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An 8 The Hard Way

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By Gary Smith

In 2001 I tested the Super Blackhawk Hunter in 44 Magnum and fell in love with the gun. I used it with great success in Africa on plains game and also on whitetails and groundhogs closer to home. When I heard Ruger was producing this gun in 45 Colt I knew I had to have one.

Since 1873 the 45 Colt or as it's often called, the 45 Long Colt, has been a favorite of cowboys, lawmen and more recently handgun hunters. It is still popular with the would-be cowboys playing games but this gun is not for them and lawmen have gone down another road altogether. No, this 45 is a hunter's handgun. The 45 Colt started out as a black powder round and at the time it was pretty potent. As smokeless powders were developed the 45 Colt had new life breathed into it and all of a sudden there was a 45 caliber handgun that could keep up with a 44 Magnum. You can't use the more powerful loadings in old single action Colt's, for example, but in modern revolvers the scene is much different or so I had heard.

If you want one of these guns you better get the lead out because there are only about 200 left. The 45 Colt was comissioned by Lipseys, a distributor in Baton Rouge, Louisana. Your local dealer can contact them to place an order. Photo by Gary Smith

I never owned a 45 Colt handgun prior to this one; the 44 Magnum had always been my go-to gun in a revolver and with good reason. It's powerful, accurate and ammunition is easy to load. So why use a 45 Colt?

I'm not one who frets over details trying to justify a new gun - this is America and I "need" a new gun because I want one and I didn't have a 45 Colt. It didn't arrive till after Virginia's deer season was in full swing I so got out my Hodgdon reloading manual and found a load for a 260 grain HP. I had no idea whether it would shoot or not but I didn't have months or even weeks to worry about finding the best load if I was to kill a deer this year with the 45. I kept the load a bit under the recommended maximum and headed to the range to zero the gun in as best I could. As it turned out the gun shot well enough for deer out to 100 yards so I claimed success and off I went. Little did I know, only a week later I would get a shot at one of the biggest bucks I had ever seen.

I had seen a really good buck about a week into the season but even with my 309 JDJ Contender I couldn't get a shot because of the brush and terrain. I hunted that buck for the next two and a half weeks relentlessly. I hunted in the wind and snow. I hunted him before work almost every day trying one approach into his lair after the other but I could not see him again and was actually seeing very few other deer as the days progressed.

It became clear that he had changed his pattern but where was he now? The possibilities were endless since I had seen him very close to the edge of the property boundary. He could be anywhere and it didn't look good for success this year. Not being one to dwell on failure I kept hunting and with a bit of snow other patterns emerged. Most of the movement was taking place about 3/4 of a mile from where I had been hunting the big one that got away, so I reluctantly changed areas.

Sometimes being a responsible hunter means letting a good one go when you don't have a good shot opportunity. Photo by Gary Smith

One morning after the majority of the snow had melted I was watching a gas line that has been very reliable over the years and was in fact the location I killed a very nice buck last year. About an hour after daylight, just as things typically start to get interesting on that stand, the cattle herd on the farm decided they wanted to feed where the deer usually feed. I knew there was no use fighting it so I packed up and I moved.

I decided to get in position in an area that typically is very good around mid-morning when deer move in to bed down. As I rounded a hillside I looked across to the other ridge of broken cedars, briars, and grasses and immediately my eyes locked on to a set of antlers. I was making very little noise and fortunately the sun was in his eyes, which was to my advantage. Also to my advantage was that I had seen him first; still this wasn't going to be easy. He was bedded down and looking right towards me. I had laid down on the ground to prepare for a shot but I just couldn't see well enough to shoot. I noticed a stump about 20 yards ahead and I knew I had to get to that stump to have a chance. Focused on the antlers I slid slowly on my belly toward the stump, praying for him to stay put. Movement to my left caught my attention and I just about had a heart attack when about 50 yards away there were 3 small bucks and a doe looking right at me. I knew I was in a world of trouble. After only a few seconds the doe took a couple bounds and disappeared behind a screen of cedars. The scrub bucks turned their attention to her and after a few moments continued walking, but they were headed straight for the bedded buck. Now I had another problem. I was certain he would stand up when they approached but I was in some weeds and it was going to be tough to shoot. I had to get to that stump. Just then the bucks made a little detour to their left and went behind some cedars. I quickly but quietly moved to the stump and got set. My heart was pounding so loud I could hear it in my ears as the bucks emerged. The lead deer walked to within a few feet of the bedded buck and looked down at him as if to say, "what are you doing here?" I guess the answer in deer language was don't bother me I'm sleeping because they all backed out of his space and went deeper into the thicket.

