Deer Hunting

I'm pretty fortunate to live in an area that has a lot of deer. It's quite common to see packs of 10 to 15 in the corner of a field during the summer. For the past few years we've had our own personal herd of about 6 that seem to hang around our land. The deer here don't really get too big, and an eight pointer or nice six pointer is about as good as you can hope for. I usually deer hunt from early October until it gets too cold or I get sick of it all. Below is a log of all the deer I've shot around my house.

November 18th, 2006
My first deer was shot on opening day of shotgun season at 6:32 am. I was using my dad's Winchester Model 120 Ranger with some 2-3/4" double ought buckshot and an improved cylinder choke. At the time I thought I exchanged the IC choke for a full choke, but in the darkness I got them mixed up. Anyway, I was sitting in my tree stand when this deer came from behind me on my right side and gave me a massive case of buck fever. I thought for sure he had 40 points at the time. Needless to say, I touched off the 12 guage and peppered the deer from just behind his skull to his hind ankle with buckshot. My mom didn't know how to cook deer when I shot this one and the meat turned out to be as tough as shoe leather.

Deer #1 Winchester Model 120 Ranger

I did some unofficial measuring for the Boone and Crockett club, and came up with around 95 inches for this rack. The minimum score to be listed in the record book is 160 inches. :-o


October 27th, 2007
This was my second deer, and I shot her on opening day of muzzleloader season. I used a .50 caliber T/C Renegade muzzleloader kit gun my dad built in the 1980's with 95 grains of FFF powder and a 295 grain Powerbelt bullet. This doe weighed about 120 pounds and was great eating.

Deer #2 T/C Renegade

November 1st, 2008
My third deer was also taken with the .50 caliber rifle using the same setup as last year's. Daylight savings time was right around this hunt and I got out to my tree stand an hour early. I distinctly remember saying to myself "Man, it's awful dark out here... Sure is taking the sun a while to come up." After an hour of watching the stars through the forest canopy, the first traces of sunrise began to stream through lifting my spirits of nailing a monster ten pointer. My monster buck turned out to be a malformed 3x1 pointer, and I shot him high on the left side and the bullet ripped through his heart and lungs before coming out low on his right side. All in all, a great kill. He flopped over and died on the spot.

Deer #3 T/C Renegade

The meat from this one was pretty tough as well. I've about decided all future bucks will be donated to Hunters for the Hungry, and small does I'll keep for myself.


October 11th, 2009
I finally got a deer with a bow and arrow. It's been my intent to get into archery for a while, but that got put on hold for a few years after I messed up my left shoulder in a dirt bike wreck. Recently my uncle came to visit from Idaho and gave me his old bow because no one in his family wanted it. It's a Browning X-Cellerator from around 1980, and is pretty primitive compared to today's compounds. However, my uncle killed a black bear with it in the 90's, so a deer shouldn't be much problem. Besides, people have been killing bigger animals with much less for thousands of years.

I shot at two deer which I missed, and then finally connected on a small 6 pointer. He turned to me just as I shot and I hit him in the throat, severing his windpipe and arteries. He took off through the brush and I could hear him gurgling before crashing 45 yards away. True to last year's promise of not eating bucks, I field gutted him, lopped off the antlers, and donated the meat to Hunters for the Hungry.

Deer #4 Browning X-Cellerator



October 31st, 2009
My fifth deer was taken with my dad's .50 caliber Thompson Renegade kit gun. I got out to my deer stand around 6:30 am, and scared off an opossum and raccoon on my way through the woods. I spent the next hour listening to acorns falling and telling myself I was an idiot for getting out of my warm bed to sit on a hard metal platform strapped to a swaying tree. By 7:30 am I'd about had enough and was starting to convince myself to head back to the house when I heard a shuffling behind me and off to the left. I slowly turned 180º and saw this buck coming. I brought the gun up to my shoulder and tried to find a comfortable position to shoot from before he disappeared behind some brush. I wound up wrapping my left arm around the tree as the deer was on the opposite side of tree from my stand. I shot, and the woods promptly filled up with a huge cloud of smoke. I couldn't see anything for a few seconds, but the deer ran a whopping 10 yards before collapsing.

