Ask Kirsten Weiss: Which Rifle for a Hunting Newbie?

 Kirsten Weiss on the hunt (courtesy The Truth About Guns)

Over at TTAG’s Free Fire Zone Forum reader Rokurota writes:

Greetings, Kirsten. My in-laws just purchased a 50-acre property with 42 acres of woods lousy with deer and turkey. They have invited me to hunt the land in return for meat. Trouble is, I don’t hunt and have never killed anything bigger than a cockroach. I have asked a hunter friend to introduce me to the sport. I’m sure he’ll have an opinion on a deer rifle and turkey gun. What’s yours? I’m reasonably competent with a rifle on the range. I’ve mostly shot .22LR, .223/5.56 (AR-15) and .308 (Mauser) out to 100 yards. (I am no marksman, though — I need a lot more practice before trying to take a deer.) So maybe what I’m really asking for is: 1. advice on a rifle setup and cartridge; 2. a training protocol to prepare for a first hunt, even if it’s ‘just sit there and watch your friend.’ Thanks.” Click here or make the jump to read Ms. Weiss reply . . .

Hello Rokurta,

Im very happy you’ve decided to give hunting a go. As far as the “green movement” and health goes, hunting is about as local, organic, and humane as you can get for meat. The meat of wild animals is also high in a compound called conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which is lacking in conventional grocery store meat. CLA helps build lean muscle, and burn fat. Not bad, eh?

Health benefits aside, harvesting wild game is a very unique and earthy experience. The hunter is wholly connected to nature, and the hunt is deeply rooted in every creatures psyche. Every creature hunts. Lions hunt for impala, impala hunt for edible grasses. Our ancestors hunted throughout time, and we continue the practice.

Now, just fyi. I use the word “harvest” instead of “kill” because that is what we are doing as hunters. We are harvesting what nature has provided. Each state’s game commission monitors the game meticulously, and issues permits in accordance with what kind of balance is needed. For example, in my home state of Pennsylvania, hunters are needed to manage the deer population. Without management, the deer would overpopulate and get a disease called “wasting disease” where they slowly and painfully starve to death. Game Management equals healthy animal populations.

I said these few tidbits because you are new to hunting, and I wanted to give you some perspective on what you are going to be a part of. You are a nature conservationist, and many non-hunters don’t understand the deep respect that hunters have for nature and its preservation. (Tv programs certainly do NOT portray this well or at all) So thank you for joining us and experiencing first hand!

That all said, I’m going to keep the hunting advice part very simple for you:

1) Attend a Hunters Safety Course- I believe this course is a requirement in every state before you can even breathe at a hunting license. It will teach you the crucial ethics and safety ins and outs of hunting.

2) Firearms- There are a lot of good hunting rifles. To keep it simple, a 30-06 will do a very fine job for your environment (Virginia woods). Its versatile for the woods, and perfect for deer. Id recommend shooting turkey with a 20 gauge shotgun (in the head). If its rifle only, a 30-06 or a .243 will do the trick.

3) Sight In and Practice — Sight in and practice with your rifle, at the distance you think you will most likely be shooting. Hit an inch group in the bullseye at 100 yards and you’re ready. (Yes I’m picky, but you’re after ethical shots on live targets. We owe it to the critters to be good shots.) Know where your bullet hits at closer ranges or a longer ranges (if your comfort level allows), and practice adjusting this without clicking the sights (using your scope’s reticle to aim). This way you will be confident where to aim, when the various opportunities arise in the field.

4) Study the Vitals Zone – On whatever you are shooting, you need to know exactly where the heart is. (It varies on each animal) You want to aim for the heart and only the heart (unless its turkeys with a shotgun, then the head). A broadside shot is the best. If brush is in the way, look for an opening to shoot through. If the animal doesn’t present a clean shot, don’t shoot. Out of respect for the animal, ethical hunters shoot only fast clean shots. Even if its the “trophy of a lifetime”. A poorly placed shot, is no trophy at all.

