Every time a hunting trip is organized, the hunter wonders what he needs to bring with him and better prepares himself for the experience that awaits him.

And there is no doubt that the hunter pays the greatest attention to the choice of his shotgun or rifle.

What is the best caliber for this type of big game hunting?”

Of course, this is a very common question among hunters because choosing between one rifle over another depends on many different aspects and is not always an easy choice, even for the best expert hunter.

The choice of a caliber, the type of ammunition, or the rifle itself is very subjective.

There are, however, some parameters to take into consideration and some guidelines to follow.

Guns and Calibres: Big game hunting in Europe

For big game hunting in Europe such as bear, deer, fallow deer, and big wild boars, we would apply the same rules as for the plains game hunting in Africa, with the difference that the latter includes animals of the same size as the “big ”Europeans but tougher and more vital because of a number of reasons.

Our advice is not to bring too many rifles with you: a bolt action in caliber 300 or a 7 mm are more than enough, if you use copper bullets the 165/168 grains are ideal for the first caliber, 150 for the second; if you use sheathed lead bullets, for the first 180/200 grains, 175 for the second.

If you also want to try the buffalo, a rifle of 375 HH and up can help. I recommend, choose the appropriate ammunition: minimum 270 grains!

The P.H. that will accompany you on your leopard hunt instead is most often equipped with a semi-automatic shotgun loaded with buckshot just in case.

If you only want to carry a single rifle, a 378 Wby will be fine.

The cartridges must, if possible, be all the same, with the same bullet and the same grain. In short, the same ones with which you adjusted the weapon.

The use of the muzzle brake is not recommended: usually, you shoot near P.H. and trackers with unpleasant consequences for their ears.

The shotgun must not be too light: the comfort in shooting must be as high as possible.

Two accessories that are always good to have with you when it comes to hunting in Africa?

A lens cover for the optics and a soft fabric bag for the weapon. These are essential accessories to be able to protect your guns from the dust that, as you well know, abounds in the African bush.

But that’s not all: it’s always good to have a cleaning set equipped with an anti-rust spray for your beloved rifle.

The Holland & Holland bolt action during a stalking hunt in Scotland's moors

The Holland & Holland bolt action during a stalking hunt in Scotland’s moors

Guns and Calibres: Hunting in the mountains

For roe deer hunting and chamois hunting, the calibers are more or less the same, with some distinctions for hunting in the mountains.

The weapons of choice for chamois hunting in the mountains are the manual bolt rifle and the Kipplauf, with different qualities and characteristics, the Kipplauf is more agile and transportable and the rifle is safer / more confident for shots that are a little longer than the average with the advantage of being able to double the shot faster.

For the cartridges to be preferred, I would say all medium-small calibers, fast, with good trajectory tension, therefore, and very importantly with little recoil.

Excellent 6 mm (real 6.2 mm): 243 Winch, 6XC, 6 mm Rem, 6 mm Freres, and 240 Weath; all very accurate cartridges in general and with all the characteristics described above and with the right ball absolutely lethal.

The .25 caliber (real 6.5 mm) is perfect, the 25-06 is ideal if shot in quality weapons, the 257 Weath is hypertrophied (excellent).

Cal. .277 (7 mm real), with a timeless cartridge (perhaps the most complete for all mountain hunts) in first place the 270 Winchester and immediately behind 270WSM and 270 Weath.

Excellent in 7 mm (real 7.2 mm) the 7-08 another “universal” cartridge for the mountain, very accurate, lethal, and usable in short and light rifles.

I would avoid the 308 Winch or 30-06 SPR cartridges, even if in the right hands well capable of doing their duty, with the exception of the 7X64 with 8 gram RWS loading, precise and lethal

The various 7 and 300 magnums, I would reserve them only for those who have the need or pleasure to shoot over 400 and 500 meters, excellent cartridges but with unnecessarily exuberant power (and sustained recoil or muzzle brake) for classic chamois hunting shots.

I recommend copper or sheathed lead balls with complex construction and programmed growth, I do not recommend match-type balls, real or disguised.

We also recommend the use of a short biped, which during the hunting trip in the mountains, can be particularly useful as a support as an alternative to the backpack. A leather or cordura shotgun holder is undoubtedly a good hunting companion.

As for hunting in the hot black continent, even for hunting in the mountains one must never be without lens covers for optics and a fabric bag to repair the weapon.

In addition, a leather muzzle cover (easily available in all armories) or, alternatively, a rubber finger is also essential. The most daring hunters, often and willingly, find themselves using a condom.

When hunting in the mountains, the most adverse weather conditions should not be underestimated either: it is essential to repair the weapon and optics from humidity caused by rain or, worse, by snow.

