Carrying While Hunting

Do you carry a sidearm when you're hunting? Dave Campbell tackles this much-debated practice.

I have been reading some discussions on the Internet regarding carrying a self-defense pistol while hunting. Various posters—including some well-known people in the industry—have opined that it makes just as much sense to carry while hunting as it does when going to the mall. I pretty much carry all the time, partly because of the need to be ready to defend myself from anything from a grizzly bear to a whacked-out druggie (Yes, even here in Wyoming we have a few of those), and partly because I simply feel more comfortable with a gun nearby. But when I am hunting I already have a gun more powerful than any handgun I own, so why the redundancy?

Those who promote the notion that a hunter should pack a self-defense pistol, along with two or three magazines holding the better part of a box of ammo cite the possibility of the rifle (or dedicated hunting handgun) may fail or be rendered useless in some drawn-out firefight. Anything is possible, I guess, but should we also pack a survival suit in the event that someone decides to drop a nuke on our hunting area? Yes, I agree that we should always be as prepared as possible, but I doubt that most of us—including these posters—are capable of being as battle ready as a high-speed, low-drag SEAL 24/7.

Perhaps this argument is a function of perspective. Maybe the ones promoting going afield in full combat gear hunt in areas near to urban areas with a high probability of crossing a criminal element, or, perhaps along our southern border where there really is a possibility of running into armed cartel thugs. I don’t hunt in those areas and have no plans do so. If I lived near one of those areas, I’d likely move or at least find a less hazardous place to hunt.
Still, if that’s one’s bag, who am I to tell them that it’s wrong to do so. If it fills you with joy to head into the woods dressed for a tactical strike on a fortress, please be my guest. Just don’t tell me I am naïve if I don’t agree to do the same. And if you are right, and I get snuffed in the backcountry, well, I can’t think of a better place to go to my maker.

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8 Responses to Carrying While Hunting

Chris Bateson wrote:
December 05, 2013

As I get older, I tend to carry less into the field. The 22 revolver was the first to go. I,m down to: .308, knife, ammo, compass, glass, water and fire. The pickup is another matter. It ain't that I need 'em; I just feel better when there are a lot of guns and ammo around. We burn a lot of unnecessary gunpowder when out hunting. Good thing we don't keep the dead rocks for trophies. I wouldn't have anywhere to sit down. So I can understand 'packin' heavy'. You young guys - go for it. But I'm just too tired.

Hobie wrote:
November 29, 2013

Why would anyone oppose the carrying of a sidearm as an adjunct to a rifle or shotgun so long as it was legal to do so? One firearm for small game and one for large game, or one for birds and one for deer (and the now common coyote), or, in some areas, one to be certain of the ability to defend oneself. One might remember that people have been disarmed/attacked while hunting or target shooting in public areas. Things just aren't as they once were.

Michael wrote:
November 28, 2013

Always handy to have a backup gun if your primary jams, quicker to make those close to the stand shots, good for coup-de-grace, etc. Didn't your Father teach you that two is one and one is none?

Jay T wrote:
November 28, 2013

I don't want to take my sidearm off when I go hunting.

John wrote:
November 26, 2013

I carry a small high capacity 9mm in the field, more for emergency signaling then for protection. I guess for the same weight I could just pack a whole box of rifle ammo. Darn, now I have to actually think this over.

Ron Beason wrote:
November 26, 2013

I carry, always, so of course I carry while hunting.

Left Coast Chuck wrote:
November 26, 2013

Sometimes a pistol is handy to dispatch an animal. Sometimes a pistol is handy to dispatch varmints such as a snake or a skunk that you wouldn't want to shoot with your .270 or .338. Not all of us are lucky enough to be able to pull up stakes and move away from an area where our business or job is. Not all of us have the time nor the money to hunt in Canada or Alaska or Montana. While we might dream of a 2 week hunting expedition in Alaska, precious vacation time has to be taken with family whose idea of a vacation is not ten days spent at a spike camp in the Alaska outback. It is hard to justify spending $10,000 on a hunt and then tell the kids, 'We cant afford a week at Disneyland because daddy went hunting.' I would love to leave the Peepuls Republick and look forward to the day when I can but until then here I am and hunting in the mountains of SoCal sometimes turns up varmints that shoot first and a rifle with a three shot magazine is okay, but a big bore revolver with a six or 7.5 inch barrel is a welcome adjunct should one come across an armed guard or guards who don't care exactly how you leave the area as long as you do.

Glen wrote:
November 26, 2013

I have been gun hunting Kentucky deer season for the past several years and prefer to carry a side arm along with a rifle. It is handy for a quick under the stand shot and is practical to carry in brush following a blood trail to dispose of a downed deer if need be.