Your buckshot field experience
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Author:  iloveguns [ Sun May 29, 2016 1:48 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Your buckshot field experience

I've never used no.1 buck or 3" shells, always 00B and all of my shotguns only use 2 3/4" shells. Also wondering what is the heaviest deer shot around there. You said people talking about 130lb deer, is that average weight. We never really weigh our deer but I looked to see what the average weights of whitetails are in my area, here is a link to the information I was reading. ... etails.htm
to get all the pellets in a 24" circle would be a great pattern, let me know how you make out. If you want to get into reloading and don't want to spend too much, take a look at the Lee Load All, I bought mine for about 70$ cad or there are lee classic loaders. Probably the cheapest but it would take longer to load.

Author:  coosa [ Sun May 29, 2016 5:02 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Your buckshot field experience

Davems - I don't usually get involved in arguments like this one, but I admire your tenacity in trying to find out what you want to know, and I don't like to see someone treated rudely for asking an honest question. I have some experience with buckshot and deer and will be glad to share it. I grew up hunting in the 60s and 70s using buck shot on dog hunts. It was the way my dad hunted, and it was the only way anyone in our area hunted when I started. I killed 12 deer with buckshot and saw many more killed. I also saw a lot that were wounded and lost.

By the time I was 21, I had made the decision on my own that I would not hunt with buckshot again. I had a .308 by then and found it to be much more reliable for taking a deer. I did not use buckshot again until a few years back a friend asked me to test a new load he was developing. It utilized 5mm 18g/cc tungsten shot, and I was glad to try it for him. A couple of test shots showed that it shot very tight patterns at 40 yards. I shot a doe from a tree stand with it at 30 yards and it dropped her instantly. All the shot completely penetrated her, and a front leg was sheared. Here is a pic of what it did:


One poster in this thread said he would give up deer hunting if limited to buckshot. I wouldn't; I'd develop a 3.5" load using this shot and use it in my SBE with a Holosight on it. I'd test it to determine the max range at which I felt it would kill the deer 100% of the time, and limit shots to that distance. I don't know what that distance would be, but I think that 50 yards would be very possible. I think the tungsten shot might really extend the range of buckshot and make it far more lethal than anything you can buy. Since you are thinking of reloading, pm me if you are interested and I'd be glad to tell you what I know.

I have shot the 18g shot for 8 years now at turkeys, and it is miles better than anything you can buy. Of course, you kill turkeys by penetrating the Central Nervous System, (CNS), and deer are usually killed by the shock of a bullet taking out the vital organs. When a gobbler stands up straight, it is about 16" from the top of his head to the very base of his neck. That's a lot of CNS and gives the hunter a big target. Most turkey hunters like to count the number of hits they get in a 10" circle and consider 100 hits to be the max range of that gun, and I've found thats a good and reasonable standard to use. I think that you are trying to find a standard like that to use for buckshot and deer? It seems to be a very good quest to me to find that standard, and I commend you for trying to determine exactly how far you can shoot a deer and be sure of recovering it.

I would agree with most of the posters that you are better off to use a rifle if you can, but there are some places where they are not allowed. I hope you can determine a good answer for your question. If you go the route of the 18g shot, I think you would be better off to focus more on the CNS or bone structure of the deer than you normally would with lead buckshot. With the load I used, aiming at the front shoulder at 40 yards would not only put shot in the lungs and heart, but it will instantly break the deer down so it can't run. And even at that range, a shot to the neck would drop it just as quickly.

The test cited on page one of this thread has little to do with deer hunting with modern loads. The writer even said:

>>>>I brought some Wolf 00 Buckshot to the class.

As you can see, it holds 9 – 00 pellets and they do not have a filler to cushion the shot.

This tends to flatten the soft lead pellets and deform them as they go down the barrel.

This will open up the pattern more than other, better quality loads.

But I used this load because I had to shoot a lot of them, and they were cheap.

I figured they were good enough for practice, and they did just fine in that application.<<<

Trying to apply this test to your question would be like testing dove loads and saying a shotgun won't kill a turkey past 15 yards. I think it is setting up a Straw Man that one can easily knock over. Modern buckshot loads in guns with specialized chokes are capable of doing far better than the guns and loads of the 60s that I used, and the load of this test. And the idea that a 4" pattern should be considered the max range is one with which I disagree very strongly. My turkey loads have around 600 shot in them. I usually hit the turkey in the CNS with only 20 or 30 of them. My "kill" pattern at 40 yards is about 16" wide. To date, I have not killed any other turkeys, dogs, or hunters with the shot that miss the turkey, but I am very careful about when I pull the trigger, just as any hunter should be.

I think hunting deer with buckshot has enough issues that we can just honestly confront them. I guess some people see how buckshot has indeed been misused and just want to discourage all hunters from using it. I certainly share that desire to see every animal killed cleanly, but I think there is a place, a very small place, for the use of buckshot in deer hunting.

