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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
What is the ideal lead pellet size for taking pheasant?
Smaller than #6 lead shot.00.00%
Lead shot size #6.1738.64%
Lead shot size #5.2147.73%
Lead shot size #4.613.64%
Larger than #4 lead.00.00%
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Pheasant hunters, here is the other poll question I asked on another forum. I got a great response to this one, but figured it never hurts to get a few more...
 

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I have gravitated to 5's but shot a rooster the other day with a 20 ga 7/8 #7.5. Chasing a covey of Bobwhites and a rooster popped up didn't have time to change shells.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I saw a guy on T.V. take pheasants with a pump .410 and 7 1/2s. Another guy used a SxS 28 with FIOCCHI Golden Pheasant 7/8 oz #7 1/2 in the IC barrel and #6 in the MOD. But on these forums it seems like people prefer their big double barrel 12. I'm sort of wondering why bother with that much extra weight? Especially if a lot of people like #6s, which have a pretty high pellet count in an ounce of shot even when compared to #4s in a turkey load!

-Dave
 

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5's have done a good job for me over the years. My reloads with Blue Dot pushing. I use #2 steel when I have too. I can't say I am a fan of steel shot!
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
This is my main issue with steel shot:

If you need to go up two sizes to get the same per pellet hitting power with steel as you would get with lead, then don't you also have to take into consideration the pellet count differential? A typical 3" 20 gauge lead load is 1 1/4 oz of lead shot. But the same shell is maxed out at 1 oz of steel. A 1 1/4 oz load of #4 lead has 169 pellets, while a 1 oz load of #2 steel has only 125 pellets (according to the Remington brochure "Shooting with Steel.")

Now, some experts will leap to steel's defense with the observation that steel pellets don't deform as much upon firing, so they make a narrower shot cone and at long range may actually put more pellets on the paper. But, do I really want a narrower shot cone? If so, why didn't I just use a tighter choke constriction with the lead?

In my opinion to get the same effect as a 1 1/4 oz load of #4 lead, you'd need a 1 3/8 oz load of #2 steel (170 pellets) and at least one size wider choke constriction (IC instead of MOD for example). Am I wrong?
 

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In my response to the post concerning chokes for pheasant, I noted the different aspects that would be critical to making one's decision as to which choke would be best for pheasant. The same is true for shot size. Shot size and choke go hand in hand in determining payload and choosing which gauge to use. You need to have sufficient pattern to put 6-10 pellets into the bird in hopes that 3 will find their way into the vitals. These pellets striking the bird must have approximately 1.5 ft-lbs of remaining energy to be effective. If the range is expected to be less than 35 yards, #7s are fine. #6s will work out to 50 yards if the pattern holds together, but your chances would be better with #5s or #4s at that range. The larger pellets tend to hold patterns better.

Choose your equipment as a team to tackle the job at hand. There is no single best answer.

Frank
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I am scratching my head at this time because of some info I read. CONSEP 2000 studied steel shot on pheasants and found that #2 steel shot was deadlier on pheasants at all ranges than #4 steel shot. However, CONSEP also found that #6 steel was slightly deadlier at short range than #4 steel.

Now, in addition to the strangeness of these seemingly contradictory findings, there is also apparently a British study out that says you need 130 hits in a 30" circle to reliably kill pheasants. But the CONSEP study used exclusively 1 oz loads, and the deadliest, the #2 would not even have had 130 pellets in the shell to begin with!

Perhaps what all this data indicates is that there are two ways to kill pheasants: Either, one or two good solid hits passing most of the way through the body, or, peppering the bird with enough hits to ensure a fatal wound to a very vulnerable area such as the head or major wing bones.

Just thinkin' out loud. Now that the ducks are frozen out my thoughts are turnin' toward pheasant again. (I have shot at several pheasants with whatever nontoxic shot happened to be in my gun, but have yet to hit one so far as I know.) :oops:

-Dave
 

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Dave,

I think that the contradiction in the two schools of thought (CONSEP and Burrard) is in the pellets themselves. Steel pellets, especially the larger sizes, will maintain a much tighter pattern than will lead pellets of the same size. This fact alone will favor the steel because one of the problems with large sized lead shot is it does not maintain sufficient pellet density at range. If you use the old equation that you need to go up two sizes in steel to equal the ballistic properties of lead, you need to compare #2 steel to #5 lead (or at least #4 lead) Additionally, I think that once the pellet enters the bird, lead is far superior in penetration qualities, regardless of what size steel is used.

If you want to discuss nontoxic shot ballistically, I believe that you will find that #6 HeviShot is far superior to #2 steel at all ranges.

I have shot at several pheasants with whatever nontoxic shot happened to be in my gun, but have yet to hit one so far as I know.
If the shot size is big enough to do the job at the ranges you are shooting, just stop thinking about ballistics and put the pattern on the bird! Inside of about 30 yards, #6 steel will drop the toughest pheasant stone dead if you put the pattern on the bird!

