What to shoot? It depends on what you’re shooting

The overwhelming “Top Gun” among several generations of Texas hunters is a bolt-action rifle fitted with a variable-powered telescopic sight. The bolt rifle is inherently the most accurate of the various actions, and models from reputable manufacturers are rugged and reliable. The .270 cartridge with a 130- or 150-grain factory round is a fine choice, combining excellent trajectory with exceptional “out of the box” accuracy and mild recoil. At least a dozen center-fire calibers suitable for deer are readily available, and most of the popular ones offer “hold on” accuracy out to at least 250 yards with a properly scope-sighted rifle (say, 1 to 2 inches high at 100 yards). […] of caliber, a good way to tame the felt recoil is to select a fairly heavy rifle weighing 71 Avoid the 6-pound mountain rifles favored by sheep and goat hunters in the high country; the Texas deer hunter spends most of the time sitting and waiting, so rifle weight is not an issue. Pump or autoloader, the third shot with the magazine gun can help maximize decoying opportunities or rake down high “dusted” birds (remember that federal law requires a three-shot plug in the magazine when hunting migratory birds). Non-toxic shot must be used on waterfowl, and steel is the most popular of the non-toxic options. Because steel shoots so tight, a full choke is not the best choice for the all-around waterfowl gun (superior, though, for specialized long-range pass shooting). Conversely, if your main interest is decoying ducks, with many shots inside 30 or 35 yards, go with the open pattern of an improved-cylinder choke. The bigger bore also rules when jump-shooting random birds feeding in stubble or when pass shooting under high flocks.

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