Archive for the ‘Hunting’ Category

Big Game Jerky & How To Make It

Wednesday, April 6th, 2016

Dried Peppered Beef Jerky Cut in Strips

Big Game Jerky and How To Make It

Drying is one of the oldest and easiest ways to preserve meat at home, provided you do it properly. Creating your own jerky allows you to reap the rewards of your big game hunt in a whole new way – and gives you something to chew on while you wait for your trophy piece to be completed, too. Depending on the game you’ve tracked down, you can enjoy a trophy piece, abundant fresh and frozen meat, a hide for a rug or other purpose and jerky to take along on your next hunt. Jerky is not difficult to make, and gaining a full understanding of the process will help you create tasty snacks that allow you to re-live your big game hunt with every bite.

Jerky defined

By removing the moisture and drying out strips of meat, you can reduce its weight and preserve it without refrigeration or pressure canning. Drying reduces the amount of meat used by about 75%, but retains all of the flavor and protein of the original food. Jerky is more than just a tasty snack; stored properly, your jerky can be taken along on your next camping trip or hunt and will supply a big protein boost when you are ready for a snack. Commercial jerky is usually made from beef, but making your own jerky allows you to completely customize the process.  Turkey, buffalo or elk jerky can expand your menu and allow you to fully utilize the meat you’ve worked so hard for.

Drying safety and food safety

Drying food, including meat, removes the moisture and greatly reduces the risk of contamination. According to the USDA, drying can prevent the growth of bacteria and fungi and prohibit the formation of enzymes that could deteriorate the quality of the meat. While there are several ways to dry food in general, the USDA recommends using a dehydrator or oven to dry beef or other meat jerky. Using an oven or a device with a thermometer allows you to heat the meat to the right temperature and destroy any bacteria that is already present. Beef, venison, elk and other game meats need to be heated to 160 degrees Fahrenheit before proceeding; poultry, including turkey and pheasant, needs to be heated to 165 degrees for safety.

Make jerky soon after you get the meat home; it won’t improve with age or be fully shelf stable until the drying process is complete. Use clean utensils and equipment to prepare the meat and marinate it in the refrigerator, not on the counter. For wild game jerky, make sure that the wound location does not introduce fecal matter or debris into the meat prior to slicing and cooking.

Jerky Basics: How to make beef jerky

Start with top quality meat that you’ve hunted yourself; you can also use butchered or grocery store beef for jerky. Think about shape – do you prefer long, single strips or short chunks? Do you want to cut or grind and then shape the meat or simply dry strips? You’ll need to consider the best approach for the meat you have on hand.

What cuts should you make? According to the Bradley Smoker Company, using semi-frozen meat and a very sharp knife allows you to make clean cuts in any thickness. Slice away any visible fat (which could retard the drying process) and then slice the meat into strips or chunks, depending on your personal preferences.

  • Slicing with the grain yields long, chewy strips
  • Slicing across the grain creates short, less-chewy pieces

Create a marinade for the meat; you’ll need to soak it overnight or for at least a few hours to add flavor. Salt helps preserve meat, so including salt or soy sauce can do more than just add flavor, it can help you create a shelf stable jerky, too. You can use your own recipe or a commercially prepared version, as long as you like the taste. Marinate the meat in the refrigerator for 12 or more hours. Place the meat in a single layer on a dehydrator tray or cookie sheet. Beef jerky recipes make it easy to come up with a combination of flavors that works well with your chosen meats.

Use the dehydrator or your home oven to heat the meat to the required temperature, then reduce it to allow it to dry about 8 hours. Leave the oven door slightly ajar to allow moisture to escape and test the meat after eight hours to see if it is done.

Your jerky is done when it is dark in color and snaps when bent in half. If your jerky is not done yet, allow it to dry out for another 30 minutes and check again. Continue drying and checking in this manner until your jerky is done. Store your finished jerky in a cool, dry place and enjoy on your next hunt or outing.

Big Game Getaways

Thursday, March 24th, 2016

Plan Your Big Game Getaway

No matter what draws you to big game hunting – the challenge of the wilderness, dangerous prey or an impressive trophy, these big game spots are right here in the USA and offer something for every trophy hunting enthusiast.

Alaska:  Bear Hunting

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The Challenge: Inhospitable terrain and weather make this the most challenging hunt in the USA.

