Deer & Deer Hunting

YOUNG GUNS

Choosing a rifle for a young hunter can determine success or failure in the field, but it can also alter the trajectory of a hunter’s career. I grew up in an era when men appraised their sons’ toughness by their ability to withstand the kick of a .30-06 rifle and a 12 gauge shotgun. I was a small kid, and those first experiences with my father’s rifle caused a flinch that took two decades to correct.

You think I would have learned my lesson, but my inappropriate firearm choice cost my young daughter a large-antlered buck on her first deer hunt. I selected a scoped, pump-action 20 gauge slug gun that was too long and too heavy for her. She couldn’t hold it steady, and her head rested too far back on the stock to scope a deer that was only 60 yards away. Had she fired the gun, the recoil probably would have discouraged her from hunting again.

The next day she killed a doe with a bolt-action rifle chambered in .22-250 Rem. That choice, coupled with excellent hearing protection, ensured a

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