Wednesday, June 21, 2006

My so-called career as a deer sniper...

well gang, my neighbor the vineyard owner has gotten a nuisance permit for five deer over on Seneca Lake. While I am planning on diving in with my Rem 11-87 slug gun as soon as I have some refrigeration capability in place, I figured now's as good a time as any to start thinking about using this opportunity as an excuse to grow the gun collection. If you know what I mean.

So I'm looking for advice on purchasing my first rifle. Nuisance shooters can use centerfire guns up until 11:00 at night here in New York, plus spotlighting is legal for the job as well (but sorry Jay, no baiting allowed. go figure). So I thought I'd give getting a rifle some thought, plus I can use it if I ever travel to other states for big game.

So what would folks recommend for a first rifle. I've got some ideas but thought I'd leave this open-ended for now. You can also assume I don't know diddly doo about rifles, either, so go ahead and educate me about whatever comes to mind. thanks in advance.


Ernie said...

Boy Keith did he ask for it this time, talk about an open invitation to "educate" old JT. As for I Jim I still like the weight and feel of the old stand by Ithaca Model 37, but being able to spotlight I don't suppose you'll be doing to n much trudging around after Bambi.

KGT said...

I refer you to March archives "Ever shot a Moose with a .223" for a nice start on the rifle discussion.

I would be reluctant to shoot rifles at deer in places where deer HUNTING ( as opposed to harvesting like flipping blueberries or corn)with a rifle is outlawed, but if you must, DON'T do it at night, unless you know the ground REALLY well. Thats my two cents. Get a rifled deer barrel and have at 'em.

try this one...

Jim Tantillo said...

that's good advice all around--I'd forgotten about the .223 discussion, that was helpful.

These vineyard rows go on for hundreds of yards in some cases, and are as straight as an arrow. Clear shooting up a row is what is possible, and the slug gun starts to lose oomph at 75 yards is my experience. It would be nice to drop one at 200 yards if the opportunity presented itself.

The question I have is really: is a 30-06 too much gun for the local (and elsewhere) deer hunting I may do with it? Seems to me to be the most versatile choice; Path Walker himself made the decision last year to be able to go after moose. I have a standing invitation every year to go party hunting for elk in Montana, and it seems to me a 30-06 would be appropriate if I'm ever able to take him up on the offer. But the bulk of the hunting done with it would be whitetail.

Two more specific questions. Pros and cons of: 30-06 versus .270? and also of 30-06 versus 7mm-08 Rem?

thanks in advance boys.

ps. the deer hunting at night is not really something I'm planning on doing--I was just seeing if we could get a rise out of Coggins. guess not. :-)

Superior Shooter said...

JT –

In my mind you are splitting what few hairs you have left when debating the .270, 7mm, 30-06 issue. They all can kill anything in this country and then some – some Montana folks claim that grizzly bears were commonly hunted with the .308 cartridge up until they closed the season. So go get any caliber you want, they are all good. If I had to choose, I’d go for a 270 if you hunt mostly wide open spaces and have only the occasional elk hunt, but would move up to the 30 ’06 if you hunt in grizzly country or have moose in mind too. All shoot fine to 300 yards, beyond that it’s too far except for those who can practice at those long ranges. Specifically for around here, I’d go for a 270 if you hunt big woods, otherwise I’d use a 12 ga. foster slug and get out of your car and close the distance a little.

As for the too much gun question – they all have too much. You’ll need to look at factory loads and bullets; anything caliber can be downloaded to shoot flat and not vaporize your dinner. That discussion later if needed…..

As for a specific rifle (model and make) should you go that way: They don’t make any SxS two trigger rifles in your price range, so those are out (nor do they sell setters that retrieve deer, life is just not perfect). All Remington and Browning autoloaders work just fine, but are more prone to ejection problems (aren’t we all as we age??) and usually can’t shoot those sub-MOA groups that all the accuracy nuts go crazy about. The simple solution is for you to buy a nice new Remington CDL, Remington 798, Winchester classic (new pre’64 if you can still find one), CZ 550 American or Ruger Mark II 77. Convert them to a 3 position model 70 safety if they don’t have one already and you are set. (David Gentry makes 3 position safeties even though he doesn’t advertise them all on his web site; good to have as they make the gun much safer). Buy it, break it in carefully, and then you can FINALLY control your own little world, at least as far as you can shoot accurately.

Just a thought – is jacking deer really legal these days?? What happened to sitting by the fire at night and writing Haiku?

KGT said...

buy a 30-06 and get yerself ready to use it on early bear with me in the ADK this Sept. Settled. Like I said, I took a few animals with 270, but wished for more gun. I agree with Superior if only ungulates are involved in N. Amer.

Jim Tantillo said...

thanks again for all these comments. If I were rich like back when I ran the nation's number one animal shelter (go figure), then I would plan on buying two guns. Right now the .270 makes more sense for local use. But the bear comment reminded me that I would like to try for bear, and I get bear tags every year as part of the supersportsman license (or whatever they call it). So I continue to think about the 30-06 with the idea of filling in the twenty caliber gap later. Super shooter talk me out of it if you can think of a better argument.