Deer #5 T/C Renegade



November 14th, 2009
Finally shotgun season has started. My uncle who gave me his old compound bow also lent my dad his Ithaca Mag-10 ten gauge to use on a goose hunt in December. My first deer was killed with a 12 gauge, but I've really wanted to get one with a 10 gauge since that's the biggest shotgun my state allows. Recoil was minimal, mainly because the gun is a semi-automatic and it weighs 12.5 pounds. I was shooting 3-1/2" 00 Buck loads and the gun seemed to kick a lot less than my dad's Winchester Model 120 Ranger pump gun.

But enough about the gun and on to the hunt! I had been pretty worried about the high winds and rain from the remnants of Hurricane Ida ruining opening day of shotgun season, but everything slacked off Saturday morning. I got to the stand at 6:25am, and shot the deer at 6:40am. I touched off the big 10 and blew the deer off his feet. The deer turned out to be a spike with one side growing down. Kind of a unicorn on one side, and a drop tine on the left.

Deer #6 Ithica Mag-10



January 2nd, 2010
I took this button buck with my dad's .460 S&W Magnum. I've been trying to bag a deer with a pistol since the end of the 2008 season, and it happened on the last day of the 2009 season. The .460 S&W is an incredible handgun; it's pretty much an elephant gun in pistol form. For this hunt, I shot a 200 grain bullet at 2,200 fps, which works out to about 2,150 foot pounds of energy. The gun is so heavy that recoil is easily manageable, even when shooting heavy loads.

Anyway, I decided I'd head out to the woods on the last day of deer season. It was 27º and gusting, which wasn't ideal. I was sitting on a overturned bucket, huddled in the fork of an oak tree that had fallen over when this deer came running by. I reached for the gun and cocked it which made him stop. I rested the barrel on the tree and touched her off. A Zeus-like thunderclap and two feet of fire out the barrel insured this deer was down for the count. I probably should have let this buck go had I realized it was a button buck, but at least he'll be good eating.

Deer #7 .460 S&W Magnum



October 2nd, 2010
Today was opening day for archery hunting. I woke up at 6:20 am and had this doe bagged by 7:30 am. I used my Browning X-Cellerator, ReadHead Carbon Fury arrows, and 100 grain Muzzy Phantom broadheads. This doe was pretty wary when I stood up to take a shot, but I stood stock still for what seemed like hours and she eventually went back to eating. Soon she turned broadside and started walking parallel to my treestand. It was now or never so I let an arrow fly and spined her. She dropped like a rock so I nocked another arrow and put it through her heart. I've seen too many videos where deer were only stunned with spine shots to take my chances. Anyway, my season is off to a great start.

Deer #8 Browning X-Cellerator



October 30th, 2010
Well today was muzzleloading opening day. I spooked off a doe as I made my way to my tree stand around 7:00 am. It was a fairly uneventful morning and I mostly watched squirrels bury acorns. By about 7:45 am hunters all around me were starting to fire. Later around mid morning it really sounded like a war zone. I really like the deeper and more resonant "boom" of a muzzleloader than the sharper "crack" of a smokeless rifle. Around 8:00 am I saw a group of deer walking through the brush. I couldn't see anything but their legs, so I aimed my T/C Renegade at an opening in the brush ahead of them and hit my grunt call. The deer stopped and one of them headed my way! I waited until he was 10 yards away and fired. I got one lung and he ran about 45 yards. Meanwhile, the other deer bolted a few yards and stopped. I reloaded as fast as my shaking hands could manage and fired at the remaining deer. I hit him at 35 yards and he dropped on the spot. Both deer were young spikes. I was using 100 grains of FFg American Pioneer Powder and 348 grain PowerBelt bullets.

Deer #9 and #10 T/C Renegade



October 1st, 2011
Opening day of deer season 2011! Today I saw quite possibly the most deer I've ever seen while hunting. Two decent bucks walked past me early in the morning but I couldn't shoot them because it was too dark to see the sights on the bow. Later a doe came bounding through the woods but I didn't shoot at her. Next a group of two wandered past just out of range. Finally a massive group of 7 came through. They were mostly out of range but a really small buck started browsing his way to my tree stand. I shot him at 13 yards and he took off. I hit him too far back, but I quietly climbed out of my tree stand and snuck up on him while he was bedded down nursing his wounds. Once I got close I shot him through the chest. He took off again but only made it about 35 yards before dying. One down, twelve or so to go!

