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Deer hunting with the .357 Magnum

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  • Deer hunting with the .357 Magnum

    Have any of you killed deer with the .357 Magnum? If so, what's your take on performance?

    In .357 Mag, I have a Ruger SP101 revolver with 4-inch barrel and a Handi-Rifle single-shot. Both have only been used for punching holes in paper.

  • #2
    I have hunted deer with a guy who used a Colt Python .357 for years. From what I have seen it is best to hunt from a tree stand as it is at the lower end of cartridge power scale fired from a handgun and minimum suitable for deer. He did get deer but sometimes lost some. Some days he would run out of ammo, maybe taking low percentage shots. I personally feel the .44mag class cartridges are better suited for deer up to 100yds. The .357 fired from a rifle would improve it's performance. He reloaded for the Python and after several years sent it back to Colt and they told him it was junk and not repairable. Not sure what his load was. In Ohio any hand gun has to have a 5 1/2" barrel.

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    • #3
      The first year that handguns were legal to deer hunt with here in West Virginia I checked a bunch of hunters with handguns. After the first year when they found they were difficult to hunt with you could get a really good deal on a handgun and didn't see anyone with a handgun. By the time my career was over the only people I saw with handguns were the bear hunters.

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      • #4
        Skeeter Skelton used to say that the .357 Magnum's performance at 100 yards was about the same as the .38 Special.

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        • #5
          I see the .357 Mag as marginal for deer and a .357 Mag rifle only a slight improvement.
          That said, I've taken deer with a .22 Hornet. Bullet placement is paramount!
          I've been close enough to a lot of deer that a .357 would have been fine, but like my .22 Hornet, it's only good for a target of "opportunity".
          Basically, a deer in your lap.

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          • #6
            My brothers boss uses a 357 in a lever gun, don't know brand, in Arkansas every year and takes 2 deer every year.(1 buck, 1 doe) He hunts on the edge of a subdivision loaded with deer and feels it's his safest option. Don't think he's lost any but not sure. They drop pretty quick from the stories he tells. Do know he's a very patient hunter who has no problem staying all day if they're moving. I'm sure distance is close but I don't know exactly how far he shoots. He's very happy with his choice.

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            • #7
              Jim, here's what's legal for deer in Alabama, no restrictions on centerfire caliber nor barrel length:
              • Rifles using centerfire, mushrooming ammunition.
              • Air powered guns, .30 caliber or larger.
              • Shotguns, 10 gauge or smaller using buckshot, slugs, or single round ball.
              • Muzzle-loaders and Black Powder Handguns--.40 caliber or larger.
              • Long bows, compound bows, or crossbows in conformance with 220-2-.03.
              • Handguns or pistols using centerfire, mushrooming ammunition.
              No buckshot is allowed in the WMA's. Also, spears were removed from the list last season.

              I've killed two deer and 2 pigs with a hot loaded .45 Colt single-action. Longest shot was 40 yards.

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              • #8
                My buddy is 12 for 12 w his .357 mag rifle. No movers, shots 100 yards or less. 180s are cranked to the max. Previous he had
                357 maximum and said he didnt need that much power. One shot per deer. He prefers to pop em in the neck. Pinpoint placement

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                • #9
                  Personally ive only shot one deer w .357 mag.....handgun. 51 yards. Where I shot him anything would have worked ( spined- on purpose...facing away w only neck visible ). Hornady Leverevolution.....bullet recovered in his nose.......all there except for the red tip LOL

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by CD2 View Post
                    My buddy is 12 for 12 w his .357 mag rifle. No movers, shots 100 yards or less. 180s are cranked to the max. Previous he had
                    357 maximum and said he didnt need that much power. One shot per deer. He prefers to pop em in the neck. Pinpoint placement
                    Good information, thanks! I've got Handi-rifles in other calibers but may try the .357 once just for fun.

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                    • #11
                      PH, Skip the .357 barrel, go right to the .44mag - if you can find one. Accurate, powerful and modest recoil. There is a reason they are hard to find, everybody knows they are ideal in the Handi-Rifle for deer and black bear. Ideal for you for pigs in cover. Consider a red dot. I think you can load over 300gr, not positive as I only load 240gr hard lead.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by jhjimbo View Post
                        PH, Skip the .357 barrel, go right to the .44mag - if you can find one. Accurate, powerful and modest recoil. There is a reason they are hard to find, everybody knows they are ideal in the Handi-Rifle for deer and black bear. Ideal for you for pigs in cover. Consider a red dot. I think you can load over 300gr, not positive as I only load 240gr hard lead.
                        Thanks for the advice Jimbo. But I already have several Handi-Rifles in other calibers so don't really need a .44 mag. Using the .357 mag would just be for the experience. I originally bought the barrel to use with a suppressor and have had it threaded. However, I've not yet purchased a suppressor to fit it. Right now, the .300 Blackout is filling that function.

                        Here's the Handi-Rifle calibers PigHuntress and I have:
                        .357 Magnum .... never been used on deer
                        .243 Winchester ... killed one deer
                        .308 Winchester.... never been used on deer
                        .30-06 Springfield.... never been used on deer
                        .45-70 Government... killed two deer, two pigs, and a coyote

                        We also have single-shots in .410, 20, and 12 gauges.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by dewman View Post
                          My brothers boss uses a 357 in a lever gun, don't know brand, in Arkansas every year and takes 2 deer every year.(1 buck, 1 doe) He hunts on the edge of a subdivision loaded with deer and feels it's his safest option. Don't think he's lost any but not sure. They drop pretty quick from the stories he tells. Do know he's a very patient hunter who has no problem staying all day if they're moving. I'm sure distance is close but I don't know exactly how far he shoots. He's very happy with his choice.
                          I find sub division hunting intriguing! LOL!
                          White tails are super adaptive and can live in close proximity to humans.
                          My youngest lived in Alpine, Texas. It was quite common to see mule deer strolling through the nrighborhood as though they belonged.
                          I have a pic of a pretty nice mulie buck walking through a residential area about a block from down town.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by FirstBubba View Post

                            I find sub division hunting intriguing! LOL!
                            White tails are super adaptive and can live in close proximity to humans.
                            My youngest lived in Alpine, Texas. It was quite common to see mule deer strolling through the nrighborhood as though they belonged.
                            I have a pic of a pretty nice mulie buck walking through a residential area about a block from down town.
                            Bubba, for the last 5 years, I've taken at least one deer from my yard each season. My crossbow shots are from 20 to 35 yards, depending on if I'm hiding behind the backyard gate or shooting from behind the garbage cans. It really doesn't feel like hunting but it does provide meat and somewhat helps with population control.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by PigHunter View Post

                              Bubba, for the last 5 years, I've taken at least one deer from my yard each season. My crossbow shots are from 20 to 35 yards, depending on if I'm hiding behind the backyard gate or shooting from behind the garbage cans. It really doesn't feel like hunting but it does provide meat and somewhat helps with population control.
                              Speaking of the adaptability of whitetails to humans, my home town of 10,000 (which is surrounded by farming area) had such a problem with deer that the small community needed to bring in paid shooters to curb the numbers last winter. The final number which they ended at was 127 ! Once deer find a safe ‘area’ they no longer have fear of humans and will rarely leave that protection if there is danger outside of it, they are not slow learners !

                              Comment

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