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New Hunter #8805905 02/22/23 02:34 AM
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marcoast Offline OP
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I need some advice - mainly what starter-to-intermediate weapon or gun I should get for hunting, and open to other advice as well. I already finished the hunter education and got a super combo license so I can hunt and fish, and will renew again in August. I've been wanting to hunt forever, but am just now getting the means to do so.

I want to start with small game and work my way up to deer, hogs, and other game. But when I look at public hunting lands in TX, a lot are restricted to archery or shotguns, or can only take small game/hogs while hunting for other animals that may or may not be in season. I'm currently in west TX.

I have some private family land also in Falls county, but not sure what's out there yet since it's not been lived on in decades, and it's 6 hours away from my house.

Re: New Hunter [Re: marcoast] #8805927 02/22/23 03:00 AM
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welcome welcome
Good group of people here, most of which have probably forgotten more than i'll ever know. up


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Re: New Hunter [Re: marcoast] #8805928 02/22/23 03:00 AM
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Welcome to the world of hunting. welcome

I started out much the same as you. Based on what you've stated regarding what and where you plan to hunt, I'd go with a shotgun. That covers all of your small game and migratory birds, meets the restrictions of the public land you plan to hunt, and gives you flexibility for when you're ready to step up to deer and hogs. When that time comes, you can install a cantilever rifled slug barrel on your shotgun receiver, add a scope, get zeroed, practice your shooting, and be ready for that 8-point to step out of the brush.

While there are lots of options out there that might also fit the bill, and I'm sure you'll get lots of different recommendations here, in your case, I'd recommend a Remington 870 in 20ga. Good luck.

P.S. I already went the 870 12ga route as I too was limited to hunting public land when I was younger where you could only shoot shotgun slugs or muzzleloaders. I finally realized that I didn't need a 12ga to kill a deer or hog, and that I was beating myself up with recoil for very little in return. But, YMMV.


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Re: New Hunter [Re: marcoast] #8805975 02/22/23 04:21 AM
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Thanks for the welcome. I'm learning a lot just browsing through the site.

The 870 looks solid!

Re: New Hunter [Re: marcoast] #8806141 02/22/23 02:39 PM
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A .22 rifle will be good for squirrels and rabbits and most importantly give you something you can use for practice without spending a lot on ammo. The Ruger 10/22 is probably the most popular model out there and comes in several different offerings.

As for something to get started in chasing after deer and hogs, the Ruger American seems to get a lot of positive reviews. Savage is another choice for an entry-level rifle that will get the job done at minimal cost. As for caliber, the highly touted 6.5 Creedmoor would be a solid choice but definitely not your only option. A lot of deer and hogs are dropped every year with the far more longstanding 30-06 and .270 and ammo can be much easier to find when you left it at home and need to buy a box in some small Texas town. Once you're well into your learning curve and feel ready to spend more on a much nicer rifle, I would suggest spending time watching reviews on YouTube and take with a grain of salt what you read in the magazines where writers may be earning points with manufacturers. Yes, YouTube is where you're far more likely to hear what the magazine writers and even some folks around here leave out. It's where you're more likely to learn about the plastic trigger guards, magazines and other weaknesses.

I would also suggest you approach learning the two key areas of the sport with equal vigor - animal behavior and shooting/marksmanship. Knowing a lot about the first will get you more and better chances at the other.

Good luck!

Last edited by Texas Dan; 02/22/23 03:16 PM.

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Re: New Hunter [Re: marcoast] #8806204 02/22/23 03:56 PM
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Texas Dan gave some solid advice. If completely new to shooting then starting with a .22 is the first best advice I could give. It will give you a cheaper option, relatively speaking, to practice with- get used to squeezing the trigger and staying on target while shooting. Couldn't recommend a "modern" .22 to purchase- I have a Remington Nylon 66 that I have had since I was about 15 (now 66) still works like a champ. I am an old school 12 gauge guy, but the Remington 870 is a solid shotgun- you can use the thing for a boat paddle and it will still work with no problems. With a centerfire rifle added to your new arsenal you will have all your bases covered- if you don't get too crazy on a scope for the rifle you can probably purchase all three for not much over $1000. I have been shooting the same Savage 110 in .30-06 for the last 40+ years. Find someone to work with you to learn good habits- I didn't have Youtube when I first got started so learning on your own can sometimes lead to bad habits.

