View Full Version : Whitetail expectations...with a handgun?

February 26, 2008, 09:22 PM
I intend to hunt whitetails this fall with a revolver.
Weapon choices: Desert Eagle in .357 Mag., 6" barrel and 158gr. JHP.
Or a Ruger Bisley in 45 Colt, 7 1/2" barrel and a 225gr. cast semi-wadcutter.

Ofcourse, shot placement is everything and so is taking shots within the weapon's killing range. There's a miriad of other variables, but my question is in general.

What's the "standard" distance a whitetail will run before dropping dead, after a double lung shot?

Your opinions and experiences are appreciated.
Thank you, Bowhunter57

February 26, 2008, 09:29 PM
....What's the "standard" distance a whitetail will run before dropping dead, after a double lung shot?

A lot of unknowns and variables here....probably have taken 75-80 deer over the years, my experience has been about 20-50 yards.

February 26, 2008, 10:09 PM
Killed 2 deer with handguns this season. Double lunged one with .44 mag, he went about 10 yards, stumbled around a bit and fell over dead. Shot a doe with my .41 mag. Hit her a bit high and she fell right there (spine). Put another one in her head to finish her.

The only general rule is that there is no general rule. Too many variables.

February 27, 2008, 12:41 AM
the range that a cylinder load stays grouped inside a paper plate.

Consider locating a pistol metallic silhouette shoot for better practice.
Good Luck and practice,practice, practice!!!

February 27, 2008, 07:34 AM
A good double lung with a .357 will produce rapid results!;)

Art Eatman
February 27, 2008, 10:26 AM
My view about what to use would be whichever gun you're best with for hitting targets. Range limitation to shoot? Whatever distance is pretty much the limit for reliably hitting the end of a beer can. That's offhand or from a hasty rest in the field, not from sandbags and such.

The little part of Bambi as the target? Prefereably a cross-body shot into the heart/lung area, IMO.

How much travel after the shot? Somewhere between DRT (zero) and Way Too Far. The latter will occur if it's late in the day and the weather is turning to garbage; thank Murphy. :D

February 27, 2008, 10:37 AM
The "standard distance" is from 10 to 150 yards. There are lots of variables. Generally speaking they'll run a lot more when shot double lungs by a SWC. A good double lung with a 357 and a quality JHP will likely drop a deer a lot quicker than a SWC.

May 22, 2008, 02:12 PM
I have been practicing a lot with my Ruger 41 mag Blackhawk with 4x scope.

I think 50 yards is as far as I will go. If I can tighten up my groups, 75 yards.

I am still experimenting with loads, but settled on the 210gr Remington JSP.

May 24, 2008, 11:33 PM
Are semi-autos legal to use for deer where you'll be hunting?

August 3, 2008, 08:22 AM
Are semi-autos legal to use for deer where you'll be hunting?
Yes, they're legal. In Ohio there's no stipulation on action types. Barrel length has to be 5" or longer, straight walled cartridges ONLY and .357 caliber or larger.

Sorry it took so long to reply. :rolleyes:

Good hunting, Bowhunter57

August 3, 2008, 10:06 AM
First I would leave the HP bullets at home. A deer is not a human. Take solids of some kind-158 gr or larger with the 357. The 45 would probably be a better choice since you have the Ruger.

I would keep my shots under 50-60 yds and preferably no more than 35 yds. Practice shooting from improvised rests or off hand with 6" paper plates. That distance where you keep your shots on the plate should be your guide.

Deer often run further with solid hits in the heart-lung area until they bleed out. If you break shoulders and puncture the lungs they go down faster and stay there. There is no way to guess the distance that a deer will run. So you do the best you can and deal with tracking the wounded animal if runs out of eye sight or a fair distance where you won't be able to find a blood trail unless you start at the begining and work your way along.

August 4, 2008, 09:20 PM
Assuming ( I know: The mother of all foul ups) you can shoot a hard kicking handgun reasonably well, your Bisley will take .45LC loads that would make the .44 magnum blush. The 200gr Gold Dot at 1100 makes for great kills with a double lung shot. If you are going to take a quartering-through-the-bones shot at a big buck (not reccomended), try a 300 grain Hard Cast at maximum allowable pressures.

From any given position, your max range is as far as you can keep your shots (all of 'em) on an 8 inch paper plate, or about 100 yards, whichever is closer. 50 yards for the .357.

Art Eatman
August 4, 2008, 09:35 PM
Ross Seyfried has written fairly extensively about his own hunting with a handgun. He's always suggested a heavy bullet with a large meplat. In a .45 Colt, I'd venture he'd suggest a 250-grain for deer. But, just guessing.

You can email in to "Shooting Times" for commentary from Sheriff Jim Wilson. Jim has hunted extensively with handguns.

August 4, 2008, 09:47 PM
shot a deer with my 500 S&W 2years ago, never did find it

August 4, 2008, 10:50 PM
Either one will do the job quite well. Pick the one you shoot the best, laod it up, and go hunting.

August 5, 2008, 11:41 AM
shot a deer with my 500 S&W 2years ago, never did find it

What the heck did this add to the thead????:mad:

Bowhunter - you know how to blood trail, I am sure you will make an ethical shot, don't worry about how far it goes after a fatal hit.

August 5, 2008, 07:48 PM
Hey Art; my dads third wife was a Murphy. Puhlease! I've shot 3 deer with a revolver; one ran like a rabbit and I never found him. I hit him broadside with a 240 JHP Nosler and 24.0 of 296. He humped up and out and it snowed the next day. I looked for 3 days and gave up. The other 2 went down wobbling after 30 yards or so. How you hit them and bullet performance are very important. I quit using HPs and went to hardcast SWCs and JSPs in the 44 after losing that buck; he was a dandy too. Given the 2 choices you listed, I'd use the .45 and a 250 grain bullet to maximize penetration and whap.

August 8, 2008, 05:34 PM
I've dumped two mule deer, adult does, with the .44 Spl/200gr gold dot. It is only about an 80fps load. Both were sub 35yd shots. One in the shoulder, one behind the shoulder. Both dropped dead.:D:D

I've shot one deer, an adult WT doe, with a 124gr +P 9mm HP. I popped her in the shoulders from broadside at about 20 feet as she ran past, fleeing from the guy I was guiding. She went right down, but as I was right on top of her in a flash, I did shoot her once in the neck. Note: I am not advocating deer hunting with the 9mm. I was going to abstain from hunting that day, and just guide my friend. Deer + gun + yours truely = meat.:D

I've shot one WT buck with a .44 mag 240gr Black Talon. It broke the back 3 ribs, quartered through the boilerworks and far side shoulder, comming to rest under the hide. The permanent wound channel was reminicent of a small rifle like my .257 Roberts, but with less stretch cavity & bloodshot. This deer ran 75 yards before piling up.:)

In my mis-guided youth, I used my "Emergency Bear Loads", a non-expanding 270gr JFP .44 mag +P (Chronographed at 1700 fps). I shot one WT doe with it. I punched one shoulder, and persumably both lungs at about 40 yards. The blood trail petered out a half-mile later. I found it 2 days later, half eaten. The wound was like an ice pick.:(

I've put several gutshot deer down (guiding other hunters) with body shots from the .38Spl (3), .357 (1), 9mm (1), .44 spl(2), .44 cap and ball (1), and a full magazine of .22 LR. All were very close (25 feet or less), and most got an additional round behind th ear, as they were still breathing. Being Previously hit though, these are far from relevant.