Guns and Calibres: High seat hunting

If we talk about high seat hunting, we believe that a small sandbag (or other material, which is soft and compact) is necessary to support the rifle during shooting and an elbow board: this equipment will give more stability to the rifle. weapon and less swinging when fired.

In short, the choice of the rifle, the right caliber, and accessories is essential when it comes to hunting. The rest is taken care of by the emotions one feels while living one’s hunting experiences.

The same goes for small game hunting, where most of the time choosing between a semi-automatic shotgun or over-under is a personal choice.

Our experts suggest the use of a semi-automatic shotgun for stalking hunts, such as wood pigeons or waterfowl, where a good 12 gauge is necessary for successful hunting.

For this type of hunting, it is important, if not essential, to have 3 shots available: this is why a semi-automatic shotgun is the ideal weapon for stalking hunts.


Benelli semi-automatic for waterfowl hunts

Hunting waterfowl and wood pigeons will put the hunter in the best conditions.

The large openings and visual spaces that characterize the places where these wild animals are hunted, allow long-distance shooting.

Another aspect that should not be underestimated is the collection and search for fired shells: hunting from stalking at the end of the day will be immediate and profitable the collection of shells, leaving the hunting site clean.

Guns and Calibres: Hunting with pointing dogs

For lovers of hunting with pointing dogs, on the other hand, a good over-and-under is ideal for immersing yourself in nature in search of the queen of the wood, in the Macedonian territory on the hunt for partridges and rock partridges.

This type of hunting requires a reliable and light weapon.

Unlike hunting from stalking, which is practically static, hunting with the dog requires long walks from the plains to the mountains and the physical commitment of the hunter is always important.

For this reason, having a light rifle makes the effort much easier.

But not only: an over-and-under gives the possibility to vary the type of barrel and the cartridge by means of the double trigger or by acting on a selector.

If a partridge flies close I will go first barrel with a 7-1 / 2 cartridge with 3-star choke if instead, it were to get up at a long distance I would have the possibility to intervene on the double trigger or selector using a 7-1 / 2 cartridge with container and a barrel with chokes 2 stars.

Of course, the length of the rods varies from a minimum of 62cm to a maximum of 65cm.

This is what ethically should be used: this is for both cartridges and chokes, and for barrel length. In this way the groups will be compact and unnecessary injuries will be avoided.

It is different for the hunt most loved by dog hunting lovers, the woodcock hunt.

Immersing yourself in nature in search of the queen of the woods is not a joke, this type of hunting requires specific cartridges and barrels.

To reward the great work of your auxiliary, it is necessary to use specific rifles in 20 gauge or 12 gauge.

As for the choice of the cartridge for hunting woodcock, it is certainly a very personal choice, but also dictated by several factors: the type of territory and the season, for example, but also the length of the barrel and the chokes.

Hunting in a beech forest with open visual spaces, or in badlands with thorns and thick vegetation make the hunting action totally different.

Whether you are using a semi-automatic or an over-and-under, an important factor that should not be forgotten is the safety and care of your firearm, in order to allow it to function perfectly.

A perfectly maintained, managed, and clean weapon is already the initial basis for the success of the hunt. The aspects that characterize the correct maintenance of a shotgun are many and all important.

In the first place there is undoubtedly the cleanliness of the barrel: knowing how to extract the trigger mechanism, having the right tools or replacing, for example, a front sight are almost daily actions for a hunter.

In swampy and brackish areas, a thorough cleaning of the speargun once you return from the hunting day is essential considering the strong corrosion that salt can cause to the weapon. In short, knowing your weapon in all its details, whether it is a semi-automatic shotgun, a rifle or an over-and-under is a must.

Hunting around the world gives you the opportunity to experience hunting emotions in various and extremely diversified landscapes: from the snow of Lapland to the rocks of Macedonia, from the immense tundra to the dense forest of our country.

But they can become challenging situations and our faithful companion, the weapon, could be affected in some way.

We always recommend carrying a small kit with specific gun oil and a set of tools.

What else to add? Prepare the necessary and set off on your adventure!

Good luck!

Luca Bogarelli Professional hunter Montefeltro

Montefeltro Staff, Luca Bogarelli

“Luca Bogarelli loves hunting and nature, experiencing both in a comprehensive manner. Adding to this, his passion for travel has led him over the years to explore places, people, and unique wildlife around the world.

A self-described ‘traveler with a rifle’, Luca has gathered hunting experiences across nearly the entire African continent, as well as in Asia, America, and Europe, in all the countries of hunting interest.”