So what rifles are you using this year, Shaman?
There have been a lot of changes to the deer battery this year. I just thought I would give y’all a quick rundown.
Savage 99, 308 WIN
This is the same rifle I’ve been using for most every Opener since 2003. I’m still shooting 165 grain Hornady SP over H4895, downloaded to 300 Savage levels. This is my favorite gun for the deep woods up in the stand. Last year I put a new Bushnell Banner Dusk-to-Dawn 3-9X40 on it. This added a good 10 minutes to my hunting time on both ends.
Ruger Hawkeye Stainless, 30-06
This will be the second year for the Hawkeye. This is my top gun for nearly everything beside in the deep woods. No changes in the loads– still 165 grain Hornady over H4895.
Remington 7600 , 35 Whelen (The Whelenizer)
I’ve brought this rifle back into the rotation with a couple of key changes. First off, this is my test bed for trying a 200 grain cast lead bullet. The bullet is from and RCBS FN-200-GC using an BHN 14.5 alloy. I powdercoated these and used aluminum gas checks. I got the best accuracy and most consistent velocity with 43 grains of H4895 and CCI Large Rifle Magnum primers. The velocity is more like a 35 REM, but I doubt I would take a shot over 100 yards with it anyway. The big plus is recoil went down– I’d say below 30-06 levels.
I will carry this rifle later on in the season, maybe if I take a walk in the woods or up in one of the stands. With that in mind, I took of the 3x-9xX40 and put a 1.5-4.5X40 Bushnell Dusk-to-Dawn scope. I’d shied away from these scopes starting about a decade ago. There was not enough eye-relief on them to take a quick snap shot. The new iteration of this scope is a vast improvement, and it, like the other D-to-D scopes add a lot of valuable shooting time. If it rains, I’ll use this instead of the Savage 99 up in the stand.
Custom Mauser , 25-06
This is going on season #3 for this rifle. It has a shorter LOP than the others. I will put this into the rotation after it gets cold and I have to add a layer or two. My 25-06 loads (117 grain Hornady SP’s over H4831sc) have negligible recoil.
Marlin 1894 , .357 Magnum
This is one of those ideas that looks good on paper, but. . . we’ll see. I got this rifle in a trade with SuperCore. I mounted a Williams Firesight on the receiver. My eyes are getting old and the factory iron sights just were not cutting it. This is another testbed for my cast lead bullet project. In this case, I am using 158 grain Lee GC’s and then powdercoating the bullets. They sit on top of a hefty load of H110. I’m sure that I can take a deer inside 50 yards with the rig. If am out hiking during season, I’ll carry it and just see what happens. It would also be good to carry if I’m out tracking and need to put in a finisher.
Mosin Nagant M44, 7.62X54R
This has become Angus’ choice for the woods. He’s shooting a 180 grain Speer over H4895. It has worked for him twice in prior years.
Winchester 670, 30-06
This is the second year in Angus’ hands. I put one of those Bushnell Banner 3-9×40 on it, and he loves it for his longer shots. He’s got a buck patterned in a back corner of one of the pastures, and is anticipating a 150 yard shot on the Opener.
My hunting buddy, SuperCore, is coming out with two old favorites, a Weatherby Vanguard, and a Remington 7400, both in 30-06. He shoots either 165 grain or 180 grainers depending on the mood. I mounted a new Bushnell Banner 3-9×40 on the 7400 this year and got rid of the see-thru mounts. The new blind I built for him may require some longer shots, but he’s ready for it."So What Deer Rifles Are You Using, Shaman?",