Here’s a Practical Hunting Guide to Hunting Suppressed
OutdoorHub Reporters 11.13.20
When it comes to hunting, the perfect shot is not always achieved the first time around. No matter how much you train or how often you hunt, there is always a chance that your aim will be just a little off or your stalk has left you winded and off your game. Missing your first shot is not always the end of the world, but it can certainly elevate your stress levels on your follow up shot.
Just a couple of months ago, I was in Alaska hunting caribou on the North slope of the Brooks Range. After glassing for most of the morning, I spotted a bull that I was excited about a mile and a half from our glassing location. We beat feet to try and cut the bull off and hustled for almost 2 hours to get in to position. If you have ever been to the tundra, you know how unforgiving the terrain can be. If you have not, imagine walking on a sponge for hours on end. No matter what physical condition you are in, the terrain will leave you gassed.
After hustling to head the caribou off, I finally got into a spot where I felt confident enough to take the shot. My range finder measured my distance at just over 500 yards with almost no wind to contend with. By this point I was huffing and puffing after a long haul to get into position. I set up on my pack in a prone position and got as comfortable as I could before taking my shot. I slowed my breathing, squeezed the trigger and missed my shot. It wasn’t a terrible shot, but I was still slightly high.
The caribou was spooked, but not enough to ruin my day. He ran a few hundred yards away, which meant he was still in play. I packed up and decided to stalk into a closer range and settled on a shot that was just shy of 380 yards. I took my shot and was successful the second time around, what a relief. This time around I was extremely lucky that the Caribou didn’t haul himself straight out of the valley and into safety, but this is certainly not always the case.
What options does a hunter have when it comes to increasing your chances of a follow up shot? I will tell you that there is a very key solution that is gaining some serious popularity across the country. That solution is hunting with a suppressor. Over the past decade, popularity has been growing exponentially for suppressors among the shooting community and most recently the hunting community.
Our friends at Silencer Central have put together a great guide to hunting suppressed that every hunter should read. If you are hearing the name Silencer Central for the first time, you may remember them as Dakota Silencers. Silencer Central is the same great company with a new name and incredibly simple process for buying a suppressor.
So, let’s get into the real reason you are still reading, the why and how of hunting suppressed.
Why Hunt with a Suppressor?
The most obvious benefit of hunting with a suppressor is one of safety, particularly with regards to protecting your hearing. Noise induced hearing loss is the most common affliction for hunters. A lot of this comes from hunters forgoing hearing protection so that they can hear their surroundings.
Hunting with a silencer tames the sound of most gunshots by anywhere from 25 to 35 decibels, depending on the silencer and caliber in question. This is below the threshold for most hearing protection commonly worn in or over the ears. If you hunt with dogs, it protects their hearing as well.
In addition to protecting your hearing, the silencer allows you to use your unencumbered ears to listen for game, other hunters, livestock, or predators. Allowing you to be fully aware of your surroundings from a hearing perspective.
Silencer Central found this best put forth in a 2015 letter from Governor Steve Bullock of Montana to the Montana Speaker of the House, stating: “Suppressors mitigate the sound of a shot, but do not silence it. The use of suppressors for hunting, when hunters cannot wear ear protection because they need to be aware of their surroundings, can help protect against hearing loss. This is especially true for our younger hunters, even those who are not actually hunting but are accompanying their parent in the field.”
In summary, suppressed hunting offers several benefits that you may have not considered. Here’s a list of those benefits:
- Protect your hearing
- Protect the hearing of others
- Maintain awareness of your surroundings
- Avoid disturbing game or varmints
- Reduce noise complaints
Is it Legal to Hunt with a Suppressor?
While legal to own and use for shooting in 42 states, suppressor use while hunting is restricted to some degree in Connecticut and Vermont. It is legal to own a suppressor in these states but illegal at the present time to use them for hunting.
As a matter of fact, it is perfectly legal to take your silencer across state lines. Unlike other NFA items, there is no interstate travel form to be filled out with the ATF. You can even fly with a silencer if you declare it to TSA and lock it in the case with your firearm. Just make sure you do not travel through one of the 8 states that prohibit silencer ownership. So, if you are leaving Texas for an elk or antelope hunt in the Western United States or even heading up to Alaska, your silencer can go with you safely and legally.
What Can I Hunt with a Suppressor?
Aside from the hunting restrictions in Connecticut and Vermont, the sky is virtually the limit for hunting in other states where suppressed hunting is legal.
A few states used to have some restrictions on hunting with a suppressor. Montana immediately comes to mind as this suppressor-friendly state would only allow suppressor use for varmint hunting. Thankfully, the law was changed several years ago and hunters in Montana are free to use suppressors on all game animals as well as varmints.
