Best Hunting Rifle to Use In The Woods

What Are The Best Hunting Rifles For Woods Hunting?

Hunting With Rifles In Wooded Terrain

Hunting in the woods is completely different than hunting in an open terrain, or any other environment. There are many variables to take into consideration in deep woods hunting. Some things a hunter may take into account include: the time of the day (sunlight), the levelness of the terrain, the thickness of the trees, the presence of any other plant life (bushes, grasses, etc), the presence of water (streams, ponds, rivers, etc), and the number and type of species present in the wooded area. And depending upon the forest, the foliage can be thicker or more sparse, thus creating a number of additional variables.

Another thing to consider when going deep-woods hunting is the targeted game. The selected game can determine a lot about the hunt and what a hunter brings along. Namely, it is important to know the game in order to choose an adequate firearm and load out. Things such as the caliber, firing power, sling, scopes and other attachments can make a difference between a successful deep-woods hunting experience, and a boring (or comical) trip.

Picking The Right Rifle For Hunting In The Woods

Lever action rifles are fantastic for deep-woods hunting, as they are fast to swing over and around branches. They also allow for easy shell cycling.1A lot of deep-woods hunters find lever action highly efficient for the terrain. Still, there are a lot of folk who prefer a bolt-action rifle for wooded hunting. Regardless of whether a hunter chooses a lever action or bolt-action rifle, the shortness of the barrel is important. Shorter barrels (18-18.5” to 16” barrels) will hands down be the best rifles for deep-woods hunting. Depending upon the type of game, a scope can sometimes be helpful. If a hunter chooses to use a scope for wooded terrain, low power magnification is the best option. This allows the hunter to find the target more quickly and maintain focus on the target as it moves about the trees and brush.

Rifle covers are also worth mentioning, as they greatly improve a shooter’s ability to remain hidden. A rifle cover literally covers the rifle so the gun will better blend into the environment. Rifle covers are simply removed seconds before engaging the game. Rapid Rifle Covers makes some great deep-woods rifle covers.

The Best Hunting Rifles For Hunting In The Woods

Many rifles could be considered best for hunting in deep-woods, especially when the actual geographical location is taken into account. Regardless, however, the best rifles for woodland hunting are often considered brush (or sometimes called bush) rifles. Brush rifles are typically large bore rifles, such as 30-30, 38-55, .444, 12 or 20 gauge rifles. They will normally have open sights. They generally are short-barreled. Bush rifles are easy to carry and use, with a fast rechamber cycle. Different game does require different rifle types, but in general, these are some of the best rifles for deep-woods hunting.

Mossberg MVP Scout

The MVP Scout is Dual-Push bolt rifle that sports a 16.25” barrel and loads 7.62 NATO rounds. There is an 11” Picatinny rail and two side-mount rails. It works great with a sling, even coming with one included when purchasing from the manufacturer. And the MVP is a great rifle for a scope. Mossberg suggests the Vortex Crossfire II Scout Scope.

Ruger Guide Gun + Ruger Gunsite Scout

The Ruger Guide Gun is durable, extremely powerful, and compact. It is super easy to carry. It is a very reliable rifle and features a one-piece, stainless steel bolt. There are excellent rifle slings for the Rugar Guide Gun, making it even easier to handle.

The Ruger Gunsite Scout, also known as the Ruger Scout Rifle, has a 16.10” barrel, an adjustable rear sight, and a weight of only 7.1 lbs. It’s a little pricey, but a very nice bolt-action rifle with a forward-mounted Picatinny rail for a variety of slick optics.

Ruger American Rimfire Compact (17 HMR)

This is a bolt-action rifle made by one of the most reliable brands on the market. It has an 18” barrel length and comes in a couple of different calibers. Many deep-woods hunters prefer the 17 HMR caliber model for varmint hunting. It is also a fairly reasonably priced firearm.

Winchester Model 70 (.375 H&H)

This rifle is capable of taking down bigger game, such as a large game. The heavier caliber and iron sights work great together for quick-action deep-woods hunting. This rifle is not likely to jam due to its awesome controlled-feed action. It may be classic-looking, but it is powerful and authoritative in deep-woods.

Other Long Guns For Hunting In The Woods

Remington 870 18.5″ (12 gauge)

This firearm is excellent for close-range deep-woods hunting. It is very effective against bear (especially brown bear). The 870 has a short barrel and sports slugs or buck. It is very easy to handle and creates a powerful impact that cannot be ignored.

Final Suggestions for Wooded Terrain & Rifles

It may be true that deep-woods hunting can require some patience and an adequate load out, but it is possible to improve one’s likelihood of tracking and hunting their game. A hunter who has armed themselves with the knowledge of their game will have a better chance when it comes to tracking. For example, understanding that a buck marks their territory and can only cross a stream at saddle points can help track the animal more quickly. Saddle locations are areas where the water is low enough for a deer or buck to cross, so they are more likely to have been there than other places. It is also a great idea to bring along a pair of binoculars (or a monocular). These standalone scopes make it super simple to locate game and track it before setting up for engagement. And remember: the more light the binoculars let in, the easier it will be to see more detail through the foliage and trees, so pick some nice binoculars. Cabela’s makes some reasonably priced, high definition 10×50 binoculars that work great in heavy woodlands.

Disclaimer: Always be careful when deep-woods hunting, as some game is very dangerous. It is never wise for an amateur to attempt to track big game without an experienced entourage.


1Big Game Logic. Deep Woods Deer Hunting. Retrieved From:

About the Author:

Mark Doberman, The Proprietary Gun Smith

The Proprietary Gun Smith is a marksman, expert gun handler, ammunition specialist, survival guru, and lifetime gun enthusiast. He owns (or has owned) nearly every legal firearm and ballistic available, has fired nearly every gun, and regularly consults professionally in the firearm world. He has studied firearms and similar tactical lifestyle for more than 40 years. In addition to writing for, TheProprietaryGunSmith has guest written for more than a dozen other sites and/or magazines in the industry.

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