Let me say it one last time - I think that if you can use a rifle you should use a rifle. If you are hunting in a place that requires buckshot, do a lot of pattern work and then don't shoot one past the range that you are sure will make a clean kill. I know you want to do that, so I hope you can determine exactly what that range might be. Good luck!

Author:  iloveguns [ Sun May 29, 2016 9:09 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Your buckshot field experience

Coosa, I completely agree. I said about using buckshot on deer at 75 yards at most under certain circumstances but, if I new most of my shots were at that range I would bring a rifle. The only reason I would shoot a deer at that distance with buckshot is if it was a wounded deer. But other than that, at that distance a rifle would be best. And at close ranges where there is likely only fast shots available buckshot can work great.

Author:  RandyWakeman [ Sun May 29, 2016 10:28 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Your buckshot field experience

coosa wrote:
I would agree with most of the posters that you are better off to use a rifle if you can,

Let me say it one last time - I think that if you can use a rifle you should use a rifle.

You can always use a rifle. It might be a muzzleloading rifle, it might be a shotgun with a rifled barrel, but you can always use a rifled barrel.

Author:  coosa [ Sun May 29, 2016 10:55 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Your buckshot field experience

There are still a lot of hunting clubs here in the south that allow only buckshot on dog hunts. They consider it a safety issue; standers are too close to each other to allow rifles.

I wouldn't join a club with that rule myself, but they exist.

Author:  RandyWakeman [ Sun May 29, 2016 11:26 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Your buckshot field experience

coosa wrote:
They consider it a safety issue; standers are too close to each other to allow rifles.

:shock: Who in the world is "they"? It must be a real comedy act, to try to talk about how "deadly and effective" buckshot is and then flip and shrilly call it "safe" at the same time.

Author:  coosa [ Mon May 30, 2016 8:55 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Your buckshot field experience

>>>Who in the world is "they"? It must be a real comedy act, to try to talk about how "deadly and effective" buckshot is and then flip and shrilly call it "safe" at the same time.<<<

Dang. I thought you were a writer? If you are, you can look at my sentence structure and see that in my first sentence I referred to "hunting clubs here in the south". In the second sentence I used the word "they" to refer to the same group. I don't think the strictest English teacher would say that I was unclear. If you want to see some examples of such clubs, just do a simple internet search. Though most of these clubs don't have web sites, some of them do, and you can read for yourself that their rules limit hunting to buckshot on their dog drives.

I haven't seen any of them describe buckshot as "deadly and effective". That is just another Straw Man that you have built. And I saw nobody "shrilly call it safe" except you, as you continue to build Straw Men. I am surprised to see you taking this approach to a discussion. I've read a lot of your work in the past and respected it. On issues I knew little about, I thought I learned something from your writing. Why are you resorting to such tactics in this thread? As I said, buckshot has enough problems without exaggerating them.

And as for the safety issue, your own comments should show that buckshot is much safer than a rifle on dog deer hunts. If I am gonna be hunting with another guy 200 yards away, I'd much rather him be armed with buckshot than a rifle. Based on your own comments, its pretty unlikely that a buckshot pellet will even still be going at 200 yards, much less carry enough energy to kill someone. With any rifle, that's a different story. I don't wanta get shot with either one, but at 200 yards I would take my chances with buckshot. Whether its true or not, that's the reasoning the clubs use, and they have been doing it for many decades.

Whether it is effective or safer or anything else, there is no denying that some places limit the hunter to buckshot. Not only do clubs have the restriction, but there are also landowners who mandate it on it their land - they don't want somebody getting hit with a bullet from a rifle a mile away. Its easy for many of us to say we simply wouldn't hunt in such a place, but there are hunters who have no other choice. I have a friend who has a permit to deer hunt a tract of land just outside a small city, and the landowner told him it would have to be buckshot only. Since there will continue to be people who hunt deer with buckshot, I'd think the gun industry would try to help them be as effective as possible. Why don't you try to find the OP some research using modern loads and guns? I'm sure you have the contacts to do it.

I've shared about all I know regarding buckshot for deer, so I will drop out of the thread. A good day to all!

Author:  RandyWakeman [ Mon May 30, 2016 9:43 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Your buckshot field experience

coosa wrote:

I haven't seen any of them describe buckshot as "deadly and effective".

All anyone has to do is read this thread. If buckshot isn't deadly (and effective, synonyms in this case) then no one would use it at all, under any circumstances. Yet, no one on this thread uses dogs to hunt deer with, the fellow in Canada can not, so the only "Strawman" component is the false injection of using dogs to drive deer with that no one here does. That debate is covered here, ... bate_1009/ and elsewhere.

The firearms industry has done a superb job in offering far more effective, ethical, efficient, less wasteful alternatives to buckshot. This isn't news: the 30-30 has been around since 1895.

