In the video above, TV host Jon Collins takes out a kai-oat from 342 yards using a Hager Custom Rifle. What’s your go-to hunting rifle, what do you hunt with it, what optic do you use, and what’s the maximum acceptable distance for an ethical kill shot from that rifle? Feel free to list multiple runner-up rifles, their targets and their effective (for you) distance limit. You know, before the boat accident.

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64 Responses to DeSantis Gunhide Question of the Day: What’s Your Main Hunting Gun?

  1. Winchester Model 70 in 243. Most veritile hunting caliber ever invented in a Mauser ’98 patterned rifle.

    • I’m going to second that! I grab my Winchester Model 70 in the wonderful .243 Win for whitetails and speed goats and sometimes muleys if one presents himself and this rifle is what I’ve got in my hands. I’ve killed elk with it on occasion, too. And a person could easily shoot the head right off a perched grouse with one if that kind of thing were in fact legal. All around awesome gun.

      My elk gun is a stainless Ruger MkII in .300 Win Mag. Both guns have Simmons scopes, the Winchester currently has a bipod because the last two critters I shot with it were an antelope buck at 405 yards (laser ranged) and then a whitetail doe at about 100 yards. With the .300 Win Mag, I’ll drop the hammer on an elk at 400 yards without a second thought. It’s a poke, but they are so big, hitting the engine room is like hitting minute of paper plate at 100 yards. Best part of these two caliber rifles is that using the bullets and powder throws that I use, I get the exact same ballistics downfield when they are sighted in at the same distance. I never have to think about my drop depending on which gun I’m using because it’s the same out to the distances in which I most commonly take my shots–250 yards or so.

  2. For deer and yotes a .243 Ruger American with a redfield 3×9 on top. At my skill level I will not take a shot past 300 yards, tops. On a stationary target.

    For small game hunting this year I’ve changed it up. CA allows hunting with an air rifle and when quail season starts I’ll be afield with a Gamo whisper in .177 caliber.

    !2 and 20 ga Mossberg pumps and H&R singles with steel shot. In my guns steel works best in the 12.

    • I just inherited my first .243. A very old Winchester model 70. So I ordered a half case of ammo for it. (Mostly for the brass)
      Last time I shot this rifle was around 40 years ago.
      Maybe a good coyote gun?

      • All I can say about the .243 Winchester is that it’s taken more northeastern whitetails than any other cartridge (except possibly the venerable .30-30) and is known as a world class varmint round.

  3. 7mm rem mag, and 300 win mag, both on a Remington 700 with vortex scopes… but alas, big game hunting seasons are only a few weeks out of the year, so my gun that gets used the most is my sig saur 516 patrol with a vortex 3-9… hunt coyotes and fox year round and the rifle is in my vehicle day in and day out.. it has brought many a dog down out to 500yrds… ?

  4. I have two. First, is a 35 Whelen that I built off of a Remington 700 long action. Absolutely amazing rifle.

    Second is an early 80’s Model 700 chambered in .270 Winchester that was given to me by my father. Another phenomenal rifle.

  5. Ruger 10/22 against 13 raccoons, 6 possums, 8 squirrels, 2 armadillos, 1snake and 6 frogs so far from at most 30 yards with open sights

  6. Sadly, I only have one rifle that must do it all. I use my WASR AK variant for both deer and armadillo. I use iron sights and try to keep shots at 50 yards but will go up to 100 using quality soft point ammo.

  7. The low recoil .243 winchester is arguably one of the best hunting rounds for all north american game inside 500 yards game except grizzly. It’s also easy to reload and to be accurate on varmints and coyotes out to 1000+ yards as youtube proves many times. Do not believe those who say you need 30-06 to reliably kill a white tail, they just don’t know anything else. A close 2nd is the 7mm-08, it just has a little more recoil. Both cartridges have excellent BC bullets available and can be used for seriously long range shooting. In fact, 7-08 can stay super sonic longer than the 6.5 creedmore, and it’s 30 years older.

    IMO, if you can’t get it done with a 7-08, your application probably calls for a 338 lapua.

  8. Remington 760 Gamemaster in .30-06. Scope is an old Bushnell if I remember right. It’s killed a lot of deer, unfortunately none by me. I would shoot out to 300 yards with it and be confident. I haven’t been hunting much over the past 15 years but I keep trying. My schedule just doesn’t support it. I did build a .300BLK AR with the Nikon P300 2-7x Scope for hunting at short distances. At most 100-150 yards. All together with a 5 round mag the gun weighs 6.8lbs.

  9. Can’t hunt anymore, unfortunately. Too old and disabled so I can’t keep up with the boys. Used to hunt in the desert… usually long shots. We didn’t have all the nice optics then, just iron sights and lots of patience. Mostly used my Marlin 30-30 lever gun for the antelope and a few deer in the mountains there.