5) Breathe – Sometimes my heart rate races, sometimes not. But if yours does, take deep, slow breaths until you are comfortable enough to take a solid shot. Like I said, our ultimate goal is a clean, ethical harvest. Take the time you need. You’ll be very happy when the animal drops in its tracks (or not far from its tracks), knowing it didn’t suffer.

6) Hunting is an Art- You’ll learn best from others and your own experience with it. Its best to go with your buddy for your first few times (or always; hunting with others is a good time). He’ll teach you, even if just by observation. In time, you’ll start to learn the animals ways and think like they would. Your five senses will be engaged more acutely than any other outdoor activity.

There’s really so much to say to a new hunter. I hope I’ve shed some light on it. Hunting is a lifelong pursuit. There’s much to learn from it and gain from just being immersed in nature.

I wish you a great and successful hunt. Wild game is delicious! Just don’t overcook it…

[Click here for Kirsten Weiss’ Facebook page.]

comments

  1. avatar Paul says:

    When is Newbie season in your neck of the woods?

    1. avatar Ralph says:

      In MA, we have separate newbie seasons for rifle, pistol, black powder, bow and arrow, SWAT teams and motor vehicles. Still, newbies aren’t popular game because they’re hard to dress in the field.

      1. avatar In Memphis says:

        Hey Ralph, let me know when its motor vehicle season. No offense but MA drivers are worse than Memphis drivers.

    2. avatar Russ Bixby says:

      SPAM’r, take your lead supplement!

  2. avatar Wade says:

    Remington 700 in .270, with a solid, but not fancy, scope. (Simmons, bushnell, leupold). This exact setup is what my mother, sister, and a couple of friends shoot, all of whom only hunt 2-3 times a year. Within 300 yards, the .270 will take care of just about anything in North America, with less recoil than a 30-06. Plus the Remington action pretty much set the bar for simplicity and reliability in a hunting rifle.

    Just my .02

  3. avatar Russ Bixby says:

    Well, there were plenty of muzzle-loading rifles — as differentiated from smooth-bores — but I cannot imagine why one would be inherently more accurate than a breech-loader.

    That’s a new one on me.

    As for a recommendation? Hell, I don’t have one; there are people aplenty more experienced than I with the current stuff.

    I use a Mosin made in ’37 and iron sights, which I do not recommend to a FNG.

  4. avatar dwb says:

    The main value of a muzzleloader for hunting IMHO is the fact that season is longer (there is an early muzzleloader season before firearms season, then a late season after firearms season). Also, newbie needs to check local ordinances, not everywhere allows centerfire hunting. Many places are shotgun only.

    1. avatar Russ Bixby says:

      “…not everywhere allows centerfire hunting. Many places are shotgun only.”

      As in muzzle-loader and rimfire only?

      Apart from the fact that most shotties are centrefire, a shotgun for large quadrupeds…?!?”

      Presumably, if they’ve any sort of deer season at all, they’ll permit something apropos to the task at hand.

      1. avatar AW1Ed says:

        My neck of the woods (Southern Maryland) has bow, black powder, and shotgun deer seasons only. Ever heard of “Buckshot”? Also, a .70 cal deer slug will get the job done, and not sail off for parts unknown if the shot is muffed. Center-fire is allowed out in the Western MD counties, like Garret.

        1. avatar Russ Bixby says:

          Yeah, I have, but I’d never heard of it being mandated.

          Never was really clear about buckshot; you’d have to get awfully close for that, and slugs hadn’t even occurred to me.

          We live and we learn, but never the wiser grow.

        2. avatar jwm says:

          Russ, i think hunting deer with buckshot is kind of a holdover from the days when people used dogs to exhaust and corner a deer. I remember the old timers in the South talking about it when I was a spud. All those southern boys owned shotguns even if they never owned any other type of gun.

          Some of them talked of riding horses and mules when they hunted with their dogs.

        3. avatar Russ Bixby says:

          Makes sense. I’d never want to do that to a critter, though; I like them to never know what happened, and for the trail of blood to be about a foot long.

          I wonder how they’d respond were I to make myself a replica of a Fergusson breech-loading rifle?

