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Old January 25, 2011, 09:55 PM   #1
Doodlebugger45
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A reminder - If you use a revolver as a backup when hunting

I hadn't thought about this until my business partner told me this story about elk hunting this fall. Good to keep in mind.

My buddy went elk hunting this fall with his brother-in-law on my buddy's ranch near here. Like a lot of hunters, the brother-in-law carried a revolver in addition to his rifle. Some guys do that in case they need a follow-up kill shot when they walk up to their elk.

So, brother-in-law makes a pretty good shot on a good bull elk with his .270 Win. The elk goes down after about 5 steps. My buddy and brother-in-law walk up to the elk about 100 yards away and the elk is still kicking. Brother-in-law happens to be carrying a .357 or a .38 (I don't remember which) in a holster on his belt. As they walk up to the elk, he pulls out his pistol, intending to use it for a kill shot behind the head rather than his .270. My buddy hollers at him "NOOOO!!!" and barely stops him from shooting. He tells brother-in-law to use the rifle or his knife instead. BIL shoots the elk with his rifle as instructed.

Before the BIL could even ask why he was so insistent on doing it that way, well from out of the trees walks the game warden who had seen the whole episode. Game warden was grinning and said "yep, that was close there, I almost had you". The thing is that a .357 is not legal for hunting big game here. For handguns the legal minimum is a cartridge that fires a bullet at least .35" in diameter AND has an energy of at least 500 ft lb AT 100 YDS.

Yeah, it's a silly rule. But yep, the game warden was entirely ready to give him a stiff fine for dispatching the elk with an illegal firearm. It pays to think about those things.
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Old January 25, 2011, 10:16 PM   #2
jmortimer
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I think a "heavy" .357 would fit the description. A 6" barrel GP 100 with the Buffalo Bore hard cast 180 grain LFN will be over 500 ft lbs at 100 yards.

Last edited by jmortimer; January 25, 2011 at 10:23 PM.
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Old January 25, 2011, 10:34 PM   #3
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Might meet all your calculations for xxx number of foot pounds--BUT what does the rule book say?? That is what the possum sheriff will go by.
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Old January 25, 2011, 10:49 PM   #4
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To nitpick (while explaining to the judge): "The thing is that a .357 is not legal for hunting big game here."

He wasn't hunting with a .357. He was hunting with a .270 rifle. With that shot, the hunt was over. The pistol shot would merely have been a coup de grace to end the misery of an already-hunted animal.

But never argue with the game warden...

Or carry a .44 Maggie with a light load as the first one up...
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Old January 26, 2011, 01:43 AM   #5
Doodlebugger45
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I would have to re-read the regulations again to get the precise language they use. There is something about the cartridge having to meet those requirements "as generally used" or something ridiculously vague. Meaning that no matter what wonderful load you are actually using, the intent is that a .357 mag is not legal. It sounded like they were specifically writing the regs at the time to make it OK for a .357 maximum but not a magnum. I'm pretty familiar with the game wardens of this state and they are extremely competent and are usually sticklers for knowing the exact legalities. It appears that the game warden was very confident he would make the citation stick no matter what argument you used.

By no means is this post meant to argue against the G&F agents. They have done a great job in reversing a serious poaching problem we had for a long time lasting into the 70s at least. But they will nail you for any infraction and they will spot any infraction pretty quick. I think I would rather try to outsmart the FBI than to fool a game warden around here.
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Old January 26, 2011, 01:58 AM   #6
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Georgia used to have all those sorts of regs as well. Certain caliber, certain ft lbs, etc., it was confusing and you could always say you had handloaded marginal calibers to the standard, confusing things even more.

Sometime during the dozen or so years I lived out of state, common sense somehow prevailed, and now any centerfire cartridge is legal, rifle or pistol for big game hunting.

For those keeping score at home, yes; technically that makes .25acp perfectly legal to hunt with, I suppose the DNR expects us to use a little common sense...

In the OP's situation, I'd take my ticket if I did put down the Elk with the pistol, but I'd darn sure go before the judge and argue the same point Art Eatman made.
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Old January 26, 2011, 06:22 AM   #7
Daryl
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I suppose we're blessed here in Az. The law just says "centerfire handgun" under legal firearms for big game. Guess the G&F Dept expects hunters to have common sense?

