Three Bolt Action Deer Hunting Rifles so hot and accurate yet cost effective

Ruger, Thompson Center and Remington are trusted names in the Rifle Industry.

Wow Padnah! These rifles are so hot they Sizzle. All less than 500 bucks and in most cases guaranteed MOA or less accurate. If you are looking for more bang for your buck (pun intended) then look at these three synthetic stock rifles that I think will serve you well as a deer, black bear and Moose rifles with the right caliber for the game you are after. If you like wood stocks then the price will increase. I have listed the websites so you can check’em out then find your local retailer to handle them.

Ruger American around $350 retail. I tested the 243 Winchester Cartridge and shot 90 grain Nosler’s at 3/4 inch at 100 yards out of the box.

Ruger American

TC Venture Nice looking fast handling. Shop around for less than $500 (below)

Remington 783

Shop around for $450 or less. Engineered for accuracy. Add shows a 3/4 inch 100 yd group. Below.

Check them out at your local Retailer!

Hand Loading the .375 Ruger for Deer, Bear, Moose and Cape Buffalo

375 Ruger-0001

The .375 Ruger cartridge is at home in the Ruger M77 African or the M77 Alaskan rifle. I wrote about this cartridge/rifle combo in my African Safari Book “African Safari – Rifle and Bow and Arrow” you can get in eBook format on my home page. And I am still writing about this great rifle and cartridge combination, in particular because it is so versatile when hand loaded with a plethora of powder and bullet styles and shapes.

Honestly, I am like a kid in a candy store when it comes to loading up this cartridge.

My .375 cases have been loaded multiple times, course I am shooting them with much less power than the case is capable of.

The .375 Ruger shines no matter where it is loaded, down for deer, antelope and black bear, African Plains game such as Impala, Gemsbok, Blesbok, loaded a bit more for Elk and African Kudu. When needed it can be loaded up to take Cape Buffalo where it really shines, even Elephant are commonly taken with this cartridge though would opt for the .416 Rigby or 458 Lott if I was so inclined. I am just waiting for the invitation for a free hunt. Think I might wait a while for that hunt to percolate.

When you shoot a .375 in a standing position with a state-of-the-art recoil pad such as the Pachmayr Decelerator, you do not get a kick, you get a push instead.

Why the .375 Ruger anyway? The .375 bullet maintains its momentum for penetration and perfect bullet mushrooming. Yes you can load the .375 to shoot fast bullets like the 225 grain and approach 3000 fps but when hand loaded to 2600 fps it is great deer, bear, elk and moose medicine. I load mine down even more to around 2100 fps for the 225 grain Hornady or the Speer 235 grain “Hot Core” round point and shoot it in my t-shirt.(Below.)

speer hot core

The Hornady and Speer bullets are my deer/bear round delivering nearly 1700 ft lbs at 100 yards. Accurate? Wow! This rifle/cartridge combo is not finicky at all. It shoots well no matter the bullet.

For Moose I shoot full power 260 grain Nosler AccuBonds of around 4000 ft lbs at the muzzle.


My first encounter with the rifle/cartridge years ago was when I tested the M77 rifle and .375 Ruger was with 300 grain round nose bullets at 50 yards designed for Cape Buffalo.  My friend spotted for me as I shot. The first bullet was near the bull as I adjusted the scope earlier. Ok, he said I’m ready for your next shot he shouted with his ear protection on.

I squeezed the trigger.

“You missed the target clean” he said, just that one hole there!

Ok, I shouted back with my “ears on”, let me put a third shot and see where it goes, I said.

I fired a third shot.

“Hmm only that one hole but the hole looks bigger”, he said.

“Wow!” I replied realizing what had happened

Sure enough, there was a cloverleaf of holes 1/4 inch apart.

My friend said matter of factly; “Your gonna keep that gun right?”

I grinned! “Ayuh, shoots mighty good!”

First and foremost, I give credit and homage to its predecessor, the .375 Holland & Holland Magnum. A cartridge that debuted more than 100 years ago and still has a strong following in Alaska, Africa and as long range Elk medicine. The H & H requires a longer action and bolt throw than the .375 Ruger yet the Ruger has a 6% larger case capacity and is a non belted case like an oversize 30-06 case.

When coupled with its Parent rifle the .375 Ruger means business as the Ruger M77 utilizes a Mauser style bolt that grabs and holds the cartridge as it feeds from the magazine ensuring reliability.  In only a 20 inch barrel it beats or exceeds its .375 H & H ancestor and is a much stronger modernized case.

So this round is for short range work you say on really big game?  Nope!