If you crave adventure and a true challenge, then a hunting expedition through the wilderness of Alaska might be just what you need. From coping with unpredictable and inhospitable weather to tracking game movements over a long period of time, Alaska has plenty to offer the experienced hunter. Game is abundant in Alaska, but the state is so large that some animal populations are tough to track and locate, adding to the challenge and the level of skill required. The right training and equipment can make the difference between success and failure on this intense hunt.

Moose, elk and other large animals abound in Alaska, while those willing to face a full grown grizzly bear can do so – if they dare. According to state hunting experts, preparation is key to a successful hunt; expect to spend about a week on your expedition if you visit the state; it takes time to cross the terrain and locate the game you seek.

Washington:  Moose Hunting

Moose - Big Game blog

The Challenge: Getting lucky in the annual permit lottery or auction

Searching for the perfect trophy for your game room wall? Try a 50 inch moose—these huge herbivores are heavy on the ground in Washington. While you have a good chance of bagging one when you go, the opportunity to hunt is harder to come by.Washington has a raffle and auction permit option, so you’ll have to enter your name into the lottery to grab a chance to hunt moose in the state. Make sure you are fully educated and prepared for your hunt if your name is called as it can take years to win a coveted moose pass.

According to the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife, fees collected from the moose and bighorn sheep lotteries help pay for the care and management of the species. In addition to abundant moose, the state also offers permits for elk, bighorn sheep and mountain goats. Hunters can apply for one or more permit lotteries from inside or out of the state.

Idaho:  Mountain Lion

Mountain Lion (Felis concolor) Cougar or Puma. Mountain Lions are usually solitary animals that feed in the early morning or evening. Often sibling groups may stay together for a year or two after leaving the parent. Their diets consist mainly of Deer but may include rodents and hares. Range: SW Canada, Western US, Mexico, Central and South America.

The Challenge: Huge snow drifts, elusive and a stunningly complex apex predator that is tough to track through deep, deep snow

You’ll have to put in some extra work if you want one of these oversized and wily creatures to adorn your home; mountain lions in the wilds of Idaho enjoy optimal living conditions and are notably oversized. These cats are tough to track – and they do fight back, making pursuing a mountain lion through the snow a daunting proposition.

According to the Idaho Department of Fish and Wildlife, you can hunt mountain lions in the state 10 months out of every year and purchase more than one tag if needed. Proper training and the right equipment is a must for this dangerous hunt; head in prepared and you’ll be more likely to be successful. If you miss a mountain lion, you may still spot some of the other big game the state is known for – black bear, elk and bighorn sheep are all popular trophy picks in Idaho as well.

Montana:  Bison Hunting

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The Challenge: You won’t be able to get very close – bison are huge and quick to charge

One of the biggest land animals in the United States, Bison roam the range in Montana and a skilled hunter can walk away with a freezer full of lean and healthy meat along with a handsome trophy piece. Because of their sheer size and the difficulty involved in hunting from afar, bison offer a true challenge for the experienced hunter. If you’ve ever wondered what life was like on the plains hundreds of years ago, a bison hunt can put you in touch with the past and allow you to experience what others only dream about.

According to Montana’s Fish, Wildlife and Parks department, bison permits are available from November through February and you can hunt on private or designated public land, including some areas around Yellowstone National Park. While you’re tracking down a bison, you’ll also be able to keep an eye out for wolves, elk, mountain lions and more.

Whether your idea of an ideal outing is a day spent elk hunting in the lush wilderness or fighting your way through the wilds of Alaska and facing down a grizzly, one of these big game hunts is sure to please.

Your Gun Dog — Different Ways To Train Your Hunting Companion

Friday, February 19th, 2016

Pointer pedigree dog with quail in mouth and hunter hand

Your Gun Dog — Different Ways To Train Your Hunting Companion

A good gun dog is worth his weight in gold. Hunters always remember the best dogs they’ve owned. Those dogs that seamlessly became an extension of the hunter — one that practically read its owner’s mind. Those are the gun dogs of legend. In this gun dog blog, we look at some of the best ways to train your hunting companion so that you, too, have a gun dog of legend.

Bird dog training — where to start

The hunting process is complex and the role that a good gun dog plays is important. Before you can get them to retrieve dead waterfowl, you have to get them to obey. There are two factors that hunters need to instill in their dogs — obedience and steadiness.

Obedience begins with the “stay” command. Make the pup stay while you do the retrievals. Letting the dog watch you work instills the idea that they do not need to retrieve every dead bird or fowl dummy. This takes the exuberance out of the dog and enhances the dog’s calm nature. Still, the entire process begins with obedience. A gun dog that does not obey will never be steady.

