Your thoughts on gun pick - deer & feral pig
Good afternoon all.
Instead of picking a gun and then asking what you think, I would appreciate the benefit of your expertise, advice and experience in advance of the pick.
First, my question and then my background to consider in answering.
- What would you recommend for deer and feral pig hunting?
This question is for next years' gun, so there is time to build and for some serious practice. After this season, I am going to retire my primary hunting rifle, a 1955 .270 Win M70 supergrade for a variety of reasons. I've used it for 30 years after it was given to my by a relative who bought it new, but on its 50th anniversary, it is time to go on the wall of honor and now it is time for a serious update.
I hunt primarily for control reasons on friends' ranches and wildlife sanctuaries, so I am shooting does almost exclusively with an occasional sub-optimal buck and just watching the better racks walk by (which is actually very enjoyable, but very rare in comparison). I anticipate this will continue to be my hunting pattern for a long time as the areas where I hunt have seriously out of whack doe to buck ratios. Also, feral pigs numbers are increasing rapidly in the central Texas Hill Country and along the coastal areas. Here in the Hill Country, there is not that much soil to start with and one pig can set off a serious erosion problem, so this is the reason I am focusing ever more on shooting feral pigs and am becoming more interested in longer range shooting to increase the number of available shots. I hunt by walking, stalking, sitting and waiting. I do no shooting from elevated stands as is otherwise common here. Up to now, I have self-imposed a limit of about 225 yards which I have seen as the functional limit of this gun with factory ammo to assure first shot kills, but know that with better equipment and practice I can extend this substantially and wish to do so.
I never shoot offhand, but on the other hand this hunting will be walking in the field without a table or benchrest. I like the looks of the bipods I am seeing, are there any which are practical for sitting or kneeling positions or is it always prone shooting? I am comfortable backpacking good loads long ways and would be fine carrying a rifle that is in the 15 - 25# range, but would not want to go much above that.
I consider myself an ok rifle shot, but certainly nothing special and nowhere near the level I see on this board, so I see lots of practice time in the future. I used to shoot skeet competitively 20+ years ago and in my best years brought home a few medals in class from national level tournaments and was very competitive on the local level. I reloaded extensively for shotgun, averaging 2,500 rounds a month, between my dad and myself. I did some rifle and pistol reloading in very small amounts just for the easy improvements in accuracy for my .270, but it was very, very small amounts. In fairness, comparing reloading shotgun rounds with rifle rounds is the difference between using a chainsaw and a scapel, so I would appreciate advice and references on that front as well. As my career took over and spare time became scarce, my shooting sports time fell away and I sold off all of the reloading equipment and stopped shooting altogether other than just the deer hunting as mentioned. Just recently I started shooting again for the sake of it and am enjoying it and so ready to get more serious again. While the rifle recommendation is primarily for hunting, I am interested in practicing on the longer ranges up to 1,000 yards/meters and would like to consider some local level competition if I can get back up to that level if it is feasible with the same gun (or hunting with a lighter competition gun if you want to look at from that angle).
I would like it to be a commercially available round, so even though I am willing to handload, if I am without handloads I still can find ammo at a decent quality gun store without them giving me a blank stare. Another bias is in favor of safety against bad pressure events and accidental discharges. On my skeet guns stock fitting is everything, so I can say I definitely prefer straighter i.e. less drop with higher combs which aids aiming and reduces recoil for me. The A-5 has caught my eye with its adjustable features, but I am really open minded on the issue. My one big bias is not to shoot more gun than is necessary. I will shoot what it takes, but have no desire just to have a big gun for the sake of it. I learned long ago that practice usually is far more valuable than firepower all other things being equal and recoil never helped me shoot any better so I want to do what is reasonable to keep down. Given my targets of deer and pigs, I am assuming the power issue should focus on the pigs, which routinely exceed 200# and occasionally go 250 or 300#. I've heard of a few near 400 but have not actually ever seen one on a scale so am still a bit unconvinced, but who knows.
Finally, from having been down this route on the shotgun end and going through three guns before paying what it took to get it right which was a far more expensive round-about way to get to the same endpoint, I am willing to pay to get it right on the first try which appears to be in the mid 1,000's with the optics from what I am seeing here.
Thanks in advance for your thoughts.