The .375 Ruger when loaded with Nosler 260 grain AccuBonds can take down an Elk at 600 yards or a 2000 pound Bison or Cape Buffalo at 100 yards. Bullets for the .375 start at 200 grains and go up to 300 grains and include dangerous game solids and monolithic bullets (below right) that can “chug-along” through bone and look non-the-less for wear. I have taken Moose and Bison with this cartridge. The 800 lb buffalo traveled 20 feet and piled up on the first shot. The Bull Moose took 2 shots. One from me and a one from my partner’s 308. I took an insurance shot. Big Moose can be tough.

nolsler bullets for test 2

As a rifleman, I believe that a well-rounded shooter that has shot big bore as well as small bore, really understands both sides of the shooting spectrum.  Do you ever want to hunt Brown Bear? Do you ever want to hunt Africa? If you say yes to either question and want to hunt deer too,  the .375 Ruger and its M77 Rifle is a Cartridge/Rifle combination worth investigating especially if you hand load. © 2013

Ruger American .243 Winchester with 55 grain Nosler Ballistic Tip Varmint Ammo

I recently took a walk scouting deer sign with a friend in very hot New England weather, about 90 degrees in the sun to be sure. I carried my Ruger American .243 in case a coyote stuck its nose out.

Ruger American


Nope nothing happening! However I wanted to see the real drop rate of the bullet I was shooting, a 55 grain Nosler Ballistic Tip Varmint. I chronographed the bullet speed at 3500 fps so I knew it was cookin’ along for speed. These, I had hand loaded.


I spotted a log end that was 16 inches in diameter at 234 yards according to my laser rangefinder. I pinned a target on it and steadied the shot with a Harris bi-pod. My face was dripping with sweat, and salt in my eyes so all was not perfect for the shooter. With the trigger pull adjusted to three pounds the Ruger American trigger was crisp and fired with a resounding crack but little recoil. I put a second one in and fired. Off we went to see where the bullets hit.

One 55 grain Nosler was 2.75 inches from dead center high at 12 o’clock. The other shot, my first, was 1.2 inches high and right 4 inches at 3 o’clock.  On a Coyote? Lights out!  The bullets peak in trajectory at 2.75 inches high at 150 yards and 3 inches low at 315 yards. Thus my max point-blank range MPBR for that setup is 315 yards and delivers 750 ft-lbs at that range. Enough to flatten a coyote from zero to 315 yards without changing my point of aim.

A note on the wind: At 10 mph a crosswind will blow that bullet 5 to 6 inches off course at 234 yards. At 300 yard it would have been 8.5 inches off.  There was little wind to bother my shot that day.

Those Nosler Ballistic Tips for Varmint are deadly! That was one dead log for sure.

Did I mention LL Cote’s in Erroll, NH have the Ruger American on Sale for 329.99. Wow!©

Finding Deer in New Hampshire

The New Hampshire Fish and Game Wildlife Harvest Summary is a must read for every hunter. The summary comes out every year and I read it every year (see below). Of course that does not mean you will kill a deer every year but the summary slices and dices the harvest data every which way so you can get at specific information that you are looking for. Trophy deer data is available too.

Screenshot (94)

Southern NH has always had a great deer population so many hunters consider this a focal point. Yet at the same time there are many hunters that want a really wild experience away from roads and homes so they go north. North country, my hunting friends, grows really big bucks. Why? The deer density is low, hunting pressure is low. This is where a buck can live to the trophy age above 3 1/2 years and peak at about 5 1/2 years and his antlers are in their best size and shape. When I say north I really mean Central New Hampshire and north.

So if you want a bigger deer “on average” to hunt consider northern deer. Its harder, much harder some say. If you know the area, then it is not as hard as you might think.

There are porker bucks in Southern Zones but you have to do your homework to have a chance at them in and around No Hunting Signs. Getting written permission to hunt in southern hot-spots is very much worth investing your time. Do it before hunting season and be neat in appearance. All the landowner can do is say no. Offering to aid the landowner in some way can help as well.

Yes I love my venison and have shot many lesser bucks but this year I may hold for a bigger buck and it may take 2 or 3 years to achieve success.

Once you have located your hunting areas then it is essential to scout them out. Topographical maps are also an essential tool for the mobile hunter. I like Topographical Software. There are numerous companies that offer it. Today there are phone apps that can do this too. Just remember to keep your phone charged. I still prefer a way to print out my Topo map and carry a paper copy with me.

Remember to wear Hunter Orange  during the firearms season, it will keep you out of harms way.©



Marlin Bear Medicine 1895 GBL – 45-70

Bear Populations in NH have been edging ever higher at an estimated 5100 animals according to the forecast here.

A great bear rifle is not overly long and handles well for a follow up shot. I prefer large wound channels and deep penetrating heavy large diameter bullets. That puts lever actions and standard action bolt rifles in the front seat. The new Marlin Lever actions  1895 GBL in 45-70 is one of those. See the Spec’s below. or go to and check-em out

Screenshot (93)A 45-70 with a 300 grain flat nose bullet comes out of the barrel at around 2000 fps in this rifle. Plenty of whump and penetration momentum with 2665 ft-lbs at the muzzle. With a 6 shot magazine you have a storehouse of energy and its overall length is only 37 inches (basically as long as a yardstick plus 1 inch. Wow! Talk about fast handling. This rifle is great for Moose and Deer too. Check this out at your local retailer.