Learning animal behavior will be instrumental in learning good hunting habits. I got my BS at A&M in Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences- never worked a day in the field but it certainly helped me be a better hunter. For me, now is the best time to help start making a plan for hunting next year especially for someone like me that leases and hunts in east Texas. Now is the time to be in the woods, before things start greening up, to find trails to set up ambush spots.

Main thing is to stay safe. Treat all guns as if they are loaded until you personally check it and make sure to keep your muzzle pointed either down or away from people. Know what is down range when you shoot. If you hunt public land, make sure you wear your orange- deer can't see colors and won't bother them but it might keep some trigger happy fool from shooting you.

Re: New Hunter [Re: marcoast] #8806300 02/22/23 06:11 PM
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Marcoast

The suggestion of an 870 12 ga. pump shot gun is good and a great basic starter. You can hunt all small game, hogs and deer with the various ammo available.

A rifle will be next and it's a matter choice from an almost unlimited selection. For me the 30-06 will cover every big game possibility from 110 gr to 220 gr deer to moose or elk

Everyone will have their own favorite and in fact now my go to deer rifle is a 243.

Welcome to our forum!!! Looking forward to your updates as you expand your knowledge and experiences in our wonderful past time, Hoping you fill your bag limits and tags.

Good luck

Re: New Hunter [Re: marcoast] #8806440 02/22/23 10:07 PM
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welcome to the THF welcome

as others have stated, I would recommend starting off with a .22 for a less expensive option to get started, learn to shoot well, and make good habits of squeezing the trigger, not pulling. Might even check pawn shops for used .22 to get started.

The 870 is a solid choice for a shot gun. 20 gauge should be fine but a 12 gauge will have a bit more shot but also a bit more recoil.

As for centerfire rifle, Pawn shop might be a option as well for less expensive route. I would recommend going with a bolt action rifle but there are all sorts of opinions for bolt, pump, semi-auto, lever, etc. which are all decent choices as well. As others have stated 30-06 or 270 will have ammo available pretty much anywhere ammo is sold and be plenty of punch for anything you might ever hunt in Texas. There are a plethora of other calibers that will do the job just as well with proper shot placement.

Also agree on studying animal habits to not be totally shut out when you do go out hunting for various species.

good luck and you will find a wealth of knowledge here and also a bunch of ribbing and BSing that will happen.


"everyone that lives dies but not everyone who dies lived..."

~PMK~
Re: New Hunter [Re: marcoast] #8806467 02/22/23 10:47 PM
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Thanks for all of the advice! I'll probably end up getting a shotgun and a rifle or two. I'm looking forward to getting out in the woods after more target practice and learning more about animal behavior.

I shot my first .22 and 5.56 semiautomatic rifles last weekend at a gun range and was surprised how easy they were to shoot compared to my pistol. I have not gotten a chance to shoot a shotgun or bolt-action rifle yet, but want to.

Re: New Hunter [Re: marcoast] #8806800 02/23/23 01:05 PM
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Originally Posted by marcoast
Thanks for all of the advice! I'll probably end up getting a shotgun and a rifle or two. I'm looking forward to getting out in the woods after more target practice and learning more about animal behavior.


Deer and Deer Hunting magazine can be a great resource in learning about deer behavior, shooting and archery, and tactics. You can get a taste for what the magazine offers by visiting their website.

Deer and Deer Hunting

Last edited by Texas Dan; 02/23/23 01:16 PM.

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Re: New Hunter [Re: marcoast] #8806873 02/23/23 03:15 PM
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Welcome to our forum. You can learn a lot skimming through here for topics that interest you and dont be bashful about starting a thread about a question you have. Of course, all feedback you get wont always be correct but you will get lots of ideas to try and sort through, varify, and apply more directly to your situation. Good luck and be safe with firearms.


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Re: New Hunter [Re: marcoast] #8806888 02/23/23 03:35 PM
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Falls county will have some good opportunities for game and non game animals. If the family property is of hunting size, you'll get all the small game as well as hogs and (surprisingly decent) deer. If you're interested in birds, duck and dove can be good some years.


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Re: New Hunter [Re: splash556] #8807067 02/23/23 09:11 PM
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Originally Posted by splash556
Falls county will have some good opportunities for game and non game animals. If the family property is of hunting size, you'll get all the small game as well as hogs and (surprisingly decent) deer. If you're interested in birds, duck and dove can be good some years.


What's the minimum amount of acres that you consider "hunting size"?

