9 year old first deer hunt with a rifle, any suggestions!

williaada

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My 8 year old son to be 9 year old wants to try and harvest a doe this year with a rifle. I have three different rifles in my possession, and access to a number of other rifles in a variety of calibers.

I have used a .280AI semi custom and a model 70 7mm-08. My son was set on using the 7mm-08 but at the range he started to get jumpy on two shoots after hitting the bull eyes on his first shot. I have access to a .243 Winchester, .257 Robert’s youth/woman’s model 700, 6.5 creedmore American Ruget, and a model 700 .308 varmir rifle weighing about 12lbs. We will be hunting in a blind, and I will have a support for him to shoot off of too. Any suggestions are appreciated!
 

Tmac

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Can you borrow a .223 to let him shoot with a loud bang and almost no recoil? May help him get over the yips. With the right bullet it would also be deadly for that doe.

I’ve also had good performance to moderate range with the Rem 7-08 140gr reduced recoil load, but doubt they are available right now.

Good luck with the young man.
 

541hunter

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My 9 year old took his first buck 2 weeks ago with a 6.5 creedmor at 135 yards. He was shooting a 127 Barnes lrx and did just fine with it. He is 4’7” and 80 lbs. The youth 257 Robert’s is probably what I would use though given it’s a youth frame model.
 

rclouse79

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My advice is to have them practice a bunch with a light caliber and then give them the one that shoots best. I bet they won’t feel a thing once you throw the excitement of an animal in the mix.
 

wildwilderness

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Practice with a 22! Double ear pro always helps. A good fitting youth stock is very helpful.

I would really recommend a suppressor…. Big difference for kids and adults
 
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Red Letters

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My boys practiced with a scoped 22, on my youngest first trip, he was about 9 at the time and apprehensive about shooting a larger caliber. I had cut down the stock on a 243, the very first time he shot it was at a doe. I assured him he would not feel anything. The very first thing he said after killing a doe was he didn’t notice anything. It was all down hill from there.

I promise English is my first language, I’m not sure why I struggled to write those couple sentences.
 

browning2480

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Mine all used .243 with reduced recoil loads for practice. When game time came, they never noticed the recoil in the full loads.
 

Laramie

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My 8 year old son to be 9 year old wants to try and harvest a doe this year with a rifle. I have three different rifles in my possession, and access to a number of other rifles in a variety of calibers.

I have used a .280AI semi custom and a model 70 7mm-08. My son was set on using the 7mm-08 but at the range he started to get jumpy on two shoots after hitting the bull eyes on his first shot. I have access to a .243 Winchester, .257 Robert’s youth/woman’s model 700, 6.5 creedmore American Ruget, and a model 700 .308 varmir rifle weighing about 12lbs. We will be hunting in a blind, and I will have a support for him to shoot off of too. Any suggestions are appreciated!
Find a youth model .243 or .223. If the gun doesn't fit him, the recoil will hurt more and be really uncomfortable for him to shoot. Both of my son's started with a youth .243 and both shot great from age 8 up with it. If you can't locate one to borrow or no funds to purchase, go with the youth model .257. Make sure he has excellent ear protection. Once the loud bang is taken away, perceived recoil is greatly reduced.

I hope you guys have a great time. Take it slow and focus on the experience. Good luck!
 

280Ackley

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I started both of my boys on reduced hand loads for my .280ai. I want to say they were Barnes 120 grain ttxs. I could look up my load if you are interested. My 280 is a heavy gun so there was practically no recoil plus I got fire formed brass.
 

RC_

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.243 is more than enough. It’s what I started off with as a kid and while it’s not my go to, I still grab it from time to time when heading out.
 

wildwilderness

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The point on the double ear pro- kids have very sensitive hearing! even a little loud hurts. Being old a half deaf like most shooters, we don't notice how loud it is anymore 😆

Also most ear pro doesn't fit super well on them anyway. So I try to stuff the squishy plugs in the ears, then kids size muff over to hold it.

This is another reason a suppressor goes a long way to help them shoot.
 
