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Hunter's Shooting Guide
The preferred caliber these days is toward high velocity, flat shooting cartridges with fairly light bullets. Such cartridges are fine for plains and mountain country, otherwise known as open country. These cartridges are generally fired from bolt action rifles, which often weigh from 9 to 10 pounds after the eager hunter has put a scope on them. Their trajectory is as flat as a stretched string and the good ones will drop all their shots into the crown of a hat at 300 yards. What I like to call, ”Reaching out and touching it”, the game you are aiming for. Always remember safety first when hunting. Know your target and your surrounding area, who’s in it and where. I always state, “It only takes one shot!”

Many hunters go forth with such a rifle to hunt whitetail deer and black bear in the heavily wooded Mountains. Based on my experience with open country and flat land, there are thousands of deer hunters who carry .30/06 with the 150-grain bullet or the .270 with 130-grain bullet. Most of them probably have 4x scopes or even variables on their rifles.

There is no doubt that if they make a solid body hit with either bullet the buck will usually go down. If he doesn't die immediately he generally stays down long enough for a finishing shot. Both cartridges are described killers and most bolt action rifles from which they are shot from, are very accurate. Does the hunter need all this power, all this accuracy, and all this flat trajectory in the woods? I doubt it.

Quite a few riflemen who like to pop at varmints use their .30/06’s and .270’s in the summer on chucks and in the fall on deer. That’s OK, as long as they do it with their eyes open. Others use the .257 or the .250/3000 as a combination deer and chuck rifle. Both cartridges produce top accuracy. Both have adequate power for deer. Either is a pretty fair compromise for varmints and other game.

But are all these rifles ideal for the woods? Again, I doubt it.
In mountainous territory many smart hunters who are also rifle nuts, accuracy fiends, and crack shots find a seat on a point overlooking good deer country. They arm themselves with .30/06's, .270's, 7mm Magnums, or one of the fancier ultra high velocity wildcats with 4x or 6x scopes.
They have good binoculars to locate deer and to distinguish bucks from does. They scan the open spots and the thin places on hillsides, and when a suitable deer shows up they pour it on. Trust me when I tell you that 300-yard kills are common, and it is by no means unknown for a shrewd rifleman to polish off a buck at 400 yards and over.

Such hunters may do their shooting in the heavily wooded areas of the country, but they are by no means typical whitetail hunters. Actually they are mountain hunters using mountain rifles. Our run-of-the-mill deer slayer needs no such equipment. He’s much better off with a light rifle with fast action and fast sights, one that moves a fairly heavy bullet at moderate velocity and with moderate recoil. He has no need of ultra-high velocity or flat trajectory, for he doesn't knock his bucks off at 300 yards, but usually at less than 100.

Neither does he have any use for the hair splitting accuracy that enables a rifleman to pick a chuck off a rock at 300 yards, because for the ranges at which most forest game is shot, a rifle that will group into 3 inches or even 4 inches at 100 yards is plenty accurate. Most forest game is shot from the offhand position, and the man who can stand on his legs and keep his bullets is a 6-inch circle at 100 yards is a very good shot.

Our woods hunter, then, usually shoots at fairly close range, at a large mark, probably moving, and he shoots standing most of the time. That holds true whether he’s a still hunter, a driver, or a stander. Don't let anyone tell you that such shooting is easy. I have missed a higher percentage of bucks with snapshots at short range in heavy cover than I have across open country at much greater distances.

Whenever possible, the hunter should rest the gun on a solid object, for example on a log or rock, using a jacket or backpack, maybe even a regular gun pad in heavy brush country. Two fine rifles for deer in brush country, the classic Winchester Model 94 and the Savage Model 170-C Carbine. Both chambered for the .30/30 cartridge.

