View Full Version : New shooter/hunter Needs Advice

December 30, 2005, 11:59 AM
Hey, i've just started shooting and would love to get into deer hunting. I live in florida and would like to know about what distance should I be accurate at before I go on my first hunt? Also, I'm looking to buy my first rifle so any advice on that would be great too. I have heard a .22 is a good gun for the first one but what about the pros and cons of semi vs. bolt spring?

December 30, 2005, 12:43 PM
The best .22LR rifle for the money and the fun and the accuracy...

Happens to be the Ruger 10-22

The bolt vs. semi thing is unecessary for your purposes unless you are a competition shooter...

and the convenience of quick reloading keeps the pleasure factor up there... :)

December 30, 2005, 12:50 PM
You're probably going to hear a lot of advice on this thread.
So, I'll start it off with my 2cents worth.

If it's for deer, any cal. from the .243 on up is good. The most widely used are the .243, .270, .30-30, 30-06, 7mm, .300 mag. (forgive me folks if I left out your favorite)

If you stay with any of the above, you won't have any problem finding a wide array of ammunition at just about any Wally World, or gun shop.

As far as first rifle goes, mine was a remington 7400 30-06 semi-auto. I'm a small guy and I had no problem shooting it from the get go. Recoil wasn't as heavy as I expected and after about 20 shots I was familiar with how it kicked, and got used to the trigger well enough to put the bullet where it was aimed. I think if you're an avg. size individual, any of the above would make a great first rifle. Before going on a hunt, just remember to get a little range time with whatever you choose, and also dry fire it about 30 or 40 times (even more if you'd like) just to get used to the trigger pull.

I just bought the Mossberg ATR 100 in both .270 and 30-06 and both are excellent shooters and only $244.00 at wally world. (It's actually posted in this same group, just look for Mossberg ATR 100) And believe me when I say they are more than adequate for anything you'll ever encounter in the US.

Now about semi and bolt differences.

Like I said my first was the Remmy 7400 semi-auto 30-06. A great gun with a great scope. and at 100yds shoots about 1.5" groups.

My last 2 are the Mossberg ATR Bolt actions in 270 and 30-06. and they both shoot 1.5" groups and better at 100yds.

So to me I'm not proficient enough to notice any differences, if there are any.
But, whichever one you choose, semi or bolt, make sure you get at least 2" grps at 100yds from a rest. Just my opinion but I've always done it that way.

Then do several shots from the standing and kneeling positions to get used to shooting without a rest. This is usually the hardest part, but just dryfire in those positions a few times to get used to your breathing and wobble.

Anyway, good luck and enjoy. Hope this helped.

December 30, 2005, 01:36 PM
Thank you so much. Are you saying that the .22 would be too small for hunting deer? Also, i'm new at this. the 1.5" groups means that all your shots should be w/in 1.5 inches of the bullseye? Thank you so much your responses really helped. There's a gun show tomorrow so i'm trying to get all the information I can.

Wild Bill Bucks
December 30, 2005, 01:59 PM
Distance you need to be good at depends entirely on where you intend to hunt.
If you are going to be hunting in places that are wide open you will need a caliber with some range to it, if you hunt an area that is wooded and your range will be within 100 yards then you can get by with less caliber.

Good short range caliber (200 yds and in) would be a 30-30 or .308 and some larger calibers if you are hunting big game such wild hog or elk.

Good long range calibers ar(200 yards and out) would be 30.06 or .270 or a 7 MM Magnum

All of these will be easy to find ammunition for about anywhere you go.

Stay away from the exotic calibers that are hard to find ammunition for simply because you may want to go to another location to hunt some day and need ammo when you get there, just to find out nobody carries that caliber.

I personnaly would not deer hunt with any of the small calibers starting out unless you are a very good trailer, most new hunters have a tendency to get a LITTLE excited with the first deer or two, and the small fast calibers have a bad habit of punching holes to small to leak.
Don't get me wrong a 223 or .243 are great guns but I think the best for deer are in the 30 caliber group.
Most have plenty of speed and lots of thump and will generally leave holes big enough to follow.
I agree with most of what gator says, but I have purchased to much stuff at WALLY WORLD that did not work when I got it home for me to shop for anything to kill something with.
A fire arm is not a purchase to be made lightly so my advise is buy the best quality your wallet can stand and try to buy it from a dealer that won't sell you something that will blow your head off.

