A recent episode of Chuke’s Outdoor Adventures features a Sitka deer kill in the absolutely breathtaking Alaskan terrain. Chuke uses a SCAR 17 to harvest the deer in the rugged country up there, and to great effect. Everybody has a different connotations that come to mind when they think of what is or is not a hunting rifle.
I grew up associating a deer rifle with pre ‘64 blued steel, and attractive walnut stocks. Growing up in northeast Pennsylvania, that was the norm. Wood stoves blazing, cast iron skillet dinners, Yuengling on draft, and stories from old timers about their conquests of years past with their Winchester lever guns and Remington pump actions (affectionately referred to as the PA machine gun in those circles). To me, that was deer hunting, and that was that.
One Christmas, I was given a Remmington Model 7 with a synthetic stock, stainless steel barrel and action, and a silver Leupold 3-9x. I was blown away by it! It was compact, light, accurate, and I took down a hell of a lot of deer with it. I thought back to my grandfather’s 760 Gamemaster, and wondered, why on Earth would I lug that around again? I share the same exact feeling in regards of semi-auto hunting rifles today as I did towards that Model 7 as a teen. They just make sense. Tradition is inherent within the hunting culture; there simply is no avoiding it. Flintlock season in PA has been wildly popular since I can remember. The tools of the hunt are timeless, and I don’t foresee that changing any time soon.
The tools of the current times have changed, and keeping with tradition, much of the technology in deer blinds, or on bear drives, or on increasingly popular hog hunts, derives from military origins. Ponder for a moment, every time you’ve perused a pawn or gun shop, or spent hours scrolling through GunBroker and have seen dozens of Kraigs, and Mausers, and Enfields, etc, all sporterized with perhaps some decorative woodwork done, and almost certainly an old, fixed power Weaver or Redfield scope forced onto it with some kind of mount made by who knows who. In some way shape or form, some elements of, I would dare say 90%, of 20th century surplus rifles made their way into the hands of American hunters. Why you might ask? Because they work!
Modern semi-automatic rifles today are no different. They represent the cutting edge of firearms technology, are more reliable than ever before, are made from light weight, durable materials, are every bit as accurate as any other platform, and have the additional bonus of taking the sting out of most calibers’ recoil and with their gas system amongst other follow up shot aiding features. Add a suppressor to the mix, and I’ll be here waiting for a more efficient hunting rifle to come along for a very, very long time. Today, just about every modern caliber is offered in some variety of semi-auto platform like the SCAR featured in Chuke’s hunt. From .22lr up to 50bmg and nearly everything in-between, there is a gas gun that can be built or bought that is, beyond a shadow of a doubt, the best choice for your next hunt no matter the bounty you pursue.