Deer #11 Browning X-Cellerator



November 11th, 2011
I missed the first six days of muzzleloader season because I was in Connecticut helping my dad patrol power lines for CL&P. However, the day we came home I bagged this small 3 pointer. I was using my .50 caliber T/C Renegade with 90 grains Goex FFg and a 348 grain hollow point PowerBelt bullet. About an hour into the hunt I saw this guy coming towards me from the left. I swung my rifle around and found a clear spot ahead of him and waited. Just as he stepped out into the clearing I coughed and he stopped. I centered the sights on his chest and he dropped like a rock. It turns out I was a bit high and the bullet broke his spine. I figure the bullet was moving 1400-1500 feet per second, so that works out to around 1600 foot pounds of energy.

Deer #12 T/C Renegade



November 22nd, 2011
The M1 Garand has been high on my list of guns to use for deer hunting for a long time. The main problem with using it is that most commercial .30-06 cartridges produce too much pressure and will damage the gun's mechanism. Another ethical problem is using full metal jacket ammunition on animals.

The way to solve these problems is to reload your own .30-06 cartridge to military specs with an expanding hunting bullet. I used a 150 grain Hornady soft point, 48 grains of IMR 4064, and a CCI large rifle primer. With a suitable hunting cartridge, it was off to the field!

This was an afternoon hunt and the sky was threatening to rain. I was about to head inside when I noticed this small 3 pointer about 45 yards away on my left. I squinted through the peep sight, centered the post on his chest and fired. He took off and I found him 40 yards away laying against this downed tree.

Deer #13 M1 Garand



November 30th, 2011
I haven't gotten a deer with a shotgun this season, so I took out my great-grandfather's Winchester Model 1897. It was made in 1901, so it's 110 years old! It's a 12 gauge takedown model with a 30" full choke barrel and chambered for 2-3/4" shells. For this hunt I used some WWII era M19 full brass 00 buckshot shells. They were made by Remington, and I've been told a buddy of my dad's "liberated" a bunch of them from a naval weapons station in the 1970's.

Anyway, around 4:45pm this doe came in from behind me and I just happened to catch a glimpse of her before she slipped behind a holly tree 20 yards away. I thumbed back the hammer, lined up the gun on the other side of the tree, and went for a head/neck shot as she emerged. She dropped on the spot and three other does I hadn't noticed scattered. I racked back the slide to try for one of them, but they'd vanished.

This was the smallest deer I've ever shot, she only weighed 55 pounds! But at least she'll be good eating.

Deer #14 Winchester 1897



October 13th, 2012
My first deer of 2012! I got out to my tree stand around 6:30am and nailed this three pointer at 7am. I noticed him coming from my left across my field of view, but he was obscured by a thin layer of short holly trees. Eventually he meandered into a clear area and I made a noise to stop him. The distance was around 25 yards which is a bit farther than I normally practice, so I lined the sight up on the top of his back and let loose with a 100 grain G5 Montec on a RedHead Carbon Fury shaft.

The buck jumped, kicked his rear feet and took off back the way he came for all he was worth with his tail down. Everything looked like a good hit so far, and that was confirmed when I found the blood trail. The entire trail was bright red blood with bubbles and little hunks of lung. I easily found him after following the blood trail for 80 yards. After skinning him out I found I hit both lungs and the top of the heart. Pretty amazing he ran that far.

Deer #15 Browning X-Cellerator



November 4th, 2013
First deer of the 2013 muzzle loading season! As usual I used my dad's .50 caliber T/C Renegade caplock. I was sitting in my tree stand when I heard this guy crossing behind me from left to right. I stood up and tried to spot him through the dense holly trees, but I couldn't make out much. Once he stepped out into a clear spot I made a doe bleat and he stopped. I took aim with my dad's T/C Renegade and pulled the trigger. Pop! The cap went off but didn't ignite the main charge. At this point the buck was getting antsy and my hands were shaking so bad I spilled nearly half the can of caps trying to reload my gun. Once I got a cap on I tried shooting again and it was a decent hit. He staggered off in the direction he was going and I found him ~100 yards later. The T/C Sure Fire 230 grain sabot and 100 grains of FFg Goex did their job. The bullet hit him on the near shoulder, went through the front part of the lungs, the breastbone, and broke through his off side leg. This is my first time hunting with saboted bullets and I'm not so sure about them. They are very accurate in my gun, but I had a hard time picking up the blood trail after I shot him.

