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Twelve-Gauge Shotguns for Deer Hunting

Wesman Todd Shaw grew up dove hunting in Texas starting at age twelve.

Remmington 870 Twelve Gauge With 3" Chamber and 20" rifled barrel

Remmington 870 Twelve Gauge With 3" Chamber and 20" rifled barrel

Using a Twelve Gauge Shotgun For Deer Hunting

Whether new or old to the sport of deer hunting, the hunter need not believe that he should have to purchase a high-powered rifle for the sport. Shotguns, in my opinion, provide far more utility in hunting or self-defense, and work just fine for deer hunting too.

Of course, the deer is a fairly large herbivore—and a very quick and alert one at that. Of course, it's possible to bring down a deer with a 410, sixteen, or twenty-gauge shotgun, but it's not practical to hunt deer with those smaller gauge guns. While I appreciate that some hunters might be so skilled as to use those, I'm going to concentrate on twelve-gauge guns here.

The obvious issue is that a shotgun will never provide the range, or power to kill a deer at great distances that some rifles provide. How close a hunter is able to get to his prey is mostly a matter of knowledge and skill. I believe it's more sportsmanlike to hunt deer with shotguns rather than rifles.

You Want A Rifled Barrel.

What is a rifled barrel?

In this case, it's a barrel on a shotgun that has been machined or rifled like a rifle's barrel. Most shotguns do not have rifled barrels. If you're looking to hunt something as large as a deer or hog, you don't have to have a rifled barrel shotgun—but if you intend to shoot your target from extended distances, then it certainly pays to have a shotgun with a rifled barrel.

The rifling or machine work on the inside of the barrel doesn't just affect a load containing a slug but also keeps buckshot or any other shot in a tighter pattern for longer distances.

Yes, a rifled barrel shotgun will cost more than a shotgun without one. The H & R Pardner Pump twelve-gauge would be the single most cost-effective shotgun for someone looking to purchase their first rifled barrel shotgun at a low cost.

The H & R Pardner Pump Twelve Gauge Shotgun - The Best Priced Rifled Barrel Shotgun On The Market!

The H & R Pardner Pump Twelve Gauge Shotgun - The Best Priced Rifled Barrel Shotgun On The Market!

Deer Aren't The Only Lovers Of Deer Feeders, And Not All Deer Hunters Walk On Two Legs!

Deer Aren't The Only Lovers Of Deer Feeders, And Not All Deer Hunters Walk On Two Legs!

A Browning Semi-Auto Twelve Gauge With Rifled Barrel and Three-Inch Chamber

A Browning Semi-Auto Twelve Gauge With Rifled Barrel and Three-Inch Chamber

The Benelli Ultra Light Semi Auto Twelve Gauge

The Benelli Ultra Light Semi Auto Twelve Gauge

Semi-Automatic Twelve-Gauge Shotguns With Rifled Barrels

Now, if you're less into giving a fleet-footed herbivore like a deer a chance, and more inclined to want to kill a deer because you intend to feed your family with venison, then let me be sure that you will realize that for a bit more cash one can and should then purchase a semi-automatic twelve-gauge shotgun with a rifled barrel and the capacity to fire three-inch slugs!

Of course, a semi-automatic shotgun will allow for the more rapid firing of slugs or buckshot at your spotted and aimed at deer, and also, more soreness for your shoulder along with the increased likelihood of a kill! It really comes down to this, how good a deer hunter are you?

Should you be intermediate level, use a pump twelve-gauge shotgun with a rifled barrel; if you're not so good, use a semi-automatic twelve-gauge with a rifled barrel.

If you're better than most, then by all means use a bolt action twelve-gauge—they are out there on the market, but rare, or even use a double rifled barrel twelve-gauge shotgun. Hey, if you're just really a damned great shot, by all means, take a single shot twelve-gauge shotgun with you to the deer lease. Possibly, they are out there with a rifled barrel that will fire a three-inch shotgun shell. Brothers and sisters, if you're better than that, buy a bow and go bow hunting.

