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  1. #1
    Bowhunter57's Avatar
    Bowhunter57 is offline Junior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    N.W. Ohio

    Whitetail expectations...with a handgun?

    I intend to hunt whitetails with a handgun, this fall.

    Weapon choices:
    Desert Eagle in .357 Mag., 6" barrel and 158gr. JHP.
    Ruger Bisley in 45 Colt, 7 1/2" barrel and 225gr. and a cast semi-wadcutter.

    Ofcourse, shot placement is everything, many years of bowhunting has taught me this much. Staying within the killing range of the weapon is another concern. There are 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

  2. #2
    DJ Niner's Avatar
    DJ Niner is offline HGF Forum Moderator
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    North-Central USA
    A double-lung shot, no large bones hit (maybe a rib or two), a single shot fired, no shoulder/leg broken? If it was feeding quietly when hit, and not previously alerted/adrenalized, maybe 50-200 yards. If running, already freaked-out/scared by previous shots, then 1/2 mile is not out of the question. A friend smacked a large mid-western whitetail with a .223 softpoint through the lungs, no bones hit, 2" exit wound, but the deer wasn't hit until shot number three, and by then he was already in high gear. Ran 1/2 to 3/4 of a mile, laid down, he shot again and missed (bad move; should have let it bleed out), it got up and ran another mile before expiring (all distances measured, as the deer's path paralleled a road).

    Lots of variables in this situation; I wouldn't bet anything at all on any result being certain or near-certain.

    As far as your weapon choices, the natural winner would be the big-bore, but with two requirements; you shoot it as well or better than the .357, and it can be brought to zero with the hunting load. I believe "holding off" (high/low/left/right) on game is a bad idea; if you can't zero the gun precisely, then accuracy (and confidence) suffers. If you shoot the .357 significantly better, then use it; the .45 is only a better choice if the bullet hits where you want it to.
    Last edited by DJ Niner; 02-27-2008 at 03:14 AM.

  3. #3
    neophyte is offline Member
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    Aug 2007
    CLT, NC

    handgun hunting

    Bowhunter57: Sir; all my hunting is with handguns. Ruger Blackhawk or Super Blackhawk. Knowing my ability, within reason, I'll take the shot.

    .357 50-75 yds, making the 'shot' is about the same as a 'bow shot' at 30-40yds.

    I don't hunt to eat [what they made grocery stores for] , mine is all about seeing how close I can get.
    laying on the ground, grubbing myself about for the ?perfect? shot is my kick. Whether I take it or not.
    I don't doubt my ability; out to about 125yds with a .44; my goal and preference is 10-15yds.
    Sir; bow hunting and hand gunners are about the same a heck of a lot of fun.

  4. #4
    grey-wolf's Avatar
    grey-wolf is offline Member
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    Jun 2007
    I opted for the .357 (a friends gun) myself last year and took a nice deer @60 yds. That is my own personal limit. As said above 50-75 yds is about the limit.

  5. #5
    Baldy's Avatar
    Baldy is offline Senior Member
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    Jun 2006
    Port St.John,FL.


    I have only got one deer but I have hunted many. If I can't get to them within 50 yards they win. Now hogs is another story. I have taken them at all different ranges.

  6. #6
    TerryP Guest
    Given those choices I would go with the 45. The SWC will probably give a complete pass thru and/or break bone. If you reload you can step up a hard cast in the Ruger and also determine which loads will give the best accuracy. Once you find your load then practice to determine your maximun effective range much as you would do with archery. Good luck.

  7. #7
    GURU1911 is offline Member
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    Nov 2010
    SEALY, TX.
    Definitely go with the large bore rather than the mid-size. The .357 is excellent for critters up to say coyote size, but is on the "iffy" size for whitetail. Yes it will kill them & yes it has been done before, but the .44 / .45 calibers put a whole lot more in your favor on marginal shots. Hunting with handguns (t/c pistols with scopes exempted) are pretty much a close range proposition, much like archery. Not knowing exactly how good of a marksman you are, i would advise you to restrict your shots to no more than 50 yds from a stable rest. Put that big hornady xtp or nosler jhp in the chest heart/lung region & i promise they won't go far with a golf-ball size exit hole in their chest !!!!!!!!

  8. #8
    EliWolfe is offline Member HGF Gold Member
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    Nov 2010
    Give the deer and yourself a break. Get a .44 magnum, i've seen a whitetail taken with one at about 75 yards. Yeah, a .357 might have worked as well, but the .44 just plain planted the thing. He got the usual two hops and down dead you sometimes see with rifle/slug shots.
    JMHO Eli

  9. #9
    Bisley's Avatar
    Bisley is offline Senior Member
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    Aug 2008
    East Texas
    Quote Originally Posted by EliWolfe View Post
    Give the deer and yourself a break. Get a .44 magnum, i've seen a whitetail taken with one at about 75 yards. Yeah, a .357 might have worked as well, but the .44 just plain planted the thing. He got the usual two hops and down dead you sometimes see with rifle/slug shots.
    JMHO Eli
    This is my philosophy, too. Nothing is too big to hunt deer with, if a good shot will put it down with minimal wear and tear on the animal. If you wait for a good shot, and then make it, the deer will never know what happened, and the only meat you will ruin will be the stuff between the ribs that is not really worthwhile to save on most deer, anyway. Just make your shot, mark the location in your mind, and then be still for a few minutes, just like you would do when bow hunting. In my experience, he will rarely be more than 50-75 yards from where you shot him, if you shot him right.

    I would go with the .45 Colt, since that's what is available to you, and use hot ammo that is comparable to a .44 magnum hunting round. And I would not take any shot that would exceed the bow hunting ranges I was used to, without a scope and a lot of practice.

  10. #10
    mag is offline Junior Member
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    Jul 2011
    O'Fallon, MO
    I'd go with the .45, but aim for the shoulder. Those semi-wadcutters will drill a nice hole all the way through, and should he run (not likely!) he won't go far and will leave a blood trail like a careless janitor sloshing a mop bucket down a hallway. You'll find him in no time, and the slow moving bullet won't damage a lot of meat, either.

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