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October 03, 2013

Are You A Good Shot?

By Phil Bourjaily

The average shot fires 5-7 shots per dove and about 6 per duck in the bag according to every study I have ever seen quoted.

That brings up the question: what is a good shot? I have hunted with a lot of good shots and few great ones, and I have always believed the rule of thumb that a good shot kills one bird for every three shells fired. I am a pretty good – not great but pretty good – field shot. (I should be given that my job is shooting things and writing about it.) I bring myself into this discussion  only because this year I have been chosen to participate in a USFWS survey that requires me to record the number of doves I have shot and the number of doves I knock down and don't retrieve, so I have an accurate count.

Since I already have to count birds, I have been keeping track of shells fired out of curiosity. So far this year I have shot 86 doves and two pigeons with the expenditure of 254 shells. That is an average of 2.88 shells per bird, and I'll take it. It includes one very good day in the field when  I shot a 15-bird limit with 23 shells as well as the rainy evening I shot 3 doves with 21 shells as they came zooming in by the flock to a roost in Missouri. Actually if you throw out those two hunts as outliers, I am still right at one bird per three shells for the year.

I try to be careful with the shots I choose. I am not trying to protect my average but to keep my crippling losses to a minimum.  I want doves close, and I want to shoot them so they fall where I can easily retrieve them. Yesterday, however, hunting a very bare cut cornfield where birds were easy to find and knowing we had a Lab on hand in case I screwed up, I loosened up on my shot selection. I missed a lot, made some long shots and generally had a blast ruining my bird-to-shell ratio (eight doves and a pigeon with 45 shots). And, I lost no doves and never needed the dog's help. While my bird-to-shell average is sort of fun to track, what I am proud of is that I have had only two doves hit the ground that I couldn't retrieve this year.  That, I suspect, is well above average and a topic for a more serious post on another occasion.

Anyway during yesterday's hunt as I blazed away happily I was reminded of something Winchester's Mike Jordan, one of the great shots I have hunted with, said once when I asked him about shooting a limit of doves inside a box (a limit with 25 shells or less): "Who cares? Shooting your gun is fun. Why brag about all the fun you didn't have?"

Exactly. Of course, Mike worked for an ammunition company. Even so, he had a point.

Comments (26)

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from Mark-1 wrote 28 weeks 1 day ago

The best *white paper* on what is a good wing shot I found in Gene Hill's *Shotgunner's Notebook*, chapter 31: Just What Is A Good Shot.

This is a great shotgunner's book all way around. I shamelessly plagiarize this book.

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from TeamAsgrow wrote 28 weeks 1 day ago

Compared to my friends I look like a re-incarnation of Tom Knapp...

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from huntslow wrote 28 weeks 1 day ago

When I was a teenager we kept a count on dove hunts. The 5-7 number matches that data. The real "test" was on opening day. The extended family (about 18-20 hunters) each took 5 shells and the winner got the $1 per hunter fee. No one hunted without a witness (we were trusting hunters?). Bragging rights were probably more important. Anyway the winner usually brought in 6-7 birds. Doves in the San Joaquin valley were plentiful and the family farms we hunted seemed overrun with doves. My uncles Walt and Lenwood were usually the winners and they would not shoot unless 2 birds were close enough together to have a chance at a double (no ground or tree shots allowed). Both these men were considered to be excellent shots by their peers.

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from Steve in Virginia wrote 28 weeks 1 day ago

I have to admit that I very much like to achieve a good ratio of shots per bird. It may be because I'm cheap, but I think its more because I tend to be careful, perhaps overly so, of the shots I take. My last outing on the dove field a couple of weeks came out to about three shots per bird, which also sounds good during the post hunt bragging session with friends.

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from Mike Diehl wrote 28 weeks 1 day ago

I'm an inconsistent shot. I usually only hunt doves one or two days. My best day two years ago I was ten birds for 16 shots with a side by side. My worst days, which were more years back and with an 870, I'd shoot 30+ rounds for 5-7 birds. Two years ago was the first time I'd ever limited out before the birds settled in for the day. A couple years before that I had a pretty good day(for me) (9 birds 21 shots) with a break action single shot external hammer.