But the warning is well taken. About 15 years ago I was hunting in another state and had an antelope buck down. I was considering mounting the animal, and antelope hair is fragile, so I simply finished it with a shot from a .40 S&W. It did the trick nicely, and I cleaned up the animal and headed home the next day.

It wasn't until several years later that I learned that a .40 S&W isn't legal for hunting big game in that state...or, more specifically, that it includes finishing off an animal.

So, when hunting other states (as well as my own), I now usually carry a heavy loaded SA Ruger in .45 Colt. With a 300 gr bullet giving 1200+ ft/lbs of muzzle energy, it's legal anywhere I hunt.
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Old January 26, 2011, 08:04 AM   #8
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He wasn't hunting with a .357. He was hunting with a .270 rifle. With that shot, the hunt was over. The pistol shot would merely have been a coup de grace to end the misery of an already-hunted animal.
I tried that line of reasoning with a Wyoming game warden and was told that even if the coup de grace was an act of mercy, that by the letter of the law it was illegal.

I was also told that while some individual game wardens might not enforce that law some do and that if I were caught in the act I could certainly be charged accordingly.

I left my .357 at home.
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Old January 26, 2011, 08:50 AM   #9
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So hunting with a knife is legal?

Going by the same rules had he finished off with the knife would he been accused of hunting with a knife?

Do we need to have the animal declared legally dead before we start to field dress it?

Doug
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Old January 26, 2011, 10:28 AM   #10
Art Eatman
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Like I said, don't argue with the game warden. He's going to enforce the law as he understands it, whether he's right or wrong; whether or not it makes sense.
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Old January 26, 2011, 10:37 AM   #11
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Heh

Hmm... it's a good point. Is it legal to hunt with a knife? I don't know. I do know they passed a law here several years ago that finally made it legal to hunt antelope with an atlatl. I had no idea what an atlatl was until that law. Turns out it is kind of a small spear thingy that you throw using another stick of some kind. What a relief it was to be able to carry my trusty ole atlatl when hunting antelope.

For the most part I am proud of the laws in my state, but sometimes I have to shake my head in wonder.
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Old January 26, 2011, 11:01 AM   #12
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sounds like that Game Warden is a flat-out jerk. If he was in a position to see the whole thing, he could have just warned the hunters to not use the pistol. Instead, he was out to play a game of "Gotcha", so he could bag a nice ticket and a fine. I thought law enforcement officials were to "protect and serve", not "drag and bag"...
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Old January 26, 2011, 11:43 AM   #13
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I never got the reasoning behind using a handgun to finish off a deer when you're carrying a perfectly good rifle.
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Old January 26, 2011, 12:25 PM   #14
Ronbert
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Another datapoint that confirms my view that hunting is too dangerous to one's legal welfare to engage in it.

I'm fine with the killing and eating of game.
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Old January 26, 2011, 12:28 PM   #15
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I never got the reasoning behind using a handgun to finish off a deer when you're carrying a perfectly good rifle.
Unless you are going for a headshot, a handgun is going to mess up less meat.
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Old January 26, 2011, 12:29 PM   #16
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Another datapoint that confirms my view that hunting is too dangerous to one's legal welfare to engage in it.

Uh...


What?
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Old January 26, 2011, 01:11 PM   #17
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When I took Hunter Safety course many years ago I left completely convinced that behind every bush is a game warden waiting to bust you for something that makes no sense and which is buried in enormously complex regulations.

In this case, the game warden was really there!

I prefer to remain known as a law-abiding citizen and not risk that record by hunting.

Fishing doesn't seem to be beset by such a huge burden.

Last edited by Ronbert; January 26, 2011 at 01:22 PM.
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Old January 26, 2011, 01:43 PM   #18
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A lot of game wardens are against hunting and/or don't like hunters. We can't expect them to 'understand'.

Art's right, comply and don't argue...would you go off on a state trooper?

Probably not - game wardens are cops, plain and simple.

