When rifle hunting deer for example, you're of course out there with your main firearm.  What about some kind of a sidearm though?  It's almost Minnesota Deer Season Opener, with Wisconsin Rifle Season shortly after, so it's a good time to discuss the topic.

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We deer hunt about 25 minutes north of Duluth in the Independence area, so it's not like it's crazy remote like mountains in Colorado.  One of the biggest reasons for carrying a sidearm is probably protection from animals other than what you're hunting.  Think of wolves, cougars, or other creatures who may be out there looking for what you just shot.  Another reason might be for putting a deer down that you didn't fully kill with your rifle, though for that you need to be careful.  Depending on the caliber of sidearm you choose to carry, you need to make sure it's legal to hunt with in case Mr. DNR rolls up on you.

My dad who has deer hunted in Pennsylvania, and for years in Minnesota, has never carried a sidearm.  He just has never needed it, but always says "I should really carry one".  I chose to have some kind of pistol strapped to my side as a just in case for added personal protection in the woods.

Sure, I have my rifle, but it's not really setup for closer range where I might have to deal with a potential animal threat, or a pack of animals.  While probably a rare chance of having to use it, it's just nice to know it's there.  The downside is it does add some weight to what I carry around in the woods and if I'm just hanging out in a tree stand it's not that big of a deal.  When tracking a deer however, the extra weight is something to consider.


Carrying a sidearm when rifle hunting to me is like carrying when not hunting, it's better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it.  Wide Open Spaces has some thoughts on various calibers to carry in a sidearm when hunting, but it's all down to personal preference, just like the decision to carry one.

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