          That wouldn’t violate any laws, but it sure would put a hurt on the assumptions…

        4. avatar Ropingdown says:

          “Shotgun Only” (meaning, in the details, no rifles) is an extremely common restriction for hunting deer in the zones around populous areas in the east and mid-west. Even Colorado has a number of such zones. Pennsylvania actually has one shotgun-only zone in which, uniquely for PA, a semi-auto shotgun is legal for hunting, but slugs are not: This area is on the north side of Philadelphia. Allowing buckshot for deer hunting has always been an accommodation for the relatively impecunious.

      2. avatar Ralph says:

        Russ, Massachusetts is one of several states that prohibit hunting deer with rifles. The state has deer seasons for shotgun, black powder and archery. Slugs work fine, and “buckshot” is called “buckshot” for a reason. Rifled slug guns are legal.

        1. avatar Russ Bixby says:

          I’ve used only a bow and rifle.

          And does shooting that rifle of a bow take a lot of practice! 😉

          I wonder how the Powers that Be rationalize rifled shotties and slugs? Less chance of a miss taking out someone three miles away, I guess.

      3. avatar dwb says:

        see above: shotgun, archery, muzzleloader; some places shotgun is slugs-only. check LOCAL and state regs.

  5. avatar Fitz19d says:

    As far as actual suggestions? A few other details could influence you. (Uses outside hunting, the terrain as she mentioned etc.) I’ve been struggling with the same question. And for me with my other shooting and whatnot, I prefer to stick with the more widely available and thus usually cheaper .mil related rounds. IE .308/.30-06. Something like .270 and any of the other hunting rifle calibres I figure may be better in a vacuum but I won’t be able to practice as cheaply nor have “plinking” rounds available for. Now if you will only ever use the rifle to hunt, then it wouldn’t matter.

    For me I narrowed it down with some trouble. With most things I buy, I work myself up and up into the better stuff. But for hunting you don’t want to haul a 12+ lb benchrest uber rifle for 1000 yards. You want light, you shouldn’t care about kick as much since you won’t be shooting much. So for that it seems like Ruger American/Savage Axis/Weatherby Vanguard/TC Venture(?) all kind of fit that bill. The weatherby is starting to get into the more pricey area but has a really nice feel and seems higher end than it is. Though at that point I’m back into trying to convince myself to get a $800 savage .308 that I pretend wouldn’t be bad hauling around as well as being able to do some modest bench resting.

  6. avatar Wmc85 says:

    There are so many fine rifles and calibers out there, it is nearly impossible to just suggest one. Any good name brand bolt gun (Ruger 77 or American, Remington 700, 7, or 770, Winchester 70, Browning A-bolt, plus many more) in a standard caliber ( .30-06, .270, .25-06, .243) would do just fine. Remember not to skimp on the scope and mounts. Those can ruin a hunt in a hurry. I’ve never understood buying a thousand dollar gun and putting five dollar mounts and a thirty dollar scope in it. A five hundred dollar gun deserves the same amount in a scope. I got a draw hunt for deer that is really hard to get, only to have it ruined by a crappy scope ring. Warne scope mounts are the only ones I trust now. As far as training, trigger time at different distances and in odd positions.

  7. avatar Russ Bixby says:

    On consideration, though, I could recommend a Mosin Nagant, which is an ancient Russian infantry rifle.

    This weapon of war shoots the 7.62x54R, widely nicknamed the Russian 30.06 and plentiful as you please — it’s downright drought-proof. It’s also the longest serving military cartridge in history, in continuous use for 122 years and counting.

    It’s a beautiful, solid piece of history and if you’re careful about selecting one with a good barrel it’s a damned fine shootin’ arn.

    Little known is that under the rear sights a dovetail, to which one may attach a Truglo TG8953B, and to that a scope.

    Voila! Inexpensive, reliable, effective, cool in a beat-up Model A hotrod sort of way and very inexpensive to feed.