  • The Western Field 12-Gauge Bolt-Action Shotgun
    The bolt action design has been around for a very long time, but bolt action shotguns are pretty rare. These Western Field bolt action shotguns are very collectible and are all-around great shotguns.
A Double Barrel Twelve Gauge Shotgun With Two Rifled Barrels.

A Double Barrel Twelve Gauge Shotgun With Two Rifled Barrels.

H&R Ultra Slug Hunter Single Shot Shotgun 12 Gauge 24" Rifled Barrel 3" Chamber Hardwood Stock Blue Barrel 3-9x32mm Scope

H&R Ultra Slug Hunter Single Shot Shotgun 12 Gauge 24" Rifled Barrel 3" Chamber Hardwood Stock Blue Barrel 3-9x32mm Scope


I've never fired a ten-gauge shotgun, but I actually did make some sort of tentative arrangement, or in other words, I asked the one person that I know who owns one if I could fire his...just once.

Well, we'll see, but the facts of the matter are that ten-gauge shotguns are out there, available for hunters—and that not a whole lot of looking around can also turn up places to purchase ten gauge ammunition. I've no idea if firing a ten gauge is as brutal on someone as it might be, but I'd certainly imagine that the larger a person is, the better able they would be to fire something that large.

Winchester Model 1887 Lever Action 10 Gauge Shotgun

Winchester Model 1887 Lever Action 10 Gauge Shotgun

A Factual Note Concerning the Necessity of Deer Hunting

In the past, North America had a naturally balanced ecosystem because all the species required for a balanced ecosystem were present throughout North America at the precise levels required for such balance.

When the European savages conquered North America they brought with them their ranching practices from Europe, and from all other places from which North Americans came. Large herbivorous cattle, horses, and such were not present here prior to colonization, and the buffalo herds were eradicated in a genocide that coincided with the same sort of aggression towards the large bison.

It should be beyond the obvious to any and to all that there are not so many jaguars and cougars about in North America as to handle the huge population of various species of deer. Once, there was a carnivorous animal that kept the deer numbers healthy, in check, and perfectly in balance for optimum evolutionary function whilst the flora that the deer consumed was in turn kept in check. Yes, friends, wolves still exist, but not in the numbers needed to keep deer at ecosystem optimum population levels. The European savages that came here to North America brought their fear and bias against European wolves, and their same ignorant behavior.

So as it is now, hunting deer is an absolute necessity to the landscape wherever deer are hunted. Without deer hunters, the numbers of deer would grow so much as to damage the flora of that ecosystem irreparably.

Finally, the right to own firearms shall not be disputed. You have the right to own firearms, and no one can either give that right to you or take it away from you. But rights do not protect themselves. Get involved with your local National Rifle Association, Oath Keepers, and other Constitution-based groups. You have the right to provide both food and protection not just for yourself, but for others. Fight for your rights.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


Tom on January 22, 2019:

A Savage 220 will perform better than any of these guns.

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on December 17, 2017:

Hell yeah, Kevin. I've recently acquired a sixteen gauge nearly just like the twelve.

Kevin, Pa. on December 17, 2017:

I'm a hunter and my choice of a rifle so happens to be a western field 12 gauge pump action. I inquired it through a friend and let's just say that I paid for the rifled canalever barrel that's on it w/ the original smooth bore barrel. I've always liked shotguns over rifles, I can appreciate a hunter w/a shotgun ( old school) for hunting and home protection.

Keith from Maine on November 02, 2015:

Great hub. Thanks for the share, I love hunting whitetail with a shotgun.

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on February 14, 2013:

shahid, Thanks Very Much!

shahid on January 25, 2013:

nice gun and good hunting

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on December 28, 2012:

docdave3d Cool deal, and thanks for that load information!

docdave3d on December 28, 2012:

Great Hub! I've been deer hunting in Ohio most of my life. 3 years ago I purchased a rifled barrell for my Remington 870 and found the Hornady Sabot Slugs to be extremely accurate. I will never go back to a smoothbore!