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from Dangle wrote 28 weeks 1 day ago

If you use the criteria of birds per shots taken you will be a better shot using a single shot gun over an autoloader. Best shot I ever hunted with was an outstanding trap shooter. We'd hunt Ruff Grouse in the Aspens, and old Burt would always fire his 870 trap gun twice, the 2nd shell firing when the slide went forward..faster two shots than an autolaoder could fire them. We'd joke that old Burt must have shot a double.

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from Ontario Honker ... wrote 28 weeks 1 day ago

I'm either very "good" or slightly better than average. I can be terribly inconsistent. Last week I shot a limit of five honkers in six shots. It would have been a perfect day but I had to hit one twice to bring it down. But conditions were absolutely perfect that day. Literally every honker in the sky fell on my decoys and an unusual east wind meant they all had to make their last pass over my hiding spot to do it. I had a triple which isn't that common, even for me. Then two days later I hunted the same spot and had tons of geese come to the decoys but a west wind meant less than perfect shooting conditions. I shot two honkers but it took at least a dozen shots. A couple of other geese also went away pretty banged up. But I hunted most of a beautiful fall day with my dogs whereas two days earlier I was done shooting in about twenty minutes. There's something to be said for not shooting well ... you get to hunt longer and usually have fewer birds to clean. Talk about a win win situation!

A couple of years ago I kept statistics through part of the season. My average was just over three shots per bird and that included two days where I limited batting a thousand. So there were some pretty bad days in there too. However, in comparison to others in the fields around me, I would have to say that from the volume of shots being fired I would be an EXCELLENT shot compared to them. Last week three guys were in the field about a half mile north of me. They shot more shells in the first half hour than I will for an entire season! No exaggeration. Today two other fellas were in the same field. They fired a lot more shots than I did but nothing crazy. I drove over after pulling up my deeks to see if they needed some help from my dogs. They heard me fire my three shots for the day and were surprised that I had two geese. They had four and had fired at least twenty rounds. But I had a perfect setup on one bunch. Maybe they didn't. Anyway, I don't classify myself as a great shot. It's just seems so many others in the field are really awful.

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from swoolley wrote 28 weeks 1 day ago

I wasn't aware of the yardstick. Last 5 outings resulted in 75 birds / approx. 250 shells. Two of those outings began with a string of 10 - 12 misses before the first bird fell. Having hunted in the sagebrush of the Texas panhandle for 20 of my 40 years dove hunting , I seldom try for a double; a second bird down usually means that the first bird is lost.

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from Treestand wrote 28 weeks 23 hours ago

I don't care for Ducks or Doves and Woodcock, What I get I give away, cant wait for Grouse season to open up in North Carolina (The real white meat)

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from Longbeard wrote 28 weeks 21 hours ago

When I started wingshooting as a kid, I was terrible. Poor hand-to-eye coordination, but mostly, unknown to me at the time, I was shooting right-handed but left eye dominant (Dad knew I was left handed but insisted I learn to shoot right handed because left hand guns were uncommon back then).

Dad and I started going to Ol’ Mexico with a group of his friends and their sons for volume white-wing hunts in the mid-80’s (after the real white-wing hay days). At the end of each morning or afternoon shoot, the first question asked when you got picked up to go back to the lodge was “how many did you get?” And I was embarrassed at how poorly I shot compared to others in our group.

Back home, I started playing some of the early video games involving shooting asteroids or spaceships. The next year, my shooting improved dramatically, so much so that my stodgy ol’ man asked me to make a copy of a video game for him; I did but could never get it to work on his computer, darn it But I improved my hand-to-eye coordination by playing the game. I also learn about eye dominance, and although never found a solution that really worked for me, just the knowledge of my problem helped me to compensate.