Re: New Hunter [Re: marcoast] #8807130 02/23/23 10:45 PM
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Originally Posted by marcoast
Originally Posted by splash556
Falls county will have some good opportunities for game and non game animals. If the family property is of hunting size, you'll get all the small game as well as hogs and (surprisingly decent) deer. If you're interested in birds, duck and dove can be good some years.


What's the minimum amount of acres that you consider "hunting size"?


One where I'm sure my projectile/bullet wouldn't cross property lines. I believe Texas also has laws as to minimum size of property for shooting on. It may be a county thing. Someone else may chime in with that info.


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Re: New Hunter [Re: marcoast] #8807548 02/24/23 05:25 PM
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My advice on guns. Buy the best that you can afford. Your scope should cost as much as your gun if not more. Practice and become familiar with your set ups.

22 rifle for everything
308 270 or 30-06 bolt action rifle for medium-big game
12 ga for birds
.45 for 2 and 4 legged creatures
AK or AR just because you can

Hunting is not cheap. Make a major commitment to buy something every year.

A hunter is created by time in the field not time on the internet. Start hunting whatever you can as much as you can. Create patterns based on weather and moon phases. Learn about your prey. In west texas and if there are no pigs around I would definitely be a coyote hunter. It will teach you how to become a hunter!


GO TRUMP!
Re: New Hunter [Re: Bigfoot] #8807566 02/24/23 05:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Bigfoot
My advice on guns. Buy the best that you can afford. Your scope should cost as much as your gun if not more. Practice and become familiar with your set ups.

22 rifle for everything
308 270 or 30-06 bolt action rifle for medium-big game
12 ga for birds
.45 for 2 and 4 legged creatures
AK or AR just because you can

Hunting is not cheap. Make a major commitment to buy something every year.

A hunter is created by time in the field not time on the internet. Start hunting whatever you can as much as you can. Create patterns based on weather and moon phases. Learn about your prey. In west texas and if there are no pigs around I would definitely be a coyote hunter. It will teach you how to become a hunter!



What he says ^^^^^^^^ up


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Re: New Hunter [Re: marcoast] #8808631 02/26/23 04:39 PM
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I would temper the previous advice by saying buy what you are most likely to use first. Where do you go to shoot, and what is convenient to shoot there? Buy guns that shoot ammo you can buy at Walmart. Don’t buy a shotgun first if the nearest trap range is two hours away. The traditional advice is 22, 30-06, 12ga, and either 45 or 357, depending on whether you like revolvers or autos. I’d take my time and think through each purchase carefully as everything is a trade off. I think the 10/22 a no brainer, but a quality bolt action, like those made by CZ, might be a better option if you are trying to emulate your big game rifle. The best ammo selection right now is for the 308 and 6.5 Creed, so that’s a consideration. Strongly consider starting with modest recoil rounds like the 20ga and the 6.5 Creed, as recoil is the enemy of accuracy until you become well accustomed to it. There’s plenty of time for you to get that lightweight 338 Lapua, so don’t be in a hurry. Finally, have fun. Shooting and hunting are supposed to be fun. If you aren’t having fun, then you’re doing it wrong.


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Re: New Hunter [Re: marcoast] #8808670 02/26/23 05:52 PM
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For small game on public land that is shotgun only, get yourself a single shot break open 20 gauge. They are extremely cheap, and with a full choke, also fill the bill for Turkey gun quite well. Another option here is a 20 gauge over/under that you can use for the above and add dove to the list. But, and over under is not cheap. (most of them aren't)

A .22 can be sued for small game, but more importantly IMO is preactice. You can get a LOT of practice in for a little money with a good .22. Don't scrimp here. i.e. - don't buy the $190 10/22 and put a $20 scope on it. Nothing wrong with a 10/22, but get a target version and put a good scope on it. Or get a good bolt action and put a good scope on it.

When you move up to deer and pigs, a short action in 6.5CM, 7mm-08, .308, or similar will keep recoil down and be plenty for almost all Texas game. Here, you can go relatively cheap, because there are a lot of really accurate rifles out there that don't cost much. (ruger american, savage axis, base model Tikka, etc). Again...get a good scope.


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current federal policy is clearly irrational, scientifically insupportable and ridiculous.
Re: New Hunter [Re: marcoast] #8809117 02/27/23 05:19 AM
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Thanks everyone for all of the advice. I went ahead and got a 22lr rifle with a vortex scope this weekend. I also got all the stuff to properly mount and sight in my scope, because gunsmiths in my area want $50 - 100 per scope with a wait time until at least Wednesday. I couldn't wait to shoot my rifle before the weekend was over and enjoyed it a lot once I got it sighted in. Now that I've done it myself, I'm confident I can sight in all of my future rifles, including the larger caliber one I'm planning on getting by deer season.

