First Deer with a 454


by Jim Taylor

January 6th, 2004




I got up before daylight and headed into the hills and canyons.  I knew there was a large herd of Mule Deer that hung out in some of the rough country and I wanted to be in there by daylight.  I could drive within a mile or so of where I wanted to hunt, but I had to backpack on in.  I had gathered all my gear together the night before and was ready.  This was the first time I was hunting with the new 454 Casull from Freedom Arms and I had high hopes I could collect something with it.

By daylight I was into the canyons and began my search.  After 2 hours I had seen 5 Javelina, 1 Mule Deer doe and 6 hunters.  I was wondering if maybe I should move to another area and hunt there instead.  I worked my way up a steep ridge full of prickly pear cactus, century plants and Spanish daggers and as I looked over the top of the ridge before I skylined myself I saw deer on the far slope!  I got my binoculars on them and began glassing.  I counted 10 does and at least 2 bucks in with them.  My pulse speeded up!  The big problem was, they were 300 to 350 yards away.  I would have to go down the slope in front of me, cross the wash at the bottom and climb up to where they were.

As I watched the deer began moving up and over a small saddle near the top of the hill they were on.  Good.  They wouldn't see me coming..... hopefully.  I worked my way down the hillside, across the wash and began climbing the hill in front of me.  The terrain in these canyons is rough, broken ground with lots of rock, cactus, catclaw, and other assorted types of scratching, biting, sticking brush.  And it's steep.  There just ain't many flat spots.  As I climbed my breathing sounded to me like a steam engine and I felt sure the deer could hear me a quarter mile away. I was worried that I may have spooked them.

As I neared the top I stopped and let my breathing slow down, then I eased over and took a look .... nothing!  I wondered to myself, "Which way did they go?"   To my left the ridge dropped down into a steep canyon.  To the right it went up and over another small saddle.  I choose to go to the right.  I mean, Mule Deer prefer to go up, correct?

About 150 yards or so and I eased up through the saddle.  As I got where I could look over I spotted a deer!  It was about 100 yards down the hill below me, feeding and unaware of me.  As I stood there trying not to move or make any noise I could see that the herd was scattered around the hillside feeding calmly.  I slowly eased my way through the brush trying to be as quiet as possible, when all of a sudden a 2-point buck (Western count) walked out into a clearing about 75 yards in front of me.  Never one to look a gift horse in the mouth I figured this buck was meant for me.

Slowly I sat down and leaned back onto my backpack.  I raised up both knees and steadied the Casull between them.  The buck was now standing broadside to me, facing to my right, so I pulled the sights about halfway up his body behind the shoulder and squeezed the trigger.  At the shot the deer jumped as if startled, then stood still and put his head down as if to eat some grass!  Thoughts raced through my mind.  Did I miss?  The shot looked and felt good.  What's going on?

The buck started walking slowly, circling to my left, his head hanging down.  Then about the time I decided to shoot again I noticed he was staggering.  I did hit him!  I wonder to myself how good the shot was?  Should I shoot again?

He staggered over to a mesquite tree about 30 feet from where he was standing when I shot him.  He laid down and as I watch, his head falls over to the side.  I wait, not moving.  Then I spot movement! Two does come sneaking in and go up to where the buck is laying.  They sniff around and then move off into the brush.  The buck does not stir.

I got up slowly and eased my way to where I could see him clearly with my binoculars.  He is laying in such a way that I am sure he is finished.  I work my way over slowly and sure enough.  He is meat.  Now the work starts.  It's quite a ways back to the road and when it's all said and done I am thankful that I did not shoot a bigger one.  After cleaning him it took me over 2 hours to get him to where I could get the truck to him.

The gun used was a 7 1/2" Freedom Arms 454 Casull.  The load was the Keith #454424 cast of Lyman #2 alloy, sized .452" and lubed with Paco's Apache Blue. The bullets were loaded in Remington .45 Colt cases over WW296 and Federal #150 primers.  The average velocity over my chronograph was 1531 fps.  I carried the gun in Bianchi X-15 shoulder holster.

The hit was about 3" behind the shoulder, angling down towards the rear, through both lungs and the liver.  Entrance and exit wounds were full caliber.  There was almost no bloodshot meat.

The date was Nov. 11, 1986.   

Great memories!

Jim Taylor

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Author nailed his first buck with the then-new Freedom Arms .454 Casull in 1986.