Hard Lesson in Handgun Hunting

I was fed up with the whole process. I’d done my time on the range, felt comfortable with the gun and nothing was going right. A last-ditch effort put me in contact with a doe, standing at 50-yards broadside. Prayers flooded the sky as I pressed the trigger because Lord knows I couldn’t stand another miss.

Handgun hunting is new to me. I’d never pursued it like I did bow hunting, but I like the idea of getting in close and punching my tag with a handgun. I opted to chase whitetails with a Springfield Armory TRP™ Operator in 10mm. It offers a challenge and with the right cartridge, the 10mm is a viable option, especially for the herd I chase.

After months shooting the gun, I thought I was ready for the open plains and high stands. That was until the first doe stepped out at 30 yards. My shot flew high above her shoulders. Granted, I was more than a little anxious. Nerves got the better of me and that happens in the shooting sports. No matter how many times I press the trigger or loose an arrow at a critter I get anxious.

The second doe came in the following morning, completely unaware of my presence. Everything was lining up as she stepped out at 15 yards. I aimed in, broke the shot and was overwhelmed when the shot sailed high once again. The same stand and the same result. I was shocked by how hard this handgun hunting was.

You know, every time I’ve been in this situation I doubt myself. Ninety-nine percent of the time it isn’t the gears fault. It TRPalways comes back to the shooter. ALWAYS! I’d been in a similar situation before and it became a mental game. We must put the last shot behind us and understand these things happen. In other words, suck it up buttercup.

Gripping the TRP just feels right. We all have those guns that, when in hand, become an extension of yourself. This was mine. Shooting the TRP Operator is more pleasant than most 10mm I’ve shot. In between the G10 VZ grips and Octo-Grip front strap and mainspring housing, the gun is firmly seated no matter the conditions. I chose to shoot the six-inch model with Tritium sights. Yes, it’s iron sights. What can I say? I love a good challenge. This, however, was more difficult than expected.

Everything about the second shot felt right. Grip, trigger pull, sight alignment, steadiness and breathing all felt solid when the shot broke. I had one more day to get something on the ground.

It all came to a head when the doe stood at 50 yards. Doubt crept into my mind because I’d missed the other two shots. How could I make a shot at a further distance? I buckled down and settled the sights. The shot rang out and connected right where I’d placed the sights. The doe stumbled and piled up after 75 yards. I was relieved and overcome by the events leading up the culmination of a successful hunt. As shooters and hunters, we can’t help but think of how to improve our next outing. This is my list moving forward.

            1. Get out of my own head. Mistakes happen and there isn’t much we can do about except move on.

            2. Practice the way you hunt. I never once shot from an elevated stand while practicing. Big mistake if you plan on being successful. If you plan on wearing gloves during the hunt then practice with gloves.

            3. Purchase the TRP 10mm RMR model. Look, I loved the challenge of taking a whitetail with iron sights, but why make life more difficult. Springfield Armory has a gun perfectly designed for hunting in the TRP Operator, but add a Trijicon RMR on the gun and it’s a game-changer.

Deer seasons are quickly approaching and now is the time to start practicing those shots. Change up shooting positions and mirror, as best you can, the situations you could encounter. This simple practice increases success in the woods so you won’t have to suffer as I did. ~ KJ

If you’d like a visual recap of this hunt visit HERE.

 Kevin Jarnagin
Kevin Jarnagin (KJ) hails from Oklahoma but quickly established Louisiana roots after joining the Gun Talk team. KJ grew up as a big game hunter and often finds himself in a bass boat. Whether it’s making his way to British Columbia for elk or training with pistols, Jarnagin always seems to find a gun in his hands and adventure on his mind.