Author:  iloveguns [ Mon May 30, 2016 2:57 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Your buckshot field experience

Randy, We use to use dogs but then the law changed. However, we still hunt the same way, we just don't have dogs running on to other people's land.

Author:  RandyWakeman [ Mon May 30, 2016 3:24 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Your buckshot field experience

How old are you?

Do you understand the difference between big game hunting and just killing? There is a strong anti-hunting narrative going on, and blowing a leg off of a deer plays right into it. There are too many one-legged deer hopping around as is.

There is a vast difference between scrap animals, meaning pests / varmints such as coyote, feral hogs, and so forth. Depredation work is one thing, but big game hunting is a completely different angle. Either you have respect for the animal, or you don't.

Many farmers just want coyotes, hogs, and deer dead . . . all of them. It is understandable, for if you are protecting your property, your livelihood, your way of making a living . . . it is just protecting your sheep, your crops, and your income.

If you make a carnival out of it, the public sentiment is assured. Surely you know that depredation work is big business in some areas: including 24 / 7 night vision kills. It is also a carnival ride in some areas:

"Book Your Hunt Today . . . at Heli-Hunter." Featuring the SpitLead TAC-12 A1.


Thanks, but no thanks. Good luck.

Author:  coosa [ Mon May 30, 2016 3:50 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Your buckshot field experience

I said I was thru posting, but I'd better clarify this. I did not "blow the leg off" the deer I shot with tungsten 5mm shot. The load hit her right in the shoulder, and a shot at the bottom of the pattern sheared the bone in the leg completely in two. I made the pic that I included in my post while I was skinning the deer to demonstrate that at 30 yards a single pellet had enough penetrating ability to completely shear the big bone in the front leg. Most any rifle would have done the same thing if it hit a deer in that spot, but I don't know if lead buckshot would or not.

Just wanted to clarify. That deer had many pellets thru the lungs and died instantly.

Author:  iloveguns [ Mon May 30, 2016 4:07 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Your buckshot field experience

We have a lot of respect for the deer we HUNT. And the deer we shoot either don't get hit and run away or die within 50 yards. That helicopter hunting is completely different from what we do, we are not just killing. We usually have tags left over and some of us split the deer. None of us are there just to shoot stuff because it's fun. We are there because we enjoy the outdoors and like venison. I have not been rude to anyone in this thread and you are and for no reason. You say buckshot is terrible. It works for me and plenty of others. Maybe there is something wrong with your gun or ammo or your own skill. If you can't kill a deer quickly with buckshot, maybe you shouldn't be hunting at all.

Author:  Davems [ Tue May 31, 2016 12:38 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Your buckshot field experience

Well, what I am trying to do is sort out the "gray area". In Africa a double rifle was often used to hunt leopards (Cost of a double rifle $15,000 up) but to track down a wounded leopard in the brush a 12 gauge shotgun with buckshot was used. It is point blank shooting. ON THE OTHER HAND a single No.00 buckshot pellet at 40 yards has slowed down enough to only have about 115 ft. lbs. of energy. Therefore there is a huge drop off in effectiveness with buckshot. Using a heavier mass pellet- as explained- can help extend the effectiveness.
In Florida not all dog hunters use buckshot. There are some areas where a 50 -70 yard shot is possible. In such areas a lot of hunters have scope mounted semi-autos, either 243 or 308. My issue is having a 30-06 in heavy cover, the deer runs, you are concentrating on the shot, the bullet deflects off a tree and now you have a projectile with about 2,000 ft. lbs. of energy at 40 yards versus 115 ft. lbs. Being aware of this grim reality I in good conscious simply watch the deer run off if it is in heavy cover, the jumped deer caught me off guard, and I would be rushing a shot. Now a rabbit, quail, dove, etc. takes off about as fast and I can usually dust the feathers so the way I am looking at matters, I don't see why a good tight pattern of buckshot should not work. Once again, we are talking 25-35 yards. I have sat against a deer and had deer come in about 10 feet (feet not yards). Some of the cover is very dense.
I did not mention this before but a few years back I did test a couple of buckshot loads at around 30 yards and only a couple of pellets were inside a 30" circle so I just figured the stuff wasn't any good. One problem (I think) is most buckshot today may be geared to a home defense use with un-buffered loads, etc. to have the pellets spread apart quickly- maybe okay against a bad guy 30' away but not what you want for deer hunting.
Another issue that keeps popping up is bad experiences, the person that never tested the load, has no idea of the pellet spread, uses it for hunting, takes a "30 yard" shot that might actually be 40 yards, and the deer runs off. The conclusion is buckshot isn't any good. It is the same argument that often arises with a 30-30 versus a 30-06 for deer hunting. Shoot a deer with a 30-30 that for some reason runs off a ways and the 30-30 is blamed.
NOW, I know that I must be coming across as wanting to make myself believe buckshot is a great deer killer. Sorry if that is the impression- I am actually trying to get feedback from buckshot hunters. I have read some articles by Archibald Rutledge of South Carolina who killed about 290 deer with buckshot, mostly using No.1. The trouble is, he had dogs to run down wounded deer so that could have played a role in harvesting that many deer.
So, to restate matters, I don't want to take a fast shot in heavy cover at running deer while using a 30-30 or 30-06. The bullet can deflect and cripple the deer or fly off to parts unknown. I THINK buckshot in such situations would work and therefore I am trying to figure what kind of pattern at say 30 yards ought to work in such a situation. I have had a couple of people tell me their shotgun can put all the pellets of a particular load into a hand sized group at 25 yards. That's great but if field experience shows 6 pellets will usually down a deer then having a slightly more open pattern makes it easier to hit a running deer and within a 24" area at least 5 pellets ought to hit critical areas. Hope I explained my situation.
The biggest issue I'm running into is misinformation. I had one guy tell me he killed a deer at 100 yards using a 410 shotgun. I asked him how high he held over the deer and he said he just aimed right at it. I think a 410 only holds 3 No.00 pellets. When I'm eyeball to eyeball with a lot of locales and they tell me things if I ask about the details the stories get clouded very quickly.
I want to thank everyone here that have simply reported their experiences. If I tried to learn such things on my own it would take years of field experience using buckshot.

