What is my "goto" gun for Deer?

Somebody over at 24hourcampfire was asking the question: What is your goto gun for deer?

Mine? I’ve been stretching my horizons over the past few years, experimenting with different pieces. I hunt both sides of the Ohio River; Ohio is a shotgun-only state and Kentucky is pretty wide-open for rifle restrictions.

If I had to pick a rifle for a 200-yard shot, it’d be the Winchester bolt in 30-06.

If I was going to one of my stands in KY, it would be the Savage 99 in 308.

My back-up gun for most trips to KY is the Remington 742 in 30-06.

In Ohio, I’m shooting a scoped Mossberg 500 12GA with a rifled deer barrel.

However, if I had to pick THE goto deer gun, it would have to be the Remington 1100 12 GA smoothbore with rifle sights shooting 2 3/4″ Sluggers. It may not be glamorous or exotic. No one ever asks to heft it at camp. No kid ever says “I want one just like that when I grow up.”

Inside 75 yards, however, there is nothing that does a better job. I took it out in 1983 and it put 4 slugs into a pie plate at 50 yards and shot a 4″ cloverleaf. I never worried about it again.

Since I bowhunt, I usually put my stands where deer can be had within 25 yards. If I’m stalking, it comes up on a deer the same way it comes up on a quail. It shoots a massive bullet that drops most deer dead on the spot. As long as I stay in the general vicinity of the chest, shot placement is not critical. I have a 3/4″ entrace wound and a 4″ exit wound. If the bullet opens up too much, the chunks that fly off are usually bigger than most varmint bullets. If that’s isn’t enough, there’s two more coming right behind as fast as I can squeeze them off.

The first one is always enough.

The only reasons I pick something else are:

I like shooting a rifle, and I like experimenting with handloads.

I occasionally need something that reaches out further.

. . . at least that’s what I tell myself when I go to the safe and don’t pick the 1100. It may not be the one I grab on Opening Day, but after I’ve proved out the latest concoction or fulfilled my latest obcession, that’s the gun I go to.


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