Speaking of bear--we have had a bear in our neighborhood this summer terrorizing the neighbor's bird feeders. So it is just a matter of time before we're hunting them closer to home. I keep expecting to meet up with him some afternoon down at the creek.

anyone want to take a stab at rifle brand names? models? heh heh.

Ernie said...

Jim,Jim,Jim from the underlying tones of your last entry it sounds a lot like your heart is leaning towards the 30-06 but your brain is telling you to ask for advise. Superior shooter has given you some good information to digest. Back a bunch of years ago when I was young and stupid, even more so than now, I went bear hunting with a few guys. I of course knowing everything, hurry up and hire a teenager while they still know everything syndrome, brought along my trusty Model 37. My buddy had his 30-06. when we finaly encountered a mid sized black bear I watched in awe while he unloaded on that bear hitting him with each shoot. Then I watched intently as that same bear scurried up the side of a mountain seemingly unfazzed by the whole experiance. Ya your right the shoot was not in the right place to do the proper amount of dammage to drop that bear dead in it's tracks, but the point of all my rambelings is this, that 30-06 did not seem to be too much gun to me at that time. I was so impressed with that bear that I went back to the truck, put away my Model 37, and never went back out hunting for bear with it again.
Turn off your brain and go with what you feel in your heart is the right thing to do, for you! Don't second guess your decision, like someone I know did about buying a Super Black Eagle the first few times he used it, and just plain start using it. Once you are comfortable with whichever gun you purchase you will be happy and you won't have to re-sell it on!

Anonymous said...

Hey Jim! I figgered I'd kill my lunch time for you. Lots of good advice -- .270 and .30'06 -- you'd probably never tell the difference between the two from deer hunting, if it weren't for the numbers printed on the gun and shell. The major difference imho is the '06 has more loads to choose from, particularly on the heavy end, and '06 ammo is sold EveryWhere.
I always thought both these calibers were overkill for deer, and they generally may be, but I learned they sell light loads (low recoil) which would be fine for deer. Check out Remington's ballistics site: . So you know I bought a .30'06 last summer for moose. I have a hand-me-down .270, but I wanted a scope on it and it made more sense just to spend the money on a new gun. So I bought the Ruger 77 (considered Remington, Winchester, Browning; best price by far was at an infamous big box store), beautiful gun, will use it for deer especially when there's a chance for bear. My deer gun til last year has been a .257 Roberts, but it's going to share time with the '06 now.
I was amazed by the lack of meat damage from the '06 on the moose -- I don't know if that's owing to the load or the moose.
- Path Walker

Eric said...

Jim, I have found that for the one rifle man the 7mm mag is the best rifle it shoots flatter than the 06 at longer distanfce and has the knock down power to kill any big game on this continent. I have killed everything from whitetail to alaskan yukon moose with a 7mm and been very happy with the performance.

Superior Shooter said...

JT –

You only go round this world once – I’d buy both a 270 and an ’06 and be done with it. What you really need to concentrate on now is picking out good names for the new toys!

Jim Tantillo said...

once again I'm endebted to all this advice. On the .270 flat-shooting versus 30-06 ammo is EveryWhere issue, I'm torn, but here's my thinking at this point: if I lived in eastern Montana and knew my shots were all going to be over open prairie, I guess flat-shooting would be decisive. But looking at the ballistics tables, there seem to be some pretty flat-shooting 30-06 loads out there, plus to be honest with myself I'd imagine most of my shooting is going to be 100-200 yards, not 300-400. Of course if I move to Montana some day, I will grow the collection some more.... but I guess I'm still leaning toward 30-06 despite Eric's advice re: 7mm (which I've also read everywhere I've looked).

Here's the next question: brand. Andy's got a Ruger, I've always been partial to Remington, Winchester is out there and is the Big Name.... any advice? I can get a Remington Model 700 in synthetic stock and stainless barrel for 500 bucks; everything else looks significantly more expensive, but if there were reasons to pay more I'd listen to those reasons.

what say the grouse gabbers?

Jim Tantillo said...

p.s. my short term solution for the slug gun I do have right now (and which is very accurate):

I'm considering switching to a Barnes expander slug to account for the likely increased ranges I could be facing. I don't like to use them in the regular season with a single buck tag or single doe tag because of wrecking so much meat, but it seems that in a nuisance deer situation with multiple tags, losing a bit of meat (and on front shoulder hits, probably losing a lot of meat) is an acceptable cost of doing business.

In the regular season I use a sabot, but at 100 yards my experience is that the deer runs even if well hit. The sabot just seems to lack a certain amount of knockdown power. And being color blind, blood trailing is not my, how should I say it... metier. (does Pete ever read this blog??) I want to try to maximize the probability of the deer falling over.

Advice, thoughts, critiques, and comments from the peanut gallery welcome as always.

Anonymous said...

