Why a shotgun is better than a deer rifle

When you spook a deer on the way into your stand, it’s a lot easier to put a shotgun bead on a deer than aim a rifle.
When you spook a deer on the way into your stand, it’s a lot easier to put a shotgun bead on a deer than aim a rifle.

Scattergun easier to use in close quarters, on moving animals

Anyone who has ever been on a dog-drive or a man-drive for deer knows the advantages of using a shotgun, but shotgunning for deer isn’t just for those on the ground.

Some hunters prefer shotguns even when perched in a tree stand.

Ernest McLeod of Sumter, S.C., is one of those hunters. He has killed his share of deer with rifles, but about 10 years ago he decided that a shotgun was the way to go.

“The main reason I decided to use a shotgun is that, of all the deer I’ve killed in my life, very few were more than 40-yards away when I shot them,” McLeod said. “Most of my stands are in pretty thick woods that overlook small clearings. I can’t tell you how many times I raised my rifle on a deer and couldn’t see anything but a big patch of brown through my scope, even with the magnification turned all the way down. The deer were just so close, I couldn’t even tell what part of the deer I was looking at.

“That’s not a problem with a shotgun.”

Spooked deer

Spooking deer on his way to the stand is another reason McLeod started hunting deer with a shotgun.

“I park about 100 yards from all my stands, and while walking to them it’s not uncommon to spook deer that will bolt as soon as they notice me,” he said. “And as soon as I notice them, I know they are too close for me to get off any kind of responsible shot with a rifle.

“You can mount and shoot a shotgun loaded with buckshot, and have a reasonable chance of killing that deer.”

McLeod added that it’s much quicker for your eye to focus the bead of the shotgun on a deer than it is for your eye to pick up that moving deer in a scope while trying to aim at the kill zone.

He also doesn’t mind getting out of one of his stands and walking to another during the day. This leads to more chances of spooking a buck in close quarters.

“I use to think, ‘Well, that’s too bad I didn’t have a shotgun, but I’ll be happy with the rifle once I’m in the stand,’ but the more I thought about it, the more I realized I was giving up the chance to shoot deer on the ground with a shotgun just for the chance to shoot deer in a stand with a rifle — even though a shotgun would work just fine in my stands,” McLeod said.

About Brian Cope 194 Articles
Brian Cope of Edisto Island, S.C., is a retired Air Force combat communications technician. He has a B.A. in English Literature from the University of South Carolina and has been writing about the outdoors since 2006. He’s spent half his life hunting and fishing. The rest, he said, has been wasted.

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