Get a few hunters together in a deer camp and start talking about the best weapon choice for deer hunting and you soon will have, at times, a heated and opinionated debate going. Each hunter has his own favourite weapon choice and within that weapon category his favorite set up. There is no one single best weapon for every situation.
There are many variables to be considered in choosing a weapon for deer hunting. Such as the terrain the hunter hunts in, what hunting method he prefers and finally what's the hunters personal preference in weapon type, stile and even brand name. One aspect that all weapons have in common is that they are only as good as the person operating them.
If I could give only one single advice to every beginning hunter, and seasoned hunter for that matter, then it is this.
Before you make you decide to buy any weapon for hunting purpose invest a considerable amount of time to research and try as many different weapons as possible. Forget for a moment the brand name and choose a weapon which fits you physic and feels comfortable to carry and handle. Once you get the weapon of your choice home don't put it in the cabinet for all to look at it. Instead keep practicing with it all year round and spend as much time to get to know your weapon as possible. In order to become a proficient shooter you have to be as familiar with your weapon as you are with yourself. In fact the weapon has to become an appendage of your body. Practice the one shot mentality, because under field conditions that is all you will get.
The following list is by no means complete but rather should be viewed as a rough guideline. Also make sure that you study the hunting regulations of the area, state or province you wish to hunt. The hunting regulations often will have specific requirements for weapons, their storage and transport.
Rifles - there are many to choose from, I just listed a few here.
.243 Winchester, 6mm Remington, .250 Savage,.257 Roberts, .260 Remington, 30-30 Winchester.
.270 Winchester, .280 Remington, 7x57 Mauser, 7mm-08 Remington, .284 Winchester.
.308 Winchester, 30-06 Springfield, 7mmRemington Magnum.
Authors note. -My personal choice is a 7mm-08 Remington, which I use in forested areas and other spaces with thick vegetation where shots are at close range. As a long-range rifle for deer in the open plains I like the flat shooting 7mm Remington Magnum.
Pistols (Handguns are not legal in every U.S. State and Canadian Province. Make sure you read the regulations before taking a handgun into the field.)
.41 Magnum, .44 Remington Magnum.
Bows (This includes modern compound and traditional recurve and long bows. Read the hunting regulations for specific recommendations of draw weight and let-off percentages, such regulations can vary from state to state or provinces. In most areas it is legal to use a bow with a draw weight between 40lb. to 45lb. minimum.)
40lb. pound draw weight.
45lb., - 50lb.,- 55lb. draw weight.
60lb.,- 65lb.,- 70lb. draw weight.
Authors note. - My choice is a 65lb. compound bow with a 75% let off. For me this bow is easy to draw and hold when I have to wait for the perfect shot at full draw.
Crossbows (The very exiting news is that more U.S. Wildlife Agencies legalize this traditional archery weapon for all hunters to be used as a very effective hunting tool. However, I recommend strongly that you check with your local wildlife agency about the legal use for non-physically challenged persons.)
110 pounds draw weight.
125 pounds draw weight.
175 pounds draw weight.
Authors Note. - Personally I prefer the heavy end cross bow to hunt with. But generally speaking any crossbow is a very effective weapon to hunt deer with. I am very exited that there are more opportunities available to hunt with this weapon that has an undeserved negative reputation.
Muzzleloaders (This includes all muzzleloader firearms, including black powder handguns, modern in-lines, percussion cap locks and flintlocks. Please check with the hunting regulations for more detailed information, regulations and special seasons.)
Authors note. - The .50 calibre muzzleloader is a very good choice for deer hunting with round balls, conical bullets and sabboted pistol bullets. It has moderate recoil depending on the load combination.
Light End: 20 gauge.
Medium: 12 gauge.
Heavy End: 10 gauge.
Authors note: - My choice of shotgun is a 12 gauge dedicated (centre fire rifle style) slug gun with sabboted slugs. Personally, I do not recommend using "buck shot" as I feel it is not as efficient as a well-placed slug. Also a slug gun is a short range weapon shots should be kept just slightly over 100 yards with a well tuned gun, preferably under 100 yards. Slug guns are perfect "brush guns".