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Thread: Looking for a little info.

  1. #1

    Default Looking for a little info.

    I've been hunting ducks and geese forever but never really went upland hunting. I was curious about the chokes and shells everyone uses. I don't want to go out this weekend and blow anything apart. Thanks.

  2. #2
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    Well, there is much debate over the right choke(s) and loads for upland hunting, but since I've been at it for many decades and I continue to be a student of this stuff, I'll take a stab at your questions. Briefly, most upland birds are shot between around 15 yards to 30 yards. We really shouldn't be taking pokes at flushing birds beyond say 40 yards 'cause your pattern is quite sketchy at that distance. We don't want gamebirds flying off with a pellet in them only to die later.

    In my experience you do not need more than one ounce of shot, and 7/8 oz out of a 20 gauge, or even 3/4 oz out of a 28 gauge works just about as fine. I use size 7 1/2 shot on nearly everything I shoot at in Alaska's uplands, but there are times when 6s might be a tad better, like on windy days, or when you might be stetching that outer limit a wee bit. I just hold off on shooting when the conditions aren't good. I don't want to wound birds and have them fly off, although, my dogs are great retrievers and have a wonderful track record for finding wounded birds for me. It only takes a few pellets in the right place to kill any of these birds we are hunting. Wild pheasants are another matter.

    Choke can become a contentious matter, but it is my opinion a fellow doesn't need much, or in most cases any choke at all. Cylinder choke with good hard shot will shoot great game getting patterns out to around 25 yards or even a tad bit more. If I were shooting a single barreled scattergun I'd feel comfortable with a Improved Cylinder choke for most any shot opportunities. If hunting grouse in thick cover I'd be sure to use softer shot loads in that IC choke to open the pattern slightly, harder shot loads to tighten it up a bit for birds flushing further out. If you could screw in a cylinder or skeet choke for forest grouse you would be much better off. Since I carry doubles of one gauge or another, I prefer something like Skeet/Improved Cylinder, or Skeet/Light Modified. For late season sharptails or ptarmigan that are real skittish, I might use one of my 16 gauge sxs game guns choked IC/Improved Modified, or I might just let birds fly off and have my dogs hunt them up again and maybe get a closer flush the second time, and a better opportunity for my more open chokes. Nothing says we have to shoot upon the flush.

    Whatever you choose to use, don't forget you can always let a bird get out a ways before shooting if you're hunting open country. If you're hunting grouse in thick cover you need little or no choke.

    That's my brief take on the subject, but other hunter's "mielage" may vary.

    Best of luck to you!

    Jim

  3. #3

    Default Looking for a little info.

    Thank you, I might have to do a bit of figuring. I have a bunch of 12 gauges and an old bolt action 410. I'm not a fan of the 410 but I'll be in thicker brush.

  4. #4
    Member
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    Default

    Well, there is much debate over the right choke(s) and loads for upland hunting, but since I've been at it for many decades and I continue to be a student of this stuff, I'll take a stab at your questions. Briefly, most upland birds are shot between around 15 yards to 30 yards. We really shouldn't be taking pokes at flushing birds beyond say 40 yards 'cause your pattern is quite sketchy at that distance. We don't want gamebirds flying off with a pellet in them only to die later.

    In my experience you do not need more than one ounce of shot, and 7/8 oz out of a 20 gauge, or even 3/4 oz out of a 28 gauge works just about as fine. I use size 7 1/2 shot on nearly everything I shoot at in Alaska's uplands, but there are times when 6s might be a tad better, like on windy days, or when you might be stetching that outer limit a wee bit. I just hold off on shooting when the conditions aren't good. I don't want to wound birds and have them fly off, although, my dogs are great retrievers and have a wonderful track record for finding wounded birds for me. It only takes a few pellets in the right place to kill any of these birds we are hunting. Wild pheasants are another matter.

    Choke can become a contentious matter, but it is my opinion a fellow doesn't need much, or in most cases any choke at all. Cylinder choke with good hard shot will shoot great game getting patterns out to around 25 yards or even a tad bit more. If I were shooting a single barreled scattergun I'd feel comfortable with a Improved Cylinder choke for most any shot opportunities. If hunting grouse in thick cover I'd be sure to use softer shot loads in that IC choke to open the pattern slightly, harder shot loads to tighten it up a bit for birds flushing further out. If you could screw in a cylinder or skeet choke for forest grouse you would be much better off. Since I carry doubles of one gauge or another, I prefer something like Skeet/Improved Cylinder, or Skeet/Light Modified. For late season sharptails or ptarmigan that are real skittish, I might use one of my 16 gauge sxs game guns choked IC/Improved Modified, or I might just let birds fly off and have my dogs hunt them up again and maybe get a closer flush the second time, and a better opportunity for my more open chokes. Nothing says we have to shoot upon the flush.

    Whatever you choose to use, don't forget you can always let a bird get out a ways before shooting if you're hunting open country. If you're hunting grouse in thick cover you need little or no choke.

    That's my brief take on the subject, but other hunter's "mielage" may vary.

    Best of luck to you!

    Jim

  5. #5
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    Sorry for the double post. Don't know how that happened? But your 12 gauges will work just fine. An ounce of shot doesn't know if it came out of a 12, 16, 20 or 28. My point is simply that you don't need heavy loads and tight chokes to be successful in the uplands. Low velocity, one ounce loads out of at least a reasonably open choke will do the job nicely.

    Jim

  6. #6
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    Who am I to disagree with Jim! Seriously, great advice!

    I would add that the cover your hunting might affect your choice too. I hunt very thick spruce in Brown Bear infested woods so I carry a short barrel (20" mossberg 590) 12ga. I typicaly walk with 1 #8 target load in the chamber, the next shell out of the magazine is a second #8 and the next 6 are bear slugs. Not trying to turn this into a bear protection thread, just offering my thoughts...

    Most of the birds I flush are 10 yards or less so the most open "choke" I can get is best for me. In the case of my 590 its cylinder bore and short which produces a tighter pattern than you might expect at 10 yards so I still let them fly when I can to get them out a bit further.

    Recently i've been carrying a 410/22lr over under that i came across after reading about guys using them on this forum. Makes a cool upland bird gun because its a challenge shooting birds on the wing and its a clean kill on birds i happen to catch sitting still (headshot with the .22). Turns out its super accurate (22) and holds a much tighter pattern that I would have thought out to about 20 yards with the 410. I've been shooting 7-1/2 out of the 410. Again this is something I carry in thick woods, I don't know that it would be my first choice for ptarmigan!

  7. #7

    Default Looking for a little info.

    Thanks to you both for the advice, now to put it to good use.

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