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Hunting and American Firearms

Ever since the ancient of times, hunting has been an important part of the human life, animals being pursued primitively for food and fur. Throughout time, hunting has developed into a recreational activity, many people being interested in pursuing different game, especially big mammals and migratory birds.

In modern times, hunting of game animals stands under important rules, important organizations trying to protect the killing of protected animals. In the United States, hunting is a favorite pastime, laws varying depending on the state and game pursued.

There are various types of game animals and they are generally divided into several categories. Deer, moose, reindeer and bears fall into the category of big game, while rabbits and squirrels are small game animals. Other categories include: red foxes, minks, predators such as panthers or coyotes, highland game with pheasant and doves, plus waterfowls, meaning ducks. All these game animals are pursued with the help of different firearms, regulations depending on the animal, the area on which it is hunted and also on the time of year. The firearms that are used for hunting have a set caliber or energy, rifles being usually interdicted in certain areas where there are a lot of people. Hunting competitions have become increasingly popular in the last decades, firearms being diversified and the awareness regarding hunter education increased.

The United States have given the proper importance to the development of hunting as a sport and every year they spend an incredible amount of money to support sporting hunting competitions and also hunting education programs. For hunting enthusiasts, there are an unbelievable number of opportunities, various sport hunting techniques and guns as well. Techniques depend extremely on each hunter, the local traditions and the firearms used. There are various types of hunting techniques and practices, including the stand hunting where the hunter awaits the prey from a concealed position and the use of animal sounds to lure in the game. Certain hunters prefer to use camouflage, blending both their outfits and firearms with the environment. Other hunting techniques include scouting, stalking and still hunting, all requiring patience and persistence from the hunter.

It is a known fact that hunting has become a major industry for the United States and that there are many companies specializing in hunting equipment.

Thus, annually there are a lot of manufacturers that come out on the market with powerful firearms, hoping to satisfy the demands of passionate hunters. Still, one of the very first arms that were used for hunting purposes was the elephant gun. Originally, it was developed for elephant hunting, thus the name. Soon, the firearm was adopted by hunters interested in pursuing large and dangerous game. The gun had a large caliber, especially adapted for big animals and used black powder to cycle the action. The muzzle-loading smoothbore became quite popular but recent innovations brought breech-loading firearms. The calibers were of different sizes, including 10, 8 and 6 gauges. Without a doubt, the elephant gun was an innovation around the 1800s and it was welcomed by a lot of hunters.

The United States did not lose any second and started to create powerful cartridges suitable for pursuing dangerous game. Winchester Arms released the 458 Magnum and Weatherby the famous 378 and 460 Magnums. The elephant gun was under constant development and more innovations were about to come. New calibers were introduced, including the 416 Weatherby Magnums and the 416 Remington Magnums. The number of enthusiastic hunters grew and so did the number of manufacturers producing firearms for hunting purposes. The 1990s brought even more powerful guns, including the one created by Rob Garnick, the famous 600 Overkill, considered the greatest hunting firearm ever made. Still, no matter the kind of action the firearm used (double rifle, single shot or bolt action) there are certain features that every hunting firearm requires including: incredible fire power, easy carrying for longer periods of time, comfortable shooting angles and steady balance to pursue dangerous game.

The elephant gun is not the only firearm used in hunting events and competitions. The Express Rifle is a sporting rifle, of large caliber mainly intended for the pursuing of dangerous game, including rhinos, buffalos and bears. It was widely used during the 1950s and also known as the Magnum Rifle.

By far one of the most popular games pursued is the deer. Deer hunting is widely encountered across entire America, many weapons being used for hunting purposes. These include bows but also rifles, shotguns and pistols. There are many regulations, including when it comes to the caliber used. As an example, rim-fire and center-fire rifles under the 22 caliber are forbidden to be used due to ethical reasons. Moreover, there are certain states in America where hunting with rifles is completely prohibited, hunters using shotguns and gauges of 10, 12 or 20. American regulations are also very strict on the use of handguns by hunters; still, these are not entirely interdicted, being used with powerful Magnum cartridges. There are also important American manufacturers that have concentrated their entire production on hunting firearms, such as the Thompson Center Arms Contender and Encore, especially chambered for big game cartridges, including .30-06 Springfield and .45-70. Deer hunting has also seen the use of muzzle-loading firearms, modern and innovative. These are equipped with telescopic sights, forward-looking ignition systems and incredible bullet designs.

Waterfowl hunting is also extremely popular, hunters pursuing ducks, geese and other aquatic birds as a favorite outdoor sporting activity.

In America, there are two hunting seasons open throughout the year, meaning winter and autumn. Hunters use: shotguns, hunting blinds to conceal themselves and also baits to attract the birds within their shooting range. As for the gauges that are used for the shotguns, these are usually 12 gauges but also 10, 16 and even 20 gauges. As with other types of hunting, there are many regulations concerning hunting seasons and the firearms used. Migratory birds cannot be hunted with rifles, that kind of activity being illegal in most states. The use of rifle is dangerous and there are also certain controversies regarding the long range shooting ranges offered by these firearms.

From what we have seen so far, hunting in America is a favorite outdoor activity. Statistics have shown that the number of hunters has increased significantly in the past few years, reaching over 10 million. Hunting competitions and their various stages are broadcasted on popular hunting channels, along with diverse TV shows on hunting safety and recently discovered hunting destinations. At the same time, the market for hunting firearms has developed to an increased degree, manufacturers coming a long way from the first arms that were produced. As time passes, hunting will become even more popular, increasing the risks regarding endangered species and government officials are working very hard to prevent that from happening. Hunting should be regarded as a hobby and every rule should be respected.