On the next white-wing trip, and later trips to Argentina, I got in the habit of counting just to see how well I did. Since the bird boys would pick up birds for you, and were generally very skilled at it, one could be reasonably certain of retrieving every downed bird. The BB’s would also empty cartuchos into your shell bag by the box, so keeping up with the number of shots fired was difficult. At least until one of my pals told me he would count up to 10 shots, put a shell in his pocket, and start over at 1 again (one had to be very careful to check one’s pockets before packing for the flight home!).

By keeping track, I learned that I would start out in that 5-6 shots/bird range on the first day (that is, if I went to the range a few times before each trip). Usually, by the afternoon of the second day, it would be down to 3-4. By the third day, I was solidly in the 3 shots/bird rank. Too bad I didn’t shoot more often, maybe I could be a decent shot. I don’t wing shoot very much anymore…I sure do miss it, mostly the camaraderie (deer stands are lonely places sometimes).

Incidentally, the “pocket one for 10 shots” guy, and his father, would start out around 3-4 shots/bird and would be in the 50% territory by the second day. One trip, a friend of theirs brought a .410 as his only shooter, passed on long shots, and if I remember correctly, he averaged better than 75%. That was some stiff competition.

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from Longbeard wrote 28 weeks 21 hours ago

geez, I do go on sometimes...

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from BarkeyVA wrote 28 weeks 13 hours ago

How the doves are flying does make a big difference. Pass shooting out to 40-50 yards at birds with their afterburners on makes it a lot harder that 20-30 yard shots at birds coming in to roost or over decoys.

I mostly use an O/U's with extractors. Since I always pick up my empty shells it is easy keep track. My average is typically 1 for 3 or 1 for 4. I also sometimes keep track of the number of killed birds compared to the number of birds shot at. I think 1/2 is pretty good using that benchmark.

I agree in some respects with Mike Jordan's comment, "Who cares? Shooting your gun is fun. Why brag about all the fun you didn't have?" However,keeping track of kills per shots fired or birds shot at is a way to see if I am improving. I look at it in the same way as keeping track of my recreational skeet, trap and sporting clays scores.

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from VolFan9183 wrote 28 weeks 11 hours ago

Hey Phil, is that a new Citori 725 Field in the photo? I remember a review on it a few months ago where you said you really wanted one. I bought one just like it this summer and have loved it. As someone mentioned, I think my shell to bird ratio went down when I switched to an O/U versus an auto. I used to average about 5 shells and this season I was a little better than 3 shells per bird. While it can be fun to blast away, I think it's more fun to have people in the field commenting on your good shooting.

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from philbourjaily wrote 28 weeks 11 hours ago

Longbeard - Kim Rhode who has now medaled in five Olympic games in trap and skeet, swears that playing "Frogger" and other old-school video games keeps her eye-hand coordination sharp. The couple of afternoons I shot doves in Argentina my average was higher than it is here (they gave us printouts of everyone's birds-per-shell)just because you get in a groove after a while, and you're never worried about when the next dove is coming along.
VolFan9183 -- that's the Feather version of the 725 with an alloy receiver. It weighs about 6 1/2 pounds in 12 gauge with 28 inch barrels and it's a wonderful gun -- better for upland hunting than for doves, but it worked for me in the dove field,too. I'm glad you like yours. I still want one.

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from tom warner wrote 28 weeks 10 hours ago

A friend and I shot Doves and Pheasants in SW Nebraska near the Republican River for a week or two every year for many years. The shooting was wonderful. At the time I was a very good skeet shooter which served me well on doves. I used a old Browning Superposed .12 for both skeet and birds and averaged better than 2 shots per dove, which I guess makes me a pretty good shot. If they were in range very few birds got by me. My buddy Don, a former fighter pilot during WW11 did almost as well, even though he was well along in years at the time. We both grew up with guns in our hands and seldom missed anything. I started before I was 10 years old and seemed to be a natural shot right from the get-go. I recall as a kid how surprised I was when I started hitting Ruffed Grouse right away, which seemed impossible to me. I'm now too old to worry about bragging.

