ARs in Deer Camp?

Although there has been some initial bias towards the AR as  a hunting firearm, more and more sportsmen are favoring the AR as the gun of choice when heading into the woods.   Patrick Hayes Photo
Although there has been some initial bias towards the AR as a hunting firearm, more and more sportsmen are favoring the AR as the gun of choice when heading into the woods. Patrick Hayes Photo

While misperceptions about tactical rifles remain among the sporting public, and even some division remains among sportsmen in camp (one recent magazine article talked about being the first guy in camp with an AR and how to present yourself as a good ambassador for the tactical gun crowd), studies show that opinions are changing.

One 2011 study commissioned by the National Shooting Sports Foundation found that just over 18 percent of all gun owners now own an AR-style rifle (probably higher since 2013). Of those, nearly 20 percent say they use them for hunting.

This is a sizable number given the relatively recent arrival of ARs on the hunting scene but will likely only continue to trend upwards as more sportsmen become familiar with the platform.

Of course, nobody will ever accuse hunters—at least not most of them—of being on the forefront of cutting edge changes in the way they live or do things. Admittedly, most of us hunt out of a respect for the traditions and simple pleasures the outdoors offers.

But as younger hunters raised in a technologically focused society take to the woods and start to produce their own income, the AR promises to be as continuing a presence in hunting camp as it does in the capable hands of our military forces.

Ninety-four percent of those surveyed said they approve of the use of semi-auto AR-platform rifles for target shooting. That number dropped to a 75 percent approval rating when asked if they thought those same guns should be used for hunting.

While I have found no data measuring those same attitudes, say just four or five years ago, I believe it would be safe to assume, that the percentage of approving hunters and shooters has grown considerably.

More telling of where the field of sporting ARs is likely to go can be found in the responses where approximately 20 percent of those surveyed said they intend to purchase a modern sporting rifle within the next 12 months. Can you say, “Coming to a camp near you!”

Modern Shooter Magazine Spring 2014This article is an excerpt from the new magazine Modern Shooter Spring 2014 presented by Gun Digest.


  1. Let me state first I do own semi-auto rifles and have used them many times in competition. But I do not think they have ever been a good idea to use in the hunting field. In my 51 years of hunting I have seen far to many idiots cause accidents by spraying the woods with high volumes of rapid fire without even aiming. Here in Ohio we had a tragedy of some nut firing rapid fire and killing a lady driving to work during deer season. Restricting magazine capacity when using semi-auto’s has been the only solution to help curb hunting accidents but I do believe magazine restrictions should not apply to home defense.

    Lets face facts the news media has poisoned the minds of non-gun owning Americans in regards to the image of hunting and hunters. It triples when the non-owning Gun Public sees hunters dressed like para-military lunatics running around in the woods with high capacity magazines sticking out of their weapons. Far better to have an old-fashioned dressed hunter with a double barrel shotgun or bolt action rifle seen out in the fields during hunting season that is more traditional and down home so to speak. Its tough to fight news media anti-gun propaganda, so why ad fuel to the news media’s rabid anti-hunting, anti-gun stance.

    To show you how ridiculous major media is I recently had my own post showing a Thompson Machine gun carried by the gangster “Dillinger” being returned reluctantly by the Feds after decades to the police department where it had been stolen from by Dillinger. Facebook immediately pulled the post because it showed a picture of the gun. With attitudes like this by the media one can see how “image” is important when dealing with hunting and guns and AR-15’s with high capacity magazines sticking out and men in military style camouflage go over like a lead balloon in the eyes of a largely ignorant and brain-washed public.


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