4 Best Rifles for Deer Hunting

4 Best Rifles for Deer Hunting

This is a great little guest post about hunting rifles. Great content below along with a hunters loadout far beyond the rifle. 

Deer are one of the quarry most prized by hunters, whether it’s a tiny reeves muntjac in lowland England, a majestic Red stag in the Highlands of Scotland, a Japanese Sika deer on the slopes of Mount Fuji or an enormous Yukon Moose hunters all over the world prize deer above almost any other species. They are a cautious and challenging prey but are valued all the more for those qualities.

For those of you preparing to head out and do some deer hunting you will need a few basic items of equipment;
I always carry two knives fixed blade knives and a pocket knife, the pocket knife for utility tasks, one fixed blade for skinning and gutting and the second fixed blade to save my razor sharp skinning knife from damage if I need to butcher a deer in the field. You could also consider carrying a small chest saw if you need to butcher larger deer in the field.

I always carry a first aid kit including a CAT tourniquet and several large dressings, not only in case of gunshot wounds but I have seen people inflict some horrific, potentially life threatening injuries on themselves while skinning and butchering deer and if that happens in a remote location while you are out deer hunting a proper first aid kit might save your life.

I also carry an O light H1 flashlight that can be used as a headlamp or carried in the pocket, this is really important if your deer hunting at first or last light to help you find your kit, your tree stand or to find a shot deer as it begins to get dark. I also carry a small strobe light, a lesson I learned from my father, that I can use to mark where I have left a deer carcass if I go and fetch the ATV and it gets dark or to signal for rescue if I get injured in a remote area.

A compass and a map of the area you are deer hunting is also vital in case you ever need to summon rescue or to mark where your tree stands are.
A pack to carry deer with is also very useful, roe deer and other small species such as muntjac and Chinese water deer will easily fit into a kind of pack called a ‘roe sack’, I use one of these whenever I am out deer hunting, but for larger deer a frame pack that you can strap joints of meat or antlers to might be a better option.

Binoculars are another vital piece of equipment for the deer hunter, they give a wider field of view than a rifle scope and can be used without you having to point a loaded rifle at something that might not be a deer. Always scan with your binoculars not your scope.

As well as these basic items of kit you will of course need a rifle, scope and the appropriate ammunition but with so many rifles on the market which should you choose?

Remington 700

Photo Credit: https://www.remington.com/rifles/bolt-action/model-700

The first deer hunting rifle I ever owned was a second hand Remington 700 in .243 Winchester. It was a fantastic rifle and put many, many deer in the freezer and still does to this day after I gave it my brother about ten years ago. Other than the fantastic pedigree of this rifle, which is still used as a sniping platform by many US SWAT teams it is the perfect rifle for modifications and customisation.

Mine now has an Accuracy International magazine conversion which my brother installed a synthetic stock to replace the original wood. Light weight and very ‘pointable’ the rifle is perfect for hunts that involve long hikes.

I’ve used several other Remington 700’s in other configurations and calibers including .308, .25-06 and 300 Win Mag and have never failed to be impressed. In their basic form they area a great option for beginners and there with such a range of options available the Remi 700 will also satisfy even the most experienced of hunters.

Browning x-bolt

Photo Credit: http://www.browning.com/products/firearms/rifles/x-bolt.html

The X-bolt is a great gun, it comes as standard with a black synthetic stock which is great for anyone spending a lot of time in the woods and wilderness in search of deer. It doesn’t warp or swell in wet weather or heat, doesn’t mould or rust and is practically indestructible. I have recently started using one in .223 for small deer, foxes and long range rabbits and it a pleasure to shoot.

Sound moderators have become popular amongst deer hunters, I certainly use one not only does it save your hearing a bit but it means that deer can’t hear where you are shooting from and will sometimes give you a chance for a shot a second deer which is very important if, like me you hunt deer professionally and sometimes have to shoot quite a few deer in a short time.

Moderators can also help dampen the recoil and muzzle flip of a rifle shot meaning you can maintain your sight picture after you have fired which is very useful as you determine how the deer you have shot at has been hit and what your approach to a follow up will be.

Despite this popularity I find it a shame to add a moderator to the X-bolt as it is so well balanced in the first place.

Tikka T3

Photo Credit: http://www.tikka.fi/rifles/tikka-t3x/t3x-hunter

This is the rifle I upgraded to when I passed on my Remington 700, I have used it for ten years now and I’m sure I will hand it down to my children and grandchildren.

Tikka rifles are made to a very high standard in Finland and are available in all sorts of configurations and calibers. Mine is the standard T3 hunter model in .308 calibers, with a blued steel barrel and action and wooden stock.

The Tikka T3 with a .308 scope mounted on it is a very light rifle, easy to carry even on long days in the field and I would highly recommend it to anybody looking for a rifle for deer hunting, or for any other hunting, if it has any draw backs at all it’s the single stack three round magazine.

Blaser R8

Photo Credit: https://www.blaser.de/en/products/bolt-action-rifle-r8/

While most deer hunting rifles have a simple bolt action Blaser took the tried, tested and well proven bolt and refined it with a strait pull action. Although they were not the first to develop a strait pull bolt their R8 rifle is one of the most popular strait pull hunting rifles on the market.

The R8 is available with wooden stocks and synthetic stocks and as well as being produced in standard deer hunting calibres is also produced as a safari rifle in very large calibres including unusual ones such as the 10.3 x 60mm even though in that configuration it can only accommodate one of the massive cartridges in the magazine.

The R8 is the only rifle I am aware of with an interchangeable bolt for left or right handed use and which includes the trigger mechanism in the detachable magazine unit. When this is removed for reloading or to make it safe there is absolutely no way the rifle can be used making it one of the safest rifles I have ever used.

The extremely high standards of Blaser make these rifles a pleasure to shoot, a little more expensive than some of the other rifle featured here but and an excellent option for the discerning deer hunter.

Any of these rifles would serve you well for a lifetime of deer hunting but if I had to choose just one it would be the Tikka T3.

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