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Traditionally, outdoorsmen and sportsmen who go after large and small game do so with a longarm such as a shotgun or rifle users, or a primitive weapon such as a bow or, if allowed, atlatl or spear. However, many also carry a handgun into the woods for personal protection during hunting season.

Apart from dedicated handgun hunters who search out feral hogs with 10mm or whitetail with .44 Mag wheelguns, it's a good idea for many to have that little something extra in the stand or blind with them as you never know.

(H/T EDC Group via Facebook)

How to carry

First, be sure to check both your local, state, and applicable federal laws for the area you are hunting. While for instance, private and state land may be fine to carry your handgun concealed with a valid permit in Mississippi, if you hunt on Corps of Engineers managed land, it may not be.

Some states allow for "open carry" so that the handgun is visible without a permit while hunting. Ironically, in Florida, one of just five states than ban open carry, this is allowed. Again, check your local laws before you do.

Further, while you may not be required by law to inform officers you come in contact with, its more or less a common courtesy to disclose that you have it when you encounter your local conservation officers and rangers. In addition, it may be a good idea to have it unloaded when close to the road in management areas so that you avoid the pitfall of roadway hunting. In some areas, this is a requirement.

Many hunters often carry .22-caliber pistols loaded with CCI "ratshot" for protection against poisonous snakes, especially in hot seasons like dove and turkey. Ratshot typically consists of No.12 shot in a plastic cap inside a .22 rimfire cartridge. Some states mandate that no guns larger than .22s be carried during primitive weapon season to avoid poachers from flying under the radar.

However, this can lead to issues.

Hog attack

Last February Chris Morris was hunting along the Pearl River in Louisiana and was attacked by a 140-pound boar. Although armed with a .22 magnum, things went south fast.

"I was on my back, and he was between my legs. I was kicking, trying to keep him away from my thighs," Morris said. "He was steadily just gashing back and forth. He gashed my left knee a little bit, punctured my right knee and my calf. When he did that, he actually bit me. When he grabbed my calf, I grabbed his snout."

In the end the hunter was able to get a round into the beast, who stopped the attack and skulked off back into the brush-- but left Morris so cut up that he needed hospitalization and two surgeries to correct.

This led Morris to help push for legislation to allow Louisiana bow hunters to step up from .22 handguns to as high as .45 which was signed into law by Gov. Bobby Jindal in June, changing the regs effective this hunting season.

Wolves vs. 380

In another case, while scouting for deer sign before the start of the season in Wisconsin, Matthew Nellessen found himself face to face with a trio of hungry wolves and, according to reports, was forced to take action.

The event unfolded on Sept. 23 in the 4,985-acre Colburn Wildlife Management Area of Adams County as reported by American Hunter magazine, a publication of the National Rifle Association.

Nellessen, who served in the 11 years in the Army in two separate enlistments including overseas service in Afghanistan, spotted a wolf about 30 feet away and soon spotted two more animals flanking him.

Seeing retreat as not a valid option, he reached for his Walther PK380, a single-stack short recoil semi-auto that looks like a stretched .22 LR Walther P22, and chambered a round.

"It all happened so fast," said Nellessen. "It was maybe 3-4 seconds and the wolves were on me."

In the end, one animal was shot and limped away, the other two retreating along with the apparent alpha male. As the PK380 is an 8-shot weapon and the hunter was faced with multiple targets and potentially a larger pack in the tree line, he came off lucky.

Nellessen was able to withdraw and contacted authorities to explain what happened, and then led conservation officers back to the scene where they found a blood trail but no wolf.

The prospect of carrying a sidearm in the woods for defense against snakes, canines, and feral boars is a very real one.

If you take your KT "inna woods" during the season, or even if you leave it at home, drop your reasons why/why not in the comments below.

76 Posts
After some thought, the pf-9 is a nice choice; but caliber challenged for large four leg problems. It has the plusses of being cheap, easy to replace grip if scratched up,DAO, has a tac rail for a light & laser options for low light shooting. Add a X2 TAC LIGHT and a Laserlyte laser and you have a good weapon in my shoulder rig or jacket pocket depending on open vs. Ccw regs. The 9mm para however is bare minimum power. The .32 and .380 are a joke for the woods. The .357mag is a better fit; even the Taurus Judge .45lc/.410 is a better if clunky choice. The Ruger LCR 3" is a great woods/boat gun (just wish they add a magnum version). A PF-40 or 45 is way over due.

114 Posts
Haven't done much hunting lately but have been eyeing a Smith & Wesson 357 Scandium. It won't rust and has the reliability of a revolver. Mounted in a chest rig it seems like the perfect hiking / hunting backup.
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