Best for Hunting
This short list does not include “The Only Guns You’ll Ever Want”! With hunting season upon us, here is one of the shortest list you’ll ever see: Best for Hunting: The Only Guns You Will Ever Need.
As we say in the trade: “it’s a target rich environment”. But when considering the only things relevant to the subject: a) game to hunted and b) budget, the choices can become slim if you don’t concentrate (a mandatory discipline inflicted on us by the pesky “budget” thingy).
So let’s start with game, the critters we’ll be hunting.
For most of us, our “field” is limited to North America so the guns we have to consider must be able to efficiently take everything from Small Game like squirrels, rabbits, crows and woodchucks to Big Game, namely deer, bear and moose. Pretty tall order for any shootin’ iron.
I say you can do it all with just 2 guns
(The “budget” thingy and Significant Other will love you for it)
#1: The 12 ga shotgun.
Other than the occasional pterodactyl or the dreaded Pink Flamigo that infest front lawns throughout the northern New Jersey suburbs and all of Florida, any game with wings is no problem for the venerable 12 ga.
Yes, it may be more gentlemanly to sport quail with a British Double 28 ga and a Barbour jacket or have your Gun Bearer haul your 10 ga over to Maryland’s Eastern shore for those Canadians and other high flyers.
But that will set you back more than a grand, not including ammo and that spiffy jacket. A nice, great quality Remington, Winchester, Browning, Mossberg or Benelli won’t demolish your wallet and you’ll have plenty of bux left over for other hunting bling.
For Earthbound Game, your 12 ga can take on any/all of the critters mentioned above with the possible exception of a trophy Maine moose – but we’ll get to him later. By varying loads, everything from wild turkey (the bird, not the bottle) to dove are easily within the grasp of the Ubiquitous 12. Ammo is plentiful, affordable and re-loadable.
Double 0 Buck is a notorious home defense load and over the years, rifled slugs have put plenty of venison dinners on the table; all this from one attractive, budget-friendly gun. And it doesn’t even have to be new! From single barrel single shot to pumps and semi-autos with extended magazines, you will have more problems making a choice than finding one that gives you that elusive Leg Tingle. And I haven’t even mentioned skeet, trap or the ever-humbling Sporting Clays!
#2: The 30-06
A 2012 issue of Sports Afield featured an article on popular “big game” rifles. The author wrote: “Other than thick-skinned dangerous game there really isn’t much you can’t do with a .30-06.” I agree! Sure, there are lots of other rounds that shoot flatter, have less recoil, better ballistics, yadda-yadda.
If you hunt like you golf, having 10+ rifles for every different category of game, have at it! Hell, if my budget could handle, I’d have 2 of everything!
But it can’t, so I don’t.
However….with a few boxes of Remington Accelerators, I have enjoyed clearing my buddy’s uncle’s neighbor’s dairy farm of many a woodchuck. For the last 20 years, all the venison in the freezer arrived there via my beloved Winchester 70 Featherweight 30-06 and a 180 gr bullet.
While that big Maine moose and bear have successfully eluded me (so far), the box of 220 gr I’ve been saving will do just fine. If I control my breathing well enough, I won’t need but one of them when the opportunity presents itself.
Note: Before the fights break out and friendships are lost forever, let me type right here and now: yes, the .270, .308, 30-30, 7mm Remington and all the other spiffy, sexy calibers out there have certain “advantages” in specific applications over the grand old ’06. However, for the sake of simplicity, affordability, ubiquity and versatility, the remarkable 30-06 is The One. Just think how hard it will be to find a box of 35 Whelen during the Zombie Apocalypse.
So there you have it! From dove to quail to geese, rabbits to squirrels to deer, woodchuck to coyote to moose, these 2 guns: a good 12 ga and solid 30-06 are all you’ll ever need until you win the Publisher’s Clearing House “Weekly African Safari” Jackpot! With the nearly endless variety of makers, actions and ammo, you’ll have a harder job making a selection than finding one! Or two!
And always remember: Squeeze not Pull….
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Planning your next hunt? Brian Wilso wrote a few more helpful tips on what to expect and what to bring with you on your next hunting trip to Northern Maine. It’s free and available for immediate download and forwarding to your buddies here:
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