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Old November 17, 2013, 11:33 AM   #1
SteelChickenShooter
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Handgun Deer

There are no shortages of 357 & 44 Mag topics posted in the revolver as well as the hunting sections. There is always speculation and advice coming from those that do well with either or some don't suggest a 357 Mag for deer at all.
This is my firsthand account. Opening day I shot a good size 8-point buck at extreme close range with the 44Mag Super Red Hawk. I can say I was not overly impressed. The aftermath just was not what I was expecting. I can't be proud of myself as I watched that deer briefly suffer and fight for life. I hit it pretty well placed, through both lungs and out the other side. The entry and exits wounds were not so large as I imagined they could be with the 44. Based on my very own experience, I can't see me using a 357 Mag for deer. Maybe the results would be the same at such close distance. It just seems to me the 357 would be a little on the too small side for good size deer hunting. I imagine as I saw the impact, and the deer reaction...I imagine using a 357Mag would be sort of weak. The 44Mag sure is pretty powerful, but it seemed like the deer was stronger. Ballistic tables and water jugs are one thing. Actually seeing the impact and watching how the animal dies is another. The 357 is less powerful than the 44 Mag, and I am beginning to think maybe a handgun with even more power than a 44 Mag would be more appropriate. For me, certainly nothing less than a 44 mag. Or maybe abandon the idea of taking a deer entirely using a handgun. No doubt there sure can be some novelty in taking a good size deer with one. I might be better off with a shotgun when I visualize how I was not so impressed with the actual hit using the 44. It certainly didn't seem to be "knock down power". More of a severe wound depriving the poor beast the breath of life. I'm rambling now.

Last edited by SteelChickenShooter; November 17, 2013 at 12:36 PM.
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Old November 17, 2013, 12:26 PM   #2
Sure Shot Mc Gee
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Depends on bones, animal girth, H.P or not. Velocity of cartridge.
Any animal's fight for life is impressive. Instead of watching the suffering & death throws. Do what many fellow hunters do. Help the animal pass from this world. {by a second well placed shot} I've always shown and practiced that behavior over the years with my downed large game. Trophy or not it make's no difference. {I'll let my taxidermist worry about the extra hole}
As for the 357. Consider how many deer were taken with the 38-55 rifle years ago and some yet today. 38-55 has near the same speed as the 357 but has a little heavier bullet is all. Close range 50-75 yrds. I think the 357 would be an excellent cartridge for the purpose. If you want to see something amazing. Load up either of the two cartridge commented on here in a rifle. You'll notice a huge improvement over their use in a pistol. I wonder what type of bullet you were using the day you harvested your 8-point? (curious is all)
BTW. Congrads on your trophy 8-point taken with a pistol. That's something to be really proud of.
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Old November 17, 2013, 12:28 PM   #3
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Hmm.....oddly enough I just had a long conversation with the firearms dept. manager at a local sporting good store, on this exact topic. In his years of experience he said he has had to track wounded deer pretty much every time he used a .357, even with a rifle. He also told me that he to had less than satisfactory performance with a .44 mag pistol. But with A rifle chambered in .44 he has the up most confidence, which led me to buy my first pistol caliber rifle ever this past Friday.

I still believe .357 and .44 pistols are more than capable of taking deer. Just under certain conditions, maybe not as cleanly as we would like.


Do you recall the approximate range? Also what bullet where you using?
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Old November 17, 2013, 12:50 PM   #4
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Distance was 10 feet.
Ammo was either one of the common Remington or Winchester 240 gr soft point "Hunting" loads. Actually they are a little flat on the end. The Ruger is the 7 1/2" model. I suppose at such a close range the bullet just punched right through both sides and lungs lickety split. Maybe not making much of a wound channel at all. Maybe one of the newer designed hollow-points, something like the Hornady brand could be a better choice.
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Old November 17, 2013, 01:16 PM   #5
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A close second to shot placement is bullet construction/design. The idea is to dump as much energy into the target as possible, which is why HPs make for such good hunting rounds. I looked at what I think you described as using and that bullet probably zipped right through without depositing much energy. Hence your experience.
Before you completely swear off handgun hunting, try a more aggressive HP.
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Old November 17, 2013, 03:01 PM   #6
big al hunter
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This may be just my opinion, so take it with a grain of salt.

You were able to see the animal in the last throws of its life. That tells me it did not run off a long distance to die. I have seen the same things, as I too have taken deer with handguns. I have also seen many deer take a bullet from rifles, shotguns, and muzzle loaders. Most of them ran out of sight before expiring. The difference between handguns and rifles is that you are close enough to witness the final struggle of the animal.

