How to Hunt Deer with a Shotgun

How to Hunt Deer with a Shotgun

Deer hunting began hundreds of years ago and continues. The adrenaline rush and the great meat make it popular. Bows, shotguns, handguns, and rifles are common weapons used for hunting deer. Shotguns are a little neglected, with rifles being more popular. Being accurate with the shotgun requires more practice. There is no doubt about the strength of shotguns, but one should know how to hunt deer with a shotgun.

Choosing a Shotgun to Hunt Deer

Shotguns are not only used for hunting. The guns have different features for different purposes. You need to try to find the perfect gun for yourself. Let us look at some of their features.


 You can easily differentiate shotguns by gauge. The common gauges are 10, 12, 16, 20, and 28 gauge. The rare ones include the 10 gauge and 410 bores.

 The recoil from a 12-gauge shotgun is lesser than the 20-gauge. If you can’t handle the 12-gauge recoil, then switch to a higher one.


Hunting will include walking around with the gun a lot. If your shotgun is heavy, then you will get tired. Getting a shotgun that weighs less is a good idea.

The length of the barrel of your shotgun affects the accuracy. A longer barrel also means that the bullet shoots out with more energy. But, a longer barrel can weigh more. So, it depends on you to try and decide which works best for you.


Since you are shooting from a distance, good penetration is necessary. So, make sure that you have the right ammunition in hand.


It is a constriction at the front end of the shotgun that improves performance. The choke helps in improving accuracy while shooting.

Once you get a shotgun that is right for you, it’s time to focus on other gear. Blending in with your surroundings can help. Camouflage clothing that does not restrict you is important.

Carrying a few extras like a target shooting spotting scope, a knife, and a lot of patience can prove to be helpful.

Using a Shotgun

Learning how to operate and load your gun is very important. Spotting your target and then fumbling with your gun, will not lead to the results you are looking for.

Load the Gun

Pump-action shotguns are better than break-action shotguns for deer hunting. This is because break-action shotguns can only fire one or two shots.

Pump-action shotguns store more shells in the magazine which is better for hunting.

Make sure that the safety is on and the barrel points towards a safe spot. Get the right-sized shell, depending on the gauge of your gun. Place the end of your gun on your thigh or under your arm.

Take a shell and place it against the loading flap. Make sure that it faces the right way. Push the shell in. Once it reaches the magazine, you will hear a click. Stop.

Repeat the steps until the magazine is full, and no more shells will go in. Refer to the gun’s manual if you are a beginner.

Finally, pump the slide backward and forward, and your shotgun is ready to fire.

Fire the Shotgun

Learning how to hold and fire a gun can help in getting a better shot while deer hunting.

Bring the gun to your shoulder when you spot a deer. The rear end of the shotgun should rest against your cheek. Grip the trigger of the shotgun.

After learning how to fire, you need to practice. Use an unloaded gun to practice smooth mounting of the shotgun. It is important to do this as quietly as possible. Making sudden movements or being loud could alert the deer. Hold your shotgun safely when it is not in the firing position.

Hunting Deer with a Shotgun

A shotgun is a good option for hunting deer. Shotguns are more affordable compared to rifles. Deer can run around quickly. A line of bullets is better than a single bullet while hunting deer. Also, in some parts of the world, a shotgun is the only form of firearm allowed.

With a shotgun, you have the luxury of following up your first shot with another one to make sure your target is immobilized. The ammunition used for a shotgun is durable. They can withstand harsh climates and can be easily cleaned later.

Keep in mind, that shotguns are more effective at shorter distances. If you are using a rifle, such as an AR15, you can get a cheap red dot, sight, or scope, to get a better aim. But such optics are very limited for shotguns.

So, if you are using a shotgun and the deer is farther than the range, then there are two options.

Either let the deer go, the more the distance, the lesser your chance of killing with the shotgun. Or, you move closer so that the shotgun can fire within its effective range.

There is no point in shooting a deer without killing it. It will run away after getting wounded. Try to aim at the deer’s heart or lungs to kill it instantly.

In some states, shotguns of certain gauges are not permitted for deer hunting. Other states have restrictions on the type of shotguns that you can use. Make sure that whatever you are using is legal in your area.


Finding the right type of gun for you is the first step. What works for someone else might not work for you. Trying and testing with different properties of a shotgun will help. Learn how to use your gun. Know the limits of your shotgun well. Make sure that you follow all the safety measures and wear the required gear.

Before going out to hunt for a deer, read up and watch a few videos on deer hunting. Deer are quick and alert animals. Do not make sudden movements and try to be as quiet as possible. It is not necessary that you get a deer on your first trip. Practice with your shotgun to be more accurate and do not lose hope.

Last Updated on January 4, 2024 by Marty Prokop