Frank
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Frank Lopez said:
...If the shot size is big enough to do the job at the ranges you are shooting, just stop thinking about ballistics and put the pattern on the bird! Inside of about 30 yards, #6 steel will drop the toughest pheasant stone dead if you put the pattern on the bird!
No question I'll agree to that. But I have trouble hitting targets in the air - who doesn't when they're starting out - so I figure, use a more open choke and maximize pellet count, that way you get a bigger margin for error, am I wrong?

Of course, to maximize pellet count you need smaller pellets or a bigger payload, or both. Smaller pellets cut your range, but by how much? Also, will a bigger payload really give me more hits on the bird, or just a worthless, strung out shot string?

The answers you and Chaco have given me are solid, just not exactly what I was hoping to hear. Maybe I'll just have to become a better shooter. Ducks and pheasants are proving way harder than geese so far. :(

-Dave
 

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Dave,

I don't know what chokes you are currently using, but they are probably not that far off. I personally favor open chokes for all my field work, with a few exceptions. The true purpose of chokes is to develop a 70%, 30 inch pattern at different ranges. As a generalization, Cyl at 20, IC at 25, M at 30, IM at 35 and F at 40. These are only generalizations, as the percentages will vary. The problem with the 30 inch pattern is that only the central 20 to 24 inch portion can be counted on to reliably kill. The outer protion of the pattern is generally too thin to consistantly put sufficient pellets into the vital areas of a bird.

Another general rule to follow is that a choke is usually most effective 5 yards before and 10 yards after its' intended range. For example, the IC that is optimal at 25 yards is almost equally effective at 20 to 35 yards. Actually, IC tends to hold together a little longer than most of the other chokes, as Brister proved.

The bottom line here is to figure out the range where you are shooting at most of your birds. Once you've doen that, select the choke accordingly. When you have the choke, pick the pellet size needed to deliver 1.5 ftlbs of remaining energy at 10 yards past your selected range. Select your payload by figuring out how many ounces of your selected pellet size will gice you about 300 pellets in the total load. That will ensure that you get about 130 in the 30 inch circle at 10 yards beyond your optimum range. That's all there is to it! :wink:

One last thing to consider. Once you've selected your choke, get some target loads and get your self to a skeet range. Try practicing the swing through method of shooting, as it is probably most effective for field use inside of 40 yards. You may also want to check your gun fit and make sure it shoots where you look. Concentrate on the bird's head instead of those distracting, long tail feathers.

Frank
 

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I have always used 6's or 7.5's and never had a problem bringing down Pheasants & Quail birds, but heck I use steel 6's alot for most Duck hunting. Killed 3 Mallard Drakes and a Woody last weekend and didn't have even 1 pellet in any of the breasts. A good shot makes more difference than pellet size! "so my wife says"
 

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#6s and even #7.5s (inside of about 30 yards) will definitely bring down pheasants, but I'm not sure about #6 steel for mallards. Seem a little light to me, but I suppose if you keep the range short they will work.

Frank
 

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I think #4 lead is ideal for pheasant, especially on going away shots that have a little range on em, but i shoot pheasant in quail country so usually comprimise with #5's, which still favors the pheasant and if i hit a few quail with em, great.
 

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I've killed them w/ 7.5 (12g and a 20g), 6 and 5s. On the last hunt I used 6s and was very happy w/ some long shot kills. My next hunt will be w/ 6s.
 

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I'm shooting a 16 gauge and right now I'm using 1 oz of 6 shot for the first two rounds and a 4 in as the last round, the idea being the 4 might have just a little more reach.

The shotgun is choked mod.

Actually I think I've only shot one of the 4s so far and I missed with that :oops: everything I've taken has been with the 6 shot.

I also really like the #5 shot later in the season but I haven't broke that out yet.
 

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I like the Winchester 1 oz. lead #5's in my 20 ga. for pheasants.
I generally use IC and M over my Brother's dogs but have used IC and LM with good results.

I've tried the Winchester Super Pheasant load in #5's but I think the added power of that load has been blowing my patterns. Too many misses and cripples that should have been kills and are with plain lead shot.

In the 12 ga. I like Winchester Heavy Game (LB) 1 1/8 oz. loads in #4's. Less pellets to find in the meat but the larger pellet should give a tad higher energy. I use IC and M over the dogs. When I do my part, the birds go down.

I've tried the 1 3/8 oz. Golden Pheasant load in #5's a couple of times. Too much for our type of shooting.

Our shooting is on state WMA or preserve shooting due to no wild pheasants here in NJ. I'm sure my choices of chokes would change if we were shooting wild birds but, I would stick with #5's for the most part.
 
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