Most Automatics really don't kill any more game than bolt actions, they just take more ammunition to do it with.(Boy will I get some S**T over that statement) what I mean is as a hunter you have to learn that the best shot you get will be the first shot. With a bolt action rifle you will learn to get the best shot possible the first time, with an automatic it is to easy for beginners to think they have plenty of shells in the gun so you keep shooting till you hit or they get to far gone.
Most times in a hunting situation you are not going to get but the 1 shot anyway. Beleive me I have missed a lot of game and not one time has one stood still long enough for me to get another shot off, auto or not , without having to hurry a second shot.
Best way to find out the difference in an auto and a bolt action is to shoot them.
Every body has a different reason for their choices.
I took a bunch of 2"x10" bords out and stacked them facing me at 100 yards and shot them several times with a .308 and a 7mm Mag.
The difference in penetration is what sold me on the bolt actions.
I also think when you are starting out that the single shot rifles will make you a better hunter in the long run.
Hope some of this helps.

December 30, 2005, 02:03 PM
Ok, since you're new at this I'll go through some of the basics. First, .22 is a rimfire cartridge. This means that the primer is on the rim of the cartridge. There are different types of rimfire, and even different types of .22's. Here are some common .22 rimfire cartridges.http://img502.imageshack.us/img502/4269/rimfire4cg.th.jpg (http://img502.imageshack.us/my.php?image=rimfire4cg.jpg) Rimfire cartridges are typically low-powered but the ammunition is inexpensive. This makes them good for target practice and short distance varmint hunting(squirrel, rabbit, etc.) Rimfire is not nearly as reliable as the other type of cartridge called centerfire. Centerfire cartridges are higher powered and are better for long distance varmint hunting with smaller caliber cartridges (.223 Remington, .22-250, 6mm Remington) and big game hunting with the larger calibers (.30 caliber cartridges are usually used for deer sized game, but other calibers like: .270 winchester, 7mm Remington Magnum, 8mm Mauser, etc. are also popular). Caliber refers to the diameter of the bullet in inches (.30) or millimeters (7mm). In most states it is illegal to use rimfire cartridges for hunting big game.

erik the bold
December 30, 2005, 02:11 PM
Rimfire cartridges are illegal for deer in Florida:

Prohibitions: Rimfire cartridges for taking deer. See Prohibited Methods and Equipment for Taking Game (page 6) and Areas Closed to Hunting (page 6).

See hunting regulations here (http://myfwc.com/hunting/)

Good luck!

December 30, 2005, 02:26 PM
The 1.5" grps I referred to mean that the holes on the target of, lets say, a group of 3 to 5 shots, measures no more than 1.5" across. Or if you had a 2" circle piece of paper, it would cover all the shots on the target board. This is what I do, and it works out very well for me.

Also, The .22 caliber class of bullets, whether a 22lr, 22mag, 223. are really not that good of a choice for a deer rifle. Most people will agree with that, but then you'll have those that say

"grandad killed an 18pt buck in high wind at 750 yards with a head shot while running thru the thickets back in 19and37":eek: .

Killing a deer with a .22 can be done, I'm sure it has been done on several occasions., but it's not that practical, and in my opinion I wouldn't even think about it. And I'm a pretty good shot.

BTW what part of Florida are you located?

Wild Bill Bucks
December 30, 2005, 02:39 PM
Forgot to address your question about groups.

