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Shotgun Ammo: How To Choose A Pheasant Load For Your Style of Hunting

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November 15, 2012

Shotgun Ammo: How To Choose A Pheasant Load For Your Style of Hunting

By Phil Bourjaily

I mentioned in a previous column I had shot up over a box of 3-inch pheasant loads as an experiment on a preserve hunt a couple weeks ago. That ammo was Federal’s 3-inch Pheasants Forever-label “Prairie Storm” magnums which contain 1-5/8 ounces of lead shot at 1350 fps. After a few shots we renamed them “Pterodactyls Forever”* loads. They are deadly at both ends of the gun, and, in my experience, way more shell than is necessary to kill a pheasant.**

However, experience can be deep but narrow. While I have done a ton of pheasant hunting, aside from a handful of hunts in Nebraska and South Dakota, most of my birds have been shot in two counties in Iowa. I hunt alone or in the company of one or two people and we run pointing dogs and/or close-working flushers. I try to be selective with the shots I take. I won’t shoot at a bird going straight away past about 35 yards, for instance.

So what I think of as the perfect pheasant load may only be perfect for the conditions I encounter in the fields near home. Some pheasant hunters have to take long shots or they take no shots at all. With that thought in mind I shot the Prairie Storm ammo for a day to see if I could expand my horizons.

I definitely expanded my effective range. I held my fire with the 3-inch Federals on anything close for fear of blowing it up and focused on the long shots. The ammo was up to the job and I killed birds at 45 yards and more. Prairie Storm uses Federal’s Flitecontrol wad to hold shot together out of the barrel for tighter patterns downrange so I expected good longrange patterns when I tried them on paper. I wasn’t disappointed. From my Beretta 391 with a Modified choke it put 200-plus 6 pellets into a 30-inch circle at 45 steps and the pattern cores were tightly packed with pellets. Some may disagree but from my field experience, 6s hit hard enough to kill birds at that range.

The downside is recoil. My shoulder and jaw told me this ammo kicks, and a recoil calculator told me how much:  in a 7 pound gun a 3-inch 1-5/8 ounce, 1350 fps load generates over 50 foot-pounds of recoil. Unless I am reading tables wrong, that puts its recoil at the level of a .416 Remington magnum, which is, frankly, ridiculous, unless you really are shooting pterodactyls, which,  I can only imagine, make very angry, dangerous cripples.

If you hunt where 40-45 yard shots at pheasants are the norm, and you shoot a gas semiauto that can soak up recoil, Prairie Storm magnums are worth a try. That’s doubly true if you hunt where wounded pheasants charge.
 
*”Pterodactyls in Perpetuity” is the name Federal’s Ryan Bronson suggested for a pterosaur conservation organization. I like it.
**Although I shoot 12 gauges now I shot a 20 for a long time. For the way I hunt, 1 ounce to 1-1/4 ounces of 5s or 6s in lead or in Kent Tungsten-Matrix (my favorite non-toxic) is all the pheasant load I need. In steel I shoot 1-1/8-1-1/4 ounces of 3s or 4s. I favor IC or IC /Modified chokes.

 

Comments (22)

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from Sidewinder wrote 1 year 21 weeks ago

Hey, Phil, just on the off-chance it happens while I'm pheasant hunting, what's your recommended swatter load for a pterodactyl cripple? I'm thinking perhaps one of Mr. Petzal's .600 Thunderf*cker loads from a safe distance might be just the ticket.

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from clinchknot wrote 1 year 21 weeks ago

My situation is very similar. I shoot 1 oz of 6's in a 2 3/4" 20 ga shell, and in my opinion being on target is the key for me, not the amount of shot in the shell. I have 3" 1 1/4 oz shells,(lead) and the Prairee Storm loads I seldom use. I hunt over flushing dogs, and shots are for the most part within 35 yds. And a 35-40 yd. crossing shot that is on target?..down comes the bird if the pattern is up front on the rooster. There is a guy I hunt with that reloads his own 1 1/4 oz. of 4's (lead) and shoots a 12 ga. Model 101 Winchester O/U, and that guy is an expert at wounding birds, and hitting the south end of a northbound bird. He now has cataracts, and sees very poorly telling me he should have had them removed before the season started. Lots of gunners have trouble getting that barrel out ahead of a pheasant. I shot my 16th rooster on Tues.

