A century ago, handguns had no place afield. In 1935, Smith & Wesson’s .357 Magnum revolver prompted hunters to reconsider. A decade later, S&W added the .44 Magnum, developed by Remington at the urging of Elmer Keith. A “stretched” .44 Special (as the .357 is a lengthened .38 Special), the .44 Magnum preceded Dick Casull’s .454, born of handloads in the .45 Colt. The .41 Magnum appeared in 1964; then Thompson-Center put rifle rounds in handgun frames. The .500 and .460 S&W now top the power charts. Accuracy, however, trumps power in hunting. I once steadied an S&W over a backpack and killed a deer at 95 yards. Then I watched Bill Booth rest his revolver on his knee while sitting and down a buck at 200, shooting double-action. But accuracy with a handgun does not come easy. With no stock to shoulder, a pistol is held far from your torso, in hands with small muscles and many joints, on arms you can’t hold steady even when they are empty. Even your heartbeat will rock your aim. The right setup, coupled with practice, however, will help your bullet find its mark.
I saw it weave left, slip right, then disappear through the auburn treetops. It’s not often you get such a clear look at an escaping grouse during the early weeks of the season, but there I was, frozen as the bird slipped through the prettiest shooting lane I’d see on the entire trip. I never pulled the trigger.
My excuse was that I didn’t want to shoot a bird that hadn’t been pointed by the dog. The embarrassing reality is that I’d been caught off guard. It was my first grouse hunt, and I wasn’t prepared for the surprise of the flush. That was a tough lesson, but it wasn’t the only one I learned during that trip to the hallowed grouse and woodcock coverts of Wisconsin’s north country. Here are some more hits and misses that, if you’ll consider before you reach the woods, should help you bag more early-season birds.
The Colt M2012 is a gentleman’s tactical rifle. You probably didn’t realize that was an official class of firearm. Well, neither did I until I shot the Colt and made it up. The term fits, though.
The rifle straddles the hunting and tactical worlds, which in itself isn’t unique, but it happens to do so with unusually elegant looks. The M2012 is made for Colt by Cooper Firearms in Stevensville, Mont., and it bears the unmistakable mark of Cooper’s craftsmen.
There’s really no logical reason for anyone to shoot dangerous game rifles for fun. They bruise your shoulders, batter your trigger finger, induce headaches worthy of the most enthusiastic bourbon binge, and drain your wallet with every boom. Other than when employed for their intended use, about the only thing they are good for is checking the quality of your dental work.
And yet I found myself making the 450-mile drive to Libby, Montana, this last weekend to shoot a .416 Rigby just, well, because. The Safari Rifle Challenge has been held at the Libby Shooting Sports Complex the past four years and attracted more than 60 shooters from all over the country.
I have a couple of gorgeous mule deer on my wall that I never would have tagged had it not been for shooting sticks. The same goes for my best elk and a laundry list of game taken in Africa.
Shooting sticks come in many varieties, but the common denominator is that all sticks provide an added measure of stability in the field and can dramatically increase the effective range of any hunter when they’re used the right way.
Why spend $8,000 on a shotgun? Performance, of course. Comparing a $300 pump gun from your local Mart and a high-end over/under is like pitting a car off the lot against a NASCAR track burner.
Top guns are designed by top shooters for handling and performance when it counts. There are many high-end shotguns we could have profiled, but we’ve chosen the Beretta DT11, which is available in skeet, sporting clay, and trap configurations. You’ll see DT11s in the hands of Olympic champions Kim Rhode and Vincent Hancock, and other top shooters who depend on a high-performing shotgun. Every detail—from the meticulous fitting of parts to stock dimensions, internal barrel configuration, and action design—comes together to make a top-line shotgun worth the money.
For an elk hunter who hikes all week for one shot, an AR-style rifle typically isn’t an ideal setup. But when it comes to pig hunting, it’s hard to imagine anything better. High-capacity semi-auto rifles chambered in game-stopping calibers are currently being manufactured at roughly the same speed that feral hogs reproduce.
Let’s cut to the chase: Any shooter who likes to seriously tinker with AR-style rifles is going to want Santa to bring one of these for Christmas. Assuming the person can wait that long.
The Gunner’s Mount system is a great example of someone building a better mousetrap. In this case, the inventor—Mark Jenkinson, a retired Merchant Marine engineer—took a look at existing mounting tools for ARs and found them wanting.
If you have time and the terrain is suitable, prone is your ideal field position for an accurate shot. Pretty much anyone who has graduated a hunter's safety course knows this. But, not every hunter understands how to shoot from the prone position properly.