It soon became obvious I was going to have to wait for him to stand up. It was now 8:30 but he was already bedded and it had taken me 30 minutes to reach the stump - would I have to wait till nearly dark? Would he stand up or would he just lie there till I couldn't see any longer? All these thoughts raced through my mind as I watched him through the binoculars. I had become the stump afraid to move as the sun kept rising. The tense situation was somewhat broken by my observations of this trophy deer undisturbed. As he lay there his rack would drift to the side with the tines nearly pointing perfectly horizontal. Then he would right his antlers for a moment but soon they drifted sideways again. There were times when I couldn't see him at all and I wondered if he had disappeared, slipping away like mystery bucks we've all heard stories about. Then he would move and my confidence would be restored.

As I watched and learned his language I realized he was getting restless. He began looking about and using his antlers to play with a branch or something hanging over his head. I had a feeling this buck was getting ready to stand up. It was now 9:00 and I had been watching him for an hour and a half. I slowly cocked the 45 applying some pressure on the trigger at the same time to help quiet the clicks. I positioned the gun on top of my pack I had placed on the stump and watched as he rocked to his feet. I peered at him through the scope but I was uncertain where his shoulder was due to the brown grass and briars. I sure didn't want to blow the shot by hitting a sapling or something. I had to check one more time through the binoculars just to make sure. At the shot my worst fears vanished as he collapsed.

This buck is one of my greatest trophies even though he's not the biggest buck I've killed with a handgun. This is the same buck I had seen 3 weeks earlier - I recognized his brow tines from our first encounter. Photo by Gary Smith

I waited about 5 minutes and walked the 70 yards to where he lay. As I approached the buck he wasn't suffering from any ground shrinkage and I couldn't believe my eyes. This was the same buck I had seen 3 weeks ago that had given me the slip. I guess good things do come to those who wait. Hunting this buck hard and then having everything come together to take a trophy bedded buck was truly one of my most memorable hunts. Not bad for my first animal with a 45 Colt.

In October of 2003 I wrote a column on hunting bedded whitetails and I stated I had worked my way into shooting range on several whitetails but never a big one, even though any taken by this method is a trophy in my book. Handgun Hunting Bedded Bucks

To read a review of the 44 Magnum Super Blackhawk Hunter Click Here.

Checking the Ruger website this model is listed as a special edition and there were only 500 of the guns produced according to Lipseys sales rep. Jason Cloessner. For those interested the model number is KS-457NH and its Lipseys #00864. They can be contacted by visiting or by calling 1-800-666-1333. Your dealer will have to handle the transaction.

Good Hunting,

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Recent Comments:

Poster: pab1    Date: 2017-07-21    Top

Great buck and story! Congrats!
Poster: rbecker    Date: 2012-06-17   Top

That's a dandy buck Gary. I have the bisley hunter in 44 mag. and it is very accurate.
Poster: gemihur    Date: 2011-11-04    Top

Way to go, Gary! Great tell. loved it. Jimmy
Poster: kynardsj    Date: 2010-12-13   Top

Having owned a 44 mag Hunter sometime back I was thrilled when I heard a special run of them had been made in 45 LC. It was hard to find and expensive but I now have one with a Bushnell 3200 Elite Firefly sitting on it. Very sweet shooter with anything I run thru it. Right now it's trued in with hot loaded Hornady 300 gr XTP's for hog hunting.
Poster: Dennis L    Date: 2009-03-11    Top

I have a 45 Long Colt Bisley model It does not have the Hunter barrel but it is one of my favorite handguns. Reloaders love the 45 Colt
Poster: Gary    Date: 2008-02-01   Top

The Super Blackhawk Hunter in .45 Colt was a one-time limited run of guns for the distributor, "Lipseys". The guns are out of stock with dealers so finding one will be challenging, but if you do, they are great guns and will become collectables unless Ruger produces another run.

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