I think my favorite season of the year is archery elk hunting. How can you not love it?
The bulls are bugling, the weather is generally ok and you’ll be in the coolest country that God ever made. But, there’s something special and exciting about deer hunting too.
It’s the No. 1 big game species in America. I had a buddy from Pennsylvania that told me that they shut down the plant for opening day. So, coast to coast, us hunters love deer hunting.
So, if you’re new to Nevada, or maybe just new to hunting in general what kind of rifle should you buy? First, let’s decide which caliber. There are a million calibers to choose from but I’d recommend anything from a .243 on up.
But in the case of most hard-working dads, mom’s and kids you might only be able to afford one big game rifle. So, you ought to choose one that you can also elk and bear hunt with.
I’m old school and still respect the old 30-06. It has to be the most versatile caliber on the market doesn’t it? You can buy .55 gr. Accelerators on up to 220 gr. bruisers and find 30-06 ammo in every outdoor store so I don’t think that you can go wrong with the trusty old 30-06.
I’ve always heard that the 165 gr. Is the best size but as a kid I always shot 180 gr., because dad did. Now, if I had a kid shooting one I’d have him shoot a 150 gr. Bullet to minimize recoil.
To contradict myself, I think if you’re buying a new rifle I’d recommend a .300 Win. Mag. or I have a .338 Win. Mag. I’ve shot deer, elk, black bear and brown bear with it and it has worked fine for me. I got a good deal on the .338 or I would have bought a .300.
What brand should you buy? There are a lot of choices out there. If you get good ammo and optics I think you’ll be surprised by some of the groups you can obtain out of some of the more economical rifles.
Don’t think that you have to buy a custom-made rifle to be able to punch a tag. I get great groups with my Mossberg Patriot and my Savage 112.
AMMO: There are a few good ammo companies out there. Unfortunately, you’ll have to experiment to see which one shoots best in your rifle. But don’t buy the cheapest ammo on the shelf or it just probably won’t perform. You want to buy high-performance ammo so it will shoot accurately and perform.
OPTICS: Unfortunately, on optics you get what you paid. My wife says that I’m the eternal tightwad but don’t leave any pennies in your pocket on this purchase and I don’t think that you’ll ever regret it.
BINOCULARS: I got some Leupold BX-3 Mojave Pro Guide HD 10x42’s and love them.
SCOPE: Why buy a rifle that can reach out there and not get a good scope?
Many people preach that you ought to spend more on your scope than on the rifle. You could argue that point. For most of my big game rifles I have a 4.5-14x Leupold on them.
I’m not saying that it’s exciting but the more time you spend glassing and the more you learn about how to properly glass, the more tags you’ll be punching.
I’ve tested optics for numerous companies and teach Glassing Seminars at a lot of the big shows like the SCI Convention in Las Vegas, DSC Convention and Expo in Dallas etc.
Yet am yearly amazed at how much game I see when I slow down and glass. It really works. Oh yeah, just like I say in my seminars huh?
Like all game, deer are more active at daylight/dusk so roll out of bed early. The early bird gets the worm, or in this case, the deer.
Well, we are out of space and I feel like I barely got started. Get out there and have fun.
Tom Claycomb is an outdoor enthusiast and writes a monthly column for the Humboldt Sun.