Hearing Steel Shot Bounce Off Feathers: Truth or Myth?

As soon as steel shot became a part of waterfowling, hunters started complaining. I don’t know how many times someone … Continued

As soon as steel shot became a part of waterfowling, hunters started complaining. I don’t know how many times someone has said to me, “You can hear the shot hitting the wing feathers but the birds don’t fall,” as if steel pellets actually bounced off bird’s feathers.

I’m going to call “false” on this one.

It never made sense to me, and on last Saturday’s hunt, I heard that sound people have blamed on steel shot all these years. Moreover the target bird was close enough that I could watch it very carefully.

I had shot my limit and pulled my blind back behind the others so I could stay out of the way and watch. A goose came right over the blind in front of me, 15 yards up. The hunter emptied his gun. Each time he shot I heard “Boom, tick, tick, tick” in the exact same cadence each time. Not a feather on the goose ruffled and it flew on unhurt.

I am going to guess the pattering sound is some kind of fragmented echo of the gun’s report coming back off the feathers. Further, I’m going to say the people who complained about steel doing nothing more than bouncing off wing feathers were, in fact, missing, which is why their shots had no effect on birds.*

Since there is no science whatsoever backing up my echo theory, you are free to disagree with me or prove me wrong.

*I am not going to say that early steel loads weren’t so bad, because they were bad. That, however, was then, and they are much better now.