Your 44 mag did exactly what it should have, and what most of us would expect it to.
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Old November 17, 2013, 03:10 PM   #7
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A more aggressive HP at that close of range probably would have not done any more damage and maybe even less. A double lung shot is a quick kill, but not instant. Shoot the same buck in the same spot with a 180gr 30-06 and it will take the same amount of time to die, and the deer will fight just as hard to live. Death is not pretty. At longer ranges tho, the animal has generally done it's fighting and has passed by the time the hunter gets there....not so much at 10 feet.

Quote:
I might be better off with a shotgun when I visualize how I was not so impressed with the actual hit using the 44. It certainly didn't seem to be "knock down power". More of a severe wound depriving the poor beast the breath of life.

Again.....basically that is what one does with any weapon, be it handgun, long gun or bow. One needs to accept that fact when goin' to the woods to kill something. It seems to me that the .44 was not the "weak" link in the scenario. It did it's job exactly as it has been advertised.
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Old November 17, 2013, 03:48 PM   #8
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Quote:
A more aggressive HP at that close of range probably would have not done any more damage and maybe even less
Do you have supporting information on this?
I am curious. I've never heard of a hollow point doing less damage than a solid point.
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Old November 17, 2013, 04:10 PM   #9
buck460XVR
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I use the same bullets for deer in my .44 handguns as I do in my .44 mag carbines. 240gr JSPs. They mushroom and dump energy but stay together and generally leave an exit wound. Something that does not always happen with JHPs, specially at close range. At close range or the slightly higher velocities of handgun caliber carbines, IME, JHPs tend to over expand, dump too much energy and do not always penetrate deeply or exit. If you are shooting from an elevated stand, an exit wound at the bottom of the body is much preferable to one hole on the animals back, and two holes always leave more blood trail than one. If HPs bullets are such great deer hunting tools, why don' t you see more of them in rifle loads? Even in slow moving calibers like 30/30 and .32 special, JSPs are the norm. I tend to keep the HPs for the range and for SD/HD and prefer JSPs for deer, in both .357 and .44 mag. This is what I am most comfortable with and what works best for me.
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Old November 17, 2013, 04:42 PM   #10
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Quote:
Do you have supporting information on this?
I am curious. I've never heard of a hollow point doing less damage than a solid point
There is just no way of guaranteeing the amount of expansion(or lack of) of any given HP. There are many vids. out showing well known HP's not expanding for one reason or another. Usually the cavity in the HP getting plugged at first contact of target making the HP act similar to a RN or FN projectile. A quick search should give more then enough examples.
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Old November 17, 2013, 05:50 PM   #11
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The main thing with hollow points on deer is that they might not penetrate all the way through the deer leaving the exit wound.

Death is part of hunting. It almost always make me feel bad on deer sized game. But I'm hunting..... I'm not there to take pictures.....

The thing about your deer is that you are seldom so close to hear all the sounds.

I also agree with your statement about using a 357 mag for whitetail deer. I just don't think the 357 is quite big enough. I shifted up to 480 Ruger because I wanted more killing power (quickly) on deer over a 41 mag and I have used hollow points (325 XTP) loads. They work. Still take the 41 mag out especially if I carry a rifle.

I want a caliber that can break bones.

Last edited by 22-rimfire; November 17, 2013 at 06:01 PM.
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Old November 17, 2013, 06:04 PM   #12
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I did a quick search for HP vids and didn't find results concerning HPs failing to perform.
I'm going to stick by my original post and recommend a better constructed hollow point bullet.

As the question of Hollow point bullets in rifles, there are tons of them. Granted they now sport some sort of plastic tip to improve ballistics but they are out there.
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Old November 17, 2013, 06:18 PM   #13
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Quote:
The main thing with hollow points on deer is that they might not penetrate all the way through the deer leaving the exit wound.
Very true. A broadside shot in which the HP passes through not hitting a bone, even a rib, it's possible to not have much(or any) expansion acting much like a RN or FN. Just a small entrance and exit wound.

Whereas the same HP bullet hitting a shoulder(or larger bone) will expand, expending its energy and possibly not having enough momentum to exit the body.

Just never cared to use HP's out of a handgun for deer size game for this reason.

Far as the death of an animal, we all want the animal to expire as soon as we pull the trigger. It just doesn't happen all the time no matter the weapon used. And is not ever pleasant to me. That's hunting.

