How to Choose a Shotgun for Deer Season

How to Choose a Shotgun for Deer Season

In most states, shotgun deer season is far too short. Or at least, it feels that way to most hunters.

To have an effective, enjoyable shotgun season, you need the best equipment. With the right shotgun, you can be more comfortable and more effective throughout a long day in the field.

Looking to buy a shotgun for deer season? Here’s a little information to get started.

Go with 12-Gauge or Larger for Deer

To take down big, tough deer, you’re going to need a lot of firepower. This means most hunters will be best served by a 12-gauge. 16-gauges gauges can get the job done, and 20-gauge shotguns are easier for smaller hunters, but almost every deer hunter during shotgun season is toting a 12-gauge shotgun, while some will go even larger with a 10-gauge.

Determine Which Action You Prefer

Like rifles and handguns, there are many actions available for shotguns. The action will effect how you load, chamber, and replace a round, and it can effect firing time, accuracy, balance, weight, and more.


Reliable and generally affordable, the pump-action is the most common type of shotgun, both for deer and other types of game. They hold multiple shells and allow you to eject and cycle rounds without moving your hands out of position. These usually hold around five shells, making them effective for harvesting multiple deer. Deer-Hunting Grade: B+


Although bolt-actions are more common among rifles, they can be found on shotguns and usually provide greater accuracy. The action requires you to manually move the bolt, which is often slower than pumps, making this rare gun less effective when shooting at a herd of running deer. Deer-Hunting Grade: C+


Like the bolt-action, twin-barrel, or “double-barrel” shotguns are rare on deer hunts. Used more for sporting upland game birds, double-barrels (either side-by-side or over-under) are expensive but offer good balance and effortless swing. It only holds two shots at a time, so this classic gun might not be ideal for deer season. Deer-Hunting Grade: D


Also known as the auto-loader, these guns use energy from the exploding gunpowder to automatically cycle the spent shell with a fresh round. They can be as reliable as the pump action and fire faster (which, by the way, is not always a good thing) but they are generally more expensive. Deer-Hunting Grade: A+

If you go on a group shotgun deer hunt, you will find that most hunters are using either a pump-action or an automatic. For beginners, a pump-action is probably a good choice, then you can move up to an automatic if you desire.

Visit a Gun Store with Numerous Selections

The best way to get an idea for which gun fits you best is to visit a large store (Scheels, Cabelas, Gander Mountain, etc) and take a look at all of their different options. Pick up a few shotguns of each type and decide which on feels right in your arms and what guns fit well to your shoulder.

While you probably won’t have to walk as much as you would if you were pheasant or rabbit hunting, you still need a light gun that you can carry comfortably and safely for an entire day.

While you’re at the store, talk with their hunting experts and have them provide tips for getting the right fit so your gun is accurate and comfortable.

Performance Apparel for Shotgun Season

The right apparel matters. Do yourself a favor by wearing comfortable, performance hunting apparel from NOMAD. You’ll find excellent apparel, including pants, jackets, and hats, so stop by our online store today!