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Little Joe

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Apr 12, 2021
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Hi Williaada,

Go with the .243. The rifle itself is going to be a lot easier to handle for a young kid. Recoil is light. For kids, heavier or bulkier guns are harder to handle. They just don’t have the muscle mass or physical frame such as arm length. Kids don’t have the hand size/grip, especially with winter gloves on. Every kid I knew starting out had attention the “boom” and recoil, even if the recoil is light. They may not admit it, but you could certainly tell by watching them. Takes a little time with a little maturity until they settle in. Kids have enough to worry about when they first go out. Take their attention off of the gun as much as possible, as they will be more confident and secure with the gun which means a lot with a kid.

A .223 was mentioned. I don’t agree, seeing that in your avatar you are from Michigan. Michigan has a lot of hunters. Out west and in the south, in general, you don’t have to worry about losing an animal to another hunter if it runs 150 yards or so. Nothing will upset a kid more than watching another hunter tag the deer they hit.
 

tyeager2964

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I bought my son a youth mossberg patriot in 243. I hand load so I could load reduced recoil rounds that barely kick more than a 22. he probably has about 500 rounWe hunted the first year with hornady custom reduced recoil factory ammo and he killed a doe at 130 yards. We have since moved up to regular 80 grain or 100 grain ammo. He took a doe last week for his 2nd deer.

In my opinion a youth stock that fits is the best option. The 7mm 08 has reduced recoil loads available as well.

Confidence will be key for your child. When we hunt I utilize a tripod for him the rest the front end in. He then can either sit kneel or stand depending on the set up. He is a twerp at a soaking wet 63 lbs but he has practiced a lot and has the confidence in this set up.

I also recommend taking a twelve pack of Diet Coke or beer to the range. They make great inexpensive blow up targets. It will make range time more fun when his impacts are shown with an exploding can vs paper.

he only practices in positions that he will shoot from. I am all for bench tests for load development and tuning but practice should always be from how they will hunt. This will reinforce their confidence. Once you can hit coke cans at 100 yards a deers vitals seem huge even when doe fever sets in.

One more piece of advice is to shoot on low power to minimize any chance of scope eye
 

Rich M

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He just needs some range time.

Not saying this is what you did but, I seen this a lot: Some guy keeps kid in a closet and when kid hits X age, takes him to the range and expects perfect results. Kid is afraid of gun cause it makes a big noise.

243/7-08/350 Legend are about the same recoil-wise. I prefer 350 Legend over 243 due to bullet weight. Never did get a 7mm-08 due to low ammo availability.

If yer gonna buy him a special gun for deer hunting - 357 mag rifle with hot handloads has zero recoil and a soft bark. 100 yard gun easy, 150-200 yard gun if you use Fury pointed soft points. My wife and the kids love the 357 mag rifle, they've gotten about 10 deer with it. DRT kind of results. We also shoot an 8 inch steel at 225 yards with it and a 4x scope.
 

Reload Newbie

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Nov 12, 2021
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.243 with Hornady light loads. SST bullets did the job!!
My 4 nieces ranging in age from 8-14 all decided they wanted to kill a deer and asked to come up to the camp and go hunting. We did a lot of practice using a scoped 22 to give them a feel for handling a gun. Then we held an anatomy class on the location of deer vitals. We fondly refer to that weekend as “The Christmas massacre of 2018”. 4 deer shot and 4 deer recovered. All were 100 yds or less. Time spent with family in the woods, PRICELESS!
 

BOFF

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For my daughter. We practiced way ahead of time with a .22 and small game hunting. Teaching safety and the just having fun in the woods while shooting and practicing safety with the gun. Hearing protection is a must for the youth unless they want to be like myself with damaged hearing.

We had to find a gun that fit my daughter's small build, for deer hunting and ended up with a Ruger compact in .223.
Not the ideal caliber for deer hunting, so we practiced on shot placement and waiting for the deer to present a broadside shot. She succeeded and graduated to a Remington model 600 2 years later, in which she handloaded her own .308s for it.

I know as fathers we want to see success, but sometimes as adults we have to say "no" as well, instead of rushing things and trying to make unsuitable guns or situations work. A bad first hunt for a youngster may be his/her last hunt. Don't rush things and build up for the success of the finished hunt.

Her 3rd deer with the rifle.
NJyH2c5.jpg


God Bless,
David B.
 
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