Small-Game Bonanza

Big game gets all the glory, but the small-game hunter needs guns and gear, too.

Small-Game Bonanza

Call it a consequence of the success in modern-day conservation. Deer and turkey numbers in many states are way above the level they were when Baby Boomers started hunting. The result? In the past 20 years or so, many young hunters started out downing a nice buck or bagging a gobbler or two. What they missed is the basic hunting classroom for many hunters: small-game hunting.

Fear not! We are seeing an increase in new hunters coming into the fold, and many think small-game hunting is the way bring these hunters along. Small-game hunting offers a chance to have many opportunities engaging with game in a day, and it doesn’t require expensive hunting leases with lots of public hunting land in many states.

While small game differs in some ways from big-game pursuits, in one area it is very much alike. Small-game hunters need guns and gear as much as any hunter. Here are some ideas you may want to consider stocking for the small-game hunter.


All small-game hunters require some kind of firearm or air rifle to pursue their sport. The list can be long and overwhelming, but here are some ideas for the rabbit, squirrel and bird chasers.

CZ-USA Upland Ultralight All Terrain 20-Gauge 

Most small-game hunters want a light, fast-handling shotgun. Remember that you will carry a shotgun in the field more than you will actually fire it. The CZ-USA Upland Ultralight in the 12-gauge model weighs 6 pounds. The 20-gauge comes in at about 5.4 pounds, and it is a delight to carry. The CZ All Terrain shotguns feature a Cerakote finish that is near impervious to the elements. The stand-out feature of this series of scatterguns is a small but revolutionary addition to the ejector or extractor of the break-open variants. To make them handy for use in a duck blind or while handling dogs and equipment in the field, each of the All-Terrain over-and-unders and side-by-sides has a set of rare earth magnets installed in their extractor or ejectors. With these magnets in place, most modern shells are retained in the gun even when the gun is turned upside down. This makes loading them easy in a pit blind or boat, and never will a dog handler accidentally dump shells out of their gun while bending over to work with their dog. Equipped with sling swivels and extended chokes, these shotguns are ready to chase small game and birds, from doves and ducks to turkeys and grouse. MSRP is $965.00

GAMO Bone Collector .22 Air Rifle 

Small-game hunting with airguns is increasing in popularity for several reasons. One is airguns make less noise and are perceived as less dangerous around populated areas. While that may be true, the GAMO line of Bone Collector and Swarm Magnum air rifles have been tested extensively on small game, varmints and invasive iguanas in southern Florida and have proven to have plenty of takedown power for hunting. GAMO Adult Precision Air Rifles revolutionized the break-barrel air rifle industry back in 2017 with the introduction of Swarm 10X Technology. This technology created the first multi-shot, autoloading break-barrel air rifle and made single-shot air rifles obsolete. Swarm shooters simply loaded 10 pellets into the magazine and snapped it into place, and then they could shoot 10 shots without fumbling around for another pellet after every shot — just break the barrel and shoot again. MSRP is $319.00

Rossi Single-Shot .410 Bore Shotgun

A .410 shotgun that is light and easy to handle for young shooters is certainly of interest to parents and mentors of our next generation of hunters. The Rossi Tuffy .410 shotgun checks all the boxes for this. Not many shotguns may have as many uses as the Tuffy break-action. With its redesigned thumbhole/pistol grip stock and short length of pull, the Tuffy is an ideal truck gun and great for small-framed shooters. The compact and light design also makes it the perfect choice for wilderness protection and survival scenarios, and it is an easy grab-and-go shotgun for the farm or camp. The Tuffy is offered in two barrel lengths: 18.5-inch in cylinder bore and a 26-inch barrel with a screw-in full choke turkey model. Customers that want to turkey hunt with the Tuffy will want the 26-inch model and will have the option for longer shots on small game. MSRP is $186 for the 18.5 model, $243.00 for the 26.

CZ-USA 457 American .22 Rifle 

Every small-game hunter needs a good flat-shooting .22 rifle. Squirrel hunters especially want an accurate rifle to snipe bushytails with. A classic American-style rimfire rifle, the 457 has a 24.8-inch barrel with no sights and is meant to be topped with a scope. Its Turkish walnut stock has a high, flat comb and a timeless checkering pattern. Like all of CZ’s 457s, it has an 11mm dovetail milled into the top of its receiver for attaching scope ring mounts. Turkish walnut stocks and cold-hammer-forged barrels along with a two-position, push-to-fire safety make this a solid choice for the small-game hunter at a price that will not break the bank. A great feature of this rifle is that the action from any model of the 457 American (and there are many) can be swapped to fit another. The basic Scout model can become a Varmint model, a Synthetic model, or a Premium model. The CZ-USA 457 American is now available in a left-hand model as well. MSRP $569.00 