    1. avatar JaredFromTampa says:

      +1 love my M44 and 91/30, they’re great for Hogs. I wouldn’t take them along for deer though, as i would be loathe to mount a scope on one. I’m not ready to Bubba up any of my Mil-surp boomsticks. I think Ms. Weiss’s recommendation of .30-06 is very reasonable.

      My go to rifle for deer season is a Savage 110 in .30-06 with the AccuTrigger (or whatever it’s called) and a Redfield 2x-7x wide view scope. I usually use hand loaded 180gr Hornady soft points. Works for me, YMMV. Take my advice with a grain of salt though as I haven’t actually seen a deer, or taken one personally in a few years despite numerous hunting trips.

      For turkeys, you can never go wrong with just about any 12 gauge with #4-#5 shot. I currently use a 3 inch Mossy 500 or a Wincherster 1200. Many people recommend #6 but I’ve found it isn’t as good as far as penetration and maintaining velocity goes. #6 is lighter per pellet and loses velocity more quickly. If you want to take that turkey, you want to hit him right i.e. in the neck and head area. IMO you don’t want to sacrifice more velocity for more pellets in the air. In my experience lighter payload shells pattern better at ~40 yards.

      As far as I’m concerned, the jury is still out on screw in chokes. I currently have a Goblin-Thunder choke for turkey and it seems to pattern pretty darn well with Winchester Magnum Shells. HTH.

      1. avatar Russ Bixby says:

        While I’d never cut or drill one, I’m not opposed to reversible mode.

        I’ve a 20 round homebrew magazine on my 91/30, but it mounts to the original floor mounting points.

        That’s only a range toy, though, done just because I could. I use it bone stock for hunting – even to my having the bayonet mounted.

        1. avatar JaredFromTampa says:

          For whatever reason they seem to only shoot right with the bayonet mounted, and I’m to lazy to adjust the sights…so definitely, fix bayonets. Heh.

          My M44 has taken a few hogs in its day with iron sights. One of my buddies has a scope on his, and it works well, I’m just not into long eye relief scopes. Maybe I’m going blind…each to their own. I hate to see critters suffer and I honestly just cannot shoot that well at more than 100 yards with iron sights and I i find it less tedious to load my Mosins with stripper clips.

        2. avatar JaredFromTampa says:

          BTW, I’d love to see that 20rd setup….

        3. avatar Russ Bixby says:

          Next time I’m at eine rechenmaschine I’ll post a picture; my tablet won’t upload here. :[

          Yeah, Soviet doctrine called for the bayonet to be mounted at all times. Hell, it takes a pile driver to install the thing and Semtex to remove it. I modified my pig sticker just enough to make it a tight-but-manageable fit.

          The Red Army zeroed them for 300 meter initial engagement and to the side to allow for the bayonet; at a 100 yard range with no spike, the thing shoots way off — hence their spotty reputation among the great unwashed.

          I kept mine sighted for bayonet because it can be handy. While I’ve never had a buck go zombie and attempt revenge, I once flushed a boar on the way to the sitting place and that spear earned its keep.

          Don’t leave home without it…

        4. avatar JaredFromTampa says:

          True. I don’t leave home without it. I think one can adjust the sights with a punch and hammer, but I’m not that masochistic, and way to busy. It’s much easier to just fix the bayonet (although its a stone cold bastard to get it off when it’s red hot.)

          Eine Rechenmaschine is a calculator lol. My wife is German and I speak the language. I get it though. I do most of my posting/computing from a tablet as well 🙂 20 rounds in a Mosin would be amazing!

        5. avatar Russ Bixby says:

          I’m aware that the German for computer is “computer,” but as rechenmaschine is “computing machine” — compute as in calculate — I use it as an homage to the “Alles lookenspeepers” poster from the seventies.

        6. avatar JaredFromTampa says:

          Na ja. Haha. Alles klar.

  8. avatar jwm says:

    42 acres of thick woods. Newbie hunter. Sounds like a recipe for .30-30 lever gun. Peep sights or fixed low power scope.

    Bolt gun. 7-08. .243. .308. .270. Hard to go wrong with any of these.

