Updated: Mar 19
Picking the right weapon and ammunition is the first part of successfully preparing for a hunt. Check your local laws and regulations before you even think of heading out. Be safe and be legal. Below I have created a list of everything I use for all the game I go after in a year. I will be updating this post with more info as time goes on and what I can afford to hunt, and hunt with, change.
Any Shotgun is fine! 12 gauge, 20 gauge, and .410 are my personal favorites. I use No. 6 shot. It doesn’t mangle the meat but is more than enough to get the job done. I have taken more small game with an old single action .410 than any other shotgun. I will say that it never hurts to have a few more in the tube. I’m very happy with the 12 gauge bolt-action I’ve been using lately because of the increased rate of fire. It doesn’t have to be the latest and greatest to get it done. A rifle in .22LR is also a viable option but I’m always going with the scattergun for small game.
Predator and Varmint: (coyote, hogs, fox, bobcat)
For my rifle selection, I like a semi-automatic .223 or .556 and I prefer that my ammo is in the range of 50-70 grain. You want something that has a high rate of fire because follow up shots can be crucial in this line of hunting. Most of the animals in this category will run in packs or groups. You will need to select your targets on the run after your first shot so hands-free chambering is the way to go. I like to run a red dot on mine but I also think holographic sights are a good option as well. In Alabama, most of the area I’m hunting is loaded with thick vegetation and a long scope just isn’t practical. That doesn’t mean you should avoid one though or that having two different setups is a bad idea either.
I use shotguns if I know I will be in the thick of it. I’m going to sound like a broken record but I prefer something with a higher rate of fire than break action so we can get multiple shots off. I choose a 12 gauge with 00 buck or a similar buckshot. You might want to stay away from this if you plan on keeping the hide or meat. Buckshot can and will do some damage!
Now I do not pretend to be an expert in this category or any other for that matter, but here are my picks for chasing big game. Currently, I use an old Mosin Nagant 7.62X54. It’s a great rifle with a terrific amount of power for putting down deer, bear, and elk. The action is slower on the bolt and the rifle is quite heavy and long which is why it’s my deer stand rifle. I love the range on it and use it over the cornfields here in north Alabama where deer hunting is a very static affair. I would not recommend toting it into the backcountry. I did that this past year in Idaho and it was not pleasant!
I plan on making the switch to 30-06 very soon. This round is over 100 years old and is still one of the most accessible rounds on the market. I have seen them in action and used them myself. I am still in the market on which brand I will be going with but I will definitely be carrying this with me into the backcountry next year and you should too. Make sure to come back and check out this list for updates on what I go with.
I will be updating this list as my opinions change and budget expands. What this list should show you is how you don’t need a whole arsenal to be an effective hunter as well as the fact that your methods and tools are going to be ever-evolving. A good rifle and a shotgun are usually what a person needs to get started and these are my latest recommendations. If you have any questions about this list please let me know below! I’m happy to share my experiences and would love to hear some of yours.