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Dick Pinney's Guide Lines: New rifle made the deer hunting difference

HAVING TO USE my duck gun to hunt deer in the no-file zone was a huge handicap for this avid hunter. My nice duck gun, a Beretta 12-gauge over/under, seemed to be magic for me with ducks and geese and always seemed to go bang when I was waterfowling. But when I was deer hunting, it seemed I always rushed my first shot. Time after time the gun wouldn't go bang with my second pull of the trigger!

So one day, after having that happen, I was so frustrated I went over to Kittery Trading Post, where my longtime friendship with the now-deceased Kevin Adams was taken advantage of. I picked up a neat Ithaca Deerslayer 12-gauge and told the clerk at the gun department that I'd be back and take care of the payment to Kevin himself.

That very next day, while hunting with my buddy Tom Connors aka “The Tomcat,” I shot a small deer on my first shot, having to concentrate on the gun's sights that were more like open rifle sights.

That was the first of many deer that gun had put away. The very next day, Tomcat borrowed the Deerslayer and, tracking a deer that buddy of ours had slightly wounded the previous day, I watched him take an 80-yard shot.

From that year on, there were few deer that escaped me when offered a fair shot and by then I'd invested in a rifled shotgun barrel that really made my Ithaca into a deer-slayer. And the saying “not by a long shot” became a kind of a joke for us because we'd practiced firing at targets at ranges up to 200 yards, with the gun now sporting a variable power, 1.5- to 3-power telescopic scope.

The scope had a combination post and crosshair reticle and we'd learned how to hold on at targets at different ranges. That came in pretty handy for me.

Some of you are going to scoff at what we write about now, as that gun accounted for several deer at extended range. The first one was when a small bunch of us had an organized hunt. Well, that's putting into the hunt too much sophistication. Heck, it was a five-man deer drive.

We had jumped a couple of deer but they had sneaked past our standers so when we changed places with the standers and continued to go after that big doe, I picked a stand in the middle of an open field where a tiny bit of brush gave me some cover. The deer came out of the woods on the run at about 150 yards from me. I missed my first shot but my second one was better timed and when the slug hit the deer, it did a somersault and a huge puff of hair moved across the field. The deer never wiggled — a clean shot at a long range.

But that was only the beginning of other long-range shotgun kills that most of you are not going to believe but there's several living witnesses to these next ones.

Tomcat and I had watched a doe and skipper in a field in the morning but when we tried to sneak up on them they fled into some heavy cover. We made plans to watch that field that late afternoon. Tom was up in a tree at midfield while I chose to sit in an hourglass pinch in an alder run that came into the field.

Just before dark I heard Tomcat shoot. I ran into the field just in time to see the big doe bouncing up a trail across the field from me. Flopping to the ground so I could make a good shot, my first attempt missed but my second shot sent the doe to meet her skipper, which the Tomcat had taken with his first shot.

A young hunter friend had heard the shooting and came into the field. He and Tom were headed my way to help me with the large deer. I tossed my orange vest where my two empty shells laid and paced off over 200 yards to my kill. The deer had a broken back. You can believe it or not. That's just the facts.

My next long-range kill was probably more spectacular. We had standers lined up in some brush along the side of a grown-up gravel pit that had waist-high growth. Marc Connors, I and a couple of others were going to push through about 300 yards of woods and brush toward our standers. Before we even got started, a shot from the standers had us turn to look and there was a deer down and another one standing with nobody even shooting at it. Mark yelled at me to shoot. I did. The big doe went down on my shot, with my slug hitting her in the back bone.

Marc shook his head. I asked him if anyone else had shot. Being still in shock at the event, he just couldn't vocalize until he squeezed-out, “What a shot Dick. You got that deer.”

Some of you are going to be critical about that kind of long range shooting. I no longer have a lust for killing deer. And the Deerslayer has gone into retirement. But my witnesses are still alive and willing to testify.

Drop us an email at and get out there and get you some.

Dick Pinney's column appears weekly in the New Hampshire Sunday News. Email him at