One of the guys I hunt with shot a bull elk by mistake during cow season. As we meekly surveyed the scene, figuring we were in big trouble (well, he was, I didn't shoot it), we pulled out the regs. The 'bull' had two horns that were 6 or 8 inches long (can't remember exactly) which, when you figure brown terrain, brown horns, elk running at full bore, it's no wonder he didn't see them, and regs said it was legal to take a bull with horns that length during the anterless season. We lucked out, but if those horns had been a couple inches longer, I'm not sure if a warden would have been too understanding, or sympathetic. We went in and reported it anyway, but were lucky those boogers were short.
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Old January 26, 2011, 02:19 PM   #19
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That game warden obviously lacked any sense or judgement. That's the kind that gives game wardens a bad name.
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Old January 26, 2011, 03:17 PM   #20
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Nearly every big game animal I have ever taken was witnessed by a Game Warden. In some states, they have observation spots that make it seem like there is a warden behind every bush. Know the regs, don't do anything stupid, and there's nothing to worry about.


And, yes - Every state I hunt in considers a weapon used to dispatch a wounded animal the same as "hunting" with that weapon. If it's not a legal weapon, you shouldn't use it.
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Old January 26, 2011, 03:23 PM   #21
ELarsen
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.270 coup de grace didn't ruin any meat

On my first hunt with my brand new Ruger (.270 win) going after antelope in Wy I downed a buck and found it still alive as I approached. Didn't have a hand gun to finish it off, so I used my rifle.

After a few seconds wondering what shot would do the least damage to the meat, I shot it between the shoulder blades, exit hole in sternum. Might have ruined some stew meat around the back bone, but that was it.

.270 hole going in, .270 hole going out.

Regarding mandated power of handguns, IL requires a published minimum of 500ft/lbs at the muzzle. Doesn't matter what your hand load is. Needs to have a published record. There are caliber restrictions, but that is the energy requirement that appears far less than mentioned above for another state.
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Old January 26, 2011, 04:22 PM   #22
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Quote:
Like a lot of hunters, the brother-in-law carried a revolver in addition to his rifle. Some guys do that in case they need a follow-up kill shot when they walk up to their elk.
That is a ridiculous statement, IMO. There is no reason to carry a handgun, you are already armed with a rifle, which, BTW, is more powerful than the handgun anyway. And in some states, merely being in the field hunting with a weapon that is not legal for taking game animals would get you fined or arrested.
Quote:
A lot of game wardens are against hunting and/or don't like hunters. We can't expect them to 'understand'.
Am I the only one who finds this argument ridiculous? "Yeah, I break the law, but that Law Enforcement Officer doesn't understand me." That is akin to saying "That policeman doesn't understand my need to break into someone's house to take their stuff". No, he is not there to be your buddy, he is a law enforcement officer, and as such he is enforcing the law.
Quote:
One of the guys I hunt with shot a bull elk by mistake during cow season.
That's a hell of a mistake. Din't he notice them pointy thingies pokin' outa the elk's head??? Failure to follow the law is called a crime, in this case it is called "poaching" or "illegal taking of game", and your friend was cited and fined for committing a crime. Sometimes things happen, but that is way out there.
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They have done a great job in reversing a serious poaching problem we had for a long time
That's their job, and they do it whether you like it or not. If there weren't any poachers (or if everyone read and followed the game regulations), there would be no need for game wardens. So, to end my rant, read the regs!
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Old January 26, 2011, 05:08 PM   #23
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A lot of game wardens are against hunting and/or don't like hunters. We can't expect them to 'understand'.

Am I the only one who finds this argument ridiculous?
I read it and got a bellyfull that is one funny statement. Every warden I know hunts and fishes. They dont like law breakers, get checked and be OK they will even talk to you
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Old January 26, 2011, 05:19 PM   #24
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I never got the reasoning behind using a handgun to finish off a deer when you're carrying a perfectly good rifle.
Ever shoot a deer "behind the ear" at contact distance with a big rifle? The game and parks even draws a picture of where to shoot a downed animal - base of the skull ...... I shot a doe at the base of the skull (from behind) with a .243 when I was 16 ...... bad decision: skull pretty much exploded and I was wearing blood and brains the rest of the afternoon........
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Old January 26, 2011, 07:15 PM   #25
Tomas
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Hey Scorch, good name, geez, read the whole post, the horns were so short, the bull elk was a LEGAL antlerless elk. No poachers in my group. It wasn't a cow season, per se, it was an 'anterless' season. Idaho has those. Still, you are right in that it was NEARLY, a hell of a mistake. I think he'll be a bit more careful now after that close call. 'fog of war'
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