My half-dozen regular readers are familiar with The Ugly Rifle, a Savage that I rescued from the gun shop in 2011. It's been reworked into a standard Savage hunting rifle, blind magazine, synthetic stock, it's altogether an uninteresting rifle, in .308 Winchester. I decided in June that it would be the rifle that gets taken to the woods this year, and for us, this year starts next Saturday. So, I had a decision to make.
Our hunting grounds are standard north Louisiana piney woods in an active dry-land oilfield. Our shots are generally in the 50-150 yard range with the vast majority being under 100 yards. My stand sits on a pipeline and there is a well-used crossing about 110 yards from my shooting window, but I've seen deer cross as close as 40 yards from the stand, and there's a creek crossing 85 yards down the hill. That's my range, and those are my range markers.
The heart/lung area on a standard pineywoods whitetail is nine inches across. We're not talking a small target area. Hold up a standard paper plate at your next church social. That's the size of your target. Put a bullet in that big ole plate, and you'll be dragging venison.
One thing uninteresting about the Ugly Rifle is the perverse resistance it shows to very fine accuracy. It's a bone-stock Savage, with a flimsy tupperware stock and a pencil-thin barrel. It weighs 8 lbs, loaded, with a scope and sling. It shoots into about 1.5 inches with my indifferent bench technique and my wobbly bench. One other attribute is that it is very ammo insensitive. Whether I load 125 spitzers, 150 grain spitzers, or 165 grain spitzers, it shoots them all into that same circle. I can post a 2" target at 100 yards and the rifle doesn't care what ammo you feed it, it shoots them all into that 2" circle.
Finally, I said "What the hell" and grabbed a handful of those 165 Gamekings to put into the ammo cuff on the buttstock. It's time to make a decision, and that decision is made. At the ranges I'm hunting, I could probably use a good slug-shooting shotgun, or my old Thompson/Center Renegade. I don't need fine benchrest accuracy; what I need is the knowledge that my rifle will put a well constructed bullet into that 9" fatal zone on a lightly constructed whitetail deer. There's no sense obsessing about it. This year it's the Ugly Rifle and 165 Gamekings. If the deer cooperate, I know the rifle will do the job. After that, I don't have anyone to blame but myself.