January 09, 2013
Shotgun Ammo: Choosing the Right Shot Size for Geese
By Phil Bourjaily
We all get used to our favorite loads and shot sizes and assume they are the best. Sometimes, though, a run of bad results in the field shakes your confidence in your pet load.
All three of the geese in this picture were shot at 20 yards over decoys. They were fatally hit but none crumpled in the air. All three hit the ground with their heads up, and the one that had been hit the hardest was walking. I blamed my shooting and assumed I was just breaking wings until I dressed the birds. They had been hit much more solidly than I thought, two with my pet HeviShot 4s and one with some prototype high velocity steel 2s.
That led to a few observations:
1. HeviShot is great stuff if you can afford it, and it is more lethal than lead ever was, yet I hammered two geese with it and they hit the ground alive. What that says to me is that old-time hunters who remember killing everything stone dead with lead shot have selective amnesia. No question lead was lethal, but we sailed birds with lead, too.
2. Late season geese are big, tough birds. While steel 2s and HeviShot 4s kill them at decoy ranges, bigger shot penetrates deeper and kills better. Bs, BBs, and 1s are the way to go.
3. I reserve the right to change my opinion on shot size next time I have a day when the birds don’t fall dead as they are supposed to.