    1. avatar Larry says:

      Exactly a Winchester 30-30 is the go to gun in Maine and much of the north east for deer. I however have taken my deer every year for decades with my grandfather’s Winchester 1886 in 45-70 the gun was built about 1900 and the round barrel is stamped nitro steel but it is straight stocked and crescent buttplate jus fit me to a T it has orignal iron sights.

      I load a 520 gr soft lead round nose flat point paper patched in front of 60grains of Swiss 1 1/2 f black powder some compression is needed to hit the overall length requirement with a tight crimp. This combo is great in brush and the soft lead upsets nicely I have never needed to take a shot that was past 90 yards and most tend to be between 40 and 60. The soft lead deforms to create a large wound channel and only once in the last 20 years have I had to track a wounded dear more than 10 or 20 yards and it was my own fault for snap shooting a deer my hunting partner had missed. Many times the deer has either dropped after a convulsive leap or just dropped in its tracks…. I love the 45-70 for hunting in brush… And using paper patched black powder loads somehow connects me to my ancestors.

      But for a new lady hunter I would strongly recommend a Winchester 30-30

  9. avatar Pat says:

    1. advice on a rifle setup and cartridge

    Any modern bolt-action rifle that “fits” you well. Check out any of the well-known performers like the Rem 700, Savage 10, Weatherby Vanguard, Ruger American, etc. If you are on a budget, I would always recommend buying a gun off the used-rack vs the “price point” guns such as the Remington 710, Savage Axis, etc. Expect to pay roughly $300-500 depending on model, and then another $200-300 on a suitable rifle scope, rings, and base. No need for “tactical options” – the scope and rings simply need to be sturdy and reliable (check out Redfield scopes ($175) with Talley rings w/integrated base($40 for the set)). Keep in mind that some of these guns might come with bases, which will offer a small “overall” savings.

    There are also “package deals” at many of the “big box” stores like Wal-Mart, Dicks, etc. that offer great deals in complete gun packages. You can still walk into Wal-Mart with $400 and walk out with a firearm that will be perfectly capable of taking game at “PA” yardages (http://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/2012/03/patrick-carrube/gun-review-remington-adl-243/) .

    Used guns offer great value vs their cost. Many have seen limited use and some have upgraded scopes and rings. A recent trip to my LGS showed a Browning with Zeiss Conquest scope for $600 (which is less than the scopes original retail price).

    Regarding caliber, this is the old Ford vs Chevy debate. Back when I lived in NEPA, everyone “needed” a 30-06 and I don’t know why. I’ve literally had longer shots at pheasant than deer some years. The longest deer taken in my 8 years of hunting the thick PA woods (private and state game lands) was under 200 yards (my second year hunting, with a 30-30 and a Marbles sight of all things). I have taken many deer at 100-yards or less (doe in particular for some reason). The 30-06 is brutal with 150-grain softpoints against whitetail. The 180-grain offering is devastating. A 30-06 with 180-grain bullets is a very common northern/eastern Arizona combination for dropping 1300-lb elk out to 400-yards. Using a 30-06 loaded with 180-grain SP’s on an average shot (150-yards) and you will likely destroy lots of meat in the shoulders and possibly in other areas depending on where you shoot. Unless you’re hunting large, well-fed buck at “beanfield” distances, I don’t recommend the 30-06 for most people. A 7mm-08, 308 Win, and even the 243 Win with 100-grain Softpoints will be just as effective at sub-300 yard shots. It will also save meat and you’ll have a lighter-weight rifle since all three of these rounds are “short-action” calibers (the 30-06 is a “long action” caliber, resulting in a longer, heavier gun). These calibers are very common and should easily be found at any store that carries 30-06 rounds.

    Thousands and thousands of deer are still cleanly and ethically taken down each year with a 30-30, and just as many are “grazed” with monster 30-cal bullets. If you’re inexperienced and just getting into the sport, there is no need for the almost 18-lbs of recoil from the 30-06 when it won’t change the price of beans and make the deer and more “deader”. Aim for the “boiler room” (heart and lungs) and follow the blood trail. If you “need” to drop the deer in place, a high-shoulder shot is what most hunting guides will recommend.

