Shot my first deer with a Ruger Super Blackhawk back in the 70s. It's not a frequently discussed topic on this forum only because Marlin has never been in the handgun biz, but there have been some threads, here, now and then.
As for advice, I suggest you approach handgun hunting the same as bowhunting - lots and lots of practice. Mastering a pistol, especially a magnum pistol, is every bit as challenging and hard as mastering a bow. Take a cue from the serious bowhunting folks who practice year round under field conditions. (I also did a lot of bowhunting, back in the day.)
The hardest part about being a handgun hunter is leaving that rifle at home! It takes more practice than bowhunting. You just have to find your maximum effective range and stick with it. What caliber you decide to use will affect your effective range. I personally have decided that the 41 Remington Magnum is my minimum caliber.
i hunted with a smith&wesson 44 mag with 8&3/8'' barrel for 25 years ,my dad didn't allow rifles on the farm .i hunted woods ,never cared to hunt fields .longest kill shot was 70 yards .they are MUCH handier in a tree stand .shoot them in the shoulder they fall right there.
I went to a .44 mag revolver after moving to Ohio. Just couldn't get into hunting deer with a shotgun. My revolver is more accurate than my shotgun with slugs and just as effective. Haven't been able to hunt much in this state, but I have taken one deer with my .44 mag revovler. In a shoulder holster it carries much easier than a long gun and I can have both hands free. And it gave me an excuse to buy another handgun. I'd recommend you mount a scope. Even two power is enough for minute of deer out to 100 yards and gives a much better sight picture than iron sights.
I have shot deer with my Smith & Wesson 686 6". I hunt with my 444 but always take the 686. If I get a good shot at 25 yards on a deer I take it with the 686, To hunt game with a handgun it takes a lot of practice with a handgun. If you can't hit a 8" paper plate every time at 25 yards stay with the rifle until you can.
I prefer open sights on a handgun, I have, painted the front sight orange. My new performance center smith has a bright front sight. Most shots I've had in 25 years in the woods were 25 to 50 yards.The smiths have an excellent trigger.
I Have a Taurus M44 8 3/8 inch 44mag Revolver that I've took a deer and hog or two with it! The first year I had it I hunted all deer season with it only, that was a mistake because I missed alot of oppertunitys at some deer out of range! Like mention by others pistol/revolver hunting is like bowhunting! I Hadnt hunted with my revolver in a few years now but when I decide to drag it back out it will be accompated with my 1894 or one of my other Rifles! Here's a pic of it (at this time I have the Bushnell red dot took off of it)
There has been plenty of discussion here in the Handgun section over the years, but it may seem like an avoided topic when compared to the more common "What .380 pistol should I buy to do battle with zombies" threads....and if our search engine was any good you might have a chance of finding them.
I've been hunting with a handgun for over 30 years, predominately with a variety of Smith & Wesson's chambered in .44 Mag, both scoped and with open sights. I've harvested both deer and black bear with those guns, along with a passel of small game with handguns ranging from .22 rimfires to .38 Special, .44 Special, and even the .45 ACP.
Practice is great advice, but learning to shoot from field positions and discovering where your limitations lie are just as important. Just as with bow hunting, shot placement with typical straight-walled handgun cartridges is all important. Put a large caliber hollow point, soft point, or cast SWC where it counts and you'll harvest game. Hit them around the fringes and they will be lost. A good man with a good revolver can extend his effective range far beyond typical archery ranges, but developing the skill necessary takes time.
Learning to shoot accurately with a handgun...any handgun...is the first step. If you don't already, you should get a good .22 rimfire pistol or revolver. Not only will a .22 give you plenty of low cost, low noise, and low recoil practice, but one of the best ways to become proficient as a handgun hunter is to pursue small game with that same gun. Learning to stalk close enough, and shoot accurately enough, to harvest fall-fat fox or grey squirrels, or winter cottontails, will hone the same skills that will pay great dividends with big game later. When you can make head shots on squirrels at 25 yards, the kill zone of a whitetail seems positively huge in comparison, even when it's twice or three times that distance.
Learn to take advantage of any rest available. Bracing the back of the off hand against a tree will steady those trembles. A shooting stick can be very effective with a bit of practice as well. When possible, a seated position, with the knees drawn up and the wrists braced between the knees, can be as accurate as shooting from the bench. Practice these positions so they may be assumed fluidly when they are necessary. A walk in the woods with your centerfire revolver, dry firing at targets of opportunity from these field positions is a nice way to fine tune these skills. Combine this practice with your summer or early fall scouting trips and it will become second nature in short order.
I have no problem with those that carry a handgun and a rifle together, but at some point...to call yourself a handgun hunter...that rifle must be left behind. Unlike bow hunting, limiting yourself to a handgun seldom opens special seasons or additional days afield. Instead, it becomes a personal choice...a desire to develop both the woodcraft skills and the proficiency with arms that rises above the average...a mindset, that the challenge of the hunt is just as important as the harvest itself...and the realization that you may go home empty handed as often as not. In that, it is much like bow hunting...just a hell of a lot louder.
i have a encore in 243, xp in 7/08, two contenders in 375 and 358 jd jones, all have scopes, it takes practice to get use to pistol scopes, contenders have good trigger pulls, you can get trigger spring kits for encores, my xp has a mcmillan fiberglass stock with a after market trigger. i have small hands and have pachmyer grips on the contenders and encore. if your gun is scoped start out at the lowest setting, it can be hard to pick out deer in thick stuff in low light.
I love handgun hunting, have been doing it since the late sixties. For Deer I use Ruger single actions in 44Mag, 41Mag and 45 Colt and Contenders in 30-30, 38-55, 45Colt and 44Mag. For squirrel hunting I use my Contender in 22RF and S&W 22 revolver. For coyote hunting I use a Contender in 6mm TCU, 7mm TCU, 256 Win Mag and soon to be added 32-20 Win.
I, don't have a favorite caliber for the above but seem to use the Ruger Super Blackhawk 44Mag, Contender 38-55, 6mm TCU and 22 RF the most.
They are all fun to hunt with.
This will be my first year to seriously use a hand gun for deer or hogs. I have been spending a lot of time with my Blackhawk in 45 Colt. Right now I can dependably put a full cylinder inside 6" at 50 yards with the factory sights. I did use white fingernail polish on the front sight to help in low light.
I also have been working hard with my Uberti at 25 yards. Not ready to move back with it yet. Next range trip will be dedicated to shooting off sticks only with both revolvers.
I really enjoy the single actions more than any other and am looking forward to deer season.
Here in Texas we can hunt hogs year round, so I will start with them soon.
I hunted with handgun for many years, 1980-2000. The problem now is with people selling land and many new houses in the area the handgun has been put away. The new land owners think I'm nuts hunting with that "thing". They will not allow it on their property and if I'm that stupid to wound an animal with it to bad. You can't track it on "my" property.
So I've had to stop handgun hunting and went to a precision rifle. Head shot or neck is the challenge now. Why upset the neighbors and waste time tracking. Bang, flop not much of a challenge but what can I do??
I have hunted with a TC Contender for quite a few years I use either a 14" 44 mag barrel, or a 10' 357 maximum. I handload so my loads are a bit hotter then what you could use in a revolver. Both barrels are scoped the 44 has a 2 1/2 power and the 357 has a red dot. This year I will be using my 45-70 Marlin which is now legal for Ohio deer.