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from hutter wrote 1 year 21 weeks ago

I don't know if it's the same load your talking about but I've shot the P.S. with the flight stopper shot and they kicked the living snot out of me. I was using my favorite Browning twelvette. Those shell ARE NOT for recoil opperated guns. One full box and 15 others are up for sale. My arm pit hasn't healed from last year!!!!

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from hutter wrote 1 year 21 weeks ago

I don't know if it's the same load your talking about but I've shot the P.S. with the flight stopper shot and they kicked the living snot out of me. I was using my favorite Browning twelvette. Those shell ARE NOT for recoil opperated guns. One full box and 15 others are up for sale. My arm pit hasn't healed from last year!!!!

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from Ontario Honker ... wrote 1 year 21 weeks ago

I started out this year shooting Federal's high-base 12 gauge 2 3/4" #4 at 1500 fps. I have had good luck with these loads in past years in #5 or #6 but those sizes were not available where I shopped on the way here to Montana. I shoot them out of a Browning A-5 which soaks up some of the recoil. But those things really are punishing. And I haven't been doing that well this year. However, I have a history of shooting inconsistently. Just removed the slip-on recoil pad and bumped down to 1300 fps Federals in #6. Recoil is more manageable and I'm connecting better. Yesterday I shot one hun and a rooster. Only took three shells. The rooster was smoked at about 35 yards passing. He went down with at least a broken wing in a jackpot where the dogs were putting up more than twenty birds. Brother! If that rooster wasn't dead he was lost. After about five minutes Opal returned with the rooster but from quite a ways back in the willows. Last night when cleaning the bird I noted it did not have a broken wing. And not a hole in it anywhere! His rib cage was crushed. Dang dog. That's the fifth pheasant she has caught this season. No six! Three roosters and three hens. She should give lessons to the coyotes. We'll be going back this morning to see if they didn't find the rooster I actually shot.

Phil, your advice is excellent. Hunting planted pheasants over pointers on private farms can easily be accomplished with trap loads. Hunting wild birds on publicly accessible land is usually long distance shooting. Requires something faster and a tighter choke. I have a fixed modified on that Browning and I don't think I'd go with anything looser than that, especially now that snow is on the ground. Makes the birds all the more cagey. I'll always take hunting publicly accessible land over cultivated pheasant grounds. It's more challenging. Getting a limit out there now is something of an accomplishment. Not getting one just means fewer birds to clean and more days in the field before my possession limit is filled. Win win situation in every respect.

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from cpeter wrote 1 year 21 weeks ago

Phil, I feel your pain. I bought a couple boxes of praire storm in 2 3/4 inch twelves for a SD pheasant hunt last year. I was shooting my Ruger Gold Label, and let me tell you, to say I was surprised the first time a pulled the trigger on a rooster would be a major understatement! The recoil from that load in a light weight double was rediculous! At the end of the trip I gave away any that I had left. Way to much for a pheasant.

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from Mark-1 wrote 1 year 21 weeks ago

My observation is pheasants tend to sit tight at the season's front part and expect any and all types of flushes during the back part. I start with standard 12-ga trap loads and sometimes end with with shells throwing 1 1/4 oz shot of #6 or 7.5's. In 20 and 28-ga I always use 1-oz loads.

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from larson014 wrote 1 year 21 weeks ago

my style of hunting ammo? I shoot winchester cause im poor...

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from huntslow wrote 1 year 21 weeks ago

I like 12 ga. 1 1/4 ounce lead loads. I load my own to about 1250-1300 fps and use 7.5 shot at the first of the season and 6 at the end. I shoot an 870 and it is heavy enough that the recoil is not an issue for me. I also change choke (barrel) from early to late season.

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from clinchknot wrote 1 year 21 weeks ago

If I were reloading again, and wanted to thump pheasants dead on impact I would load 1 1/4 oz. of lead in size #2 shot. I use to reload a 2 3/4" casing in 12 ga. using an 1 3/8 oz. lead in #2's, and the shocking impact is impressive with no birds that I can remember getting ruined because of the bigger shot. Clean the bird, and little shot damage. It is the impact thumpin that kills them. Like a heavywt fighters punch vs. a flywts punch.