If possible, a follow-up shot on a downed 'fighting' deer is always best.
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Old November 17, 2013, 06:30 PM   #14
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Ruger 480

Just a quick search.

Quote:
Do Hollow Points Always Expand - Shooters Forum
http://www.shootersforum.com/...do-h...ys-expand.html
...and this. Especially down at the 'Speed Kills' section.

Quote:



Handguns and Hollow Points | Human Events
http://www.humanevents.com/2011/03/0...-hollow-points
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Old November 17, 2013, 06:46 PM   #15
buck460XVR
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Quote:
Originally posted by Ruger480:
I'm going to stick by my original post and recommend a better constructed hollow point bullet.

Bullet construction in the OPs scenario would have made no difference. A double lung shot with an exit wound is a humane and a relatively quick kill with any .429'' projectile. A lung shot deer takes X amount of time to die, any experienced deer hunter knows this, and the deer will display agony until it expires. But it is not the consequence of the caliber or the bullet construction. It is a consequence of anatomy and how animals react when shot. Nature of the beast. Having to watch a animal expire, even quickly, is not a pleasant thing to witness and is why we strive for quick and clean kills. But it is going to happen, regularly, if one is a successful deer hunter and is even more evident when the animal is well within sight and hearing. If one cannot accept that fact, they generally don't hunt for long.

As for the choice of HPs vs JSPs or Hard Cast, one needs to use what they have the most confidence in and feel most confident with. One needs to make this decision on what works well outta their firearm and what has proven the most successful for them. This choice will not be the same for all, and it doesn't need to be. Doesn't make anyone wrong and can most certainly make everyone correct, as the choice isn't to make other folks happy, but to make quick, clean kills.
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Old November 17, 2013, 06:50 PM   #16
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How bout a 357 Max?
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Old November 17, 2013, 07:15 PM   #17
SteelChickenShooter
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There certainly has been some very well thought out, comforting and superbly expressed ideas and opinions here so far. I want to thank every one. This is my first buck. I didn't feel the elation I see on the hunting TV shows. Hell, I didn't even have any black shoe polish all over my face. The deer just looked at me. And the sounds- yes the up close and personal sounds gasping for air from shot out lungs. Maybe I'm not so much of a real hunter. Yes all the venison chops, steaks, backstrap, sausage and spicy sticks sure are good. Venison meatloaf is outstanding. I might be better off tending to the camp fire. Let the other guys do the damage. Well there's more deer season to go, and I still have a tag for antlerless. Maybe I'll load up with a stout Hornady hollowpoint and see how it goes. As you may tell from my rambling, it's sort of a mix between wondering about ammo, firearms, and a little shooter remorse. But thanks again to all so far. Reading your replies makes me feel a bit better.
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Old November 17, 2013, 07:47 PM   #18
big al hunter
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Quote:
and a little shooter remorse. But thanks again to all so far. Reading your replies makes me feel a bit better.
The first time I witnessed a deer taking its last breaths had me feeling some remorse as well. That is the thing that drives me to make sure of my shot. It gets easier the more you see it, but its good that it does not completely go away.
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Old November 17, 2013, 08:31 PM   #19
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It also can wear on you as you get older, I seem to watch more than shoot and am happy doing that. You have to do what you are comfortable with and if that means stepping back and re-thinking your part in this old sport then so be it, it's your choice.
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Old November 17, 2013, 08:40 PM   #20
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I shot an 8 point buck last evening at about 125yds with a 165gr Speer HotCore round nose soft point out of a 308. Like your shot the bullet traveled through both lungs and after about a 50yd trek through some pretty rough brush we found him. This in my opinion is a typical lung shot reaction so don't sell your 44mag short or think you did something wrong, just how it goes.
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Old November 17, 2013, 09:11 PM   #21
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Quote:
It also can wear on you as you get older, I seem to watch more than shoot and am happy doing that.
I know what you mean Guv.

For the last 5-6yrs, there has been many times I'll go out and sit in my stand all day long and watch deer all around me. Never lifting my choice of hunting tool. Just watching and enjoying natures beauty.
Too, I know when the trigger is pulled, the work begins. Guess I got lazier the older I got as well.

At the end of the day when I walk in the house, mama usually says, "you didn't see anything all day?"
My reply used to be " yea I saw plenty, just didn't feel like shooting anything."
Now I just reply "old Indian can't sneak up on em like he used to".

I always take a fat doe or two for the freezer, the rest of the time is spent hunting a buck I've previously scouted out. I hunt him hard and will let all lessor bucks walk.

