With state game agencies continuing to limit a whitetail hunter’s lethality both in the countryside and in more urban settings where homes and key deer habitat lie right next to each other, a growing number of hunters are limited to a shotgun (or muzzleloader) during their general firearms seasons. Delaware, Iowa, Illinois, parts of Virginia and other areas all restrict their gun hunters to these perceived shorter-range firearms, and while muzzleloaders can offer more reach, they limit hunters to a single shot and sometimes deliver that moment’s hesitation, snap-cap detonation. Meanwhile, with improvements in both slug barrels and load technology, shotgunners are no longer restricted to the imprecise 75-yard flight of a round punkin’ ball, and with today’s sabots and rifled barrels you can launch a shot with deadly accuracy to an easy 150 yards.
While a lot of today’s shotguns now exceed the cost of a quality rifle/scope combo, the modern deer hunter doesn’t need to borrow against the equity of his home to find a suitable smashmouth delivery system for that next monster buck. Here are 10 options that can all be had for less than $500.
- The H&R Tracker II is a slightly slimmed down version of H&R’s Ultra Slug Gun is a lightweight (a feathery 5 ¼ pounds) with a 24-inch fully rifled Ultragon barrel, walnut-finished hardwood stock, sling swivel studs and a much appreciated recoil pad. It’s available in both 12 and 20 gauge models and is one of the most affordable slug guns in its class.