Shoot a NH Buck in his Bedroom

2013-2014 NH Hunting Digest

A squirrel behind me was making noise in the leaves, irritated with the scuffling in the Oak leaves, I turned my head to spot the little critter and found instead a large 8 point buck sniffing something in the air and walking my way with great interest.

It was early November, I was hunting with a friend some years back in a new spot during the first day of shotgun season in southern New Hampshire. I was supposed to be “still” hunting. I did not switch to shotgun that morning. I was hunting with my Hawken 50 Cal. Cap Lock Muzzle loader. My friend and I were spending time trying to identify movement patters when a large doe appeared walking down a woods path in front of me. She was definitely going somewhere.  I raised my Hawken and fired as she stepped between trees.  I missed cleanly finding the large errant bullet path in the leaves below her.  I should have got the doe to stop with a whistle, I lamented, or practiced more at the shot I took. Seeing another deer that day was unlikely, or so I thought.  We followed the fresh doe tracks to see where she was headed and to ensure that there was no injury.  She crossed a stream that fed out of a beaver pond and it was there that we found fresh rubs on swamp alders that were so worn that they dug a half inch into the trees. My eyes nearly popped out of my head, this was a rare find indeed. This was a signal to me that a mature buck (more than 3 1/2 years old) with a significant rack was in the area. What makes that rub so special is that when large antlers are growing, it takes large wide veins to carry nutrients all the way to the top of the large antler beams.  In August the velvet and veins are shed leaving rough bone hard former vein channels and bumpy ridges at the antler base, like a very, very rough file. Rough enough to file a three inch thick alder trunks to pieces. More on Whitetails here;

Back to the story;  I saw a deer trail that crossed the stream near the rubs but did not have boots high enough to follow. I needed waders! I believed that the buck was using the edge of the beaver pond as his home bedroom turf as the wind would blow towards the bedding area near the pond to signal danger or perhaps a doe coming into estrus.

I shared with my friend those same thoughts and we should hunt here this afternoon. He said, “Naaa, I have some things to do this afternoon, can’t make it.” Further, I think he did not buy my theory that the buck is bedded near the pond.

The problem was to get onto the bucks theoretical bedroom was next to impossible, because the wind blew into that so-called bedding area right to the edge of that beaver pond. Undaunted, I went home and showered, I dusted myself with baking soda, changed to newer hunting clothes grabbed my slug shotgun instead. In analysis of this situation, I needed a scent lure to draw the buck from his hideout and cover my own scent. I was using Bob Kirshner lures Silver top Doe in Estrus and his mature buck scent. I got my duck waders and put them in a backpack and off I went. It was around 1PM when I crossed the stream with my waders.  I took them off and left them at the stream edge. It was warmer than expected that day and nearly 60 degrees in the sun, sweat was on my brow, so I slowed my pace for the last 100 yards. Wind was blowing toward the theoretical bedded buck at the edge of the pond so I immediately placed both the doe in estrus and the buck urine not far from one another and found a forked tree to hide my back side if the buck sneaks up behind me. It was tough to navigate in there as it was more of a thicket than open woods. About 45 minutes had passed when A squirrel behind me was making noise in the leaves, irritated with the scuffling in the Oak leaves, I turned my head to spot the little critter and found instead a large 8 point buck sniffing and walking my way. The  scents I had placed worked like magic. My heart began racing as adrenaline shot through me. I was facing the wrong way to take a shot. The buck was looking at my orange back side but I made little eye contact with the buck while lifting my shotgun, a Remington 870 pump. I lifted it in-line with the tree so the deer could not see the gun movement. I rotated in an instant and the buck jumped. As the shotgun got to my shoulder the buck ran to about 45 yards stopped and looked back as if to say, what the heck was that?  This gave me a front shoulder to aim at. I sent the slug on its way and watched as it struck just behind the shoulder and neck. The buck went down but tried to get up, a follow-up shot ended the encounter. I believed not only was the buck was where I thought but by using both the buck and doe scent, the buck believed that an amorous intruder was with his doe in his bedroom no less. In hindsight, I was perhaps lucky, but was truly where preparation met opportunity. A photo of my prize should be next right?

Tragically, A few years later our home was destroyed by fire thus photo’s and my upstairs deer mounts were destroyed. I wrote an article for  NH Wildlife Federation News on that buck years ago.

I have taken lesser bucks with muzzle-loader and bow but none as grand, but still trying. I will show you a big buck yet.

You saw my friend Ovide Lamontagne’s buck from last year? Now that is a NH buck! Look back to December articles from last year in the photo below. Now that is NH Buck with brow tines that should be in the record book!Ovides Buck better jpeg©