Deer Hunting On The Fly

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Published on: Nov. 2, 2002

Last revision: Nov. 12, 2010

as a lever-action rifle chambered for .30-30 Winchester. I use a featherweight bolt-action rifle chambered for .308 Winchester. It's light and short for quick handling, but it has adequate power to take deer at any reasonable range. I also use a 2.8x10 variable power scope, but I usually keep it on either 4X or 6X. A straight 4X scope is adequate for most short- to medium-range hunting, and its field of view is wide enough to allow you to attain and hold your target, even in thick cover.

For short-range hunting, it's hard to beat a shotgun loaded with slugs. With a rifled barrel or a special slug choke tube and a good scope, a shotgun can deliver a lead slug into a saucer-sized target up to 125 yards. If using a smoothbore slug barrel, limit your shots to 50 yards or less.For hunting woods or small fields, many hunters prefer handguns. Light and portable, a handgun will allow you to hike to prime hunting areas without the arm and shoulder fatigue that comes from lugging long guns over hill and dale. If you kill a deer, you can secure the handgun in a holster, which frees both hands for handling your kill.

The proper round, such as .357-magnum, .41-magnum, .44-magnum or .45 Long Colt, will give you enough firepower to drop a deer in its tracks out to 150 yards. A good scope with strong, steady scope mounts will improve accuracy immensely. The slightest movement or vibration in a handgun barrel will throw your shot completely off your target, so steady your muzzle with some sort of support.

While scouting isn't essential to deer hunting success, accurate shooting is, so practice often.

Maps to Success

If you hunt deer on public land, a map is your most valuable tool.

The Conservation Department publishes informative brochures for all Department-owned conservation areas. Each brochure includes a topographic map on one side and a description of the area and summary of rules and regulations specific to the area on the other side. You can download maps for most MDC-owned conservation area on the Department's website.

The "Conservation Atlas," published by the Conservation Department, is another excellent resource to guide you to some 800,000 acres on nearly 1,000 MDC conservation areas. It costs $16 and is available from the Nature Shop, P.O. Box 180, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0180 or online.

The most detailed maps are the 7.5-minute topographic quadrangle maps published by the U.S. Geologic Survey. They show everything, from the smallest creek to the highest ridge to the deepest hollow. You can look at a quad map for an area you've never seen, and by studying its topographic features, you can make an educated guess at where you would most likely encounter deer.

To obtain USGS topo quad maps, contact the U.S. Geologic Survey at 1400 Independence Road, Rolla, MO 65401; (573) 308-3500.

For maps of the Mark Twain National Forest, contact the Mark Twain National Forest Supervisor's Office, 401 Fairgrounds Rd., Rolla, MO 65401; (573) 364 4621.

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