Bourjaily: Blast From The Past

A lot has changed in shotgunning since I started hunting in 1979, and I don’t think anything has changed as … Continued

A lot has changed in shotgunning since I started hunting in 1979, and I don’t think anything has changed as much as slug shooting has. I remember the days before rifled barrels and sabot slugs. Back then, people really did brag about slug guns that could hit a five-gallon milk jug at 100 yards. My old Polychoked A-5 probably couldn’t hit a milk can every time at 100 feet but I shot quite a few deer with it at close ranges and never lost one.

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Fast forward to last week, when my son John and I were cleaning out the garage and we came upon this forgotten target. John is not usually an impertinent kid, but he is 15 and sometimes can’t help himself. He said, “Nice group, Dad. What did you shoot that at, 50 yards?”

I was thinking it was probably a bad 100 yard group and was wondering why I kept the target until I looked at the back where I had written: “Hornady SST. Ithaca DeerSlayer III. 200 yards.”

After smugly reading the back of the target aloud to John, I remembered the day I shot that group spring before last, testing SSTs and Winchester XP3s (which also shot very well) on a measured 200 yard rifle range.

I realize that by centerfire standards, eight inches at 200 yards is not very good. However, considering the state of the art of slugs even a few years ago, five shots in the vitals of a whitetail at 200 yards is impressive accuracy.

Personally, I would not shoot at a real deer that far away. I made the group in the picture on a calm day from a benchrest with a scope re-zeroed to 200 so I wouldn’t have to worry about holdover and I still barely managed to keep all five shots in the vitals. Nevertheless, the is a lot better than minute-of-milk-can accuracy.