    2. a training protocol to prepare for a first hunt, even if it’s ‘just sit there and watch your friend.’

    Get comfortable with your rifle at the bench first, and make sure the scope has a proper zero. Then, practice with the positions you’ll likely hunt in, such as sitting, standing, kneeling, etc. You should be able to put a round on a 8″ paper-plate from each position. When you find the distance that you can no longer accomplish this, this is now your “maximum comfort distance”. Continued practice and/or perhaps some additional equipment (a shooting “stick” for example) can help stretch our your comfortable shooting distance.

  10. avatar DrewN says:

    It’s ludicrous to focus on caliber, any modern hunting cartridge within a wide range of calibers will kill everything as dead as it needs to be. Far better to worry about fit, handling, carry weight, and the ability to run the gun. 30/30 lever action. Don’t fix what ain’t broke.

  11. avatar S_J says:

    Yeah I second some of the comments here, .30-06 (along with most of the other .30 cal cartridges for that matter) is a bit much for a hunting newbie unless the target in question is elk-plus in size. It’s definitely one of the most versatile rounds but that much power isn’t really necessary for most North American game.

    It really depends on what you want to hunt and where. .270 is a solid all around medium range cartridge for deer and can take elk or even black bear if you were so inclined. The good ol’ .30-30 is a perfectly viable option for hunting deer in brush or deep woods where it’s rare to see shots longer than 100 yards. If you want to do some varminting with your deer rifle, a .243 can fill that niche.

    Of course a 12 or 20 gauge pump shotgun with a choice between 24-26″ choked barrel for birds and small game and rifled slug barrel for deer will definitely suffice as an all around hunting tool, but that’s a slightly different kettle of fish.

  12. avatar Jon says:

    What would someone hunt a coyote with ?

    1. avatar S_J says:

      .223, .22-250, .243 etc. Even .22 WMR can get it done with decent shot placement within 50 yards or so.

    2. avatar mashashin says:

      I like 17 rem personally

  13. avatar Accur81 says:

    Sounds very similar to the 44 acre property we have that is a mix of woods / swamp / fields. My father, friend, Stepson, Grandfather, and I have taken deer over the last 60 years with:

    .357 Revolver (Josh) – Colt King Cobra
    .44 Mag Revolver (Dad) – Taurus
    .454 Casull Revolver (Me) – Ruger
    .30-30 Winchester (Dad / Myself / Son) – Winchester Trappper, Marlin 336
    .308 Winchester (Josh) – Savage 110
    .30-06 Springfield (Grandpa and myself)- Winchester 70 Ultimate Classic, Remington 740
    .45-70 Government (Me) – Marlin 1895
    12 gauge Slug (Grandpa / Dad / Myself) – Rem 870 / Moss 835 / Win 1300 / Moss 500
    #52 LB Classic Recurve bow (Grandfather and Dad)

    Shots have ranged from 5 yards to about 300+ yards. Personally I like lever and bolt guns. My buddy and I have also hunted with 5.56 and 6.8 ARs.

    The Remington 700 / Savage 110 / Winchester 70 / Ruger Scout / Marlin 336 – 1895 / AR -15 in .243 / 6.8 SPC / .270 / .30-30 / .308 / .30-06 / .45-70 should serve you well. As always, I recommend shooting multiple caliber through multiple platforms from a multitude of positions in order to find out what suits you the best. Often range time, experience, and preparation, and shot placement trump caliber selection.

    When deer are moving through the woods, the 6.8 CMMG M4 LEP II / PSA lower would literally be at the top of my list. The Win 70 or Rem .308 get the mood for long shots. I like the .44 / .454 / .460 revolver (with SureFire earplugs) for deep woods drives through the brush and short shots. If we are near the fence line, the .45-70 is awesome for sheer knockdown power. Wounded deer that jump the fence may wind up in the neighbor’s freezer.

