

    Dec 2, 2008
    Mountain West
    Try the shotgun with different types of slugs, if you can get halfway decent groups at 50-75 yards, I'd go with that. I'm sure the sks with soft points would be fine too. .22 hornet could work, but there would be absolutely no room for error, so not a good choice.
  7. tikka-guy

    tikka-guy Member

    Apr 17, 2011
    What are the woods like up there in VT? If it were me, here in PA, I'd go for the 20 gauge single shot, assuming the barrel is rifled. Maybe find a decent 4x scope to put on it to fix the sight issue and you're good to go. I've had good luck with the Hornady SST slugs. According to Hornady they come out a big hotter, and the polymer tip helps give them a bit better BC. There are others who make tipped slugs though, so you have options. That should help get you out to about 100 yards.

    The only downsides here are shots beyond 100 yards and ammo price. Slugs aren't cheap. You wouldn't want to take it to the range and burn 20 rounds through it.

    If you are going with an experienced hunter, could you borrow one of their rifles for this season? If you do go the route of buying a different rifle, maybe that'd give you an idea of what you want out of a deer rifle.

    EDIT: That's not to say you can't shoot beyond 100 yards with a slug gun, just saying that's a good starting point for a max hunting distance. Practice and experience can help you push that out a bit further, given the right circumstances.
  8. scythefwd

    scythefwd Member

    Mar 13, 2008
    Manassas Park, VA
    I have a smooth bore 20 ga that I use here for hunting. At 30-40 y, I'll keep a group of 3" without a bead installed. Now I need to get back to the range and see what it will do with a bead (bet I can get that down to less than 1" per 10 y for groups) and some remington sluggers. My longest shots will be 40-50y here. You can also look for a used stevens 200. Shouldn't run much past 200-250 for one in any caliber suited for your hunting area (.270 win, .30-06 sprg,). That'd leave you with 100 for a scope, which can be done (just don't expect a great scope, refurbed bushnell banners and sportsman will be in that price range). Ammo can be reloaded for either caliber for less than .60 a round using premium bullets.
  9. okiewita40

    okiewita40 Member

    Jun 9, 2007
    Northeast Oklahoma
    Since you have the sks see if you could put a small block of wood in the magazine to hold 5 rounds. My sks is a norinco I don't have the mag restrictions here in OK. like you do. If I had the yugo like yours I would remove the grenade launcher and bayo for the hunt. You can always put them back on. Just get some plenty of practice before hand. And make sure that you use soft point ammo for the hunt. That's what I do. Besides anything longer than 30 yards at a deer where I hunt would be a long shot.
  10. dprice3844444

    dprice3844444 member

    Feb 26, 2011
    se fla i love claymores 01/sot
    sarcoinc.com or the gunpartscorp.com have a 5 round magazine thar fits flush you can install on the sks.
  11. Art Eatman

    Art Eatman Moderator Emeritus

    Dec 22, 2002
    Terlingua, TX; Thomasville,GA
    Given today's economy, I'd browse through pawn shops for a good used rifle. I wouldn't pay more than half of the new-retail price. They'll have less than that in them, no matter what the asking price is.

    Woods hunting, the odds are that any shot will be less than a hundred yards. I wouldn't buy any rifle with a high-magnification scope. No more than 4X, such as a Weaver K4. Scopes help in very early morning at daylight and during dusk before the end of legal shooting light.

    Anything in the general power range of a .30-30 will be plenty good. I wouldn't bother to go on up into the .308/.270/'06 range, although if the price is right, why not?

    Doing a lot of dry firing will help familiarization. The main thing is developing a smooth control of trigger-pull.

    If you're mostly going to sit and watch, weight doesn't really matter. Walking hunting for several miles can be a different deal. I've done many and many a dozen-mile walk in these old mountains around here, and 9-1/2 pounds of '06 was sorta wearying by the time I got back to camp. :)
  12. 351 WINCHESTER

    351 WINCHESTER Member

    Mar 19, 2007
    NE FL
    Shoulder different rifles, work the action and carry it in your hand. As long as the caliber is sufficient, buy the one that feels the best.
  13. 303tom

    303tom member

    Jul 16, 2011
  14. bangaway

    bangaway Member

    Mar 27, 2011
    Consider used/new new england arms rifles. The .223 cal is a tack driver and sells used for $175 or less with scope. More power than hornet and ammo to hunt (soft point) or practice and handload is cheap. 30-30 in these guns can be used with spitzer bullets. These can be cheaper heads than lever evolution shells. Gives more range and power to the gun.
    This Co. makes .308, .260 rem, .444 marlin, 44 mag. and lots of other cals. Reloading for second shots can be done quick as a bunny with practice. You are already familar with the action from your 20 gauge. Guns are light weight. I would pass on the .500 s &w mag rifle as more gun than needed for deer and ammo is spendy even when handloaded. All the deer I shot with a .223 cal mini-14 took a step or two and quit. Behind the shoulder shots all 18 head.
  15. Daveboone

    Daveboone Member

    Jan 24, 2009
    Tughill NY
    20 gauge slugs certainly can kill deer...the concern being the poor sighting arrangement with just a bead and the rapid decline in accuracy with range.
    the Hornet can kill deer, but dont get decieved by southern hunters using .22 calibers on their deer. Our northern deer are much heavier.. Along with that, ideal shot situations change in thousands of a second. For your 300, you certainly have a good number of options in centerfire arms, or inline black powder. This time of year it is easy to find ammo for sale very inexpensively. When I bought a 30-30 about 4 years ago, I found Winchestr and Federal ammo for about 14.00 a box. I reload also, but 4 boxes of ammo was plenty to get sighted in and ammo to hunt with. (I still have 2 1/2 boxes). Then I had brass to start loading with too!
    Most rifles have open sights you can start with, then mount a scope when you get the money.
  16. ridgerunner1965

    ridgerunner1965 Member

    Dec 11, 2010
    if you really didnt want to spend a whole lot, id modify the sks.id add a 2 inch rubber butt pad to lengthen the stock so it fits larger american people as opposed to smaller asian people. then i would purchase a rear peep site from tech sights. they offer a very sturdy rear peep that mounts on the back of the reciever close to the eye.if you feel real spendy, buy a cheap monte carlo stock off ebay.the sks is really over looked as a deer rifle but you have to stay within its limits for sure.once you get used to the gritty trigger its really pretty predictible.stay under 125 yrds and yu should easily be able to do 6 inch groups or less.far less if your a good shot but either way plenty good if you pick your shots well.a grunt call and a sharp knife and yur in bizzness!
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