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on November 28, 2012:

rumintasari - No more deer? Where is "here" for you?

I'm in Texas....and maybe it is just that I'm out and about before dawn more often now....but I've seen more deer on the farm to market roads this year than in probably any year previous.

Ruminta Sari from Sleman on November 27, 2012:

interesting read, but those guns are not easy to get here, and no more deers to hunt :)

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on November 27, 2012:

...and there are rifle scopes on THIS HUB...which is the kicker!

I think the hub was about a very inexpensive (plastic stock, etc) thirty ought six ...I forget the make and model.

These hubs on guns do so well....I'm going to have to do more.

The crazies in the office in liberal la la land....surely realize how well gun articles do...its not like mine are the only ones.

Jimmar - what you are seeing with the silly profiles and all the followers....are persons that simply live in the forums.

There are people who get pay for posting political crap in forums all over the web....and these forums here are pretty active!

jimmar from Michigan on November 26, 2012:

Such BS. Rifle scopes? I know some people are sensitive to the topic of firearms and it ignites an irrational fear within them. Honestly the there are some people that shouldn't have them and they scare me too. I try to temper my enthusiasm for the topic just to play's not my sandbox. What irritates me are the people with zero or a few poorly written hubs, who follow me and 1500 others...and THEY have followers! THAT is what spoils this community, not well written hubs such as yours on topics that editors dishonestly judge substandard.

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on November 26, 2012:

Jack Burton - I'm not sure, but probably every gun hub I have here has been unpublished at least once.

Literally, the staff seems to want to harass the authors who choose to of the material standards the nation was built upon.

Jimmar - I'm sure the same thing happened to you. I'd like to publish more hubs about firearms myself...but I become so very very angry when some PETA tard sitting in an office chooses to ...imagine their ill thought through perfect world being jeopardized by the subject...OH MY!

I did a quick re read of this one....and...I see I've referred to a link that is no longer was a terrific link that displayed the outcome of shooting targets at set distances with set loads with near identical with a rifled barrel, one without.

Guess I need to edit this thing.

I don't recall ...what hub it was, or if it is still here...but I recall a hub that was unpublished...and the moderator (who never bothers to provide a name...go figure) told me I'd have to take my ads for rifle scopes off for the hub to be published again.

Rifle scopes???? So ...rifle scopes...were "illegal" that day...probably they imagined some hogwash....that rifle scopes cause people to shoot people sniper know how liberal biased minds don't work...

jimmar from Michigan on November 26, 2012:

I suspect the same thing happened to me. I had a hub about using a 22 handgun to control pests around the farm unpublished because it was "identified as incomplete or Poorly Structured" (not the capitalization in this warning). After I emailed stating I suspected unfair bias, they identified a broken link in the source of a photograph. No broken link warning - it when straight to unpublished. I know broken links don't meet publishing standards but I have this feeling.....

Jack Burton from The Midwest on November 26, 2012:

Yeah... I had to fight some battles with some fairly ignorant editors who couldn't tell the difference between hubs about guns and hub they thought were selling guns.

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on November 26, 2012:

Thanks good Sir!

I did just now ask a question in the forums here about that. I've personally had...LOTS of issues with staff here about articles concerning either guns or's ridiculous to me.

Google is an American corporation....I think they ought to act like it.

recgamer45 on November 26, 2012:

No problem. Very helpful article.

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on November 26, 2012:

Sir recgamer45, Thanks for your comment.

I'm leaving this comment here so you'll see it. I do not wish to be rude at all...I just need to find out whether or not the big Google will penalize me for links in comments going to weapons dealers.

Personally, I have no issues at all with links to weapons dealers...but I know your link would be against Google terms of service were it in the body of my webpage...but as to whether or not such links are "illegal" or penalize a page..I'm not sure.

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on June 01, 2012:

Ah!!!!! Well I'm glad to know there are good reasons for the law, of course I've been there, but I was driving a truck, and most focused on the getting to home!!!