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from scratchgolf72 wrote 1 year 21 weeks ago

i shoot high brass 2 3/4 inch #6 shot on pheasants...it puts them down hard. i hammer those things out to 50+ yards with that load. i typically shoot an O/U with an IC and a M choke. i have also found that shooting anything smaller then 6's is asking for trouble. when i first started hunting pheasant i shot them with 7.5, after 2 trips i switched over to high velocity 6's as stated above, much better performance.

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from RandyMI wrote 1 year 21 weeks ago

I tried a box of those Prairie Storm in 20 ga. #5 last year. At 40 yards I killed one rooster stone dead as he broke after climbing over the treetops....out of a modified Ithaca auto. I was impressed! :-) Golden Pheasant #5s are also very good. Both are pretty pricey.

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from clinchknot wrote 1 year 21 weeks ago

scratch...it is the distance you refer to that makes a difference, and can do it on the chalkboard. #2's vs. # 6's ? And I've enjoyed your knowledgeable posts in the past.

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from Bernie wrote 1 year 21 weeks ago

This is the first October since 1984 that I didn't shoot some roosters. I am still trying to deal with back surgery that has not turned out as predicted. However, I have shot hundreds of roosters in my life with many different loads. In 12 gauge I was very happy with Remington's Express load of 1-1/4 oz. in No. 5 lead. My all time favorite 16 gauge load is the ACTIV load taken over by Kent. These are all plastic shells with 1-1/8 oz. of No. 5 lead shot. They go through my Browning Auto-5 in 16 gauge like dung through a goose, and they kill roosters very handily!

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from oldandcreaky wrote 1 year 21 weeks ago

My experience with heavy pheasant loads is that they pattern poorly at long range, quite probably because of deformation of the shot caused by the setback of the shot (the shot at the rear of the column is compressed while transmitting the force generated by the expanding gases from combustion of the powder to the shot further forward in the column). Setback is exacerbated by a heavy shot charge (more inertia to overcome, so that greater force is required to accelerate the shot charge to a given velocity, therefore more force is exerted upon the shot, causing more deformation) and by a high muzzle velocity (more acceleration and therefore more force is required to be exerted upon the shot to accelerate the shot charge to the higher velocity, again resulting in more deformation). And, as already observed, the recoil of heavy loads is unnecessarily abusive to the shooter.

I have had great success with a 12 gauge, low pressure, low velocity 1100+ fps, 1 1/4 oz. load of nickel plated hard number 5 shot at long ranges (beyond 50 yards). The velocity difference at longer ranges between high velocity loads and low velocity loads is very little, and there is much greater pattern density for the low velocity load at longer ranges because the reduced setback resulting from the lower velocity load results in rounder, less deformed shot that pattern better at long ranges. I originally developed this load because I used to do a lot of client entertainment at pheasant preserves. Even though I always let the client empty his gun first, I still got to shoot a lot of birds after the client missed, usually at distances beyond 40 yards. These same loads also performed extremely well on three one-weeks trips to South Dakota hunting CRP land with my Springer Spaniel (flushing dog).

I should also explain that nickel plated shot is slipperier than ordinary lead, so that it penetrates much better on a going away shot. This is because the nickel plated shot does not drag any feathers into the wound channel. This is also a great benefit when cleaning the birds, as there are no feathers to extract from the wound channel.

Of course, with the reduced velocity loads, recoil is much less and is not at all abusive, even in the light side-by-sides I favor for upland hunting. I have found, however, that I had to kick up the pressure a bit on my loads so that a friend could use them in his Winchester 59 autoloader. I am away from home grouse hunting in New Hampshire at the moment, so that I don't have access to my reloading data, but as I recall, I had to boost pressure by about 1,000 units to 9,000 units (can't recall the pressure units, but probably copper units) to get the Model 59 to cycle them. Of course, other things being equal, as pressure goes up, recoil goes up.

I would also add that if you don't mind the exorbitant price, Hevi-Shot loads pattern superbly at long range. Because of their cost, I only use these when pheasant hunting in federal waterfowl production areas, where non-toxic shot is mandatory. The first time I ever used Hevi-Shot and was unfamiliar with its performance, using a 12 gauge with a modified choke in the right barrel, I shot a going away pheasant at about 30 yards. When I got to the bird, I was dismayed to see that it looked as if a fox had eaten the breasts, as the ribcage was picked clean. All that remained were legs and wings.

