Traditionally, outdoorsmen who use firearms are thought of as either being shotgun or rifle users. However, there are also those hardy souls who undertake to go after game with something smaller and with a much more challenging sight picture-the handgun. With that being said, there is often a place for XD owners in the woods.
Why handgun hunting?
Some of the most famous of American outdoor legends including Elmer Keith, Skeeter Skelton, and Jack O'Connor hunted deer and other medium to large-sized North American game with handguns. The skill needed to get close enough to make a kill shot into a vital area with a hand cannon is comparable to that of a bow hunter.
The handgun, no matter how bulky and even if it is equipped with optics, is still many times lighter and easier to carry in the field than a rifle or shotgun. This is especially true in harsh terrain such as thick brush, or when climbing broken ground or moving in swampy terrain.
For bringing down whitetail and hog, many handgun hunters prefer larger calibers such as 10mm, .45 Long Colt, 41/44 MAG, 50AE, and 454 Casull with a good quality hollow points like Remington Golden Sabers, Federal High-shok, and Partition Gold from Winchester.
When it comes to these calibers, the magnums are out for XD users, and for some reason Springfield will not make a 10mm Auto even though Glock users have enjoyed their Model 20 for nearly two decades. However, when going after game such as feral hogs, a .45 ACP XD series or even their smaller .40S&W and 9x19mm Luger brothers loaded with an effective round can fit the bill just fine. Then of course, there are always .400 and .460 Rowland conversions to think about.
Hunting with a handgun on public land may sometimes be under restriction so be sure to check with your local WMA or game warden to make sure. Hunting on private land with a handgun is largely a moot point in many states, for instance most allow that landowners may hunt nuisance animals including hog, beaver, coyote, and skunk, year-round at any time with no caliber or weapon restrictions on property deeded in their name. Still, check to make sure, as the rules in Mississippi are very different from those in New York.
Further, in some states, hunting whitetail deer with rifles is just not allowed-- but handguns are. This gives a chance for the XD to clock in as a meat getter.
Sidearms for protection
Forum member 911JB with his XD as protection during deer season
Many an outdoorsman carries a holstered handgun into the woods for personal protection during hunting season, provided no local or state law preempts this. Besides self-defense from two legged bandits, hunters frequently carry a handgun into the woods for strong medicine against unexpected close encounters with unfriendly bear and mountain lions. And yes, as pointed out by a homeowner in Alaska this summer, you can stop a 9-foot grizzly with a .45ACP and proper shot placement.
When doing so, it's typically a good idea "open carry" so that the handgun is visible and either way be sure to disclose that you have it when you encounter your local conservation officers and rangers. In addition, it may be a good idea to have it unloaded when close to the road in management areas so that you avoid the pitfall of being accused roadway hunting. Moreover, in archery-only or primitive weapons seasons you typically cannot have a sidearm with you, especially on public land, so check before you pack.
CCI Shotshell test in a Springfield XD .45ACP-- good for critters.
Some sportsmen often carry CCI "ratshot" for protection against poisonous snakes, especially in hot seasons like dove and turkey. They are made in 9mm, 40S&W and .45ACP so odds are they got you covered. Be aware though that these rounds may not cycle your action every time to be ready for that malfunction drill as needed. As a side note, these can also be used to take small game such as squirrel in a pinch (check local laws).
In the end, there is often no reason why the XD that protects your home needs to stay there when you go to the woods.