A couple of posts ago, I mentioned that I began deer hunting with a slug gun. I can still recall the afternoon my best friend turned 21 and graduated to a "real" rifle—a bolt-action .270 Winchester Model 70. (No, this was a few years after 1964). I was standing next to him the first time he shot, and his smile was 9 yards wide. He killed a lot of deer with that rifle—and he still has it.
So, to me the “adult” deer rifle is a bolt-action, and most of the hunters I know—and their kids--use bolt-actions—mainly in .243, .270, or .30/06.
But there was a time when deer hunters favored lever actions and semi-autos. I was reminded of this when I was thumbing through a dog-eared copy of Larry Koller’s Book of Guns, first published in 1956 and long out of print. Here’s what he said regarding his deer rifle: “My choice for the ideal woods weapon for whitetail is the .35 Remington caliber in the Model 336 Marlin carbine. It is sudden death in the deer woods…Highly recommended also for the woods deer hunter is a pair of fast Remington rifles—the 760 slide-action and the 740 autoloader.” Here’s what he had to say about bolt-actions: “Bolt actions are on the slow side for most woods hunters for follow-up shots. However, outdoorsmen who have had military training in the use of the bolt-action rifle won’t find this objectionable.”