I highly commend to your readers the writings of both Don Zutz and G.T. Garwood on the subject of internal and external shotgun ballistics. Their writings formed the basis of any knowledge I have of this subject, and my own experience has simply confirmed their observations. I believe one of Zutz's books is "The Art and Science of Shotgunning", and one of Garwood's books is "Shotgun Shooting Facts," but, I can't be certain. You will note my user name is "oldandcreaky." Two things I really miss these days is my memory and cartilage.

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from deadeyedick wrote 1 year 21 weeks ago

20 guage #6's remington high base, never needed anything else. I do carry around a few 3 inch turkey busters just in case one of those prehistoric creatures show.
Pheasant hunting in Ohio is pretty much stocked birds and the aren't all that hard to bring down. years ago when there were more pheasents than china has rice we always used high base 6's I would guess that any brand, winchester, federal, etc etc will do the job. I just prefer remington

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from deadeyedick wrote 1 year 21 weeks ago

Phil, I gotta a question for ya. What barrel do you shoot first on your o/u and why. may be a good topic for discussion.

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from clinchknot wrote 1 year 20 weeks ago

Cranky old dude...I sure did enjoy your shell performance evaluation. I'd like to talk to a shell mfger rep. and ask them if they pattern those high speed loads, and can say if they have eliminated the shot deformation problem. I know a percentage of antimony included in the lead helps to prevent this problem..supposedly at least 6%. Interesting on pattern performance. There has been development in the shot wad cups, and how they, and the shot leaves the muzzle regarding pattern performance. Good post.

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from clinchknot wrote 1 year 20 weeks ago

deadeye...think it has to do with recoil, and the advantage of shooting the under barrel first then the upper barrel. Recently I used my O/U to hunt pheasants, and forgot what the selection indicator was telling me as to what barrel would fire first. Up gets the rooster, and I dump it....crack open the barrels, and out pops the upper barrel casing. I had it wrong, and changed it to the bottom barrel firing first. And now that I think about it, I think the guys that shoot O/U's on the trap line shoot the bottom barrel...most of them do I think.

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from amoor983 wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

I hunt only public land. Brood survival was poor this year which leaves wiley old roosters educated by wave after wave of dogs and hunters. Long shots are the norm. After two downed runners (from 20 gauge light loads)outran my mutt,I shelled out $20 for a box of 12 gauge Prairie Storm. I shot the only three roosters I saw all day Saturday, and none were dead on arrival, but none ran very far either. Perhaps the mangunm loads made up for poor shooting? Contrary to Mr. Bourjaily, I hardly noticed the recoil. And part of every purchase funds Pheasants Forever, a group that works with farmers and ranchers to provide options for wildlife conservation and public access. I would buy these loads again.

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from Nyflyangler wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

You're obviously using the wrong gun. Maybe a quad mount? Do they make shot shells in .50BMG or is it a hand loading proposition?

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from drkroenings1911s wrote 1 year 18 weeks ago

Dear Mr .Bourjaily,
I recently caught an episode of The Gun Nuts where you where discussing the virtues of the .410 bore, and werent sure of it's gauge designation. I thought I would pass on something I learned only about a year ago. The gun store where I work received a shipment of miscellaneous shot shells from a company called Rio. In this shipment was a batch of 36 gauge shot shells. Not surprisingly, none of us in the store had ever heard of 36 gauge. With careful measurements, I determined that the dimensions were identical to our .410 bore. I hope this is helpful info. Love the show, keep up the good work.
Bless you, Don Kroening .
P.S. If your ever in Beckley, W.V. look up our shop, Flat Top Arms,Inc. 701 S. Eisenhower Dr. Beckley, W.V. 25801 .

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from oldandcreaky wrote 1 year 21 weeks ago

My experience with heavy pheasant loads is that they pattern poorly at long range, quite probably because of deformation of the shot caused by the setback of the shot (the shot at the rear of the column is compressed while transmitting the force generated by the expanding gases from combustion of the powder to the shot further forward in the column). Setback is exacerbated by a heavy shot charge (more inertia to overcome, so that greater force is required to accelerate the shot charge to a given velocity, therefore more force is exerted upon the shot, causing more deformation) and by a high muzzle velocity (more acceleration and therefore more force is required to be exerted upon the shot to accelerate the shot charge to the higher velocity, again resulting in more deformation). And, as already observed, the recoil of heavy loads is unnecessarily abusive to the shooter.