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from jhjimbo wrote 28 weeks 10 hours ago

When I was young, my hunting buddy could spot the Grouse when they were on the ground. He had a bead on them when they jumped up, but before they started forward flight. Uncanny. He would get three birds with maybe 4 shells. I believe he used a Savage semi-auto.
In contrast, I would shoot 5-6 shots from my Ithaca 37, for one bird. I could not get a bead on them till they were well in their way.

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from FSU70 wrote 28 weeks 8 hours ago

I tend to agree with Mike Joran; shooting is fun. I ask one of our Dove Club members how he did opening day ? He said he got 12 (club limit) for 16 shots. My first thought wasn't, that's great shooting it was, dang that's no fun. I enjoy the shooting and the challenge that dove hunting provides me and my dog. I shoot a 20 O/U gage in the early season that still gives me a 1 for 3 average but by seasons end my average may go to 1 to 4 as all the dumb birds are in the freezer or had bacon wrapped around them and been to the grill. If it weren't for my Lab, many of those cripples that are coming as a result of birds flying faster, higher and weaving in and out would be lost. This year the last two shoots I've up gunned to my 12 O/U for that very reason. Across the board I would have to say for the full 3 periods of the entire dove season I probably average 1 to 4 bird per shots. But I've become a better shot by taking the longer, harder not so close in shots so there are trade off's. Again having a dog do my retrieving enables me to concentrate on the follow on shot rather than head down, march toward the downed bird, don't take your eye's off the bird or you'll lose it. Usually at the end of every shoot I take my Lab and work the field edges for cripples and downed birds that other hunters failed to find. Waste not, want not.

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from Marion Johnson wrote 28 weeks 7 hours ago

I know a wildlife biologist who has a 1:1 bird to shell ratio on ducks. He calls them in to light on the water then shoots one in the head like a turkey. When told that is not ethical, he says "I never shoot over the limit, I kill one duck per shot, I never wound one,
each bird cooks up deliciously and I don't break a tooth on steel shot.

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from Anhinga wrote 28 weeks 7 hours ago

I'm a fairly consistent 1-for-3 type shooter of game birds. However, my son (28) and I (66) shot 6 teal each over decoys last weekend. We fired 16 rounds between us, with one of those dispatching a cripple (no 'skillet" shooting). It was the best wing shooting either of us has done in many hunts over the past several years. Unfortunately it was over way too quickly.

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from springerman3 wrote 28 weeks 2 hours ago

An awesome day of shooting Phil, glad I was there to witness it ( see huntslow blog ).... I had a day of 11 birds in 15 shells this fall ( sorry no witness )and I was elated to walk out with that ratio :)
On another hunt I had a kestrel come in and hit one of my clip on decoys that I had stuck on a cornstalk. He hovered for a few seconds trying to figure out why he did not have a dove stuck in his talons. That would have made a great video !

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from TayHawk wrote 27 weeks 6 days ago

I would say I am a fairly inconsistent shot with a shotgun. I do fairly well with stationary targets but things that move seems to get me.
This year was my first to limit out on doves and I was 15/35 (2.33 shots per bird) with my Remington 11-87 shooting 1-1/4 ounce #7.5 Rios, which greatly improved my accuracy.
As far as being selective I definitely passed on a few doves and had some whiz by before I could get ready to shoot.
I unfortunately only recovered 12 of my first limit, two fell behind an 8' barbed wire and electric fence that I could get access to and one fell into the woods which a timber rattler turned into a snack before I got there.
Needless to say I did not retrieve that dove, I also didn't count the 3 Rios I wasted on the snake in my calculations.
Don't let my ratio fool you that day, I am not usually a good shot.

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from buckhunter wrote 27 weeks 6 days ago

Warm barrel... Happy heart.