No matter what gun or caliber you decide to get you will have to make some shots with SEVERAL different types and manufacturers of ammuntion to find out what your gun likes to eat and I guarantee you it will like ONE particular brand and type better than it does everything else.
I re-load my own shell, which gives me the ability to customize my ammunition for a particular gun any way I want to.
When I am shooting ammo I have loaded for a particular gun, I will make adjustments in my loads until I get the gun to shoot little clover leafs at 100 yards. If after I have done all I can to the ammo and it still won't touch the same hole, I get rid of that rifle and start with another one. I know that sounds pretty picky, but that makes every rifle I own a tack driver.
Most factory made ammuntion will post groups of 1.5 " at 100 yards, but if you plan to do much long range hunting you will want to play with several different companies ammuntion and find the one that gives you the tightest
If you find an ammuntion that shoots better than all the others , be sure to buy all of THAT ammo you can afford, and try to make sure it is all from the same lot (# on end of box)
The next box you get may not shoot the same and there-fore you will spend a lot of time re sighting in every time you buy ammunition.
MOST factory ammo is made to shoot in hundreds of different guns so they have strict standards to go by so they will fit and shoot properly.
Factories that make ammuntion for sale do not have the ability to custom load rounds for a particular weapon.
I have owned weapons that would shoot Remington ammo just fine but would not shoot Fedral ammo worth a darn and vic-versa.
Also the twist rate of the barrel you buy will have a lot to do with what kind of bullet you shoot.
If you are going to be shooting bullets above a 165 grain you will want a twist rate a little faster than you will want if your shooting 165 grains and smaller.
A good reputable dealer can explain that to you when you purchase your gun.
If you get into shooting in a big way you will probably want to get interested in loading your own. Big calibers cost Big money to shoot and you can re-load your own for about a third of the price of factory loads and generally get better more accurate rounds.

December 30, 2005, 02:41 PM
A .22 LR is a great rifle for training and practice. But you can't use a .22 LR to hunt deer.

I'm not familiar with deer hunting in Florida. The terrain, size of deer, and the hunting laws may dictate what caliber you can use.

Here is a suggestion: hold off on buying a deer hunting rifle for right now. Take some time to talk to some of the other forum members from Florida about what kind of rifles they use. Then hook up with some hunters in Florida who hunt in the area in which you will be hunting; they will give you some good advice.

Bolt action vs. semi? I like the bolt for reliability and ease of cleaning. But that is a matter of personal taste. My first hunting rifle was a semi.

I took a bunch of 2"x10" bords out and stacked them facing me at 100 yards and shot them several times with a .308 and a 7mm Mag.
The difference in penetration is what sold me on the bolt actions.

I'm not sure what this means, and I don't intend to offend Wild Bill. However, the loss of velocity (if there even is a significant loss) caused by shooting from a semi will be irrelevant when you are shooting at deer.

Wild Bill Bucks
December 30, 2005, 03:18 PM
No offense taken Fremmer.

Just meant when I first started hunting I was impressed by how much further the bullet went through the wood with a bolt action than it did with the auto.
In hunting circustance it would't make a bit of difference to the deer.
Either way he won't be around to ask.

December 30, 2005, 04:52 PM
wow, hey guys, I really appreciate the advice. I didn't expect any of this at all.

Art Eatman
December 30, 2005, 09:14 PM

The deal with a .22 rifle is that almost any El Cheapo .22 will let you do a lot of practice for very little money. Doesn't matter whether it's a bolt action or a semi-auto, except that the bolt action forces more discipline so you don't just go bang, bang, bang for the fun of it with no learning process.

Practice from the offhand position, as well as leaning against a tree or sitting or kneeling. All stuff that you'd expect out in the boonies.

For a hunting rifle: It's hard to find a rifle that won't shoot accurately. The most important point is that the rifle fits your body comfortably. Go to some fairly large gun store and feel and fondle until you find something that fits. Then get one in one of the calibers metioned above.

I've hunted in the Appalachicola River bottom "jungle", and most shots are under 100 yards. I don't know if wild hogs are in your ideas, but I'd suggest a .308 over the .243 if that's the case. (I've killed a good many deer with a .243.)

I prefer scope sights. For the relatively close-in shots you're likely to take, any fixed-power 4x of reasonable quality will do just fine. Just avoid any super-cheap "deals". (I've killed deer to 350 yards with 3X.)