    Now I get to listen to the “boys” argue about their guns and optics, stalking techniques, etc. We don’t use “tree stands” here, just walk the critters down or get lucky. If they hunt elk or other big game, they have to consider how long the thing must be carried or dragged to get to the road… and how many predators might be waiting to take the game away from them. Hunting is not something most folks here do all alone…

    • Mama,

      Where I live, the deer are so wary that it is next to impossible to get a shot unless you are up in a tree. Even then, your feet have to be at least 20 feet up in the air. I have had deer bust me in trees when my feet were only 14 feet above ground.

      One time, I was in a tree and my feet were about 20 feet off the ground. A deer (doe) walked down into a stream bed that was every bit of 8 feet lower than the surrounding ground. That means my feet were 28 feet above the water level. Even with that much elevation, the doe stopped and looked straight up at me. Keep in mind that I was still and silent the entire time. She studied me for about 4 seconds and then never looked up again, which is why she ended up in my freezer. (After dismissing me, she climbed out of the stream bank and onto the surrounding area, standing only 6 yards away from my tree, where I plugged her with a 12 gauge slug.)

      • LOL! I do understand the tree thing, having hunted a few times in Michigan. But out here in Wyoming we don’t have that many trees to start with, and most of the game is out on the grasslands. A 200 yard shot is considered fairly close here. I like to get within 150 yards myself, but that takes real patience and a long wait down in the grass. Just imagine how much fun it would be to hunt on the ice in the Arctic? I have a friend who does that regularly. I don’t have that much patience. 🙂

  10. Haven’t hunted much the last few years too many health problems. My long range rifle is a Ruger 77 7mm Mag bought new in 1969. And my short range Rifle is a Ruger 77 International bought new 1978. Both have been excellent rifles for deer hunting.

  11. Savage Model 16 in .358 BFG. The round is a wildcat based on the .25 WSSM. It was developed in response to the deer hunting rule changes in Indiana. I load a 200 grain FTX to a muzzle velocity of 2400 fps. Optic is a Nikon 3-9x ProHunter. My longest kill shot was 130 yards. I’m comfortable taking a shot out to 200 yards with this rifle.

    My runner up is a CZ 550 American in .243 Winchester. I hunt coyotes with this rifle. Optics are a Leupold 6-18×44 VX-II with adjustable objective. My longest kill shot was 310 yards. I’m comfortable taking a shot out to 400 yards with this rifle.

  12. Depends on the game I’m harvesting.
    For deer, elk and black bear in western Oregon where shots are short, I like my .375 H&H. It’s topped with a 1 and 3/4 fixed power.
    Though I drew a Snake River unit tag for elk this year, so shots can be a bit long. I’ll be tuning up my 7mm mag mountain rifle using some Berger 195 grainers.
    Optic is a Burris 6-32 power. I’m quite comfortable with my accuracy and bullet performance up to 800 yards. While I’m comfortable with my accuracy well past that, I don’t trust bullet performance for an ethical quick kill past that.

  13. Three caliber system: Mauser ’98 6.5x55SE (200+ yards), Win Model 70 .375 H&H, Ruger Mk II .22LR (will kill squirrels out to 25 yards)

  14. My K98k is the only gun I can handle smoothly and fire without flinching, and it has made pest control (hogs) on a friend’s Texas farm quite enjoyable. I’ve always wanted to hunt deer, but don’t know any experienced old guys to show me the ropes. Lack of mentors seems to be a problem for young, would-be hunters today.

    • I hear that. I’ve only been hunting once. I loved it and I’d love to do it some more. I just don’t have the confidence or the know-how to do a good job.

      To answer the question, Ohio outlaws rifles for deer so I used a 20 gauge Mossberg, IIRC.

      • I am sadly in NJ, where rifles are also banned for hunting, hence why I’d rather not get into it ’til I live in a much more gun/hunting friendly state.

      • Ohio loosened up a bit… You can now use rifles that use straight walled cartridges. I use my Model 92 lever action in .44 mag for deer.

      • I was relaxing on a cruise recently (I’m a retired old white guy) and overheard another old white guy from NY going on and on about how it was insane that the NY game commission (or whatever they call themselves) was considering allowing rifles for deer hunting. He was appalled.

        Somehow he drew me into the conversation and being the unrepentant southern boy that I am I just HAD to axt him what made northerners so danged dangerous and untrustworthy with firearms that they had to be restricted and controlled when handling firearms, when the people in the rest of the free states had so very few injuries and almost no deaths from hunting accidents now days, even around high density population centers?