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from Gunny Bob wrote 27 weeks 6 days ago

I have found that a fine means of improving one's shotgun accuracy in short order is to hunt doves in Argentina. I did this several years ago at Brett Axton's (owner of Rocky Mountain Roosters in Colorado) estancia outside of Cordoba.

In 3 1/2 days of shooting, my accuracy had improved to the bizarre. The last day I did almost entirely only trick shots and was shooting 92% and had stopped shooting at 500 birds/day. I was unprepared for the volume of birds and now have a permanent scar on my right shoulder.

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from haverodwilltravel wrote 27 weeks 6 days ago

Not sure if I'm a good shot or if it's the dog that makes me look good. :)
Truth is I hold my own. Get my share of the birds and I enjoy myself doing it.

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from deadeyedick wrote 27 weeks 5 days ago

better than average but not an expert

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from JohnR wrote 27 weeks 4 days ago

I average about 5 shells per dove. On waterfowl however which I have hunted most of my life, I'm usually one for one although I won't take a shot unless it's a good one.
An acquaintance of mine I used to hunt doves with occasionally was a really good wingshot. He would bring his .410 and one box of shells and get his limit of twelve doves and have shells left over. It was something to watch when he would shoot.

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from Longbeard wrote 28 weeks 21 hours ago

When I started wingshooting as a kid, I was terrible. Poor hand-to-eye coordination, but mostly, unknown to me at the time, I was shooting right-handed but left eye dominant (Dad knew I was left handed but insisted I learn to shoot right handed because left hand guns were uncommon back then).

Dad and I started going to Ol’ Mexico with a group of his friends and their sons for volume white-wing hunts in the mid-80’s (after the real white-wing hay days). At the end of each morning or afternoon shoot, the first question asked when you got picked up to go back to the lodge was “how many did you get?” And I was embarrassed at how poorly I shot compared to others in our group.

Back home, I started playing some of the early video games involving shooting asteroids or spaceships. The next year, my shooting improved dramatically, so much so that my stodgy ol’ man asked me to make a copy of a video game for him; I did but could never get it to work on his computer, darn it But I improved my hand-to-eye coordination by playing the game. I also learn about eye dominance, and although never found a solution that really worked for me, just the knowledge of my problem helped me to compensate.

On the next white-wing trip, and later trips to Argentina, I got in the habit of counting just to see how well I did. Since the bird boys would pick up birds for you, and were generally very skilled at it, one could be reasonably certain of retrieving every downed bird. The BB’s would also empty cartuchos into your shell bag by the box, so keeping up with the number of shots fired was difficult. At least until one of my pals told me he would count up to 10 shots, put a shell in his pocket, and start over at 1 again (one had to be very careful to check one’s pockets before packing for the flight home!).

By keeping track, I learned that I would start out in that 5-6 shots/bird range on the first day (that is, if I went to the range a few times before each trip). Usually, by the afternoon of the second day, it would be down to 3-4. By the third day, I was solidly in the 3 shots/bird rank. Too bad I didn’t shoot more often, maybe I could be a decent shot. I don’t wing shoot very much anymore…I sure do miss it, mostly the camaraderie (deer stands are lonely places sometimes).

Incidentally, the “pocket one for 10 shots” guy, and his father, would start out around 3-4 shots/bird and would be in the 50% territory by the second day. One trip, a friend of theirs brought a .410 as his only shooter, passed on long shots, and if I remember correctly, he averaged better than 75%. That was some stiff competition.

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from Longbeard wrote 28 weeks 21 hours ago

geez, I do go on sometimes...

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from philbourjaily wrote 28 weeks 11 hours ago

Longbeard - Kim Rhode who has now medaled in five Olympic games in trap and skeet, swears that playing "Frogger" and other old-school video games keeps her eye-hand coordination sharp. The couple of afternoons I shot doves in Argentina my average was higher than it is here (they gave us printouts of everyone's birds-per-shell)just because you get in a groove after a while, and you're never worried about when the next dove is coming along.
VolFan9183 -- that's the Feather version of the 725 with an alloy receiver. It weighs about 6 1/2 pounds in 12 gauge with 28 inch barrels and it's a wonderful gun -- better for upland hunting than for doves, but it worked for me in the dove field,too. I'm glad you like yours. I still want one.

