I don’t think most handgun hunters think about their max distance before taking the field. Perhaps hunters in general don’t think about it to be fair. I’m guessing the reality goes something like this. The season is going to open next weekend, so I better get my ol trusty xxx sighted in. We set up a target at one distance, get an adequate group, and call it good. The max hunting distance may be determined by the quality of animal that shows up. If a doe shows up out of the hunter’s perceived range, she may get a pass. What happens when a 36 inch inside spread drop tine potential new state record shows up at a distance you haven’t practiced at? What if you are hunting with a 44 magnum revolver and you are dead nuts at 100, but the big boy poses at 150? He’s just standing there for several minutes tempting you. He is facing away, and therefore not likely to come any closer. You put your scope on max power and set it right on his vitals. Holding still is not a problem, but what is that bullet going to do? No time for a ballistic calculator, so now what?
Let’s play a little game. I’m holding a volleyball, which is about the size of a deer’s vitals. I tell you I’m going to give you $10 for every yard, but if you miss the ball, you get nothing. For example, 100 yards is a thousand bucks. How far away are you going to set that ball? How well do you know your gun? Are you going to hold over and hope for the best at 150 yards? Are you going to adjust your scope before taking the shot? In our volleyball scenario, you have time to think. The state record buck may bound into the brush at any moment.
If you are struggling with some of this, I must admit, I too don’t know what my max distance is with any of my guns. To avoid the big buck scenario, we really have two choices. Get to the range and spend some time past what you think is you current max, or take a different gun. I know I can effectively kill a deer at 100 yards with my 44 magnum Super Blackhawk, but if I’m going to post up on an ag field or cow pasture, I will opt for my TC Encore. The important thing for us all to remember is we are hunting living things and not targets. Taking a 50/50 shot is not an option. Take care and good luck this year.