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Thread: Specialized rabbit load

  1. #1

    Default Specialized rabbit load

    Hello, doing a bit of rabbit hunting this weekend with my new 20 gauge, 26 inch barrel with a fixed modified choke. I decided to go with the shotgun after missing several rabbits because I wasn't quick enough with my .22 rifle. Most of the rabbits I see are usually in thick brush and they are usually long gone after 20 feet if even that much, most shots are 6-20 feet. Even using #7 1/2 shot 7/8 oz loads the meat damage is a lot at that short range.

    So I was thinking, what if I take a #6 shot 1oz shell and drain out half the bb's, making it a 1/2 oz load. Anyone do this before? I would think it would lower the meat damage, but within 20 feet should still easily be a fatal shot. Any other suggestions are also welcome!

    (someday I'll try loading a shell with a mix of rocksalt and peppercorns, kill and season your meat at the same time!)

  2. #2
    Member rimfirematt's Avatar
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    I just use federal game shok loads. #6 shot, 7/8 oz. little if any meat damage, works great at most distances. I shoot a double barrel. Im not really sure what the two chokes are in it.

  3. #3
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    I don't think a partially-filled shot cup will help you any, but there's no reason you can't do some reloading and put together some properly-loaded light loads. It's fun and easy...and a MEC 600 Jr is cheap.

    That said, I really don't like to use shotguns on rabbit since blood-shot meat is 'gamey' tasting. If I bust a rabbit (yes, we all know that means 'hare'), then I stand still ...then move up slowly to where it went in the brush. About half or more of them only go 10 to 15 feet into the brush and then stop ...to look at you. It's God's way of counteracting their high rate of reproduction. I just shoot them in the head when I spot them. If I only have a shotgun with me, say because I'm actually after grouse, then I only shoot the rabbit under certain circumstances: a) stopped in the brush trying to hide or look back at me (they're not smart), and b) the only body parts exposed are ones that I don't care about (head and shoulders.) I've used a shotgun on rabbits that were facing straight at me ...I raise the barrel and miss on purpose so I'll get fewer pellets into it. I've also shot them with a shotgun when they were behind a big enough tree and only their head was sticking out. In all case, I toss blood shot parts at home and only keep the best meat ...normally that's about 3/4ths of the rabbit if you are careful. But in any case, I think the "wait a second, then look for them, then shoot them in the head with a .22" is my favorite way of getting them ...for best quality meat that is.

    Just my 2-bits...

    Brian

  4. #4

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    You go to cutting down on the shot load in a loaded shell, and ballistics will go haywire. There's a relationship between powder charge and shot weight that's important for generating pressure and velocity while burning the powder completely. I'm betting that if you cut the shot weight in half as you suggest, the velocity would drop dramatically and you would get kind of a "bloop" rather than a bang when you pulled the trigger.

    I found a better way in twenty years of shotgunning snowshoe hare over beagles. Use the lightest shot charge available, which in 20 gauge is 7/8 oz as recommended by rimfirematt. And #6 is about as small as I would go too, BTW. #5 is even better. Either of those will reliably penetrate completely through a rabbit and not leave behind any pellets and not put too many pellets on the rabbit. Heck, I'd be happy with #4's as a way to cut down on pellet count.

    Now shoot your shotgun at different ranges, paying close attention to an memorizing where the edge of the pattern is. When you're shooting rabbits, only use the edge of the pattern rather than trying to center them in the pattern. Heck, my 410 with 1/2-ounce charges is too much for centering rabbits.

    It will take a little practice, but after a while you will automatically use only the edge. And you'll also start choosing which edge to use, in order to cocentrate the shot in the front half of the rabbit rather than the back where those tasty loins and hindquarters are.

  5. #5
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    Default rabbits

    I would learn how to still hunt with a 22 and then you won't need the shotgun, but if the shotgun is the way you want to go I would have a gunsmith bore out the modified choke to a cyl. choke or have them lop off a couple inches heck you can even do that yourself. A good friend of mine and an avid cottentail hunter took an old 20 guage and sawed the barrel at 20 inches and left it with no bead and he's killed more rabbits with that thing than you could shake a stick at. As far as loads go I use 7/8 oz of 7 1/2 shot and it's worked the best as far as meat damage goes, it seems once you go up to 6 and larger they break alot of bones leaving bone splinters in the meat as well as blood shot meat, I rarely have that with 7 1/2 shot out of an open choke but modified is way to tight unless your shooting rabbits at 40 yds. You rarely need more than an I/c bore here in Alaska with Cyl. being about the best all around for grouse and rabbit. As I said in the beginning, try still hunting with the 22 and you'll see a big difference in your shot oppertunities, slow down and enjoy the scenery because if they're running that much your moving to fast!!!!

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by thunder chicken1 View Post
    I would learn how to still hunt with a 22 and then you won't need the shotgun, but if the shotgun is the way you want to go I would have a gunsmith bore out the modified choke to a cyl. choke or have them lop off a couple inches heck you can even do that yourself. A good friend of mine and an avid cottentail hunter took an old 20 guage and sawed the barrel at 20 inches and left it with no bead and he's killed more rabbits with that thing than you could shake a stick at. As far as loads go I use 7/8 oz of 7 1/2 shot and it's worked the best as far as meat damage goes, it seems once you go up to 6 and larger they break alot of bones leaving bone splinters in the meat as well as blood shot meat, I rarely have that with 7 1/2 shot out of an open choke but modified is way to tight unless your shooting rabbits at 40 yds. You rarely need more than an I/c bore here in Alaska with Cyl. being about the best all around for grouse and rabbit. As I said in the beginning, try still hunting with the 22 and you'll see a big difference in your shot oppertunities, slow down and enjoy the scenery because if they're running that much your moving to fast!!!!
    This has been my experience too, and what BrownBear said. Nothing like owning a cheap Mec 600 Jr and picking loads out of a book too. You can get one that has proper ballistics AND light load that way rather than hoping that SW has them. In 12 gauge for example, it's tough to find even a 1-ounce load, let alone something more like 7/8. But you can load your own and do it easily. I too shoot off to the side to minimize pellets into the rabbit ...and generally don't worry about it when they get away, preferring a good shot at a rabbit hiding 15' in the woods looking at you to a running shot that'll likely get those loins and drumsticks. I have my partner (my wife or one of the kids) carry a .22LR with Williams Fire Sights on it as a second gun. If we have time for a clean .22 shot, then we use that instead (head shot). And those fire sights work well in darkening conditions when the rabbits come out ...even with my old eyes (far sighted, astigmatism, you name it ...no worky with open sights except for those fire sights.)

    Brian

  7. #7

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    Thanks for the replies, at short range, within 15 feet, I doubt the choke will really matter, the pattern size will be similar with cylinder bore vs modified or whatever. I will try to concentrate on hitting with the outside edge of my shot patterns, one of my new favorite spots is open to shotgun hunting only so a .22 is not an option, but when I can I bring my Browning Buckmark pistol so I will try to be more patient and take my time, and concentrate on those headshots!

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    Member Alaska Gray's Avatar
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    I like the Gold tip 7595 with a blunt tip. Doesn't make a mess of the meat. OH what you are talking about guns I use Federal #6
    Living the Alaskan Dream
    Gary Keller
    Anchorage, AK

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    Default 15 ft.

    I don't know anyone who shoots rabbits at 15 ft. with a shotgun , Your right a choke wouldn't matter because it would be rabbit burger anyways.

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