I was a little slow getting into airguns. And even after I embraced them, I never entertained the thought of hunting big game with airguns. Why should I? I already hunt big game with a bow, blackpowder rifle, and center fire rifles. Why would I need to pursue deer, hogs and other big game with an airgun?
I’d shot a couple of large caliber airguns over the last few years at the SHOT Show, but the thing that flipped the switch for me was when my buddy and publisher of Texas Outdoors Journal, Bill Olson, called to offer me a hunt. He wanted to tackle axis deer and feral hogs on the Adventures Missions and Retreats ranch down near Menard, Texas, on the Clear Water Creek ranch. I joined him and bam! I was sold. All in! Airgunning for deer and hogs is wild fun. And it works! We were shooting 50-caliber airguns! Fifty caliber! And man, did they flatten deer and hogs.
What makes hunting with an airgun so appealing? Maybe because it is a short-range weapon which makes it more of a challenge? Maybe because it is something new? Maybe it’s the idea of taking big game with projectiles pushed by nothing more than compressed air? Who knows? I might never pinpoint the reason, but I now know there are many good reasons to hunt big game with airguns. Large caliber airguns!
The first plus that pops into my mind is that you can deer hunt in or near settled areas — suburbia, where it’s legal — and nobody even knows that you fired a shot. This is particularly attractive to people who live on little 5- to 10-acre ranchettes with neighbors nearby. It could enable you to hunt on the edges of small towns or even suburban enclaves even just being able to hunt near to town in general.
Airguns are also a viable option for hunting in special management units that only allow short range weapons. They have advantages over all of the other short-range weapons. They’re quieter than a shotgun or blackpowder rifle. The UMAREX Hammer has a 2-shot magazine as compared to a blackpowder being a single shot. They’re a lot more accurate than a bow and have twice the range. And there’s no powder to be dampened by rain or snow. Lastly, you can hunt around livestock and not spook them. Yeah, for a short-range weapon, airguns have a lot of advantages.
I was deer hunting near a buddy’s feedlot a few years ago. He had some 8- to 14-month-old calves on a starter program in a corn stubble field that I had to cross to get down to the river bottom where I hunted. Those calves were a bunch of drama queens and nearly spooked through the fence as I walked by. What might they have done had I shot a firearm beside them? Yet, when my airgun went off, they hardly looked up. Sweet.
Hunting Big Game with Airguns — Ron Spomer Outdoors is written by Tom Claycomb for www.ronspomeroutdoors.com