        I never did get an answer cause he got all flustered and red in the face and stomped off in a huff……

        Oh well.

  15. Scored a mark V in .257, but the only thing it hunted so far was all my damn money. I think 50 cal might actually be cheaper…

  16. I’ve never hunted before. Unless you consider pest control to be hunting in which case I typically use a Daisy Powerline 880. Recently bought a Crosman 1337. Easy to hit what you’re aiming at and fairly accurate.

    If I ever get around to hunting I’d probably just use my SKS. It’s cheap, cheap, and then there it is cheap. Did I mention cheap?

  17. My go to right now is a 7mm-08 Browning BLR Lightweight with a 3.5-10×40 Leupold VX-3. Plenty accurate enough out to ~300 yards, but most shots here in PA are probably ~100 yards or less. Cycles faster and smoother than any bolt I’ve used, and seems to have a bit better handling for working in the woods.

    I’m really liking the 7mm-08. It’s great for deer and black bear, and adequate for larger game like elk, at practical hunting ranges. Moderate recoil, too. And it doesn’t fly off the shelves during panics.

  18. Browning BAR, in 7mm Rem. Mag. With a leupold 3×9, for deer and bear, 350 yard limit because it doesn’t have finger adjustable turrets. AR for coyotes, cva .50 for elk 100 yards, bow for deer 30 yards, Rem. 870 12ga. For deer 100 yards. The browning is my favorite.

  19. ar-15 6.8 spc or 6.5 grendel for whitetail and everything smaller. H&R Handi-Rifle chambered in .444 marlin for whitetail and everything bigger. If I need more range, I have Browning BLR in .30-06 to handle that.

  20. Primary hunting rifles:

    (1) Mossberg 100 ATR bolt-action rifle in .270 Winchester with a 3-9x Burris E1 Fullfield scope. I am confident out to 200 yards using inexpensive Winchester ammunition. Killed two dear at 150 yards … both managed to run about 75 yards before falling over dead.

    (2) H&R Handi-rifle SB2 (break-action single shot) in .44 Magnum with a 2-7x Burris Fullfield II scope. I am confident to 125 yards with inexpensive 240 grain Winchester ammunition. Dropped a dear “dead right there” at 45 yards.

    (3) CVA Optima muzzleloader in .50 caliber with 3-9×40 Konus scope. I am confident to 125 yards with .50 caliber, 295 grain PowerBelt bullets on top of 100 grains Pyrodex. Dropped a deer “dead right there” at 45 yards.

  21. Shouldn’t the question; “what is your favorite type of hunting?” be answered first? I don’t think there will be many people who will say it’s their favorite 300mag if the game in question is prarie dogs. I also don’t think there are very many who will say its their 5.56mm for elk. But ofc, there are bound to be a few around who will…

  22. Remington 788 in .233 for rabbits, hares, foxes and kangaroos with permit with 55 gr handloads that shot 0.5 moa. Simmons 6.5 to 20 scope. A large scope for daylight but very handy when using a spotlight and hitting the wrong animal can bring massive fines – feral cat verses native cat

    760 in 30-06 for everything bigger 110 gr for pigs, goats etc 150 for deer and 240 for buffalo

    • That could be interesting having a Kangaroo bouncing around in the Soybean field. The local Sheriff Department did shoot a domesticated Buffalo that escaped from someone’s Farm and walked into town.

  23. I use my Yugo M48 Mauser in 8mm for deer here in PA, the shots are usually around 100 yards or less which is fine with the iron sights. I wish I could use my Springfield M1A scout squad for deer here in Pennsylvania but they have a stupid law against using semi autos to hunt here, so the only time I use my M1A or any of my AR-15’s is to hunt coyotes on my family’s farm even though you’re not allowed.

  24. Ruger Scout Rifle (308 Win, of course) with a left-hand bolt for those of us who are on the other shoulder., topped with a Leupold 3-9×40 Mark AR Mod 1, with 308 ballistic turrets. With my hand-loads I would happily engage medium game out to 400 yards. Larger game up closer.

  25. It depends on what’s being hunted. For Ducks a Remington 1187. For Quail, a CZ .410. For Grouse and Woodcock a CZ SxS 28 ga. For clay targets, A Krieghoff K80.

    Regards,

    Steve

  26. depends in the situation. In brush, 30-30 Marlin lever action on deer. In open country Remington 700 in .270 win
    for deer. for pigs anywhere, Ruger Superblackhawk 44 rem mag. Or for swamp deer or hog, Remington 870 tactical. Vermin get the Gamo whisper .177 cal pelletgun in city limits, or the Ruger 10-22 in the county

  27. Early 90s vintage Winchester Model 70 classic featherweight in .30-06 with a hundred dollar Weaver 4-10 scope is my choice for white tail in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. It shoots straight and still looks pretty good (which is more than I can say for me).