Deer #16 T/C Renegade



November 9th, 2013
Here's the second deer I've gotten this season, again with my dad's .50 caliber T/C Renegade. I was shooting 230 grain T/C Sure Fire sabots over 100 grains of FFg Goex, just as with my previous deer. This was a morning hunt and I had him bagged by 7:30am. I was sitting in my tree stand when I saw him crossing from left to right in front of me. He was a long way away and disappeared behind the trees often. Eventually he worked his way out of the trees and I coughed to get him to stop. Pulled the trigger and pop! Just the cap went off. Luckily I had practice from the previous deer so I recapped the gun and fired again. I hit him at 45 yards and he ran around 75 yards before collapsing. Again, I didn't have much of a blood trail with these bullets, although I hit him a little higher than ideal.

Deer #17 T/C Renegade



October 27th, 2014
This is my first deer of the 2014 season. We were just getting supper together when mom said there was a doe in the flowerbed just outside the house. I crept towards the garage door and dropped her from 16 yards. Dad and I butchered her up after supper and we had back straps for supper the next night. She had a small deer with her that bolted, but it wasn't a this year's fawn.

Deer #18



November 2nd, 2014
My first deer of muzzle loader season and my first deer on a Sunday! My state finally legalized hunting on Sunday (mostly) so I gave it a try this afternoon. I was using a .45 caliber flintlock long rifle I bought earlier this year from Cabela's. They call it the "Blue Ridge" and Pedersoli makes it. I used 70 grains of FFFg Goex and a .440 roundball. My patches were .015" thick and lightly lubed.

It was quite windy and cold, and this little button buck caught me by surprise. He was coming from behind me and I noticed when he was about 10 yards away from my tree stand on the right. I made a noise to stop him, then fired just behind his shoulder. He was facing away from me a bit so the ball went in behind his shoulder, and out the front of it. It never even pierced his rib cage. But it did sever an artery and I found him bled out maybe 50 yards away. I'm pretty sure this was the one that was with the doe I shot earlier.

Deer #19 Flintlock



October 31st, 2015
First deer of 2015 and it's the first day of black powder season. I got this little 3 pointer with a Smith carbine replica from Pietta I picked up earlier this year. My load was 40 grains FFFg Goex and a 240 grain Hornady PA Conical bullet. The Smith carbine is actually an early breechloader that uses a funny rubber case to hold the powder and bullet. The powder is ignited by a musket cap and side hammer.

I got out to my stand around 6:45am and scared off a herd of about six deer. Around 7:45am I saw this little buck walking towards me from my left. I got situated and made a noise to stop him when he reached a clearing 29 yards away. I touched off the carbine and he dropped on the spot. It turns out I was a bit high and hit him in the spine, but a second bullet through his chest put him out of his misery.

Deer #20 Smith Carbine



November 6th, 2015
Lately the deer seem to have disappeared. I've hunted five afternoons this week from about 3:30 until sundown and I've seen neither hide nor hair of a deer until today. I haven't heard very many shots either. It's been unseasonably warm though, so I wonder if that has something do to with the lack of movement.

This was an afternoon hunt and it was just starting to get dark enough that I was thinking I'd need to head inside soon when I saw this 7 pointer off to my left 26 yards away. He was covered by a holly tree, but I could see him flipping his tail as he was eating some shrubs. He wandered out past the tree and quartered away so I took a shot with my Smith carbine with the same load I used on the previous deer. The PA Conical broke his spine and he dropped on the spot. I walked up to him and shot him with a .454 roundball over 35 grains of FFFg from my stainless 1858 New Army cap and ball revolver through both lungs and his heart to finish him off. Once I gutted him, I don't think it's an exaggeration to say there must have been a gallon of blood in his chest cavity. I managed to recover both projectiles, they were stopped by the skin on the off side shoulder. The PA Conical retained 85% of its weight, the .454 roundball didn't lose any mass.