Steadiness is a skill that is essential. It means that a dog will stand-down while another dog does the work. When training puppies, it is important that they obey, especially when it comes to retrieving. What this teaches the dog is restraint. Every dead bird does not need retrieval as soon as it hits the water. Restraint takes the over-excitement out of a dog and allows it to function without the pressure of performing at peak efficiency. Calm and steady are a win for the hunter and the dog.

Training hunting dogs — basic obedience

We discussed the “stay” command –  and that is an essential skill –  but it is not the only skill. Once the dog is in action you need to have it “come” when called or signaled. Gun dogs of legend obey. They stay, come, heel, and fetch, but they do it on command. The only way to effectively train a gun dog to obey is with trial, reward and yes, punishment. That does not mean cruelty because a good bird dog should not fear you; they need to respect you. And that is achieved through favor and disappointment.

Gun dogs — start with good stock

Personality and demeanor are two traits that bird hunters need to carefully evaluate before choosing a dog. Poor breeding practices have really opened up Pandora’s box. What we have now are dogs that are hyper. You cannot train that out of them as it just becomes nervousness and eventually a psychosis. A hyper dog constantly has to battle between its hyper nature and obeying its master. These are not gun dogs of legends. Start with good stock and many of your training issues disappear.

Bird dog training devices

Good trainers do not need training devices. Those products, such as electric collars are training aids. If they are to work, you will first need to know how to train a gun dog. The role of a trainer is to teach. Training devices do not do that. They do not provide the dog with skills. Gun dogs of legend existed long before there were training devices. The best advice is not to rely upon a device to train your gun dogs. Instead, rely upon skill.

Know your dog and its personality

Just like with people, puppies need to develop in order to learn. By knowing your dog and watching its personality, you can feel when the dog is ready to learn. Start with the basics — sit, stay, fetch and come. When they have mastered those, move onto the more complex situations like stand down. It is hopelessly frustrating for both the hunter and the dog when you try to teach a dog skills before it is cognitively ready.

Making a good gun dog is a reflection of the trainer. It is important that you start small and work into teaching harder skill sets. Another good tip is to socialize your pups when they are young. If you are new to training hunting dogs or have had problems in the past with bird dog training, step back and focus on making yourself a better trainer. We hope that these tips help you create your own gun dog of legend.

Different Hunting Dogs and What Makes Them a Top Dog

Friday, February 19th, 2016

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Different Hunting Dogs and What Makes Them a Top Dog

Whether you’re looking for bird dogs, rabbit dogs or a flexible companion for any hunt, one of these specialized breeds is sure to please. Each of the hunting dogs on our list has qualities that make it an ideal companion for hunting. Since most hunting dogs are easily trained and have other great qualities, they also make excellent companions and family pets. Choose your breed based on size, ability and what you enjoy hunting most often for best results. Some top hunting dog breeds are:

Golden Retriever

They’re smart, love water and have a natural instinct to retrieve things, so it’s no surprise that Golden Retrievers are one of the most popular hunting breeds around. Goldens are known for their “soft” mouth and the ability to pick up and retrieve items without damaging them, making them an ideal companion for duck hunters. The breed is also a beloved family pet and wonderful companion, making it an easy choice for hunters who want a dog that is both functional and kid friendly.

Labrador Retriever

Like their long haired cousins, Labrador Retrievers have a built-in instinct to bring items to their owners. Combine this natural ability with high intelligence and a desire to please and you have a near-perfect hunting companion. Duck and fowl hunters love labs for their innate abilities, friendly natures and short, easy care coats. These friendly pups also make great companions.

American Foxhound

Perfect for both formal fox hunts and informal deer hunting sessions, this wiry and flexible dog is willing to run prey to the ground. Their swift and quiet tread and agility make them ideal forest companions and this particular breed is happy to share the work with a pack. Foxhounds hunt by scent and can help track prey over many miles and a variety of terrain. Their medium-size stature and adaptability makes them ideal house pets as well. Like many scent and sight hounds, Foxhounds adapt well to living with kids and other dogs, but may require extra training to be around small, prey like pets.

