Yes, I hunt with an AR-platform rifle

Jason Lesmeister has proven that a sport utility rifle in the right caliber can be the best option for whitetail deer in Iowa.

In the past few weeks there I’ve seen raging debates about what will end the tragic shootings that occur all too frequently in America. After nearly every one, anti-AR individuals shout that there is no reason that a hunter needs a weapon of war. Well, I beg to differ. I think the AR-style rifle, which I often refer to as my sport utility rifle, is an excellent hunting tool. (By the way everyone, the “AR” stands for ArmaLite rifle, after the company that developed it in the 1950s. It does not stand for “assault rifle” or “automatic rifle.”)

The industry calls them “modern sporting rifles,” but I love my SUR for deer hunting. I can shorten the stock, and the shorter barrel length works great when moving to a treestand through the woods. Once situated in the stand, I’ll extend the stock, turn on the scope, slide in the magazine, pop a bullet into the chamber, and hunt. For a scope, I use a battery-powered reticle on finely-tuned optics that gives me a well-defined cross-hairs for low-light situations.

My son Jason loves his sport utility rifle for hunting deer in Iowa because it allows him to use a cartridge instead of a shotgun slug. He had his rifle built in a .450 Bushmaster and since Iowa will only allow straight-wall cartridges for rifles when hunting deer, he went the .450 Bushmaster route.

A typical day hunting deer in Iowa involves sitting on a tree line or a crop edge and waiting for deer in the morning. After lunch you set up a drive and push them from their bedding areas to posted hunters on spots where deer will funnel. These deer are moving, and the ability to shoot multiple times quickly is important. The sport utility rifle with a five-shot magazine is the ultimate rifle for this scenario, as Jason has proven repeatedly.

I like the AR-platform rifle for coyote hunting. These wily animals can pop out of a patch of timber on a full run, and you can use the holographic scope you have mounted to the Picatinny rail to zero in on the perfect broadside shot. If you miss with the first two rounds because you failed to lead him a little, you have more ammo in the magazine.

I haven’t tried it yet, but Southern hunters use sport utility rifles for hunting feral hogs. There are massive herd of hogs, and having lots of rounds at your disposal is a real benefit. In the states that allow it, a thermal-imaging scope on a sport utility rifle for piggies, coyotes, or other fur-bearers is a fine option for hunting after sunset. There are many species more active at night, and the sport utility rifle with the latest in night vision technology is a great tool.

A family member who is an avid hunter shocked me recently by saying that the AR-style rifle served no purpose in the field for hunting. Maybe not for him in the woods of northeast Iowa where he sits in high stands and takes close shots in thick woods with shotgun slugs. But for the hunter who heads afield under entirely different circumstances in totally different terrain, that sport utility rifle is the perfect firearm for the job.

Categories: Bloggers on Hunting, Tim Lesmeister

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