The West Virginia traditional buck gun season will come in on Monday and run through Dec. 1. During these two weeks, approximately 250,000 hunters will be in the woods and meadows trying to bag that big buck.
On the same date, the antlerless gun season will come in. When the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources does things like this, hunters can say to themselves, if I see antlers, I can get this, or if I see venison (antlerless deer), I can take this, whichever comes first.
Hunters who choose to take an antlerless deer with a gun need to remember they must be checked in with a Class N or NN stamp, DT license, or as a landowner. In Randolph County, antlerless deer taken with a gun must be on private land, and the season bag limit in this county is only one.
This time of year, I have found one of the most fascinating subjects for debate among firearms enthusiasts, hunters and even gun writers, is which caliber rifle is best for white tailed deer hunting in West Virginia.
Just about all fans of the 30-30 Winchester will be quick to point out that this particular cartridge has killed more deer in this state than any of the others. I cannot disagree with this.
This year will most likely be like all others, several thousand white-tails will be pulled out of the woods that were taken with a rifle or carbine that is chambered for this 115 year-old cartridge.
A few hunters who don't like the old 30-30 will be quick to say that it has also crippled more deer than any of the others.
Once again, I cannot disagree with this statement.
The leading reason for this is a poorly-placed shot.
When it comes to terms like killing power, knockdown power and stopping power, all three need to be used interchangeably when it comes to deer hunting in this state.
One of the best gun writers of the 20th century was Elmer Keith. However, Keith lived his prime at the time when game was plentiful and bag limits were liberal to almost non-existent. Keith was a great believer in the big bore. In many of his writings, he insisted that .30 caliber cartridges are too small for white-tailed deer. I cannot agree with this. At the same time, another 20th century gun writer and professional big game hunter, Jack O'Conner, was a big advocate of the .270 Winchester. Both of these cartridges have merits and limitations.
I have always considered the old 30-30 a good deer cartridge as long as the bullet or shot is properly placed in a vital area of the animal. The .270 has always been regarded as an efficient game slayer of non-dangerous game animals of North America. However, a poorly-placed shot using a rifle of any caliber only results in a wounded animal.
Chasing a wounded deer, especially in deep snow, is work with capital letters. I can tell you this from the standpoint of experience. It is a well-proven fact that a well-placed shot on deer-sized animals with a small cartridge, like the .243 Winchester, is more effective than a poorly-placed shot using a heavy magnum-type cartridge.
Here is the leading reason hunters need to have their rifles sighted in for at least 100 yards.
It was in 1997 when I dropped a deer in its tracks using a short-barreled carbine that packed less muzzle energy than a 30-30. I was hunting with a firearm chambered for the .357 magnum. This cartridge was originally intended to be a revolver cartridge. In theory, no pistol or handgun cartridge can pack the muzzle energy like a .243, .270, or .308.
This full-grown doe was standing broadside at about 50 yards. I put the sights at the base of the skull or where the head and neck join. The moment the carbine cracked, the deer fell on its side and didn't get up. The 150-grain, soft-point, hand-loaded bullet hit at the point of aim.
Sometimes when a deer is shot in this manner, they do not bleed out very well. When I went to field-dressing my deer, the lung cavity was full of blood. When the deer was processed for consumption, the processor told me there was no bullet damage on any of the meat within the carcass.
I would like to wish the best of luck to all my readers who go after that big buck in the next two weeks.
This fall, I have not read about any gun accidents statewide, but I know there have been some tree stand falls that include one fatality.
If you choose to hunt from a deer stand, just simply apply hard common sense, especially when getting in and out of your stand. Let's continue to prove to the many people who don't hunt that our favorite sport is still one of the safest throughout the nation.