Bloodhound

Dogs are known for their keen sense of smell – and the Bloodhound stands out from the pack. Able to detect miniscule amounts of scent and follow a trail for miles, this gentle giant is an ideal hunting companion. Originally bred for hunting deer and wild boar, the Bloodhound’s amazing ability to detect and follow a scent trail makes this hardy breed an ideal companion for any hunter seeking large game.

Black and Tan Coonhound

His hardy disposition and short coat mean that the Coonhound adapts easily to the demands of the hunt and withstands both heat and cold. This breed is known for bravely tracking and treeing raccoons – prey that can sometimes turn on and injure a tracking dog. The Coonhound is known for his willingness to trek across uneven terrain and his ability to track wily and occasionally dangerous prey over long distances. When he is not working, this friendly scent hound has a gentle and playful nature and his short coat and medium size make him easy to care for and love.

Beagle

Their diminutive size, easy-care coat and friendly, agreeable nature make Beagles not only great hunting companions, but popular family pets as well. Don’t be fooled by his small size, most experts consider Beagles to be second only to Bloodhounds when it comes to tracking scents. Used for rabbit and other small game, these speedy canines are a top choice for those hunting small, earthbound creatures.

English Springer Spaniel

He may look like a fancy house pet, but the English Springer Spaniel has a long history of hunting fowl and is known for his pheasant and quail hunting abilities. This high-energy, low-profile dog is an asset in the field and particularly adept at flushing pheasants and other wily game. His agility and smaller stature make it easy for him to pass under and around obstacles that could stymie a larger dog. If you’re searching for pheasants and other fancy fowl, have an English Springer Spaniel by your side.

English Pointer

Like all pointing breeds the English Pointer was developed to spot and pursue feathered prey. This short-haired hunter has a super high prey drive and will work hard to track down birds across a variety of terrain. Often referred to as a “bird hunting machine,” this high-energy pet makes a wonderful companion for hunting fowl of all types, and is a good pet for experienced dog owners as well.

German Wirehaired Pointer

All pointers are designed for hunting, but the German Wirehaired Pointer is known for his ability to relentlessly track pheasant and other birds across even unfriendly terrain. If you down a bird, your German Wirehaired Pointer will go through just about anything to bring that bird to you. Known for being tough and protective without being aggressive, this flexible hunting companion will help you track down just about any game or fowl you care to hunt.

Chesapeake Bay Retriever

Like Labs and Goldens the Chesapeake Bay Retriever is a master at gathering up and bringing you your game. These specialty dogs have been bred to withstand the chilly waters of the mid-Atlantic, with a thick and water resistant coat and even some webbing between the toes for better swimming. These dogs are big, robust companions and able to retrieve your fowl – and then protect your boat while you take a break. They also make ideal pets for active families.

10 Things To Remember When Planning Your Dream Hunt

Monday, January 11th, 2016

Preparing for the hunt in a forester cottage

10 Tips to Successfully Plan Your Dream Hunt

We all have them — lofty ambitions for the hunt of a lifetime. But do they need to remain only in your dreams? Absolutely not! Every year, hunters experience the thrill and adventure of taking down a trophy. A dream hunting expedition comes down to one thing – planning. In this article, we discuss ten things that turn an average hunt into the hunting excursion of a lifetime.

Successful hunting is all about planning. You can’t just hop in the truck, head for the woods and bag a trophy buck. That kind of hunting excursion is mostly about luck. Sure, luck plays a part in most hunting ventures, but how much luck impacts your adventure is somewhat controllable. A few of the thing things that we discuss includes equipment and supplies, using guides, and tips on how to plan a dream hunt. This is not a species-specific hunting article, so whether you want a trophy whitetail, elk, bear, or even big game like elephants or lions, the information in this article will be usable for you. Let’s begin with the first order of business — equipment.

  1. Hunting equipment — It all boils down to quality

Hunting equipment is a set of tools, and tools are supposed to stand up to the abuse. The quality of your equipment is a key component to the success of your hunt. A good example is your gun; it won’t do you much good if it jams. It won’t do you much good if the optics are not spot on and you cannot see your target. It won’t do you much good if it is not powerful enough to allow perfect-ranged shots. Invest in a quality rifle or shotgun.

For many of us, that may mean a customized rifle that is built to fit your body and your shooting style. If you are not ready for a customized gun, then take your existing guns to a gunsmith who has been to school and let them service your rifle or shotgun. If you are the DIY type of hunter, and many of us are, consider taking a gunsmithing class or enroll in a gunsmith course. Most of us were taught to care for guns by our dads, but you’d be surprised about how many little tricks you can pick up from a gunsmith about the care of firearms.

