DB’s Thoughts on Hunting: Shot Shells for Upland Shooting

by david on June 19, 2012

Before I get too far into this, I want to say that it is also important to also pattern your shotguns with your upland loads and from several distances.  If you have never done this, it will thoroughly amaze you how much difference there is between shot size, choke type, and distance.  If you missed the “how to pattern your gun”, go back an entry or so in the blog and read the duck-hunting shot shells section.

For most of us who do not have access to the back hundred acres or live in a state with ample bird habitat, our upland hunting will occur on a “game preserve”.  This is neither good nor bad; it is just different.  The main difference is that, on a preserve, you can get closer to the birds before they flush.  It is because of this closer proximity during the shot that I normally use 1 to 1 ½ size smaller shot that I would for wild birds.  For example, on wild quail I use either a #7 ½ or a #8.  On my preserve, I use #9s.  Some would say a 28 gauge with #9 shot is too light a combination for anything other than skeet, but a lot of quail in my freezer might argue differently.  My 28 with #9s are deadly out to 30 yards, and on a rare occasion even little bit further than that.  Since I am the host of a hunt, I almost always (unless you are a regular or I know you can shoot) allow my guest to shoot first.  Letting them shoot first necessarily means I take longer shots if they miss.  A load of #9s knocks a quail out of the sky just fine and does not shred the delicate little bird, making it much better table fare.  Matter of fact, when I dress birds, the ones hit with #9 only almost never have any shot penetrate much beyond skin deep.  While it sounds contrary to what you would think, it is not actually the damage the shot does as much as it is the concussion that kills the bird.  However it works, I much prefer not to bite down on a piece of shot when eating dinner.

For chukar and pheasant I use a #7 ½ and #6 respectively in my second barrel.  For my first “close up” barrel I use a #9 and a #7 ½ respectively.  My reason is, if I can knock them down with less tissue damage, the better table fare the bird will make.  Even with the larger shot size, I almost always limit my shots to 35 yards or less as I much prefer to watch Piper (my English setter) look until she finds them again.  I think this is more sporting and I know it is more fun.

See you out hunting,

David Brown

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