I'm getting a shotgun within the next couple of months, but still deciding on 12 or 20 gauge based on public hunting opportunities' legal game and means restrictions. There's a clay/trap range in my area as well. I'm hoping to be able to get a private lease in the future and not have these public land means restrictions.

I got some trips coming up, so I'll have a chance to get in the woods and go after some squirrels and rabbits soon. I'm looking forward to getting some larger game later this year. I'd be happy with 1 deer and/or hog.

Thanks again!

Re: New Hunter [Re: marcoast] #8825947 03/30/23 01:49 PM
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A .243 is my go to. I still use it if I'm going to use a gun for anything. it's a lighter caliber but still heavy enough to get the job done.

Re: New Hunter [Re: marcoast] #8826120 03/30/23 07:03 PM
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A 20ga 870 or Maverick (cheaper mossberg version) is plenty for dove and smaller animals. 12ga (slug gun) works but not really needed, unless duck/geese hunting (use steel shot). WMAs for hogs are usually bow or shotgun and 12ga works there. AR15 in 223 is fine, you can change the barrel only to BO, 30hamr, several other cartridges. Only takes a vice and a wrench. Or just get another upper. I know, no wood!!
22lr is fine but ammo ain't cheap anymore - I've seen more jams with the Ruger than anything else. CVA also has the scout V2 single shot that is very good and inexpensive - many calibers. 243 or 6.5 is a longer range varmint cal - 06 is really overkill for US. Go to TPWL to see what you can use and where.
Funny, in Houston yrs ago, rack was full of Marlin 45/70. Why does somebody need one? Very few animals in US need that kind of power.

Re: New Hunter [Re: duffas] #8826214 03/30/23 10:22 PM
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Originally Posted by duffas
06 is really overkill for US.

Says the guy that has obviously never hunted elk, moose, bison or the bigger bears.
Funny, in Houston yrs ago, rack was full of Marlin 45/70. Why does somebody need one? Very few animals in US need that kind of power.
Says the guy that has obviously never hunted elk, moose, muskox, bison or the bigger bears.


You need a little more experience with some of the 29 species of big game available in North America. You do understand that Alaska is part of the USA right?


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Re: New Hunter [Re: marcoast] #8828289 04/04/23 05:16 AM
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Originally Posted by marcoast
Thanks everyone for all of the advice. I went ahead and got a 22lr rifle with a vortex scope this weekend. I also got all the stuff to properly mount and sight in my scope, because gunsmiths in my area want $50 - 100 per scope with a wait time until at least Wednesday. I couldn't wait to shoot my rifle before the weekend was over and enjoyed it a lot once I got it sighted in. Now that I've done it myself, I'm confident I can sight in all of my future rifles, including the larger caliber one I'm planning on getting by deer season.

I'm getting a shotgun within the next couple of months, but still deciding on 12 or 20 gauge based on public hunting opportunities' legal game and means restrictions. There's a clay/trap range in my area as well. I'm hoping to be able to get a private lease in the future and not have these public land means restrictions.

I got some trips coming up, so I'll have a chance to get in the woods and go after some squirrels and rabbits soon. I'm looking forward to getting some larger game later this year. I'd be happy with 1 deer and/or hog.

Thanks again!


If you are going to be hunting deer or hogs with a firearm on public land, you are restricted to a shotgun on the majority of public land. I second the recommendation of a 20 gauge that a rifled slug barrel is readily available for. Recoil with slugs is substantial. With a 12 shooting slugs, recoil is substantial enough to not be much fun to practice with. A twenty makes a more manageable slug gun. Locating a slug barrel for an 870 will not pose a problem. Furthermore the 870 is a very good shotgun that can be purchased on the low end of what you will have to pay for a well made firearm. The express model can be had for the least money and will shoot 3” shells which is advantageous if you need to shoot non toxic shot in a 20. For a little more $, a lightly used wingmaster 20 gauge magnum with screw in chokes is a pretty nice shotgun. A rifled slug barrel can be swapped out on either in less than a minute. The addition of a rifled barrel will be worth the extra money for the accuracy you gain over a smooth bore when shooting slugs. For small game and bird hunting the smooth bore is the way to roll. A barrel with screw in chokes adds versatility and I would recommend it if you intend to hunt small game and birds.
Be safe and good luck.

Last edited by Smokey Bear; 04/04/23 05:18 AM.

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