Clearly, the majority of deer hunters in the Magnolia State are geared toward using hunting rifles when it comes to firearms. Archery remains highly popular, as does the growing numbers of hunters using crossbows.
Some continue the old tradition of using black powder front-loading muzzle-loading rifles, and a few try the challenge of handgun hunting for deer.
But when it comes to still hunting or stalking quietly into big buck hiding places, it just might be the time to consider a shotgun with a smoothbore barrel using buckshot. Having recommended that, I bet most deer hunters have never used a shotgun or buckshot when pursuing a buck.
Here’s my argument for what is usually a react, point, and shoot affair.
You slip into the thick woods trying to sneak up on a bedded or resting buck dead tired from the rut. With a rifle, you have one shot, one bullet out of a long barrel that can be cumbersome in the tight quarters of a thicket. If the rifle is scoped, then you could well have issues getting a buck in the sight at short stalking ranges. These are a prescription for a clear miss, even if follow up shots can come fast enough. It’s a tough situation.
Now consider buckshot with a shotgun. The barrel is clean atop with only a bead sight at the muzzle. A good buckshot load will send nine to 15 00 pellets at the target. See how the targeting odds tend to increase with a shotgun.
So you’re thinking, “does a buckshot load has enough oomph to take down a buck?”
It is called buckshot for a reason. Don’t forget that.
There are many fine shotgun ammunition choices offering buckshot:
• Rio offers a 2¾-in, 12-gauge 00 load that flies at 1,345 fps with nine pellets.
• Winchester has both 2¾- and 3-inch 00 loads in 12-gauge, clocking at 1,325 and 1,210 fps, respectively, with nine or 15 pellets.
• Remington’s 00 buckshot loads are also 2¾- and 3-inch, clocking at 1,290 and 1,225, respectively, with 12 and 15 projectiles.
Any of these loads with a known pattern can stop even running bucks.
Shooting buckshot takes some practice on the lead to consistently hit running deer. Trust the range to 50 yards, but these loads are devastating closer in and make shotguns a good choice for stalking bucks — and also when blood-trailing a wounded buck.