The old .30/30 cartridge with the 170-grain bullet at 2,200 fps muzzle velocity is good on deer in wooded country. So are the very similar .32 Special, the .30 and .32 Remington rimless cartridges, the old .303 Savage, and the other .30/30 class cartridges. None of them can be depended on to knock a deer off his feet with a poorly placed shot, as more powerful cartridges do, but if a man puts a bullet from any of them into the chest cavity or into the neck close to the vertebrae, he has himself a piece of meat. The old .30/40 with the 220-grain bullet is also excellent.

Aces among woods cartridges, though, are the .35 Remington, .300 Savage, and .348 and .358 Winchester. With the 200 grain bullets of the .35 and the .358 and the 180 grain of the .300, the deer hunter gets good penetration, good brush bucking, and a lot of knockdown power. You need it today in areas where the hunter must get his tag on a buck quickly before someone else claims it, and so these more powerful cartridges are a good idea. The 200-grain flat point .348 bullet is one of the best brush bullets designed and one of the best brush bullets made.

The man who wants to hunt deer in the woods with a bolt action rifle can do so, but lever actions and pumps are preferable because they let you get off a second shot in jig time if your first bullet doesn't get through the brush.

The .270 user should do his woods hunting with the 150 grain soft point bullet; the .30/06 user with the 180 grain soft point. Best 7mm bullet for wood use is the standard 175-grain soft point; best .257 bullet, the 117-grain. I'll no doubt be hung for this one, but I think the best and most reliable deer bullets for short range are the old fashioned soft points with relatively thin jackets and plenty of penetration on white tails with any reasonable bullet. The .270 130-grain bullet has been noted to have been shot through three fourths the length of a deer.

With a fancy .30/06 bullet I have nailed coyotes from over 200 yards. But then in turn, use a 180 grain soft point and knock two, yes two coyotes standing side by side, off their tracks and its over for the coyote. Same would go for a deer at such range.

Best iron sight for the woods rifle is a peep; using it, the hunter does not give a tendency to shoot high, as he would do with open sights. The larger the aperture, the faster and better the sight. And the closer the aperture is to the eye (within reason) the faster it is and the more one can see through it. Fastest of all iron sights are the obsolete Lyman and Marble tang and cocking piece sights. But if you can find one, be sure it is mounted far enough back from the eye so that it won't drive back in recoil and injure the eye. The front sight should be a conspicuous gold bead 3/32 or even 1/16-inch.

Best scope for the woods is one from 2x to 3x. Since it’s easy to lose a fine cross hair in poor light against dead leaves and twigs, I'd select a flat topped post, a coarse crosswire, or a large conspicuous dot subtending 4 to 6 inches at 100 yards.

To sum it up: Our deer rifle for the woods and brush is a specialized weapon, and one that has been kept in the shadow of the ultra high velocity hotshots. The man who has a good one, who sights it in properly, and who learns to use it usually brings home the venison.

WINCHESTER- WESTERN’S BIG GAME RECOMMENDATIONS

Everyone who has ever shot a deer has his own very definite notions as to the effectiveness of various weights of bullets, on different types of big game, and at various distances. Here are the recommendations of Winchester - Western for the use of their various big game cartridges on game when loaded with soft point and Silvertip bullets. Since they make the things and since they test them and also hear from many hundreds of hunters annually, they should know a thing or two.

Caliber
Bullet weight (grains)
Maximum Range (yards)
Recommended for (species)
.250 Savage
100
200
200
200
D
D
.270 Winchester
130
150
400
300
D, A, E
E, M
.30/30 Winchester
170
150
200
300
D
D
.300 Savage
150
180
300
300
D, A
D, E
.30/40 Krag
180
220
300
200
D, E
D, E, M
.30/06 Springfield
150
170
180
220
400
300
400
300
D, A, E
D, E
X
X
.300 H & H Magnum
180
220
400
300
X
X
.32 Winchester Special
170
200
250
200
300
200
D
X
X
.35 Remington
200
200
D, E
.375 H & H Magnum
270
300
300
300
X
X
Legend: D = Deer
A= Antelope
E = Elk
M = Moose
X = Largest North American Game


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