Hey Mike: Great blog! I've been a Hoosier deer hunter for over 30 years. Although bowhunting is my passion I still use a gun when the season hits. I've been using an old (faithful) Mossberg 600AT smoothbore pump that I purchased new in 1982. I'm considering retiring it for a new gun. As you know Indiana has been slug only (except for pistols & muzzleloaders). But now we can also use rifles with pistol cartridges of which caliber choices appear to be .357 Magnum, .41 Magnum, .44 Special, etc.
Any suggestions for a new deer gun (under $600)? My shots are usually 125 yards or less. I shoot only mature bucks & does. Much of the time I hunt more than a mile from the truck. Should I buy a new rifled slug gun (I am considering a Remington 870) or go with one of the pistol cartridge rifles and if so, which one? Scope & ammo suggestions? Thanks, David B.
P.S. Here's a picture of the last buck I shot with my old Mossberg while still-hunting in 2007. I was going to pass on him because I had seen 2 larger bucks during bow season (one with a large drop-tine!). But after watching him for a few minutes I said, "He's 10 yards away, he's broadside, he would make a nice mount, I may not see either of the big boys again, he's less than 70 yards from the truck". He has 14 points and gross-scored 141 3/8.
David, for starters great buck, all your reasoning was right on, brother! I’d like to have a dollar for every time I’ve waited for a bigger buck I saw earlier in the year only to get skunked. My motto now: Seize the opportunity if and when a good buck is in range; no waiting! Most of you bloggers who hunt by that creed will be happy this fall :)
As for the gun, from what you tell me, with shots out to 125 yards, the 12-gauge Remington 870 pump w/rifled barrel would be a no-nonsense, dependable, great choice. Top it with a Nikon 3X-9X Slughunter scope. Use a 2 3/4-inch slug, like the Remington Copper Solid or Winchester Supreme Partition Gold.
Coming from a centerfire rifle state, I do not profess to be a shotgun expert, although I have tested more and more slugs in the last few years. The sadist in me finds shooting the shoulder-thumpers to be good fun :) I say unequivocally that the aforementioned rig will put the hurt on those Indiana deer, and have David ready when one of those 170- to 200-inch Hoosier giants comes along (notice I said when not if, gotta hunt positive man). I know we have a bunch of skilled slug-gunners on the BIG DEER blog—your thoughts and advice for David?
I confess to knowing very little about those pistol cartridges. Anybody in Indiana or elsewhere ever killed a deer with one? If so, which caliber would you recommend?