Hunting With Handguns

The Target Bulldog
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by reflex264     Last updated: 2012-08-14 22:52:31

Out of range was an understatement. The fact that there was a perfectly capable rifle in the Scout only briefly crossed my mind. For the moment, merely watching the herd of does work their way toward me was enough. This evening I chose to carry one of my Charter Arms Target Bulldog revolvers in .44 Special in an attempt to kill a doe. Further more the 30 mile per hour wind gust coupled with freezing temperatures made the adventure even more of a challenge.

Sounds confusing doesn’t it? Just a simple deer hunt with multiple ingredients but the outcome was not what I expected. I started deer hunting seriously when I was 14 years old. While many 14 year olds were playing baseball or soccer, I was reading every gun magazine I could get my hands on. During this time, there were certain guns that made lasting impressions on me and I knew that someday I would have to own them. One of the guns that I was enthralled with was the .44 Special Target Bulldog. I still remember reading the article in a magazine where it was reviewed by my hero at the time, Elmer Keith. I had to have one. Even at that early age, I envisioned myself woods bumming with the lightweight powerhouse harvesting deer with a gun I could easily slip in my coat pocket. Of course I was familiar with the law in Tennessee that said I had to be 18 to hunt with a handgun but that was only 4 years away!

The 19 ounces of blued steel stuffed with cast bullets over a moderate charge of Unique (that is what Elmer said he would use) would take care of anything I would encounter in the hills of Tennessee. As time changes things, so it did my desire for the Target Bulldog. Cars, girls, and life in general happened and the Bulldog was shoved to a shelf in the back of my mind. A few years went by and I was saddened to learn that the Target Bulldog was no longer made. I began a search to find one to no avail. I had dealers looking and visited gun shows but not even one could be found. I finally gave up my search and ended up with some fine handguns and should have been satisfied but I was not.

One day I was browsing a gun shop that I frequented and there it was. Setting in one of the pistol cases nearly unnoticed was a .44 Special Target Bulldog! I panicked as I looked for a salesmen fearing that someone would grab it before I did. I know how silly that sounds, even to me now but at the time, I was dead serious. I got back to the case with the salesmen who probably thought I was crazy by now and as soon as he handed it to me I told him I’d take it. I couldn’t wait to get it home. It was mine.

The little gun turned out to be an incredible shooter. After I got it home, I discovered that it was the recipient of a trigger job. The grips were a little loose so I bedded them. I used a 240gr SWC over a moderate charge of powder and realized Elmer was right. 40-yard groups ran right at 1”. I carried it a few times and never had a shot at a deer.

All that brings us to this evenings hunt. It is the last week of deer season and I have been quite successful with a freezer full of venison. The pressure of filling the freezer is off but in the time remaining, I want to make something special happen to remember this particular deer season. The weather turned nasty with freezing temperatures and wind with gusts up to 30 miles per hour. I just happened to have a cold weather parka that I haven’t had to use yet and plenty of long underwear and such like. I thought about the Bulldog and how portable it is, grabbed it and a rifle and headed to the woods.

When I arrived at my stand, I instantly remembered how easy it was to climb a tree with the 19oz revolver holstered. The binoculars I carried even weighed more than the little pistol. The wind howled, the trees swayed, and I was snug as could be in my parka. The gun belt around my waste was barely noticeable just as if I knew it would be when I was 14. I raised my binoculars and scanned the field edges on either side of my stand. I saw a few deer but nothing was close. I began to remember my dream of owning and carrying the little beast and of what it would be like to be 18! I glassed the field in front of me once more and spotted a herd of deer slowly moving in my direction. I glanced toward the setting sun and realized the shooting light would be gone before they reached my little place in the woods.

I figured I would stick it out just incase something came from behind me. As I watched the sun set, snow began to fall and the wind, which was still blowing briskly, carried some of the flakes to my face. I glanced at the whole scene and said within myself “this is perfect”. After climbing down from the tree and returning to the Scout, I poured a cup of coffee from my thermos and reflected on the hunt. True I could have carried the rifle and could have been loading a deer now but what of the Bulldog? This evening was special. It would not be wrong to come home empty handed. It would have been wrong not to have gone at all.



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Recent Comments:

Poster: SEAK    Date: 2015-07-29    Top

I do the same thing and don't worry about the local brown bears.
Poster: Redhawk500    Date: 2013-11-15   Top

Handgun hunting at its essence! Elmer Keith and Jeff Cooper got me started on S&W Model 29s and Colt 1911s and II never looked back. When I first saw a Charter Arms Bulldog I had to have one. I treated it terribly with jacketed bullets loaded up to cast bullet levels. I developed some common sense and bought a 4 inch S&W 29, down loading it to 44 Special hot loads and was much happier. The various S&W Mountain Gun models meet this nitch now. I need to strap one on and do some retrospective hunting! Thanks for sharing the essence of a good handgun hunt.
Poster: reflex264    Date: 2013-02-18    Top

Glad you fellers like it. I hoped to set the mood so you could feel what it was like to be on stand that day. Thanks for your kind comments.
Poster: dixiedoug    Date: 2013-02-17   Top

Fantastic account and well told. Thanks, I have been looking for hunting stories and this is the first I have read on here since joining yesterday. I hope there are more. The coffee brings to my mind the many times I have done the same thing.....not seeing anything to shoot and looking forward to that hot coffee while the wind blew the treestand back and forth.
Poster: jamesfromjersey    Date: 2013-01-07    Top

Poster: 358429    Date: 2012-11-29   Top

A good story, and a case in point that a successful hunt does not necessarily mean you have to kill something. It is more about time spent in forest, game seen, and having time to reflect on what is really important in life.
Poster: Jeffrey G.    Date: 2012-08-31    Top

A nostalgic and heartfelt writeup. Anything as personal as this impresses me and I can really identify with the excitement you felt when you saw that Target Bulldog in the gun case! An excellent write up I am glad to have made the effort to read.

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