View Full Version : What is the effective range of buckshot for west texas whitetails?

November 16, 2000, 12:31 PM
I wanted to get some more experienced views on this.

On my last hunting trip the deer were not moving at all, so I left the blind and wandered around the game trails to see what I could scare up. I jumped about 4 deer throughout the morning but never had a shot I felt confident enough about to take. One doe in particular jumped up agout 20 yds from me and ran at an angle away from me. I had a quartering away shot at the running deer, but did not want to try a shot with my .243.

My question is, in a similar situation, could a 12 ga 3in magnum load in OOObk or OObk be effective on running deer? Also what is the maximum effective range for buck shot?

Thanks for the input! I am glad I finally found this site.

November 16, 2000, 04:46 PM
I have no experience with Buckshot, but I know that 20 yards is effective range.

Al Thompson
November 16, 2000, 07:02 PM
Hi Stephen,

Here in South Carolina, buckshot is still used on deer drives. One club I was in had deer drives. I have both killed deer (a big one is 130 field dressed) and cleaned a bunch that were shot with buckshot.

Here are my conclusions.

The size of the shot needs to be # 1 or larger. ( #1, 00 or 000)

Check your pattern. When the specific load will not stay in a 12 inch by 12 inch group, you have hit your maximum range. Test each load.

Check your point of impact. A plain bead sight can work, but it's difficult. The inclination is to raise your head off the stock and throw your shot high. I strongly suggest some sort of rear sight - the inexpensive clamp ons work OK.

Do not believe what others say. Test your gun, your loads and determine what works. I have had some unpleasant encounters with folks who have the most outrageous ideas about buckshot.

Try to remember that your really shooting the deer with a small number of .32 pistol bullets flying in a slightly diverging formation.

Good luck!


November 16, 2000, 08:54 PM
About 40 Yards.

Use the larger pellets 0 Buck minimum.

A rule of thumb is that it is really big bird shot. So if you can't drop a Pheasant at a range buckshot won't reliably drop a deer either.

Really though 40 yards is about right. ;)

November 17, 2000, 10:09 AM
Thanks for the input, I am still debating on whether or not to try buckshot hunting. Seems like the shot could really tear up a lot of otherwise good meat.

I lost a nice buck when I was 17 and really do not want to experience that again. I think wounding and losing a deer is one of the worst things I could do as a hunter.

I will probably wait until I get a good clear standing shot so I can make a clean kill with my .243. I know where it shoots.

Hopefully I will have a good "true" story in a couple of weeks.

November 17, 2000, 10:15 AM
I'm not a fan of either shooting at running deer or of buckshot. First, it's hard to make any shot on a running deer, let alone a humane one. Second, it's awfully hard to be aware of what's beyond your target when you are sweeping your muzzle to follow the deer.

Regarding range, yes '00 should be limited to 40 yards or less, but you'll have to pattern your shotgun. Personally, I use slugs when deer hunting with a shotgun.


Art Eatman
November 18, 2000, 12:57 PM
I'll freely admit that I'd rather be seated with a brace, and shooting at a nice, contented happy deer who's just standing and gawking. Don't I wish!

Where I hunt, walking is about the only way to find Ol' Bucky. Most of the time, he's already shifting into overdrive when the chance for a shot comes up--somewhere between 20 and 200 yards. Sooo...

You'll either learn about shooting at a spot well in front, or you'll go hungry. You also have to fight a tendency to shoot high.

I watched my uncle shoot a buck in mid-jump over a fence, at some 150 yards. I've seen my father call the white spot, offhand, at over 200 yards. Others have spoken of their hitting running deer, one shot kills, at over 300 yards. My uncle commented to me, "When I was your age, if something jumped up inside of 300 yards, I owned it." He was talking about using a Springfield military rifle...

So, when you grow up around that sort of thing, you take it for granted that you're supposed to be able to hit running targets.

So now you know why the Lord invented rabbit hunting. It's practice for "the real thing".

:), Art

November 18, 2000, 05:19 PM
I don't think shooting at running deer is inhuman atoll. If you know your capabuilities, and don't want to risk a shot you're unsure of, don't shoot. But there are many people, like Art mentioned, who don't even hesitate to take a shot that, to them, may be an easy one.
First deer I ever saw my dad shoot was a tall, wide, 3pt muledeer. We came over a ridge, and he immidiately came busting out of some brush, and was headed for the horizen, and fast. My dad (carrying his .270) pulled up, and just as the deer took his last jump on the rim of the horizen his gun went off. The last thing we saw was his back legs kick strait up toward the sky, and he dropped out of sight. My dad turned to us, smiled and said "hope he din't break his horns, cuz he hit HARD!" The bulletcaught him in the ribs, and he was kinda headed angled away and traveled up through the neck. We skined all the way to the head and didn't find an exit. He was bleading alot out of his mought, and was in a large pool of blood. The shot was at about 100yrds, running fast. I didn't even have time to get my gun off my shoulder, I was soo amazed at what happened. I guess it depends on experience though. Today my gun is unslung like greazed lightning:D, but I dunno if I could get off a shot that quick. That takes years of practice.
PS. Back in the day (like our grandparents, or maybe some of your parents, or even some of you, who lived through the depression,) any shot was a good shot, because if you didn't connect, you didn't eat. My grandma used to tell us about "shooting red-tail hawks." I guess when you're hungry, anything goes.

Nevada Fitch
November 18, 2000, 08:54 PM
Well, I would certainly prefer a standing or walking shot any time to running shot, but there has been several years when if I hadn't taken a running shot I would not have taken a deer that year. one year I shot 3 every one running.I don't have much use for buckshot though, and I don't think a person should shoot at running game with a rifle smaller than a 270 and I much prefer something bigger like my 350Rem Mag or even my 375.I have also kiled some deer with the bigbores like the 444Marlin.If you shoot at running game much you will make some bad hits from time to time,and some people will say different,but bigger guns are better when shots are less that perfect.This is not my attitude about it anymore but when I was growing up most people I knew believed that if there is lead in the air there is hope.However that kind of thinking is not the attitude to have these days.But I must admitt Whether or not I will take a running shot or not will depend or the state of my blood presure at the time.