Author:  RMc [ Tue May 31, 2016 10:32 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Your buckshot field experience

Interesting buckshot video on Randy Wakeman's You Tube channel:

Author:  DallasCMT [ Wed Jun 01, 2016 6:02 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Your buckshot field experience

Don't we all shoot skeet with 00 through an extra-full Boar-Blaster choke?

Author:  iloveguns [ Wed Jun 01, 2016 7:40 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Your buckshot field experience

RMc, that is some good proof that buckshot IS good. Didn't think I'd ever say this but thanks Randy. That is definitely a great pattern for deer.

Author:  RMc [ Wed Jun 01, 2016 8:43 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Your buckshot field experience

Here is more:

And if you are interested in the largest buckshot extant see:


iloveguns: Check your messages

Author:  Davems [ Thu Jun 02, 2016 10:49 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Your buckshot field experience

On that choke business, whatever works. Remember that bird shot is tiny and the choke constriction acts like the nozzle on a garden hose. On buckshot you only have a few pellets and they are stacked in the hull, not randomly dropped. If the choke is wrong- too big or too small it may upset the layers- now you have buckshot behind other buckshot pushing it aside. I've had a lot of folks claim IC or M gives them smaller buckshot patterns. There are a lot of buckshot loads out there, the thickness of the shot cups can vary and there are teflon/mylar wraps, etc. etc.- the super choke may work on some loads but there are no guarantees.
One issue (as I see it) is how much buckshot bought today is for self defense and not hunting? On the self defense I don't think tight long range patterns are that much of a priority. One reason No.1 buckshot loads are hard to find is they are only for hunting. The other thing I can't figure out is these 70 yard shots. If I am in an area where the shots will be 70 yards I'd rather use a slug that has much better downrange momentum and power. These 70 yard shots, if the pattern of buckshot is very small and the normal shotgun bead is used- seems to me a lot of shooters aren't good enough to accurately make such a shot.
I read that extending the forcing cone can vastly improve buckshot patterns but you cannot do such on chrome lined barrels. Anyone ever get into such things?

Author:  DallasCMT [ Thu Jun 02, 2016 11:42 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Your buckshot field experience

As several have pointed out, shooting a deer at 70 yards with buckshot is a dumb and bad idea. It'll just wound the deer (if you even hit it) and likely cause them a slow & painful death.

Again, I'd only consider buckshot on a deer if I had a clean frontal shot, I was VERY close, I really had to shoot it (hungry?), and I had no other better choice of weapon.

Slugs with a scope or sight make a much better choice, and a rifle is a much better choice than a slug.

Author:  Davems [ Sat Jun 04, 2016 8:45 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Your buckshot field experience

One issue I'm dealing with is how much pellet spread is best? Let's say the whole load is in a fist sized cluster at 40 yards. The only advantage over a slug is if you shot through heavy underbrush some pellets might get deflected and some get through while a slug that hit a tree, etc. could deflect. While I think it is a bad idea to rely on pellet spread for poor marksmanship it seems on a running deer a little pellet spread might be okay. In the type of cover I am referring to you usually cannot see a deer 50 yards away. Most of the time the farther you could see a deer is around 30 yards. A pellet spread of about 12" to 18" at 30 yards would seem pretty good- I think. That ought to put about 1/2 the load into the heart/lung area or the neck- depending on shot placement.

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