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Driftwood outdoors - Slug guns: Perhaps it’s time to give them a shot

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Sure, I’m biased. I grew up with a slug gun in my hands. My first buck was shot with a slug. So was my second, and so was my third.

But my history with shooting slugs isn’t the only reason I enjoy hunting with them. Shotgun slugs are devastating on impact and should have a place in every gun hunter’s repertoire.

The days of floating slugs such as knuckleballs from a smooth-bore barrel are long gone. The combination of today’s advanced slug technologies and rifled-barrel slug guns has brought a new level of accuracy to the slug hunter. In Midwestern states, such as Indiana, Illinois and Iowa, where the use of traditional rifles is outlawed, the major competitor of slug guns is muzzleloaders.

Today’s modern muzzleloaders are awesome, too. With the right load shot from the right gun, you can honestly achieve accuracy at ranges beyond 300 yards. The downside has always been, and remains to be, the single shot. Let me tell you a quick story.

The farm my uncle hunts with a bunch of other guys is a monster buck-producing piece of property. As a kid, I was able to tag along with my bow and fling arrows at does. Things changed when I got older. Once my abilities improved, I was seen by some of the other hunters as competition, so instead of stirring up any trouble with the hunters, my uncle just stopped taking me. Not cool, I know.

At any rate, the property is bordered by public land on two sides. You have to draw a spot to hunt. I studied the public land and figured out where I wanted to be was on the edge of a big conservation reserve program field. I decided an ability to shoot a long ways would be my best bet for success. So I bought a new muzzleloader just for that reason. I practiced and practiced and became deadly accurate at 200 yards. It was game on.

Morning after morning, I drove to the fish and wildlife property to enter the drawing for a spot. I usually got stuck somewhere I didn’t want to be. Yet one morning, I finally drew my honey hole. With great confidence, I headed out in the dark to set up my stand. I planned to sit all day.

A couple of hours into my vigil, a doe busted out of the CRP below me. She was running with her mouth open, obviously being chased. I grabbed my muzzleloader and gripped it tight. I knew a buck was on her trail. After a while, though, nothing came, and I lost concentration. I hung my muzzleloader back up. Of course, then he showed.

I grabbed for my gun as the biggest buck I have ever seen in the wild (still true to this day) ran directly under my stand heading down the trail of the doe. I made sounds to try to stop him, but he wasn’t interested. I yelled and he kept going.

Finally, I pulled the trigger and missed a running shot at 60 yards. He stopped broadside and froze. With a muzzleloader in my hand, there was nothing I could do.

To this day, I dream of going back in time and having a slug gun with me that day. I’d have dropped him stone dead if I would have had a second shot. In a perfect world, we all hope and pray for “one shot, one kill” scenarios, but occasionally we all need number two or three. Slug guns give you those opportunities.

If you’re hunting in the timber or anywhere that won’t offer you shots longer than a couple of hundred yards, I encourage you to consider try hunting with a slug gun. Or maybe you just want to limit your advantages a little by hunting with a slug gun instead of a rifle.

Either way, I can tell you from a lifetime of experience, hunting with slug guns has advantages.

See you down the trail.

Brandon Butler’s column appears Saturdays in the Daily Journal. Send comments to letters@dailyjournal.net

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