What other hunting supplies might you need for a trophy hunt? Treat all equipment as though it is your gun because many hunts are ruined by a $0.03 part that broke. Don’t let that hunter be you.

  1. Know your target

It is one thing to say you want to target a trophy elk, and it is quite another thing to be able to find one. This is where we downplay luck and up-play skill. Learn about the animal you hunt and get to know it intimately.

  • What do they eat?
  • What kind of habitat do they prefer?
  • What are their defenses?
  • How well do they hear?
  • Is their vision better than yours?
  • Is your rifle or shotgun going to do the job to overcome their defenses?

These are just a few of the questions that successful hunters answer when they chase trophy game, especially when chasing a predator. Know your prey like you know yourself.

  1. Safety is always first

Hunting accidents, self-inflicted gunshot wounds and the rest of that long list of miseries are all preventable if you take safety into consideration. There are freak accidents where a limb falls out of a tree and takes you down — an act of God.  Most hunting accidents do not involve God, but rather poor safety policies. Nobody wants to limp home because they shot themselves in the foot, but it happens. Even former Vice President Dick Cheney shot his hunting partner accidentally. Be safe about how you hunt, and how you care for your equipment.

  1. Expect changes

A good hunter is versatile and adaptable. The environment in which you hunt is not going to adapt to you; you will have to adapt to it. You are going into the wild, and the wild is “wild.” Expect conditions to change, especially the weather. Pack your bag for all of the unexpected events. That includes staying longer than planned, lighting, extreme weather, and physical issues such as fatigue, pain, and even allergies. There is a lot that changes in the bush, including one of the most impressive predator groups –  insects (ticks, mosquitos and chiggers).

  1. Use a hunting guide

Good hunting guides are worth their weight in gold. The benefit is that they know the territory and they know the game. They help you overcome the learning curve that you cannot overcome by time, reading or watching videos. What they know they learned from personal experience on the land you’ll be working. They also understand what types of hunting supplies you’ll need, the conditions you’ll face, and what the physical and mental requirements of your hunt will be. A good guide helps make your hunt successful.

  1. Practice patience

How many of the “ones that got away” got away because hunters were impatient? Patience, they say, is a virtue, and that has never been truer than when hunting. Practice being patient until you master that skill.

  1. Lose the ego

Hunting is not about you. Hunting trophy game is about building a relationship between yourself and your prey. Most anyone can walk up to an elephant and shoot it. We read about that all the time on social media. To find a monster bull elk or moose is quite a bit different. It is like a dance, and you cannot afford to step on your partner’s toes. Hunting is about skill. You can be prideful after you bag your target. To get to the point of squeezing the trigger occurs more often when we leave our ego in the truck. Be humble and patient and increase your chances for success.

  1. Evaluate your presence

Do you smell? Can your prey smell you? Are you wearing scents? Even those manly scents from underarm deodorant and toothpaste can alert prey long before you even see them. This is an exercise in evaluating how well your actions and presence stack up against the defenses of you prey. Sight, sound and smell are just some of the tools that trophy game use to stay alive. We are foreigners in their territory and therefore, we stand out like a sore thumb. Evaluating your presence in their territory allows you to compensate or adjust your actions to overcome their defenses. Big trophy bucks did not grow up to be big trophy bucks because they were dense. These are smart animals with keen senses. If you want to bag one, you have to match their presence in their territory.

  1. Be willing to learn

None of us knows everything, even if we are good at hunting. Think of things in grades — amateur, novice, sufficient, master, guide. Where are you in this lineup? Even the top tier of hunters have things to learn and skills they can improve. A common improvement is how to squeeze the trigger. Eliminating shooting errors is a big part of being successful as a hunter. To hunt the top tier of prey you need to be the best hunter that you can be, and that comes down to skill. Be willing to learn and willing to put in the time to improve.

  1. Learn the art of movement

Tracking game requires movement, and that means sound. Learn how to move slowly and how to make each movement with purpose. There are skills that you can learn that help you step softly or creep along the ground silently. Being able to move properly is a key component of hunting. It is not very likely that you will just walk through the woods and drop a trophy buck from 50 feet.

Hunters need to be flexible, able to bend, squat, and stand for long periods and then be able to move quickly, accurately and purposefully. If you’d like to evaluate how you move, consider taking a Tai Chi class. Tai Chi is a Chinese art, and it teaches balance and movement. Tai Chi will surprise you with what you will discover about yourself.