I have had great success with a 12 gauge, low pressure, low velocity 1100+ fps, 1 1/4 oz. load of nickel plated hard number 5 shot at long ranges (beyond 50 yards). The velocity difference at longer ranges between high velocity loads and low velocity loads is very little, and there is much greater pattern density for the low velocity load at longer ranges because the reduced setback resulting from the lower velocity load results in rounder, less deformed shot that pattern better at long ranges. I originally developed this load because I used to do a lot of client entertainment at pheasant preserves. Even though I always let the client empty his gun first, I still got to shoot a lot of birds after the client missed, usually at distances beyond 40 yards. These same loads also performed extremely well on three one-weeks trips to South Dakota hunting CRP land with my Springer Spaniel (flushing dog).

I should also explain that nickel plated shot is slipperier than ordinary lead, so that it penetrates much better on a going away shot. This is because the nickel plated shot does not drag any feathers into the wound channel. This is also a great benefit when cleaning the birds, as there are no feathers to extract from the wound channel.

Of course, with the reduced velocity loads, recoil is much less and is not at all abusive, even in the light side-by-sides I favor for upland hunting. I have found, however, that I had to kick up the pressure a bit on my loads so that a friend could use them in his Winchester 59 autoloader. I am away from home grouse hunting in New Hampshire at the moment, so that I don't have access to my reloading data, but as I recall, I had to boost pressure by about 1,000 units to 9,000 units (can't recall the pressure units, but probably copper units) to get the Model 59 to cycle them. Of course, other things being equal, as pressure goes up, recoil goes up.

I would also add that if you don't mind the exorbitant price, Hevi-Shot loads pattern superbly at long range. Because of their cost, I only use these when pheasant hunting in federal waterfowl production areas, where non-toxic shot is mandatory. The first time I ever used Hevi-Shot and was unfamiliar with its performance, using a 12 gauge with a modified choke in the right barrel, I shot a going away pheasant at about 30 yards. When I got to the bird, I was dismayed to see that it looked as if a fox had eaten the breasts, as the ribcage was picked clean. All that remained were legs and wings.

I highly commend to your readers the writings of both Don Zutz and G.T. Garwood on the subject of internal and external shotgun ballistics. Their writings formed the basis of any knowledge I have of this subject, and my own experience has simply confirmed their observations. I believe one of Zutz's books is "The Art and Science of Shotgunning", and one of Garwood's books is "Shotgun Shooting Facts," but, I can't be certain. You will note my user name is "oldandcreaky." Two things I really miss these days is my memory and cartilage.

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from Sidewinder wrote 1 year 21 weeks ago

Hey, Phil, just on the off-chance it happens while I'm pheasant hunting, what's your recommended swatter load for a pterodactyl cripple? I'm thinking perhaps one of Mr. Petzal's .600 Thunderf*cker loads from a safe distance might be just the ticket.

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from clinchknot wrote 1 year 21 weeks ago

My situation is very similar. I shoot 1 oz of 6's in a 2 3/4" 20 ga shell, and in my opinion being on target is the key for me, not the amount of shot in the shell. I have 3" 1 1/4 oz shells,(lead) and the Prairee Storm loads I seldom use. I hunt over flushing dogs, and shots are for the most part within 35 yds. And a 35-40 yd. crossing shot that is on target?..down comes the bird if the pattern is up front on the rooster. There is a guy I hunt with that reloads his own 1 1/4 oz. of 4's (lead) and shoots a 12 ga. Model 101 Winchester O/U, and that guy is an expert at wounding birds, and hitting the south end of a northbound bird. He now has cataracts, and sees very poorly telling me he should have had them removed before the season started. Lots of gunners have trouble getting that barrel out ahead of a pheasant. I shot my 16th rooster on Tues.

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from hutter wrote 1 year 21 weeks ago

I don't know if it's the same load your talking about but I've shot the P.S. with the flight stopper shot and they kicked the living snot out of me. I was using my favorite Browning twelvette. Those shell ARE NOT for recoil opperated guns. One full box and 15 others are up for sale. My arm pit hasn't healed from last year!!!!