    Ammo recommendations are too long to post here, but the basic brands will work just fine unless you are encountering any extreme situations. We’ve all had particularly good luck with Hornady LeverEvolution in the Marlins and the Winchester.

    Good luck and happy hunting.

    1. avatar Russ Bixby says:

      I use Hornady plastic-tipped in my Mosin. They’re immensely effective, reasonably priced and as reliable as an anvil.

      They’ve also virtually identical ballistics to the Soviet ammo I use to keep in practice, making practice particularly effective.

      Hornady makes the best stuff on Earth.

      1. avatar JaredFromTampa says:

        +1

      2. avatar NCG says:

        Russ, I was going to ask you what ammo you use, as surplus ball is clearly not the thing for hunting. My stepdad shot a spike at pretty close range with the plastic tipped Hornady Leverlution (or whatever they call it) .30-30, and my only complaint is that it may have spoiled more meat than necessary, but certainly a clean, quick kill. We had campfire tacos from the massacred shoulder.

        You are only encouraging me to get a Moisin (which I’ve always wanted, but never had an excuse for). I can mount a scope. And I’m not scared of a little hillbilly gunsmithing to sort out trigger/bolt issues. I’ve got a Dremel. My kids are getting to hunting age, so the more user-friendly rifles might go to them. The idea that you need 1 MOA accuracy to hunt ethically is ridiculous. I might feel a little silly with the bayonet.

        1. avatar jwm says:

          NCG, you won’t need a dremel for bolt problems on a Mosin. Every Mosin I’ve encountered with “sticky bolt” has been the result of cosmoline not being properly cleaned out of the chamber area. Chuck a brass shotgun brush into a power drill. Put your favorite cleaner in the chamber and slow speed the brush in there. For really bad cases start with boiling water.

          Look up videos on you tube for corking the action and barrel on your Mosin. I’m willing to bet after you do that you won’t need to wear the bayonet on your rifle.

          Take these steps on your Mosin and see if you don’t have minute of hog or deer on your rifle.

          If I was going to hunt with one of my Mosins the only further mod I would make is to put the pull ring on the bolt rear to make dealing with the safety easier. You tube has vids on that too.

        2. avatar NCG says:

          Thanks, jwm. I’m sure if and when I actually buy one, I’ll get myself educated. I love tinkering with guns (and other stuff). Like every gun I haven’t bought (that SKS at a gun show for $129 back in the day, the MAK-90 fresh off the pallet for $199, etc, etc), I’m sure I’ll feel like a chump if I don’t get a M-N before they, too, cost $799.

  14. avatar Brandon says:

    I harvested my first deer with my AR15, non-magnified optic, and 62gr Federal Fusion ammo. It was a clean kill, but I don’t think I will do it again unless there are no other options available to me. I had to pass up other better deer that day to wait for one to get within what I felt was ethical kill distance for my gear. A light handy bolt gun in .308 would be a good choice, like the Tikka T3 Lite.

  15. avatar ensitue says:

    When I read the OP I could see the fail before the jump

  16. avatar TJ says:

    A 12 or 20 guage shotgun will be able to take both deer and turkey. I recommend a shotgun over a .30-06 rifle for your first hunting firearm.

  17. avatar CyborgCowboy says:

    Being a low desert dweller there’s little I’ve hunted that needed something other than a .22 or a shotgun with #6 birdshot. The first centerfire rifle I shot was a .30-06, and I’m partial to it, but I don’t actually own a big game rifle at the moment. I have a philosophy of “stick with what you know, and what you’re comfortable with”, and I like the Winchester model 70 just fine.

    That said, I kind of envy a Savage Model 99. I’m partial to lever actions, and having one that can handle a big game round would be the best of both worlds.

  18. avatar Gs650g says:

    I’ve dropped deer with 12gauge slugs at short and medium distances while 200 plus yards I use a model 700 .270 with 130 grain bullets. Deer are not that big and too much gun is just that.
    For heavy foliage the shotgun is a better choice. You won’t be shooting very far. In winter without leaves a longer or more technical shot may require the rifle.
    I like foster slugs in a smooth bore. Cheaper ammo and accurate enough for deer hunting. Plus I can use buckshot as well.