Jack Burton from The Midwest on June 01, 2012:

Shotgun slugs are required. We do have a separate block powder season for rifles, but traditional centerfire cartridge rifles are not allowed. If you've ever seen the movie, Hoosiers, you'll understand how flat the state it. A high powered bullet can go halfway across the state if you miss the deer. :-)

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on June 01, 2012:


THAT'S HOW IT GOES!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I've known of some strange laws in Indiana, but I guess most states have some.

Can you use slugs, or just buckshot?

Jack Burton from The Midwest on June 01, 2012:

christopheranton... if YOU were a deer would you rather have it end with a quick, clean shot that you probably never feel, or would you rather be chased for mile after mile by a wolf pack, ever gaining on you, ripping at your flanks with their sharp teeth, finally hamstringing you so that you can't run anymore, and then feeling them tear the flesh from your still living body as they stuff themselves.

Nature ain't near as kind as humans are to what we both hunt for food.

Jack Burton from The Midwest on June 01, 2012:

Here in Indiana a shotgun is the only legal way to hunt deer. To use a rifle you must get a special dispensation from the DNR, with special circumstances that you can prove.

I worked at an arboretum and gardens where the executive director's wife was a real bambi lover. She couldn't stand the thought of hunting the deer on the arboretum grounds... until one night the deer ate $50,000 of plants that had been planted the previous day. That money came directly out of her budget.

After that it was "shoot them all and God will replenish as He sees fit."

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on January 04, 2012:


I wish that I could SLEEP ON a meal Effer!!!!!

I'm so skinny that if I turn sideways you can't see me unless I'm just really excited bout somepin'!!!

Suzie from Carson City on December 26, 2011:

Wes....I know I would appreciate it if you could write a Hub on "How to SLEEP OFF a meal!!!" There's no getting a Big meal OFF me, no matter what I do! Most women will tell you it just STAYS forever, on the hips and anywhere else we don't want it!! lmao! Happy New Year!

50 Caliber from Arizona on December 26, 2011:

Yo Wesman!, shooting and breaking stuff is fun no matter if it's milk jugs full of water or bruised oranges, anything that does a comapart from agether is fun just pick up the trash! great hub,

peace on ya,


Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on December 25, 2011:

Thank you very much, Cousin Fudd - I'm right there with you....I'd rather be out there and just see some wildlife than have to bother with shooting it, rounding it up, carrying it off, cleaning it, and then whatever else towards processing the deer into food.

I would like to do me some target shooting with ...virtually any gun. I can shoot fairly well, despite my less than standard eyesight.

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on December 25, 2011:

Thank you very much, Effer, I had a good enough time visiting today. I feel like I didn't hold up my end of the bargain very well, as I did just what I did on Thanksgiving - eat a big ol plate of food, and then go out to my trailer from the folk's house...and sleep off the meal.

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on December 25, 2011:

Thank You, Christopher, I don't much ever shoot at deer myself...but I'd enjoy some target shooting, and some deer steak.

I just don't tend to sit out there in the cold shooting at them....but situations could always arise to motivate such behaviour, I suspect.

Cousin Fudd on December 25, 2011:

Nice write Wes, Deer hunting is a big deal here and I know it is in Texas. While stationed at Laredo AFB, I went down to one of the meat coolers where area hunters had their venison processed. I saw some really big deer in that locker. I never caught the bug for deer hunting and think maybe a 33mm camera is my choice weapon. Merry Christmas!!

Suzie from Carson City on December 25, 2011:

This may not be the perfect hub to poke my head in and wish you Holiday Greetings....but it's as good as any. Wishing you and your loved ones a blessed and peaceful Christmas.....enjoy every moment of this magical season......and here's hoping 2012 brings new hope to all of us and the wisdom and strength to always rise above the world's insanity.........Peace & Joy, Paula

Christopher Antony Meade from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom on December 25, 2011:

Awesome hub. It is just a pity that the killing of the deer can't be left to the wolves and the cougars.