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from Marion Johnson wrote 28 weeks 7 hours ago

I know a wildlife biologist who has a 1:1 bird to shell ratio on ducks. He calls them in to light on the water then shoots one in the head like a turkey. When told that is not ethical, he says "I never shoot over the limit, I kill one duck per shot, I never wound one,
each bird cooks up deliciously and I don't break a tooth on steel shot.

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from buckhunter wrote 27 weeks 6 days ago

Warm barrel... Happy heart.

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from Mark-1 wrote 28 weeks 1 day ago

The best *white paper* on what is a good wing shot I found in Gene Hill's *Shotgunner's Notebook*, chapter 31: Just What Is A Good Shot.

This is a great shotgunner's book all way around. I shamelessly plagiarize this book.

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from TeamAsgrow wrote 28 weeks 1 day ago

Compared to my friends I look like a re-incarnation of Tom Knapp...

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from huntslow wrote 28 weeks 1 day ago

When I was a teenager we kept a count on dove hunts. The 5-7 number matches that data. The real "test" was on opening day. The extended family (about 18-20 hunters) each took 5 shells and the winner got the $1 per hunter fee. No one hunted without a witness (we were trusting hunters?). Bragging rights were probably more important. Anyway the winner usually brought in 6-7 birds. Doves in the San Joaquin valley were plentiful and the family farms we hunted seemed overrun with doves. My uncles Walt and Lenwood were usually the winners and they would not shoot unless 2 birds were close enough together to have a chance at a double (no ground or tree shots allowed). Both these men were considered to be excellent shots by their peers.

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from Steve in Virginia wrote 28 weeks 1 day ago

I have to admit that I very much like to achieve a good ratio of shots per bird. It may be because I'm cheap, but I think its more because I tend to be careful, perhaps overly so, of the shots I take. My last outing on the dove field a couple of weeks came out to about three shots per bird, which also sounds good during the post hunt bragging session with friends.

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from Mike Diehl wrote 28 weeks 1 day ago

I'm an inconsistent shot. I usually only hunt doves one or two days. My best day two years ago I was ten birds for 16 shots with a side by side. My worst days, which were more years back and with an 870, I'd shoot 30+ rounds for 5-7 birds. Two years ago was the first time I'd ever limited out before the birds settled in for the day. A couple years before that I had a pretty good day(for me) (9 birds 21 shots) with a break action single shot external hammer.

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from Dangle wrote 28 weeks 1 day ago

If you use the criteria of birds per shots taken you will be a better shot using a single shot gun over an autoloader. Best shot I ever hunted with was an outstanding trap shooter. We'd hunt Ruff Grouse in the Aspens, and old Burt would always fire his 870 trap gun twice, the 2nd shell firing when the slide went forward..faster two shots than an autolaoder could fire them. We'd joke that old Burt must have shot a double.

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from Ontario Honker ... wrote 28 weeks 1 day ago

I'm either very "good" or slightly better than average. I can be terribly inconsistent. Last week I shot a limit of five honkers in six shots. It would have been a perfect day but I had to hit one twice to bring it down. But conditions were absolutely perfect that day. Literally every honker in the sky fell on my decoys and an unusual east wind meant they all had to make their last pass over my hiding spot to do it. I had a triple which isn't that common, even for me. Then two days later I hunted the same spot and had tons of geese come to the decoys but a west wind meant less than perfect shooting conditions. I shot two honkers but it took at least a dozen shots. A couple of other geese also went away pretty banged up. But I hunted most of a beautiful fall day with my dogs whereas two days earlier I was done shooting in about twenty minutes. There's something to be said for not shooting well ... you get to hunt longer and usually have fewer birds to clean. Talk about a win win situation!

