DEER HUNTING BACKGROUND
AND FAVORITE EQUIPMENT
I have hunted deer since the early 1960s and have been fortunate to hunt in many sections of Texas. I have also had the pleasure to hunt in Old Mexico in the states of Coahuila and Nuevo Leon. On these pages, I will display photographs of deer that I and my friends have taken or had the opportunity to take and photos of the country that I hunt and the local fauna where I think that there is general interest. During the last few years I have concentrated on taking photographs of deer and have found that it is much easier to shoot a deer with a rifle than to take a photograph...!!! The deer you will see here, with only a few exceptions, are not "once in a lifetime" animals, but are animals that are still good enough that most hunters will enjoy seeing them. My "once in a lifetime" deer has eluded me all these years (thank goodness, because what would I do if I ever got him!!). The chase goes on, and I wouldn't want to miss a single day of the pursuit for anything!
My camera is an Olympus OM-2 and for most deer photos I use a 500mm f8 lens and Kodak 400 speed film. Because the largest f stop is f8, there are some problems with shooting pictures in early morning and late evening light; however the cost of a small f stop 500mm lens is prohibitive and I have had to make do with what I have. I have tried the fast films, but have not been as pleased with the color rendition so have decided to stick with 400 speed.
The binoculars that I use are 10 X 40 aspherical lens units made by Docter Optic. (The Docter factory is in the old Zeiss facility in Jena, East Germany.) Although the Docter brand is not well known in the U.S., they are top quality binoculars in line with Zeiss, Leica, Swarovski and other top brands but with a Chevy pricetag.
For a spotting scope I use a waterproof 16 X 45 Nikon with a 60mm objective lens. This is a fine product. From a practical standpoint it is very unusual to use a power setting higher than 30 or so in the field because field of view and light conditions are usually less than ideal.
I have used 2 different rangefinders, the first that I purchased several years ago when they first came out was a Bushnell 400. Sounded like a great idea at the time but for a rifleman I found that it was practically useless since it had a difficult time establishing a distance to a deer sized animal at a range beyond 250 yards. I purchased a Bushnell 800 last year and have found it marginal but at least capable on deer sized animals to 400 yards or so. The way that I have found it effective is to range objects, that are better reflectors of the lazer beam (rocks, trees, etc.), in several locations where I guess deer might appear and try to remember those locations and distances when a deer appears. In this method, the 800 will range effectively to 600 yards and this is considerably farther than I would attempt a shot at a game animal.
Although primarily a rifle hunter, I started bow hunting using a recurve in 1963 and killed my first deer, an 8 point buck, with it in my first season to hunt. Later I purchased a compound Bear Whitetail and have bow hunted with it ever since. I have taken 9 deer and numerous javelina over the years, but really use the bow season as a wonderful opportunity to get out and hunt when few people are there. I shot instinctively until a couple of years ago when I installed a pin sight on my old bow. I still have not made up my mind if I like it or not..!
I have used a Smith & Wesson Mod. 57 Revolver 6" barrel .41 Magnum for 30 years and have taken several deer with it; however, a couple of years ago I purchased a Thompson-Center Encore in 7mm x 08 with a 2 X7 Burris scope on it and have been a wildly enthusiastic single shot fan ever since. This pistol is simply amazing in that it will shoot groups off of a rest that are the envy of many rifles. It rarely will shoot a 100 yard group larger than an inch (target7mm X 08)and has shot 3 shot groups as small as 5/8" with witnesses (and believe me I need witnesses when I talk about a 5/8" group with a pistol..!!). Although I haven't taken a deer with it, I killed a couple of javelinas with it in 1997 and it performed just as expected.
I have two rifles that I use for most of my deer hunting. My overall favorite is a Ruger No. 1 in 7mm Mag. that I have hunted with for almost 30 years. A straight 6X Redfield with fine crosshairs is mounted on it and the rifle shoots dependable 7/8" to 1" groups at 100 yds., using 139 gr. Hornady factory ammunition, for three shot groups (target7mm Rem. Mag.) which include the first shot out of a cold clean barrel. There are lots of rifles that will shoot better groups, but not many will do it with consistency to include the first cold barrel shot. That is the shot that counts.....if it goes where you want it to go, there is little need for more..!!
The other rifle is a Custom Long Range Rifle chambered for the 7mm STW (I had mine before it became a factory round.). It is based on a Remington 700 action that has been trued and has had trigger work to provide a crisp 2 1/2 pound letoff. The barrel is a 26+ in. long fluted heavy barrel made by Hart. All of this is pillar bedded into a H-S Precision fiberglass stock. I mounted a 4 1/2 X 14 Leupold with a 50 mm objective lens on it in Leupold rings. The rifle looks very similar to a Remington Sendero, but shoots better than most Senderos with handloads using 150 gr. Nosler Ballistic Tips yielding 1/2"or smaller groups at 100 yds.(target7mm STW) and 2 1/2" groups at 400 yds under ideal conditions.
In rememberance of Marty