Deer #21 Smith Carbine



November 8th, 2015
This is the third deer I've shot in less than ten days! I went out this afternoon at 4pm with my Smith carbine and stainless 1858 Remington. I'd barely gotten situated in the stand when I heard this guy off to my right shuffling through the leaves toward me around 4:15pm. I cocked the Smith carbine and stood up in my tree stand when I caught a glimpse of him perhaps 50 yards away. The way he was going he'd pass very close to my tree stand, so I set the Smith down and unholstered and cocked my 1858 Remington. The spike kept making his way towards me and eventually passed right behind my tree! I made a noise to stop him, and then gave him a .454 roundball over 35 grains of FFFg Goex from 6 yards. He took off running in a big loop back the way he came and collapsed about 100 yards away.

The shot placement was excellent. The bullet broke through a rib and penetrated the near lung and the top of the heart, but there was no exit wound. That goes to show how anemic the round is. This site suggests my load might generate around 1,000 ft/s, which would produce 312 ft/lbs of energy which is in the realm of a .38 special. Still, it's more than enough to get the job done at close range with good shot placement. I've carried this revolver for the last two years since I told myself I would only shoot when conditions were perfect.

Deer #22 1858 New Army Revolver



November 13th, 2015
Here's a deer I got this afternoon around 4:50 with the Smith carbine. I heard him coming through the woods behind me kind of toward my tree. I stood up and took aim as he turned broadside 16 yards away. I shot and the bullet hit him high on right side, broke through his spine and off side lung, and exited about midway down. He fell over on the spot and a coup de grâce through his chest at point blank range with my 1858 New Army put him out of his misery quickly. The .454 ball penetrated through the lungs, far shoulder, and was found between the skin and meat. It didn't expand at all and retained 100% of its original 140 grains.

This deer was fairly light, probably less than 100 pounds. He certainly was a lot easier to drag out of the woods than others I've shot.

Deer #23 Smith Carbine



December 3rd, 2016
I was seriously beginning to wonder if I'd even get a deer this year. I saw a lot during bow season and a few during muzzle loader season, but I never felt like I had a clean shot. Then I've either been out of town, sick for two weeks, or the weather was bad. The few times I managed to go hunting during firearm season I didn't see anything at all. It's been fairly warm and there was a tremendous acorn crop this year, so I think that contributed to the lack of movement.

Anyway, I finally managed to get a three pointer this year with my AR15 I machined from a 0% lower forging. I got out to my tree stand around 6:30am and saw this guy at 7:06am about 30 yards in front of me. He was walking fairly quickly from my right to my left so I made a noise to stop him. When he stopped, I put a 64 grain .223 Winchester Power-Point through his chest. He jumped, kicked, and ran about 25 yards before slowing to a stop and rolling over. After seeing what that bullet did to his insides, I have no doubts regarding the perennial .223 vs deer debate. Shot placement is key and our deer just aren't that big.

Deer #24 AR15



January 7th, 2016
What a hunt, I doubt I'll forget this one any time soon! Today was the last day of deer season and to make matters worse, winter storm Helena was in full swing most of the day. The temperature dropped to 20º with a windchill of 12º and we got 10" of snow. I've never hunted in snow before, nor temperatures this cold. We don't usually get snow before deer season ends, so this was a rare opportunity to try some cold weather hunting.

I was pretty sure the deer wouldn't be moving while it was snowing heavily, but I had a hunch that they'd want to get going as soon as the weather broke. Luckily the weather was forecast to break around 5pm, so I dressed as warmly as I could and got out to my tree stand around 3:30pm with my 0% AR and a magazine of 64 grain Winchester Power-Points. Sure enough, the weather broke around 4:45pm and I soon started seeing birds and squirrels moving around. Then I saw movement 50 yards away behind a large downed tree! It was a doe bobbing her head, but there was too much brush between us to shoot. I took my right hand glove off to get ready, but she turned and I lost sight of her for about 10 minutes. Finally, she stuck her head out again and there was just enough clear space for a neck shot. My hand was numb but I managed to get a good shot and she fell instantly. Then two other deer I hadn't seen bolted from the same area! It turns out all three were bedded down 51 yards from my stand and neither of us had seen the other when I walked in. I shot this doe at 5:15pm, just 15 minutes before the season ended.



Deer #25 AR15