Remington Game Loads and Express Long Range Shotshells: Small-game hunters on a good day afield may do a lot of shooting. For this, they want a reliable shotgun shell for a wide range of uses at an economical price. Remington Game Loads are 2 ¾-inch lead shotshells with a muzzle velocity of 1,290 feet per second. Remington Express Extra Long Range (XLR) loads will give the small-game hunter a little more range and knockdown power when needed with a muzzle velocity up to 1,300 fps. They’re sold in boxes of 25 and available in 12, 20, 16 and .410 in shot sizes from #2 to #8. MSRP for the Games Loads is $12.99, XLR loads are $25.99.  

Winchester Wildcat Super Speed .22 LR: Winchester’s Wildcat Super Speed .22 Long Rifle ammunition utilizes the versatile copper-plated Dynapoint hollow-point bullet with a higher velocity of 1,300 fps, which provides more energy on target and optimizes cycling in semi-automatic firearms. Wildcat Super Speed rimfire ammunition is an excellent choice for plinking, target practice, varmint and small-game hunting. Copper-plated bullets, clean-burning powder and primers all contribute to keeping .22-caliber firearms clean and functioning well. MSRP is $15.49 for a box of 100.


It is a given that small-game hunters, as with all hunters, need good footwear for different conditions: lightweight, non-insulated for warmer temperatures, waterproof and insulated boots for more harsh conditions.

Irish Setter VaprTrek Hunting Boots 

Hunters need lightweight and non-insulated boots for milder conditions and when a lot of walking is required. The Irish Setter VaprTrek line fills all of these requirements. The original Irish Setter VaprTrek 8-inch hunting boots re 40% lighter than traditional Irish Setter big-game hunting boots without sacrificing support or stability. They deliver better traction on rough terrain, with improved durability and outstanding all-day comfort. The VaprTrek line now has an extensive number of models with different heights and levels of insulation. The great fit and go-all-day comfort that made VaprTrek boots so popular with hunters and hikers remains a top priority. A contoured last mirrors foot shape for excellent fit, while lace-to-toe eyelets help customize fit. MSRP is $159.99, although prices vary for different models.

Dryshod Legend MXT Boot 

Small-game hunters also require a boot to stand up to bad weather with rain, mud, ice and snow. Dryshod, makers of performance waterproof footwear for outdoor recreation and work, has upgraded its popular Legend MXT adventure boots. The new Legend MXT is a multi-tasking waterproof boot developed for maximum protection and traction in all conditions and seasons. The upgraded MXT cupped outsole is designed to deliver superior traction and support on challenging terrain. Aggressive, multi-directional tread blocks provide a tenacious grip on soil, snow, and rocks while the cupped outsole offers added protection and support. A steel shank arch support enhances stability and reduces fatigue for hours of comfortable wear. Other convenience and comfort features include back-pull tabs, a large heel kick, and easy roll-down calf pipe construction. The Hydrokote coating on the Densoprene fabric sheds water to keep the upper from becoming soggy even in the wettest conditions. The Legend MXT is offered in black or moss high-profile models and black or moss mid-profile models. Dryshod has an extensive line of waterproof boots for the hunter and outdoorsman. MSRP is $139.00 


While small-game hunting may be considered a more simple game than deer, elk and bear hunting, there are still lots of accessories to aid the hunter in the field.

Outdoor Edge RazorBone Knife: The ability to sharpen a knife to a razor edge may be a lost art. When I need a sharp knife now, I reach for one from Outdoor Edge. The newest of the line is the RazorBone, a folding knife with replaceable blades in three different options: A 3.5-inch drop-point blade, a 5-inch boning/fillet blade and a new gut hook blade that allows you to process small game with the precision of a Mayo Clinic surgeon. When I say these blades are sharp, I mean sharp, as in have some Band-Aids handy. MSRP is $59.95.  

Alps Outdoorz Sportsman’s Belt: Alps Outdoorz offers an ingenious option for carrying ammo, birds and anything else you need in the field. The Sportsman’s Belt is constructed of traditional waxed cotton that not only looks great in the field but also is rugged enough to survive years of hard use. The system includes two large shell pockets, a generous game pouch, and a water bottle pouch. All compartments secure to a 2-inch-wide webbed waist belt that cinches with a heavy-duty brass SR buckle. The Sportsman’s Belt system is modular in design, allowing the shooter or hunter to easily remove and position the pockets as needed thanks to integrated snap-button belt loop panels. The two shell pockets feature grab loops and a hold-open closure system so that the pockets can be easily opened and remain opened, if needed, for quick cartridge access. MSRP is $69.99.


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