Sunday, October 20, 2013

Decisions, Decisions

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.

But, hunting season starts Saturday, and I had a decision to make, so I went out to the bench and took down all the ammo.  It shows a decided preference for 150 grain Hornady SSTs, but I'm out of those at the moment.  It really likes 125 grain Sierra Gamekings, but I made that light-recoiling load for the grandkids.  It shoots 165 Gamekings into that 2" circle really well, and if I got out my calipers I'd probably find that it shoots them closer to 1.5" than it does to the 2" mark.

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.


Eaton Rapids Joe said...

Gamekings at .308 Win velocities are a beautiful thing. They are a fine system for harvesting deer.

You will likely get pass-throughs which tend to help provide a better blood trail (if you need one).

According to several sources, the hollow point Gamekings are actually tougher than the soft points. But either will be just fine.

Anonymous said...

I second the Gamekings in .308 diameter. I use them in .30-06 reloads. Last 2 shots last year was 2 dead deer! I got a gift card, going to try some accubonds, but I have several years of loads ready at the rate of 1 per deer. Game kings work if you ask me!