A couple of years ago I kept statistics through part of the season. My average was just over three shots per bird and that included two days where I limited batting a thousand. So there were some pretty bad days in there too. However, in comparison to others in the fields around me, I would have to say that from the volume of shots being fired I would be an EXCELLENT shot compared to them. Last week three guys were in the field about a half mile north of me. They shot more shells in the first half hour than I will for an entire season! No exaggeration. Today two other fellas were in the same field. They fired a lot more shots than I did but nothing crazy. I drove over after pulling up my deeks to see if they needed some help from my dogs. They heard me fire my three shots for the day and were surprised that I had two geese. They had four and had fired at least twenty rounds. But I had a perfect setup on one bunch. Maybe they didn't. Anyway, I don't classify myself as a great shot. It's just seems so many others in the field are really awful.

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from swoolley wrote 28 weeks 1 day ago

I wasn't aware of the yardstick. Last 5 outings resulted in 75 birds / approx. 250 shells. Two of those outings began with a string of 10 - 12 misses before the first bird fell. Having hunted in the sagebrush of the Texas panhandle for 20 of my 40 years dove hunting , I seldom try for a double; a second bird down usually means that the first bird is lost.

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from Treestand wrote 28 weeks 23 hours ago

I don't care for Ducks or Doves and Woodcock, What I get I give away, cant wait for Grouse season to open up in North Carolina (The real white meat)

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from BarkeyVA wrote 28 weeks 13 hours ago

How the doves are flying does make a big difference. Pass shooting out to 40-50 yards at birds with their afterburners on makes it a lot harder that 20-30 yard shots at birds coming in to roost or over decoys.

I mostly use an O/U's with extractors. Since I always pick up my empty shells it is easy keep track. My average is typically 1 for 3 or 1 for 4. I also sometimes keep track of the number of killed birds compared to the number of birds shot at. I think 1/2 is pretty good using that benchmark.

I agree in some respects with Mike Jordan's comment, "Who cares? Shooting your gun is fun. Why brag about all the fun you didn't have?" However,keeping track of kills per shots fired or birds shot at is a way to see if I am improving. I look at it in the same way as keeping track of my recreational skeet, trap and sporting clays scores.

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from VolFan9183 wrote 28 weeks 11 hours ago

Hey Phil, is that a new Citori 725 Field in the photo? I remember a review on it a few months ago where you said you really wanted one. I bought one just like it this summer and have loved it. As someone mentioned, I think my shell to bird ratio went down when I switched to an O/U versus an auto. I used to average about 5 shells and this season I was a little better than 3 shells per bird. While it can be fun to blast away, I think it's more fun to have people in the field commenting on your good shooting.

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from tom warner wrote 28 weeks 10 hours ago

A friend and I shot Doves and Pheasants in SW Nebraska near the Republican River for a week or two every year for many years. The shooting was wonderful. At the time I was a very good skeet shooter which served me well on doves. I used a old Browning Superposed .12 for both skeet and birds and averaged better than 2 shots per dove, which I guess makes me a pretty good shot. If they were in range very few birds got by me. My buddy Don, a former fighter pilot during WW11 did almost as well, even though he was well along in years at the time. We both grew up with guns in our hands and seldom missed anything. I started before I was 10 years old and seemed to be a natural shot right from the get-go. I recall as a kid how surprised I was when I started hitting Ruffed Grouse right away, which seemed impossible to me. I'm now too old to worry about bragging.

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from jhjimbo wrote 28 weeks 10 hours ago

When I was young, my hunting buddy could spot the Grouse when they were on the ground. He had a bead on them when they jumped up, but before they started forward flight. Uncanny. He would get three birds with maybe 4 shells. I believe he used a Savage semi-auto.
In contrast, I would shoot 5-6 shots from my Ithaca 37, for one bird. I could not get a bead on them till they were well in their way.