Deer and even elk or antelope hunting is greatly enhanced when using your suppressor. This is because most rifle suppressors offer a reduction in recoil. You may not need a 300 Winchester Magnum for a White Tail deer on the East Coast at 50 yards but in the western states, the mule deer are larger and often taken at greater distances.
This holds true for bigger game animals such as Elk, Pronghorn Antelope, Bighorn Sheep, and Caribou. These animals have incredible hearing, and the sound of a gunshot will keep them out of an area for weeks at a time.
Whether you consider them to be varmints or predators, coyotes are some of the most intelligent and cagey animals to hunt. They recognize gunshots for what they are and even the youngest or most naïve of these creatures will keep a smart distance despite your best predator calls once they hear one. To sum it up, like their cartoon namesake, they are wily.
Hunting coyotes with a suppressed hunting rifle will allow a varmint hunter to be able to make short work of them in the least amount of time.
Prairie dog and ground squirrel hunters often benefit the most from the use of a silenced hunting rifle while varmint hunting. Animals such as these are aware of what gunfire means and a large group will retreat to their burrows until they no longer hear gunfire.
A suppressed hunting rifle will allow you to maximize your efforts when you need to take them out in a small amount of time. It will allow you to take shots at them for hours on end if that’s your intent.
Feral Hog Hunting
Another animal with excellent hearing and one that knows the sound of gunshots for what they are is the feral hog. These animals have bred to out of control numbers in the wild and are a pestilence when it comes to agricultural, property, and other forms of damage. Suppressed hunting rifles are a necessity when taking out packs of them.
Best Suppressors for Hunting
There are a lot of suppressors designed with hunting in mind that all share the same characteristics. You want it to be quiet, but also lightweight and preferably either a direct thread or TOMB style mount. Versatility and the ability to share it among different host guns is always a plus. We took a quick overview of a rimfire suppressor and a few centerfire cans.
One of the most versatile suppressors in the world is the BANISH 30. A fully user-serviceable suppressor, it works with all your rifle calibers from .300 Weatherby down to .17 HMR. Testing shows that BANISH 30 reduces the report of a 308 Winchester by as much as 34 decibels. It is made from a strong, Titanium alloy for unmatched durability, at an extremely lightweight.
One of the best small game and cartridge rifles in the US is the Ruger 10/22 and when suppressed, these tack drivers are extremely quiet. Even more so with the Gemtech Mist-22 installed. The Gemtech Mist-22 is an integrated suppressor/barrel that keeps your rifle compact without adding the extra length of a standard can.
The Coastal Xtreme Duty Suppressor (XDS) is a direct thread mounted silencer for hunting rifles chambered in 223 Remington/ 5.56mm or similar calibers like 22 Hornet. It delivers outstanding sound suppression utilizing the Coastal Gun V-Tech baffle design. It can be used safely and comfortably without hearing protection.
If you are looking for a very robust Magnum class suppressor for hunting, we recommend something on the order of the Elite Iron Sierra. At 9.5″ long it tames cartridges as mighty as 338 RUM, 338 Lapua Magnum or 375 H&H (Holland & Holland) cartridge rifles.
Buying A Silencer with Silencer Central
Silencer Central takes the formalities out of the paperwork with their digital process. You select the right suppressor for your firearm and let our expert compliance staff handle the paperwork which is emailed to you to digitally sign. With the fingerprint kit, taking your prints and passport-style photo can be accomplished from the privacy of your own home. To make it even easier, they offer a 4-month, eZ-Pay option so you can pay for your silencer in installments. Their free NFA Gun Trust is set up for you to better protect the ownership of what is really a lifetime investment. Once approved, you receive notification via email and text message, and they ship the silencer directly to your doorstep.
Additionally, they realize that not all hunting rifles ship from the factory with threaded barrels to attach to your silencer. Silencer Central’s in-house machine shop can thread your rifle for you and ship the barrel straight back to your house.
In addition to stocking popular brands, they also offer the BANISH Multi-Caliber Suppressors, a 100% titanium and user-serviceable line exclusively built to our demanding specifications.
Ready for Your First Suppressed Hunt?
Hopefully by now you have a better understanding of what to look for in a hunting suppressor. Weight and length are a factor especially if you must walk a few miles on your first suppressed hunt. You also want one that will reduce sound to a comfortable level and maybe even help in the recoil department.
The key to having a great hunt is to do your research and look at hiring a guide for out of state hunts. Let Silencer Central be your suppressor “hunting guide” and redefine the way you buy a silencer. They deliver silencers the simple way. You select your silencer; we manage your paperwork, and your silencer is shipped directly to your doorstep. It’s the service that’s unheard of.
You can call their silencer specialists at 888-781-8778 to get started on your next suppressor purchase or visit SilencerCentral.com to buy online.