Over the years, North American Hunting Club members have had some great role models when it comes to handgun hunting! The pages of North American Hunter magazine and footage on Club videos have included great advice and insight from legends like Hal Swiggett, Larry Weishuhn and J. Wayne Fears. I’m fortunate to truthfully say I’ve handgun hunted with each of these wise gentlemen.
So have you ever considered making a serious run at hunting with a handgun? What’s holding you back?
While taking a deep breath and half letting it out and s-q-u-e-e-z-i-n-g the trigger are common to both, the shaky feel of a handgun and learning to look through a long eye relief scope are not. However, with some helpful advice there are ways to ease through the transition and expand your hunting opportunities.
This is especially the case if you’re “adding on” from a T/C Encore style rifle into a T/C Encore Pistol. For example, the smart money is on selecting both chambered for the same cartridge. A great starter choice is a cartridge that’s fairly mild recoiling like a .223 for targets and varmints or a 7mm-08 if you want to move right into deer-sized game.
The beauty of both the rifle and pistol Encore platforms is that you can easily change the chamberings as your skill, experience and confidence grow. Long time handgun hunter Larry Weishuhn’s favorite cartridge in the T/C Encore pistol is the .30-06. It’s as great there as it is in a rifle, but that’s not where I’d recommend starting!
Shooting any “rifle” cartridge in a handgun might be a bit daunting at first, but when you give it a try you’ll discover the T/C design and grip make the recoil very manageable. With experience will come comfort and with comfort will come confidence.
Equipping your rifle and your pistol as similarly as possible will also ease the transition and development of handgun shooting skills. For example, I equip my own hunting rigs both in .308 Win. both with Nikon Monarch scopes with BDC reticles. And I shoot the same load in them both – currently that’s the Federal Premium with 165-grain Barnes Triple-Shock. They are sighted in identically, too.
And what I’ve taken to doing (where I can confirm it’s legal) is taking both into the field with me when I’m hunting. Here’s why:
If I can get into a supported shooting position a solid rest, I’m pretty confident in my handgun skills out to about 150 yards or so. But the .308 Win. has capabilities well beyond that range, and if “Mr. Big” steps out into the wheat field at 275 or 375 yards, I don’t really want to have to pass up a shot at him I know I could make with a rifle. So with the rifle slung on my other shoulder, that option is still at hand!
Someday, though I don’t get to shoot or hunt nearly as much as Larry does, perhaps I’ll develop the handgunning skills to use the full range of the cartridge from a pistol like Larry does. But I most certainly never will if I don’t have the gun with me – so though I took my first big game with a handgun 25 years ago, my own development is still in transition. It probably always will be.