I say all the above to say this... these deer I enjoy watching today playing around my stand and the bucks I let walk today would be targets 15-20 yrs ago and they would not walk.
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Old November 18, 2013, 11:30 AM   #22
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I think maybe you had unrealistic expectations if you thought certain weapons would make him drop like a rock, and die instantly. He obviously didnt run far if you watched him expire.

"Knock down power" should be abolished from all hunting vocabulary. You made a pass through lung shot. The only thing higher velocity might have bought you is more bullet expansion. He bled out, just like a bow shot. An arrow is not measured in "knock down" ability. A 12 guage slug might have sped up the process slightly by making a bigger wound. A .357 may have slowed it by making a smaller hole. The only time you get an shock benefit is if you hit havy bone and the animal absorbes more of the energy.

I'm not a big .357 fan for deer, simply because many people do not respect its limitations. They do not penetrate heavy bone well. I took a lot of deer with my Ruger Redhawk .44. The first deer I took I used the old semi-jacketed hollow point. It got the deer, didn't exit but bled heavily, and ran 40 yards before dying. What remained of the 240gr bullet weighed 148gr so I switched to cast SWC after that, always got an exit wound, thankfully, but often had to track them beyond 50 yads. Todays XTP bullets are a huge hunting improvement of the old semi Jacketed HPs. The right bullet is the key to handgunning.

When the .454 Casull was legalized in Ohio it immediately became my first choice. The 240gr XTP-MAG has super expansion, always exits, and I only had to track one - a pass through double lung that did not hit any solid bone.

Its never easy watching a deer expire, not should it be. It shows a respect and love for the animal you have taken. Its human. Anyone who enjoys watching an animal expire is sick and should seek help. I have no problem firing a second shot into a downed animal for humanity purposes.

Most in Ohio use a 12 gauge slug. My .454 is every bit as effective or more so in my opinion other than the 12 guage is not as easily deflected by twigs and briars. Your .44 is not a 12 guagem but should perform well when loaded with the right bullet. Its a big for a pistol, but you cannot expect rifle performance from it.
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Old November 18, 2013, 11:46 AM   #23
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Congrats on a nice deer. A 12 ga slug would of done the same thing. We took 4 deer this last week all were double lung shots from 11 to 77 yards only one dropped 3 ran from 40 to 100 yards before expiring. The one that dropped hit shoulder blades and lungs. I have been hunting deer with slugs since the 70's and they do not have knock down power. I am even less impressed with the new sabot slugs as they put a smaller hole in the deer. I also hunt a Rifle zone and it is still not a certain thing that a deer drops from double lung or heart shot regardless of weapon. Main difference is that high powered rifle cause much more damage from hydrostatic shock due to velocity and cause much more tissue damage and meat loss. IT's unfortunate to watch the death struggle but it is part of hunting the only thing you could of done was done a follow up shot to the nervous system IE spine or head.


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Old November 18, 2013, 12:22 PM   #24
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I use to hunt primarily with a Ruger SBH 44 mag with a 10 inch bull barrel.
I never was impressed with the performance of hollow point rounds.
I like my prey to hit the ground dead with no follow up shot needed.
Once I started loading 300 grain lead round noise bullets and pushed them at 1200 fps the deer dropped like hit with a howitzer.
This round got great penetration and turned lungs and heart into jello
With the 10 inch barrel, shots out to 50 yards were very effective.
Out past 50 yards the bullet dropped like a stone.
Now any hunter should know any lung or heart shot there will be a few moments until the animal expires; they basically suffocate from a lack of oxygen or blood flow.
I will caution that the use of 300 + grain bullets in a 44 mag takes a lot of testing to dial the round in.
It is very easy to compress the load WAY past safe specs.
Just to add: white tail deer here in central Texas are pretty small unlike other parts of the country.
I'd would not have an issue with this round on larger deer but may push the round a little harder.
Ruger revolvers have proven to me to be the toughest built.
Like a Timex watch "will take a licking and keep on ticking"
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Old November 18, 2013, 03:09 PM   #25
SteelChickenShooter
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You know, you guys seem to be well experienced hunters with good heads on your shoulders. The buck went about 6 feet. No tracking, no running away. A number of posts must have been right when I guess I just didn't know what to expect. Sounds like the 44 Mag did it's job in all the right ways and I'm just too much of a novice to realize it. This was my very first deer. I do have Hornady 240gr JHP/XTP rounds and will load up using those. Maybe I'll get the chance to try one on a nice doe.
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