Nuff fer now,


December 31, 2005, 01:43 AM
the 1.5" groups means that all your shots should be w/in 1.5 inches of the bullseye?

No... That would be a 3 or 4 inch group... :eek:

A true 1-1/2" group must fit under a disc of that diameter... :)
the bolt action forces more discipline so you don't just go bang, bang, bang

I'd like to give the benefit of the doubt to the serious wannabe... to apply himself and some self-discipline to his training and practice...

Let us not presume he is a foul up before he proves it. :p :D

Art Eatman
December 31, 2005, 11:14 AM
Aw, Pointer, I'm just going by what folks say they do on a weekend with their AK clones, for hundreds of rounds--and my own behavior as a kid with my Rem 550. Oh, gee, wow, could I ever shoot faster than with my bolt-action Marlin! :D


john in jax
January 2, 2006, 01:26 PM
I'm in Jacksonville and have been hunting NE Florida for over 20 years. A $200, used .30-30 lever action will probably do everything you need it to do. But a +/-$450 bolt action in .308 or .30-06 will do a whole lot more.

Ammo for .308 or .30-06 is very common and realatively inexpensive. You can plink with cheap military surplus and there is a very large selection of hunting rounds to choose from for both calibers. You can varmit hunt with a light softpoint bullet in the afternoon and takedown 300lb hogs with a 180grn nosler partition bullet in the evening.

And if you happen to get an opportunity to hunt Elk or Moose in the northwest, you have a rifle - - that you are already comfortable and accurate with - - cabable of taking large game.

January 3, 2006, 12:57 AM

just about anywhere you hunt you'll find out a .22 is illegal to hunt deer with. makes a really good plinking rifle with or varmint rifle but thats it. hunting riflles are more preference than anything. most of the high power calibers are good for close in and longer range shooting. .270,30-06 , .308 are all good multi purpose rounds.my own is a .270 mossberg 100 atr. affordable rifle for a first time rifle.the accuracy of any rifle depends on the person behind the trigger.my mossberg has a 6x24 bsa contender scope and i have no problems at all hitting what i aim at

January 3, 2006, 01:10 AM
wild bill,

since when is the .308 a short range caliber? i have seen people shoot and shot rifles myself with both factory loads and custom loads in excess of 500 yards with rifles from .243 up to .300. depends on whos behind the trigger more than anything else.you can hand load all you want but maybe you should think before you act next time.and by the way,the .308 is the most popular long range sniper antisniper caliber in production right now.

January 3, 2006, 09:14 AM
good advice... I'll just be contrary on one point...

The best .22LR rifle for the money and the fun and the accuracy...

Make that the Marlin model 60 semi-auto .22 lr.



Wild Bill Bucks
January 3, 2006, 11:11 AM
Hey riflman,
Didn't mean to offend you, all I meant was to shoot flat at Hogs or deer a .308 is as good a short range weapon as any of them.
I realize that the shot depends mostly on who's taking it, but in southeastern Oklahoma a long shot is 200 yards.
Most of us don't take 500 yard shots when we are hunting, so we don't get a lot of practice at that range.
If given enough bench time you can shoot 1000 yards with a muzzle loader.

Sorry if I offended you, it was not my intention.

Wild Bill Bucks
January 3, 2006, 11:46 AM
Oops !

john in jax
January 4, 2006, 11:06 AM
I've got to chime in on the question of range with the .308. IMO the .308 is as good or better at 20 yards as it is at 200 yards. At the range, from a rest I consistantly shoot groups under 1 inch. In the woods from a rest I can probably do the same.

But where I hunt, in NE Florida, it is thick and my last kill was a wild hog taken with a head shot at 40 yards.

January 4, 2006, 02:05 PM
I use my semiauto rifle in .308 (M1a) for hunting in thick brush, for dangerous game. Bears and hogs.

Otherwise, it just goes to the range and goes "bang! bang!" with mil surplus ammo at 200-300 yard targets with iron sights. Lotsa fun.

I am considering puting a scope on it... I have the mount already but I really like the iron sights a lot. We'll see.

