IT WAS ONE of those special moments in life. Dad and I were going to a gun show to pick out my first deer-rifle. This wasn’t going to be a family heirloom or a situation where Dad handed me his rifle when the deer walked out.
It was going to be all mine.
At the time I was enamored with the .243 because it was what my Dad hunted with and as I understood it, a flat-shooting load. I thought it would be excellent for Texas whitetails, and maybe I could save up for a few years and hunt pronghorns in Wyoming.
On that day I walked out of the show in Beaumont, Texas with a Remington Model 7600 pump .243. The pump added a cool factor for me because I had not seen many pump rifles at that point. The .243 chambering gave me a gun that wouldn’t knock me to the ground, but would be plenty adequate for whitetails.
I took quite a few deer with it in my early hunting life, but since then have amassed a collection of rifles and shotguns for hunting.
There seems to be a gun for every season. The following is a look at reliable recommendations on the caliber front for the small, big and bigger game in North America.
These are from the collection of guns available from CZ-USA, inspired by visiting with them at the 2019 SHOT Show where their myriad of firearms was on display.
I know a fair amount of hunters who love the 20 gauge for duck hunting, but there is no question the 12 gauge is superior. Delivering more velocity and steel shot is a significant advantage when hunting the wide variety of waterfowl that flies down the Central Flyway.
Most of the geese I have killed have been in a duck blind. So having a 12 gauge with a 3½-inch chamber for magnum shotshells is a plus.
I have been looking at the CZ 612 Magnum Waterfowl. Built for the goose blind, the 612 Magnum Waterfowl boasts the perfect waterfowl camo pattern. This is combined with a 3½-inch chamber for magnum shotshells and a 28-inch barrel. The 612 Magnum Waterfowl ships with five extended black choke tubes.
It’s nice to be able to fire confidently at a gadwall. Then take down a snow goose that passes by the same blind.
The .22 LR is the standard cartridge for serious squirrel hunters. The challenge of being able to plink them off a tree builds patience and skill in a hunter. In areas where squirrels receive real hunting pressure, it can push even veterans of the game.
The CZ 457 offers a variety of options for squirrels and other varmints that hunters might encounter. The 457 Scout is ideal for young shooters with a 12-inch length of pull and simple iron sights. The 457 American has no iron sights, perfect for mounting a scope..
Scopes offer a great advantage for hunting squirrels and other varmints in dense forests, especially in the dim light seen early in the morning and late in the afternoon.For hunters wanting to maybe shoot a little farther in more open country or take out other varmints, a scoped 457 Varmint has a heavier barrel and a little more stability.
The .22 is still inexpensive to shoot compared to other rifles and has virtually no recoil.
The CZ 457 platform is a great choice to get kids started shooting and to learn to squeeze the trigger instead of pulling it.
Choices for whitetails range from the aforementioned .243 to the .270. However, for overall versatility, it’s hard to beat the .30-06.
TF&G contributor Razor Dobbs said he likes the CZ 557 in .30-06.
“While hunting at Sandstone Mountain Ranch in Llano with guide and friend Chris Treiber, we came across a giant whitetail buck with a broken back leg,” Dobbs said. “Despite the buck having snapped a femur, he was still able to evade us by darting through the thick brush.
“As we slowly stalked through the thick stuff, the buck jumped up to run. I quickly aimed and punched him in the shoulder with 3,138 foot-pounds of .30-06. He dropped immediately.
“There isn’t a deer in North America the .30-06 won’t kill and kill quickly, which is why it’s such a popular caliber, he added.”
Other killer calibers include .308 and .270.
Elk may very well be North America’s toughest game animal. Mature bulls have heavy bone and dense muscle, so taking one down is not a task for the .243 that I use to hunt whitetails.
You need something that can deliver a heavy load at long distances and penetrate deep into a tough animal. That’s a tall order for many popular deer calibers.
A mature elk can be six times larger than an average Texas whitetail and four times larger than a mule deer. So keep that in mind.
A rifle chambered for .338 Lapua is ideal for elk and other mountain-dwelling game. A prime choice is the CZ Western Series 500 Badlands Magnum, which comes with a 25-inch barrel and a 14-inch length of pull.
A chance at an elk can be a once in a lifetime experience. Making sure you have the right rifle can be the difference between celebration and heartbreak.
Choosing the optimal gun is a personal choice. Many great options are available, so you’ll have no problem finding what you need. Always put the game first, and choose a caliber that’s adequate for a clean kill. Then make sure you get something comfortable for you.
Take some time, and ask the gun dealer questions. Study every scenario. Most of all, have fun.
Choosing the right gun can be as exciting for you now, as it was for me at age 13.
A no-nonsense pump, the 612 Magnum Waterfowl is everything that’s needed in a goose and duck gun. It ships with 5 black extended chokes for the 28″ barrel, polymer stocks, sling swivels and the whole gun is dipped in Realtree MAX-4®.
Kateřina and Matt Emmons are really enjoying the CZ rimfire rifles, which quickly became the masters’ choice. It was our great pleasure to test with them our new 2019 CZ 457 models.
The 557 combines CZ’s renowned cold hammer forged barrels with an action CNCed from steel billet, resulting in an heirloom-quality rifle with impressive accuracy.
CZ showed TF&G’s Dustin Ellermann the .338 rifle, the CZ-550 Custom .338 Lapua.
A story of a hunter, story of a man loving nature. If you admire really stunning views, beautiful nature of Ireland is what comes to your mind. This is where your soul can find peace.
—story by CHESTER MOORE