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from hutter wrote 1 year 21 weeks ago

I don't know if it's the same load your talking about but I've shot the P.S. with the flight stopper shot and they kicked the living snot out of me. I was using my favorite Browning twelvette. Those shell ARE NOT for recoil opperated guns. One full box and 15 others are up for sale. My arm pit hasn't healed from last year!!!!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 1 year 21 weeks ago

I started out this year shooting Federal's high-base 12 gauge 2 3/4" #4 at 1500 fps. I have had good luck with these loads in past years in #5 or #6 but those sizes were not available where I shopped on the way here to Montana. I shoot them out of a Browning A-5 which soaks up some of the recoil. But those things really are punishing. And I haven't been doing that well this year. However, I have a history of shooting inconsistently. Just removed the slip-on recoil pad and bumped down to 1300 fps Federals in #6. Recoil is more manageable and I'm connecting better. Yesterday I shot one hun and a rooster. Only took three shells. The rooster was smoked at about 35 yards passing. He went down with at least a broken wing in a jackpot where the dogs were putting up more than twenty birds. Brother! If that rooster wasn't dead he was lost. After about five minutes Opal returned with the rooster but from quite a ways back in the willows. Last night when cleaning the bird I noted it did not have a broken wing. And not a hole in it anywhere! His rib cage was crushed. Dang dog. That's the fifth pheasant she has caught this season. No six! Three roosters and three hens. She should give lessons to the coyotes. We'll be going back this morning to see if they didn't find the rooster I actually shot.

Phil, your advice is excellent. Hunting planted pheasants over pointers on private farms can easily be accomplished with trap loads. Hunting wild birds on publicly accessible land is usually long distance shooting. Requires something faster and a tighter choke. I have a fixed modified on that Browning and I don't think I'd go with anything looser than that, especially now that snow is on the ground. Makes the birds all the more cagey. I'll always take hunting publicly accessible land over cultivated pheasant grounds. It's more challenging. Getting a limit out there now is something of an accomplishment. Not getting one just means fewer birds to clean and more days in the field before my possession limit is filled. Win win situation in every respect.

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from cpeter wrote 1 year 21 weeks ago

Phil, I feel your pain. I bought a couple boxes of praire storm in 2 3/4 inch twelves for a SD pheasant hunt last year. I was shooting my Ruger Gold Label, and let me tell you, to say I was surprised the first time a pulled the trigger on a rooster would be a major understatement! The recoil from that load in a light weight double was rediculous! At the end of the trip I gave away any that I had left. Way to much for a pheasant.

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from Mark-1 wrote 1 year 21 weeks ago

My observation is pheasants tend to sit tight at the season's front part and expect any and all types of flushes during the back part. I start with standard 12-ga trap loads and sometimes end with with shells throwing 1 1/4 oz shot of #6 or 7.5's. In 20 and 28-ga I always use 1-oz loads.

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from larson014 wrote 1 year 21 weeks ago

my style of hunting ammo? I shoot winchester cause im poor...

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from huntslow wrote 1 year 21 weeks ago

I like 12 ga. 1 1/4 ounce lead loads. I load my own to about 1250-1300 fps and use 7.5 shot at the first of the season and 6 at the end. I shoot an 870 and it is heavy enough that the recoil is not an issue for me. I also change choke (barrel) from early to late season.

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from clinchknot wrote 1 year 21 weeks ago

If I were reloading again, and wanted to thump pheasants dead on impact I would load 1 1/4 oz. of lead in size #2 shot. I use to reload a 2 3/4" casing in 12 ga. using an 1 3/8 oz. lead in #2's, and the shocking impact is impressive with no birds that I can remember getting ruined because of the bigger shot. Clean the bird, and little shot damage. It is the impact thumpin that kills them. Like a heavywt fighters punch vs. a flywts punch.

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from scratchgolf72 wrote 1 year 21 weeks ago

i shoot high brass 2 3/4 inch #6 shot on pheasants...it puts them down hard. i hammer those things out to 50+ yards with that load. i typically shoot an O/U with an IC and a M choke. i have also found that shooting anything smaller then 6's is asking for trouble. when i first started hunting pheasant i shot them with 7.5, after 2 trips i switched over to high velocity 6's as stated above, much better performance.