  19. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

    Great advice from a bunch of folks here. I’d echo a few. Find a rifle, (if it’s legal to hunt with rifle), that’s comfortable to you and that you can shoot well. Try going to a range during “sight-in” days before hunting season.
    Ask to shoot their gun. Take a few bucks with you to pay for their ammo. Let them know why you want to shoot it/try it.
    Don’t forget, if you like one rifle over another, you may shoot it better, simply because you like it.
    Take time to learn to shoot from different positions, using different methods to hold the rifle steady. I hunt with a light backpack cause it makes a sweet prone rest.
    Select ammo based on real world results. Not solely on the mfg’s say so. Check out what the hand loaders are using during sight in days.
    Look online for diagrams of the vital areas of your game. Your ideal goal, as said above, is a blood trail about a foot long. A quick, clean, ethical lethal shot should be your goal. Doesn’t always happen no matter how good the shot was… I’ve had bear run over 100 yards with no heart and punctured lungs. My zebra 2 months ago ran 75 yards with no functional left front leg, no heart and punctured lungs.
    Print out and re-read advice from folks like Ms. Weiss. It’s sound advice.
    Practice!
    Enjoy the fruit of your harvest. Food you harvest just tastes better!

    1. avatar Russ Bixby says:

      You ate a zebra? 😉

      1. avatar jwm says:

        Did it taste like chicken?

        1. avatar Kirsten says:

          Lol, it tastes exactly like the worst horse smells

  20. avatar Skyler says:

    There’s no hunter safety course requirement in Texas.

    1. avatar Russ Bixby says:

      In Michigan, the blind may hunt without a spotter.

      That’s just a little too free for my tastes…

  21. avatar Ronaldo Ignacio says:

    6.8 SPC AR-15.

    It won an award you know.

    Best. Deer. Rifle. Ever.

    1. avatar dutchroo says:

      Tee hee! “Best.Deer.Rifle.Ever”

      That’s cute.

      Methinks the good ol’ .30-30 in either a Winchester 1894 or the Marlin 1894 have a better claim to that title, with millions of deer harvested over almost 120 years of its existence.

    2. avatar Guy says:

      Some people think .223 is a respectful deer round, the idea is to reduce suffering not prolong it. Some people think 7.62 x 39 is an acceptable deer round, in my book a larger caliber higher velocity round is more humane. And when it comes to hunting rifles a higher caliber rifle isn’t necessarily more money to purchase.

  22. avatar Soccerchainsaw says:

    So many choices, so many opinions…

    Better than the alternative, no choice, no firearms or hunting allowed…

  23. avatar Jake says:

    Wrap that hurr up, you are throwing scent all over the place and begging for burrs, two hunt ruining events.

    I get the whole pretty girls are good for publicity thing but sue me, I’m a bit utilitarian.

    1. avatar Kirsten says:

      I hear ya. At least I’m not wearing huge hooped earrings, am I right?? haha

      1. avatar Guy says:

        Hey Kirsten are those hoop ear rings 30mm or 1 inch scope rings, just in case.

  24. avatar Guy says:

    My personal preference is a .308 from a reliable manufacturer, Mossberg makes many reliable .308’s find one in your price range and purchase with confidence. I like .308 as it is readily available in surplus ammo so sighting in and recreational shooting are relatively inexpensive, but purchase some hunting loads for increased accuracy and muzzle velocity like Kirsten said a clean kill is a respectful and humane kill which prevents prolonged suffering. On that note a quality Optic is a must in fact I think it would be prudent to spend more on Optics than a rifle to ensure accuracy. I recently purchased an Nikon M223 scope on sale for $100.00 off the regular price, wow clean optics and exceptional eye relief at a reasonable price, This is just my input you do what you think best I like Kirsten and her suggestions she could be my hunting partner anytime because she has first and foremost respect for the animals and a love for Game Hunting with the intention of utilizing the game meat for food which is as she said is very healthy and lean. Good Luck and Be Safe and Happy.

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