View Full Version : sidearm for deer hunting

June 3, 2001, 10:54 PM
This year, I'll be hunting with a muzzleloader (in the regular season as well as the special muzzleloader season), and I'm thinking about carrying a sidearm (during the regular season, when it's legal) for follow-up shots. I'm wondering what people have found adequate for backup.

Some background:

1) In 9 years of deer hunting using modern arms, I've never needed a second shot,though I've sometimes sent one, just to be quick. I've only had to track a shot animal once, and that was only 50 yards (it was actually a nice lung shot, but it disappeared into a thicket and fell down.. couldn't find it for an hour or two).

2) Wisconsin law recently changed from "magnum" handgun cartridges to now allowing any centerfire handgun over .22 cal (so 9mm, 40, etc are all allowed [though not advised]).

Anyway, my options for backup *might* be (depending on which friends/relatives join us): a makarov, a 9mm glock, a 40S&W glock, a 9mm hi-power clone, a .45 colt, and a 41 magnum revolver.

The 41 will probably be used by another hunter, so won't be available for me.

anyway, the *obvious* answer is "carry the most powerful thing available," so don't tell me that. However, I'm wondering if you "traditional" hunters ever carry sidearms, and if so, what you have found to be adequate. Under what situations have you used them?

Since I'm shooting muzzleloader, I'm keeping shots under 50 or 75 yards (which is usually true in the woods anyway).

June 3, 2001, 11:13 PM
Last year I carred my Ruger P89 9mm in a shoulder rig. I carried it mainly for piece of mind around camp etc. I shot a real nice mule deer with my '06, walked up to it and it ran. I had already put all my gear down and had my knife in my hand. I drew my nine and took a running shot at about 20 yards which immediatly dropped the deer in it's tracks. I was using a 147 grain Golden Sabre. Since then, I bought a Ruger GP-100 4" Stainless with this very purpose in mind. I own many handguns but each one had some drawback in my mind. The 4" .357 seems perfect to me.

June 3, 2001, 11:38 PM
From age 12 to 20 I carried an H&R 9 shot 22 revolver. From 20 to 32 a S&W Model 28 in .357 and since a 226 or G26. I once shot a Mulie point blank in the head with heavy loaded .357 and it didn't go thru the skull. So, I had to shoot again and the .357 went thru the already fractured area and blew out under where the neck meets the jaw. I like the Glock because it is light & 9mm works for me. MWT

June 4, 2001, 10:44 AM
I frequently carry my Glock 30 as that is legal for deer here during firearms season (but .223 isn't-idiots!). Basically I just carry it as wierdo insurance while hunting on public land (I have a concealed permit).My usual deer hunting revolver is an unscoped Ruger Super Blackhawk. I drag that along during firearms season for when it rains and my scope fogs up. In the past I used to carry a Ruger MkII for annoying squirrels.

June 4, 2001, 02:11 PM
With the handguns you've listed (less the .41 magnum) I'd certainly opt for the .45 Colt. Federal sells 225 grain semi-wad cutter hollow point that should stop any deer.

Art Eatman
June 4, 2001, 03:36 PM
Seems to me the problem with a pistol for a followup shot is dat ol' debbil, "Time". Even a crippled deer can get out of your immediate view in a hurry--and you have to acquire the handgun, aim and shoot.

Granted that it's faster than reloading a muzzle loader, but I think my advice would be to be pickier about that first shot. A handgun for a coup de grace makes sense, and even the lowly .22 will suffice.


June 4, 2001, 07:59 PM
For the last 3 years, I've carried my Glock 23 with me most days when I was hunting. It's loaded with 155-grain XTP's that avg just over 1170 fps from the 4" bl.

This is NOT a legal (deer) "hunting" arm, but it is legal to carry with me while hunting. I used it last year to administer the coup de grace to a deer that refused to acknowledge it was dead (had been shot at least 30 min before with a .35 Rem, shoulder through ribs shot). I actually fired twice with the .40. The first shot was aimed at the neck. It must have been angled slightly, for the shot went just under the skin, and probably would have been survivable if Bambi hadn't already been hit. Penetration was aprox 18", with good expansion. On the second shot, the side of the neck was presented to me, and I slid a round in "the groove", just under the jaw. Instant quietus.