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from RandyMI wrote 1 year 21 weeks ago

I tried a box of those Prairie Storm in 20 ga. #5 last year. At 40 yards I killed one rooster stone dead as he broke after climbing over the treetops....out of a modified Ithaca auto. I was impressed! :-) Golden Pheasant #5s are also very good. Both are pretty pricey.

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from clinchknot wrote 1 year 21 weeks ago

scratch...it is the distance you refer to that makes a difference, and can do it on the chalkboard. #2's vs. # 6's ? And I've enjoyed your knowledgeable posts in the past.

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from Bernie wrote 1 year 21 weeks ago

This is the first October since 1984 that I didn't shoot some roosters. I am still trying to deal with back surgery that has not turned out as predicted. However, I have shot hundreds of roosters in my life with many different loads. In 12 gauge I was very happy with Remington's Express load of 1-1/4 oz. in No. 5 lead. My all time favorite 16 gauge load is the ACTIV load taken over by Kent. These are all plastic shells with 1-1/8 oz. of No. 5 lead shot. They go through my Browning Auto-5 in 16 gauge like dung through a goose, and they kill roosters very handily!

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from deadeyedick wrote 1 year 21 weeks ago

20 guage #6's remington high base, never needed anything else. I do carry around a few 3 inch turkey busters just in case one of those prehistoric creatures show.
Pheasant hunting in Ohio is pretty much stocked birds and the aren't all that hard to bring down. years ago when there were more pheasents than china has rice we always used high base 6's I would guess that any brand, winchester, federal, etc etc will do the job. I just prefer remington

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from deadeyedick wrote 1 year 21 weeks ago

Phil, I gotta a question for ya. What barrel do you shoot first on your o/u and why. may be a good topic for discussion.

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from clinchknot wrote 1 year 20 weeks ago

Cranky old dude...I sure did enjoy your shell performance evaluation. I'd like to talk to a shell mfger rep. and ask them if they pattern those high speed loads, and can say if they have eliminated the shot deformation problem. I know a percentage of antimony included in the lead helps to prevent this problem..supposedly at least 6%. Interesting on pattern performance. There has been development in the shot wad cups, and how they, and the shot leaves the muzzle regarding pattern performance. Good post.

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from clinchknot wrote 1 year 20 weeks ago

deadeye...think it has to do with recoil, and the advantage of shooting the under barrel first then the upper barrel. Recently I used my O/U to hunt pheasants, and forgot what the selection indicator was telling me as to what barrel would fire first. Up gets the rooster, and I dump it....crack open the barrels, and out pops the upper barrel casing. I had it wrong, and changed it to the bottom barrel firing first. And now that I think about it, I think the guys that shoot O/U's on the trap line shoot the bottom barrel...most of them do I think.

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from amoor983 wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

I hunt only public land. Brood survival was poor this year which leaves wiley old roosters educated by wave after wave of dogs and hunters. Long shots are the norm. After two downed runners (from 20 gauge light loads)outran my mutt,I shelled out $20 for a box of 12 gauge Prairie Storm. I shot the only three roosters I saw all day Saturday, and none were dead on arrival, but none ran very far either. Perhaps the mangunm loads made up for poor shooting? Contrary to Mr. Bourjaily, I hardly noticed the recoil. And part of every purchase funds Pheasants Forever, a group that works with farmers and ranchers to provide options for wildlife conservation and public access. I would buy these loads again.

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from Nyflyangler wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

You're obviously using the wrong gun. Maybe a quad mount? Do they make shot shells in .50BMG or is it a hand loading proposition?

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from drkroenings1911s wrote 1 year 18 weeks ago

Dear Mr .Bourjaily,
I recently caught an episode of The Gun Nuts where you where discussing the virtues of the .410 bore, and werent sure of it's gauge designation. I thought I would pass on something I learned only about a year ago. The gun store where I work received a shipment of miscellaneous shot shells from a company called Rio. In this shipment was a batch of 36 gauge shot shells. Not surprisingly, none of us in the store had ever heard of 36 gauge. With careful measurements, I determined that the dimensions were identical to our .410 bore. I hope this is helpful info. Love the show, keep up the good work.
Bless you, Don Kroening .
P.S. If your ever in Beckley, W.V. look up our shop, Flat Top Arms,Inc. 701 S. Eisenhower Dr. Beckley, W.V. 25801 .

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