A Beginner's Guide to Hunting Firearms

A beginner's guide to hunting firearms, the article ensures beginning hunters are properly outfitted and safe, including types of guns, gun prices, choices of ammo and gun optics.

| July/August 1987

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    The .22 is probably the ideal first gun, both for a youngster and for an adult whose interest in hunting has just surfaced.
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    Scottergun shells. The 12-gauge (left) shown is a low-base shell, not recommended for most hunting. The 20-gauge (center) and .410 (right) shown are high-base shells.
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    From left to right, a .30-30, a .270 and a .30-06 shell. These are the most popular deer cartridges in North America, and for good reason.

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The green woods of this season tease a hunter's eye like a partially open door. This beginner's guide to hunting firearms helps new gun homesteaders choose the right kind of gun for hunting. 

It's in the full glory of summer that we begin to glimpse the season's death. Perhaps a small cool breeze blows through the still-bright evening, eclipsing the scent of iris with something recognized but unidentifiable, a faint aroma of regret. Or maybe a black walnut or hickory tree, last to green, first to bare, drops one precocious leaf. In the great cities, these whispers of change would probably not be heard, but to one raised in the country, or even one whose blood has only begun to ebb and flow to rural rhythm, the hint of fall sends the body into a flush composed of equal parts of a vague loneliness and a delicious anticipation. Autumn is the season of the field and forest; inside some of us an ancient ancestor anticipates the hunt.

For those new to country life, though, this eagerness may be no sooner felt than gone, blasted apart by a decidedly modern uncertainty. "Hell," he or she might mutter. "I don't have a gun. I don't even know what sort of gun I should have."

Fortunately, this problem is far from difficult to solve. The selection of basic hunting firearms, for the beginner, is a much simpler matter than it is for the more experienced hunter who may be stricken by the equipment mania that seems to infect just about every sport nowadays. Of course, there are a great many models among even the few firearm types I'll be discussing, but the parameters are relatively easy to deal with. For the beginning nimrod (or for any hunter, as many with years in the field sometimes forget), the important consideration isn't necessarily to have a weapon specifically designed for each and every situation, but rather to have one or more reliable, well-made guns and—here's the key—to learn to be able to get something approaching their built-in potential from them.

Paying for a Plinker

For a great many aging country kids, one Christmas day in late childhood or early adolescence will be forever burned into the memory because of a long box propped against the wall behind the tree; that first .22 rifle was a symbol of responsibility and trust, the thin edge of the wedge into a door that would one day open to adulthood. Many of us have those hunting firearms still.

The .22 is probably the ideal first gun, both for a youngster and for an adult whose interest in hunting has just surfaced. It can be used to take squirrels (a delicious and common game animal) and, under the right circumstances, rabbits. More important, though, this small-caliber rifle is inexpensive to shoot and neither too loud nor too physically punishing.

9/3/2020 8:15:58 AM

With COVID it’s very difficult to find firearms and ammunition. Start looking now and you’ll likely be placed on a waiting list. Take lessons from a certified instructor.

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