Re: hunting with a 32/20
Things are completely different now as compared to then with respect to hunting. They used snowshoes, not snowmobiles. Out of necessity the "rules of hunting" were much different than the practices today. So it is necessary when asking about cartridges like the 32-20 to put things into context.
Back in the day (late 1800s up to the 1930s) the 32-20 was the "357 Magnum" of the time, before the 357 Magnum debuted in 1935. There were two loadings, a very mild "pistol" load and a hotter "rifle" load. In northern PA in the early 1900 up to pre-WWII, hunters used rifles chambered for the 32-30, 38-40, 30-30, 35 Remington, and 38-55. The most popular for deer were the 30-30, 35 Remington, and 38-55.
The 32-20 was employed for small game but some hunters who had but one rifle used the 32-20 for small game and deer. The big difference between then and now? The maximum range was 75 yds, and typical range was 25 to 50 yds. Hunters would not risk a shot unless it was certain, or unless they were desperate for meat. Not many hunters would consider taking a shot that would result in a pursuit of a wounded animal because it represented too much work to track it down and bring it back, and chores were waiting at home or the farm. In rural northern PA at the time, there was no electricity and no labor-saving electrical devices. Everything was done by human or animal power, and took much longer to perform. People got up with the chickens and went to bed shortly after sundown because lamp oil cost money. Leisure time was for Sunday afternoon for a couple hours. Hunters needed to be efficient, and developed skills to post for deer at short ranges to be sure of their kills.
Scopes were for target rifles, and scopes of the time were too expensive and too fragile for the field. Open sights or receiver sights were exclusively used for hunting. A hunter's only rifle was a tool to be used, and something to be counted on to work. Low cost and high utility were the criteria for most hunters, both pre- and post-Great Depression.
Old issues of hunting magazines from the time period are full of stories portraying hunts using the rifles and cartridges I've described above. In my own family I grew up listening to my grandfathers and for a while one great-grandfather relate how one gun did it all for them, including the 32-20, given the right conditions and circumstances.
When I learned to shoot, I fired box after box of 22LR to gain proficiency long before I was entrusted to fire a few rounds of 30-30 from my father's prewar Model 94 Winchester. When I was judged good enough with the 30-30 and allowed to hunt, I was given Dad's rifle and one (1) 30-30 cartridge, and instructed to either bring back the cartridge or a deer. No exceptions. I complied, but I passed on a number of shots for two seasons before I killed my first deer at a paced-off 32 yds the third season.
I have used the 32-20 for coyote, turkey and groundhogs to very good effect. Although the 32-20 is not my first, second, or even fourth choice for PA whitetail, with the proper shot placement at a reasonable range to target I would not hesitate to use it for deer. But that would be >50 yds, using an expanding bullet in my handloads.
Noah, taking a trip in the wayback machine.
Might as well face it, you're addicted to guns.