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from FSU70 wrote 28 weeks 8 hours ago

I tend to agree with Mike Joran; shooting is fun. I ask one of our Dove Club members how he did opening day ? He said he got 12 (club limit) for 16 shots. My first thought wasn't, that's great shooting it was, dang that's no fun. I enjoy the shooting and the challenge that dove hunting provides me and my dog. I shoot a 20 O/U gage in the early season that still gives me a 1 for 3 average but by seasons end my average may go to 1 to 4 as all the dumb birds are in the freezer or had bacon wrapped around them and been to the grill. If it weren't for my Lab, many of those cripples that are coming as a result of birds flying faster, higher and weaving in and out would be lost. This year the last two shoots I've up gunned to my 12 O/U for that very reason. Across the board I would have to say for the full 3 periods of the entire dove season I probably average 1 to 4 bird per shots. But I've become a better shot by taking the longer, harder not so close in shots so there are trade off's. Again having a dog do my retrieving enables me to concentrate on the follow on shot rather than head down, march toward the downed bird, don't take your eye's off the bird or you'll lose it. Usually at the end of every shoot I take my Lab and work the field edges for cripples and downed birds that other hunters failed to find. Waste not, want not.

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from Anhinga wrote 28 weeks 7 hours ago

I'm a fairly consistent 1-for-3 type shooter of game birds. However, my son (28) and I (66) shot 6 teal each over decoys last weekend. We fired 16 rounds between us, with one of those dispatching a cripple (no 'skillet" shooting). It was the best wing shooting either of us has done in many hunts over the past several years. Unfortunately it was over way too quickly.

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from springerman3 wrote 28 weeks 2 hours ago

An awesome day of shooting Phil, glad I was there to witness it ( see huntslow blog ).... I had a day of 11 birds in 15 shells this fall ( sorry no witness )and I was elated to walk out with that ratio :)
On another hunt I had a kestrel come in and hit one of my clip on decoys that I had stuck on a cornstalk. He hovered for a few seconds trying to figure out why he did not have a dove stuck in his talons. That would have made a great video !

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from TayHawk wrote 27 weeks 6 days ago

I would say I am a fairly inconsistent shot with a shotgun. I do fairly well with stationary targets but things that move seems to get me.
This year was my first to limit out on doves and I was 15/35 (2.33 shots per bird) with my Remington 11-87 shooting 1-1/4 ounce #7.5 Rios, which greatly improved my accuracy.
As far as being selective I definitely passed on a few doves and had some whiz by before I could get ready to shoot.
I unfortunately only recovered 12 of my first limit, two fell behind an 8' barbed wire and electric fence that I could get access to and one fell into the woods which a timber rattler turned into a snack before I got there.
Needless to say I did not retrieve that dove, I also didn't count the 3 Rios I wasted on the snake in my calculations.
Don't let my ratio fool you that day, I am not usually a good shot.

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from Gunny Bob wrote 27 weeks 6 days ago

I have found that a fine means of improving one's shotgun accuracy in short order is to hunt doves in Argentina. I did this several years ago at Brett Axton's (owner of Rocky Mountain Roosters in Colorado) estancia outside of Cordoba.

In 3 1/2 days of shooting, my accuracy had improved to the bizarre. The last day I did almost entirely only trick shots and was shooting 92% and had stopped shooting at 500 birds/day. I was unprepared for the volume of birds and now have a permanent scar on my right shoulder.

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from haverodwilltravel wrote 27 weeks 6 days ago

Not sure if I'm a good shot or if it's the dog that makes me look good. :)
Truth is I hold my own. Get my share of the birds and I enjoy myself doing it.

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from deadeyedick wrote 27 weeks 5 days ago

better than average but not an expert

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from JohnR wrote 27 weeks 4 days ago

I average about 5 shells per dove. On waterfowl however which I have hunted most of my life, I'm usually one for one although I won't take a shot unless it's a good one.
An acquaintance of mine I used to hunt doves with occasionally was a really good wingshot. He would bring his .410 and one box of shells and get his limit of twelve doves and have shells left over. It was something to watch when he would shoot.

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