"...if there were reasons to pay more I'd listen to those reasons..."
Hmmm, I don't need to lecture YOU on aesthetics. I too pondered getting a synthetic stocked rifle (as beautiful as they are), but I just couldn't bring myself to do it.
"...and on front shoulder hits, probably losing a lot of meat..."
I'd avoid the shoulder -- punch the lungs behind them. Much nicer carcass. Just my opinion,
- Path Walker

Jim Tantillo said...

you're right--lung shot is best, but for whatever reason I've gotten unlucky recently and have twice hit the front shoulder, pretty much by accident. (not squeezing the trigger but jerking it? that would do it.) this has happened on longer range shots with the slug gun, approx 90-100 yards. guess I didn't mean to imply I was aiming at the front shoulder. Although a quartering away shot would also mess up shoulder meat at the exit wound, no?

wood versus swat gun. hmmm. what would Keith tease me about then?

KGT said...

Oh, I'd find something...knickers maybe?

Superior Shooter said...

Final gun thoughts: Ruger 77 Mark II, 30'06, wood. Safe, good looking, reliable, affordable. Done. As for bullets, swift a frames in 165 gr.

Jim Tantillo said...

okay, last question: why Ruger and why not Remington? I've read a bit about the Ruger and seems to me people complain about trigger slop, whereas the Remington is touted as being the best trigger around, the envy of all? are these just benchrest nerds nitpicking to the nth degree, or is there a real reason for picking the Ruger over Remington, or vice versa? enquiring minds need to know.

Anonymous said...

when I was gun shopping last year I looked at remington 700CDL vs ruger 77mkII standard (I'd thought about going for the Mountain or Ultralight versions of these, dreaming of that Dall sheep hunt in the mountains of AK, but figured if I ever do that hunt I'll just heft the extra pound and in the meantime I'd have the extra pound of gun to steady my aim or help absorb recoil). The specs were similar -- 7.5 lbs, 22 or 24 in. barrel, same barrel twist -- both seem well built and both have eye appeal. I found a much better price on the ruger ($500 including scope rings vs $650 for the remington) so that's what I bought (however you could get the remington model 710 for considerably less, OR a Savage ...). The ruger 77 seems pretty accurate and easy to shoot to me, and as for trigger slop, I haven't noticed but I haven't paid attention. If I ever get out to do some recreational shooting other than just sighting in, I'll have a better idea. btw I put a Leupold 2-7x scope on it. You might got bigger for your pronghorns and Montana mulies. This was probably no help. Buy whichever is more appealing to you.
-- Path Walker

Superior Shooter said...

ok – if you are a “shooter”/sniper, go with the Remington, but if you hunt hard go with the Ruger. If you want a good cheap shooter go with the Savage – 3 gunsmiths said they are very accurate and a great gun for the money. It really boils down to how each gun feels in your hands, and you really wont know that until you’ve put a season or two in with it….

These are all great questions JT, but its sorta like trying to figure out which contestant in the Miss America Contest is the best one to ask out – you just can’t go wrong no matter which one you choose. And how many deer do you really plan on shooting with this thing? If I were you I’d buy the Ruger, have a gunsmith tweak the trigger if need be, and keep some slugs handy for your Parker just in case you need a backup gun.

Jim Tantillo said...

okay, now we're getting somewhere. My thanks to Path Walker and Super Shooter, sounds like you both like each gun, but price is a key determinant. Looks like I can get a Rem 700 special purpose with synthetic stock and blued barrels (not stainless) for something on the order of $430 or so (e.g., online). So I could do that, get rings and mounts for $50 or so, and then put the rest of my money into a nice Leupold scope for it. Then down the line when I know more about guns... I'll just buy more!

Almost time to go to the gunshops and start hefting some guns. I'd like to see the Savage the SS's gunsmith friends are touting. Now is when I miss Creekside Gun Shop the most--you used to be able to just walk outside and shoot any gun in the store to see how it felt. Remember Josh? Them's were the days....

Superior Shooter said...

Last bit of advice:

Ok JT - I looked into Brownell’s catalog last night – they have everything you could ever want for a Ruger 77, including new triggers; the money pit thus opens on the rife front for you my friend if you so wish.

So, recounting my earlier thoughts and adding some new unsolicited advice:

Best round: 270 for long distance and skinny things, 30 ’06 for shorter distances (under 300 yards) and things that go better that 800 lbs.

Best Guns (all blued and in wood):

Shooting/accuracy: Remington, Savage
Hunting: Ruger (fixed extractor), CZ, and better yet a Winchester CLASSIC sporter
Best of everything: Mauser 98 custom
Aesthetics: Krieghoff double high grade


Jim Tantillo said...

great summary--although I admit I'm stuck on "fixed extractor"... don't know what that is, I do know that a claw extractor holds the cartridge throughout, and a push feed simply pushes the cartridge into the chamber. I have assumed a claw extractor is preferable for seating the cartridge consistently and improving accuracy. what does Ruger have that the others don't, and why is it better?