If what you carry is similar to a .45-70, though, you'll probably never, ever need it! :D (I named my 1895G "One-Timer" after my first shot with her on a deer last year.)

[Edited by Spectre on 06-05-2001 at 11:44 PM]

June 9, 2001, 09:47 AM
Well, since I hunt with a pistol, I carry a scoped Ruger Super Red Hawk .44 mag :)

Al Thompson
June 10, 2001, 07:46 AM
I do carry a HG while hunting. I had two criteria - the round must penetrate a deer's skull and it must be light. For me, the Glock m26 fits the bill.


June 11, 2001, 11:45 AM

I assume you are hunting deer in WI.

Remember that all handguns must be carried OPEN, not under your coat.(A warden went to great pains to point that out to me, when all I did was mention I might take a handgun along hunting.)

ALSO, the handgun you use must also be legal, I am specifically remembering a 5" barrel rule. I believe the rules were relaxed from 1000 ft/lbs @ muzzle to 500 ft/lbs @ muzzle to make a cartridge legal.

Also, .223, while large enough to shoot small deer at close range, was considered too close to minimal. (The DNR thought process as explained to me was that an inexperienced hunter, in the excitement, is too likely to make a poor shot using this caliber.

Same applies for Bear.

now, WE know you and I could use it correctly, but the DNR doesn't write the rules with TFL members in mind.)

I actually took my revolver along last year, but never loaded it in the field.

Oh, of the choices you gave, I also would pick the .45 colt! (Wish I had one) I have a .357



June 11, 2001, 12:29 PM
I usually carry a sidearm when deer hunting. Sometimes that is all I carry depending on the terrain. If I am only taking a sidearm and no long gun my choice is a Ruger Super Blackhawk in 44 Magnim. If I am just carrying it along with a rifle I usually carry a 45 colt or 357 magnum. In 40 years of deer hunting I have used a sidearm ONCE count em ONCE to "finish" a deer and this deer was not going anywhere. The "finish" was to prevent him suffering, he was anchored where he lay. A .357 behind the ear did that job just fine. If I were going to hunt with only a sidearm it would be a minimum of a hot loaded 45 Colt, 44 magnum or one of the "exotics" such as the 454 or something like that. Acutally my Ruger Super Blackhawk .44 Magnum with the LAB (long a**** barrel :D) (10 1/2 inch) works just fine. You could ask the deer but they are in the freezer :D.

June 11, 2001, 12:36 PM
Well, is the criteria 500 ft-lb? If so is that out of factory ammo? The 9mm, .40 and .45 are all less than 500. .357Sig, 10mm and all the magnums will work. There are a few other less popular cartridges that are also above 500. I've never heard of a barrel limitation on a hunting handgun. Does anyone have a link to WI DF&G or should I say DNR? MWT

June 11, 2001, 12:38 PM
No.. as of the current law, there is not minimum energy req't.

There is, however, a 5.5" minumum barrel length req't.

see http://www.dnr.state.wi.us/org/land/wildlife/hunt/deer/new.htm

Al Thompson
June 11, 2001, 08:27 PM
MWT, we have a barrel limitation here also. IIRC, it's reasonable, but as of a couple of years ago, it existed.

Lots of strange laws out there. FYI, one can use a crossbow during archery season here under certain conditions....


June 11, 2001, 09:55 PM
Ft-bl min in GA is over 500 @ 100 yards.

Compare this to AL (when I lived there, anyway!). In AL, any centerfire round can legally take deer.

June 11, 2001, 11:33 PM
For those that have finished a wounded critter with a less than legal handgun (Art's example in .22, etc.) - what have they said at the check station?

June 11, 2001, 11:35 PM
As other hunters have stated, go with the 45 Colt.

But a nice .357 Mag or a 44 mag Ruger Redhawk would be fine for handgun hunting.

Just bought one for Bambi this Fall.


Robert the41MagFan
June 12, 2001, 12:06 AM
I'm Ready!