    My secondary rifle is mid 70’s production Winchester Model 94 in .30-30. $150 at a gun show many years ago. I’m getting a little old for the iron sights, but I really enjoy carrying the lever gun into the woods. I wear a red and black wool jacket and an Indiana Jones hat and I’ve ridden the time warp back to 1960.

  28. 300 blk AR. Texas axis and whitetail for several years now. I know how to run it and it does what I want.

  29. For ground hogs: Remington 597 .22 Magnum
    Coyote: I’ve taken one with the 597, but my AR or Kel-Tec 16c would probably be a better choice.
    Deer: Until recently, Knight Wolverine .50 inline muzzleloader — Ohio has severe restrictions on what you can use to hunt deer. I recently got a Rossi M92 in .357 Magnum, because Ohio started allowing straight-walled cartridges a couple years back and I think that will work fine for white tail.

    So, overall, the 597, as I kill more groundhogs than anything else.

    • I killed groundhogs all over southern Ohio, eastern KY and WVA in my younger days. Mostly used a .22lr. Ohio was shotgun only for hunting but nobody asked any questions when I was on a farm.

      • Any gun at all is legal for groundhogs and coyotes in Ohio now. The only animals that have a lot of weapon restrictions are turkey, waterfowl and deer. And they’ve been progressively opening up the deer list: Shotguns w/slugs (no buckshot), handguns .357 or larger, rifles in a specific list of straight-walled cartridge calibers, bows/crossbows, and muzzleloaders. Bow season is very long, but I’m no good with a bow. There’s an extra set of dates for muzzle loaders, too.

        Sure, I could get away with using whatever rifle I want on my farm, but I keep it legal as a matter of course.

  30. For deer a ruger M77mkII in .270 with a hand me down leupold Vari-x-II 3-9×40, for elk either my oddball Mauser .338-378 KT or my Remington 700 .300 RUM, both sporting Leupold VX-3 4.5-14x50s

  31. I hunt whitetail deer with a Savage Axis II in .308. I upgraded the flimsy plastic stock to a Boyds laminate prairie hunter shape. Next upgrade is the scope– I’m not sure the Weaver scope that came with is really tracking movements all that well. Hopefully I can convince the wife to let me upgrade to the Primary Arms FFP mil-dot 4-14 before this fall.

    I took my first deer with my H&R Pardner Pump 12 gauge with a slug at 60yds, bead front sight only. That was fun.

    My wife is amazing at killing squirrels that get into our garden and eat our tomatoes with a Gamo .177 air rifle. Coming in between my wife and her home-grown produce could be hazardous for one’s health.

  32. Ruger M77 chambered in 7×57 Mauser for most any deer to hog sized game east of the Mississippi, out to 200 yrds. Winchester Mod 70 chambered in .243 for varmints like yotes out to 400 yrds. Both wooden stocks and both free-floating barrels.

    Both easy on the shoulder recoil-wise and plenty powerful enough with proper shot placement (which I consider crucial to harvesting responsibly) If at all possible I prefer to actually hunt to within 100 yrds before taking a shot. The taking of the animal is secondary to the hunt itself, for me.

  33. For those long weekend hunts I use an Accuracy International in 338 Lapua Magnum.

    Otherwise an AR15 in 6.8 SPC.

  34. Winchester Model 70 with the BOSS system chambered in .25-06. Outstanding deer rifle using 120 grain Sierra boat tail hollow points. Sub m.o.a. no matter what.

    The highest kill count, though, goes to my Marlin 981T. It has sent tens of thousands ground squirrels to Valhalla. Gave up on finicky semi auto .22 years ago.

  35. Browning Medallion II with Leopold glass. I’d take a 300-plus yard shot, but that a rarely occurs in middle Tennessee.

  36. I don’t really get out and hunt on foot anymore , some 4 wheeler stuff on my own property , but when I did and when I do I guess my most often used is one of my least expensive rifles . I would have to say I probably have used my Savage 110 in 30.06 topped off with a good middle of the road Nikon Monarch scope . That’s like a
    $ 500.00 rifle and a $ 1,000.00 scope , but it’s always worked real well for me .

  37. Every hunting season I debate which gun and caliber I’m going to take. I’ve hunted with the 6.8 AR, .300 BLK AR, .308 Rem 700 (post FG with a Timney trigger), Win 70 .30-06, .45-70 Marlin XLR, .30-30, 12 gauge, .357 Mag, .44 Mag, .454 Casull, .460 Smith, etc.

    This year it’ll be a .308 AR-10 or Win 70 .300 Mag. Probably.

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