These ten tips address the entire realm of what a hunter is and offer insight into how to improve yourself so that you fit into the role of a top predator. Whether you shoot bullets or arrows, the best of us got there by practicing and improving. Skill wins over luck, and building skills require work. Master these and you’re well on your way to your Dream Hunt.  Happy hunting.

Gunsmith’s Guide: How to Choose a Shotgun Shell for Your Next Hunt

Monday, November 16th, 2015

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Hunters often favor shotguns because the firearm option is extremely versatile. However, this has resulted in an immense and complex ammunition market. When shopping for shotgun ammunition, you’ll come across thousands of different types of shotgun shells that offer diverse results. With the right ammunition, you’re more likely to be an effective hunter.

Shotgun gauge sizes

According to gunsmithing experts, the first step to buying the right shotgun ammunition involves choosing the best gauge. In the firearms industry, manufacturers measure shotguns in gauges as opposed to calibers. The term “gauge” defines the barrel’s diameter while the number refers to the lead weight that will fit inside a gun’s barrel. If you buy a 12-gauge shotgun, then 12 equally sized balls made from one pound of lead will fit inside the weapon. As a result, a 20-gauge shotgun is smaller than a 12-gauge.

In the past, people made their own ammunition from purchased lead pieces. An exception to the gauging measurement in shotguns is the .410, which is a small firearm that manufacturers measure by the bore size. If you were to measure it in traditional gauge size terms, it would be a 68-gauge.

Hunters use shotguns to bring down fowl. Also, most hunters choose shotgun shell gauges in smaller sizes for clay target shooting and to hunt small creatures as well as game animals. Larger gauges are best for shooting clay targets. In addition, experts recommend large ammunition for home defense and for hunting big game species like deer and turkey.

Shotgun shell length

Within their corresponding gauges, shotgun chambers are available in different lengths. Keep in mind that even if it’s the proper gauge, it is dangerous to use a shell that’s too long for your shotgun’s chamber. To maintain your personal safety and the security of bystanders, don’t use shells that measure longer than the gun’s guide recommends. However, to shoot with greater accuracy and power, buy the longest types of shotgun shells that are safe to use in your gun.

Types of shotgun shells

Gun enthusiasts refer to the cluster of tiny pellets that you shoot out of a shotgun as shot. In gunsmithing, ammunition manufacturers make shot from pure lead, but they may coat it with other substances like copper, steel or bismuth.

Birdshot is the smallest type of shotgun shell available with letters depicting larger shot sizes. The largest is buckshot, and you’ll want it on hand to hunt deer, vermin or for self-defense. To hunt game birds like woodcock or grouse, select a small diameter shot size like 7 ½, 8 or 9. If you intend to hunt squirrel, duck, rabbit or pheasant, use a 4, 5 or 6 shot size. Large shot sizes include 1, 2 and 3 along with B, BB and BBB.

Other large shot sizes are T, F and FF. Use these sizes for long distance waterfowl hunting based on your preferences. Larger pellets retain their rate of speed and hold enough power to complete rapid kills when you’re shooting at distant ducks and geese. Along with deer, you can use buckshot to bring down a coyote or a fox.

Shotgun slugs

Slugs are another type of shotgun shell. A shotgun slug is a single projectile that most hunters use to take down big game animals like deer or even bears. Slug shotguns come in two different forms — smoothbore or rifled. These terms refer to a gun’s barrel. A smoothbore barrel is a traditional shotgun feature, and you’ll generally use this kind of barrel to shoot pellets.

To shoot big game with a slug shotgun, you’ll want to invest in a gun with a rifled barrel. A shotgun with this type of barrel has grooves and twists that create a spinning and stabilizing action when you release the slug. These barrel features increase accuracy. Shotguns that shoot slugs are specialized firearms, and they are in a separate category.

Nontoxic or lead-free ammunition

Because of environmental concerns, a number of states and regions ban hunters from using lead ammunition. Fortunately, manufacturers offer nontoxic shotgun shell types, also called lead-free ammo or green ammo. These include steel, bismuth, tin and tungsten-polymer materials. Tungsten-iron and tungsten-matrix are also environmentally friendly.

A few final considerations

Choose shotgun shell types and sizes according to the kind of game you intend to hunt. Use caution regarding the length of your ammunition, and while hunting, be sure to use a quality gun that inspires confidence.