Definitely going to purchase a bolt rifle in .308 this year and get a wicked-accurate scope for it, and get it sighted in flat at 200 yards. I'll probably also get a .300winmag or .338 soon too. I'll sight that in flat at 250 or 300, depending on what that does to the 100-150 yard POI.

The .22LR is for coyotes, rabbits, doves, raccoons and other varmints. Be kind to your first deer and get something in .30 caliber.

If your terrain is mostly wooded with short shots, you can consider a semiauto rifle in .308 or .30-06, but that first shot will always be your best no matter what. Another good short-range gun is a lever action .30-30. A little slower cartridge than .308 or .30-06, so it isn't as effective out past about 200 yards.

If you're looking to shoot over 200 yards, get a good bolt action and the best scope you can afford. Go with .308 or .30-06 since they are extremely common, and have mil surplus ammo available for dirt cheap. Don't even buy commercial ammo until you have shot at least 200 rounds of surplus and/or can make a group of 5 bullet holes touch each other consistently at 100 yards. Have a gunsmith or knowledgeable friend "bore-sight" your scope for you, or you will burn a lot of ammo learning how to do it yourself.

January 4, 2006, 04:21 PM
Let's not forget about the shotguns. It gives you the option of upland game with it. A 12ga can easily take deer out to 150yds with a slug. I am not familiar with FL game laws, but in Ohio we have to have a safety course before you can get a license. It's only a one time deal, but for beginners is a wealth of knowledge. You should be able to get info in your state game laws pamphlet. They have them anywhere you can get a license up here.
As for how accurate you have to be, it depends on the ranges you shoot. If you can reliably keep all your shots on a paper plate you should be ok at that range. The next thing is to know where to aim for a decent kill. Just keep in mind the deer will never come in a text book way. So when you practice shooting, try some uncomfortable positions. I've had to shoot twisted to the right and left, shoot weak hand, etc..

January 4, 2006, 05:13 PM
hey, everyone thanks for the advice. Got one more question though. A couple people have said that the 30-06 ammo is relatively cheap and easy to find. How does this ammo compare to the .270 or .280?

Wild Bill Bucks
January 5, 2006, 11:36 AM
since your hooked up to e-net go to www.fort liberty.com
go down the menu till you get to Norma Ballistics / click on.
this chart will let you compare a bunch of calibers directly against each other
and lets you adjust your ranges to show your short range Zero.


Wild Bill Bucks
January 5, 2006, 04:08 PM
Sorry bout dat!
Gave you wrong info
Reach www.fortliberty.org
Down on search Type in Ballistics Software
Click on Ballistic Software
Down to Norma Ballistics Calculator

john in jax
January 6, 2006, 01:12 PM
As far as cost and availability, nothing beats stopping by your local sporting goods store(s) and/or WalMart to see what they have (variety) in stock and how much it runs. Here in Jax premium "hunting" rounds, for either caliber run about $25-$30 per box. But you can buy target ammo or military surplus FMJ .308 much less.

I like GA Arms. I've been shooting their ammo for over 20 years with no problems at all:

Federal rifle ammo web page:

Winchester rifle ammo web page:

January 7, 2006, 09:28 AM
.270 / .280 / 30-06

As far as killing power, with similar sized bullets, the deer won't really know the difference.

The trajectories of the .270 and .280 are a little flatter than the 30-06 and they give a little less recoil, but they'll all kill the same.

January 7, 2006, 09:49 AM
Well in all honhsty the .30-.06 would be cheaper the .270 being a litt more expensive and the .280 being very expensive the less common the caliber the more expensive the round and harder to find:D :D :D

January 8, 2006, 07:43 PM
My two cents worth on 1.5" group.
In my experienc for a 3 shot or a 30 shot group it is the measurement from center to center of the two holes that are the furtherest apart.

Rim fire not legal in any states that I know of for deer.

Get you a good 22 for plinking, squirrels, rabbits, possums and coons. For the deer hunting get you a good bolt action 30 caliber, it will do the job for you and less likely to give mechanical problems.

Come on up to Alabama with the rest of the Florida boys and do some real deer hunting.