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If some animals are good at hunting and others are suitable for hunting, then the Gods must clearly smile on hunting. –Aristotle

If I could give my life in 2012 a title, I think I’d call it Switching Gears. In more ways than one, switching gears is exactly what I’m doing.  For starters, I’ve moved from the East Coast to the West Coast, leaving the security of my position at the NRA to start a graphics business in the industry. And if that isn’t enough, I thought I’d make life a bit more interesting. For the first time in my life I’m going to lay down my “black guns” and try my luck at shouldering a hunting rifle. What the devil have I gotten myself into? . . .

I see my friends posting their latest trophies on Facebook and think, it can’t be that difficult. Have gun, will travel, right? In a word, notsomuch. Well, I surely can’t handle this alone so I will be dragging all of you along with me.

You’ll be there while I sit down and sift through all the state tag information and Oregon State unit draws. Which game will I be hunting? What climate will I have to prepare for?  Will I be stalking prey in thick brush or the great wide open? And do they have rest stops anywhere out there?

You’ll get to sit back, shake your head and chuckle as I suit up. Fretting over Realtree AP vs. Mossy Oak, all the while wanting Optifade because, well, it’s cool. And keep in mind I’m OCD. My gear must match. Mixing Under Armor with my Sitka Gear just isn’t an option (and I know that isn’t just a hang-up chicks have).

And let’s not forget, I still need a gun. I’ve had the pleasure of shooting everything from a WWII grease gun to a full auto HK MP5 but I don’t know the first thing about a good hunting rifle. Oh, and did I mention I’m a lefty when it comes to long guns?

So sit back, buckle up and enjoy the ride. I’m sure there will be more than a few bumps along the way. Right now I’m going to play some Wii. Cabela’s Big Game Hunter, to be exact. This should be good . . .

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  1. For hunting anything in the 30 caliber will do (.30-06/.30-30/.308). Most hunters will use either a .30-06 or a .308. For a good left handed hunting rifle check out the Savage 11/111 Trophy Hunter XP. The Savage accuracy is top notch.

    I recommend shooting a few boxes of the hunting ammo so you get used to the recoil and how the bullet behaves as the tip on hunting ammo is not like match grade ammo.

    • I concur about the Savage, especially as a lefty. I’d also urge you to consider acquiring something like a Savage MkII GL, which is very similar to my Savage 111 .308 only chambered in .22 LR. This will give you a good introduction to bolt action, a fun, less-expensive alternative to purchasing .308 ammunition, and a capable small-game rifle itself.

      Good luck and please make sure you clearly see the target game (and background) before you press the trigger.

      Stay safe!

      • I am saving up for a trophy hunter. I think for value as a lefty and a starter gun you can’t go wrong. Are there better guns, well yes, but unless you wan to fork over 1000+ I can’t see going wrong with this gun.
        The 116 line I believe has the acu stock which is an interesting technology. I am not sure if it is better than traditional beding but if you get good at what you shoot I am sure it will be more than adequate.

  2. I’m a lefty too, but I thoroughly enjoy shooting “right handed” bolt action rifles. With a light rifle, such a Ruger Hawkeye, one can maintain good cheek weld and manipulate the bolt with his or her non-dominat(right) hand. It’s actually really natural once you do it.

    • Thanks for the tip! I’m actually right handed but shoot ambidextrously (I thank my Dad being a southpaw for giving me the best of both worlds) but I’m left eye dominant so with a long gun I shoot left.

      • Not a problem! I too shoot left eye dominant, simply because I see better out of my left eye. That particular skill also is really handy when shooting from a bench or in the prone position.

  3. Good luck. I think you will discover a rewarding and educational experience on where food actually comes from.

  4. Get all the old copies of Guns and Ammo that you can and then read Boddington’s stuff. He’s a lefty.

  5. The article doesn’t seem to be clear, are you trophy hunting? I’d prefer you tuck in or at least donate your harvest to the local food bank.

    • IF I am successful this year (and that’s a big IF), no harvest will go to waste. What I do not consume will be given to family, friends, and others in need or want. Thanks!

      • +1
        I don’t see myself as the kind of person who wouldn’t eat what he hunts, which is why I don’t hunt bear, or try to get in on those mountain lion or other sporting hunts.
        Then again I have enough kids we could go through more than just a few elks and a moose in a year for sure!
        Welcome to the sport..

  6. For the price of a 1911 from one of the custom makers you can buy several rifles appropriate for any situation, and increase the diversity. Enjoy.

  7. Welcome to the sport, Wendy!

    ETA- I concur on Savage rifles. Lots of value for your dollar. I have several, and they’ve performed well.

  8. I shoot right handed guns ambidextrously, prefer left, but the shot comes from where it is. Savage 110 series, Marlin X series, Remington 700’s – all good and accurate, nice triggers. Agree with above – 30 cals very versatile. I find cleaning a bolt gun is so much faster and easier. Stainless rusts a lot slower. You’ll never feel the recoil when crosshairs are on game.

    While gunny since my 20’s, I took up hunting in my mid 40’s. It’s like what I ‘ve read in F&S, if you don’t move, and stay downwind, it doesn’t matter what you wear or smell like. (Though it tips the odds more in your favor.)

    Mostly – have fun.

  9. Wendy: My old Ruger M77 .308 is still out in Northern Calif0rnia if you need to borrow a rifle. Over the years, it never failed me on whitetail, mule deer and a lot of other game. Good luck on entering the world of hunting.

    Doug Wicklund

  10. 1. Decide what game you will hunt at what range.
    2. Choose a suitable cartridge.
    3. Begin looking for a suitable launcher for that cartridge.
    4. Practice on paper.
    5. Then, start thinking about hunting.

  11. You’ll get lots of recommendations on brands of rifles, what caliber and what loads. I could give you that too, but I won’t, aside from saying “pick something from 6.5mm to .30 cal, with at least 140 grains of bullet weight of a premium hunting bullet.”

    There, I’ve said all I’m going to say about loads. Brands of rifles? You know your price point.

    What I will say that others won’t is that you should get a rifle that fits you. This, it turns out, it pretty difficult if you’re not of the size and arm length of the average American male of a couple decades ago. So if you’re 5’8″ to 5’10” and have the arm proportions of a man, you just might be in luck….

    if you don’t, then you might want to see a gunsmith or gun fitter and get the stock of whatever rifle you settle upon cut to your size, a proper recoil pad installed and the scope mounting (if you’re using a scope) set for the proper eye relief for when your cheek is mounted properly on the comb of the stock.

    I see lots of girls and women get abused by rifles with relatively modest levels of recoil because the gun simply does not fit. Most factory stocks are atrocious – they’re too narrow in the butt. For women the toe should be moved outside of the heel, and many people can benefit from having some cast put onto a stock. Shotgun vendors understand this far better than many rifle companies. Beretta shotguns, for example, have insert plates between the receiver and the buttstock to adjust cast and drop.

  12. Also welcome to the west and TTAG please post as you progress.
    I am down in CA, so it is a little different here.

  13. I would choose a gun that not only fits well with length of pull but weathers well. Synthetic stocks and stainless steel are a good choice for hunting in bad weather.

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