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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'll try to keep it short and to the point without getting off track.

I'm starting and trying to compile info on taking a lifetime pheasant hunt to some part of the U.S.. Living in S.E. Penna. here is certainly not it. The state of PA may or may not be doing their best as far as a put and take situation when it comes to pheasants but, I just have to make the best of what I have.

I have made a decision this small game season to hunt exclusivly with a 20 gauge. I'm having a pretty good season so far with a couple of birds and rabbits and a bunch of squirrels. I have (2) 20. Wingmasters I've owned for years (fixed full & fixed modified). These guns have taken a backseat for years because in my mind I thought a 12 ga. was the only true way to hunt and shoot targets. I was thinking of getting a Browning or Beretta 20 ga. O/U to hunt and shoot targets with and thought if I hunted a season or two and shot targets with what I have it may help me base my decision on buying a quality 20 ga. O/U.

In true bird country do you guys recommend a 20 gauge? Your birds (heck of a way to put it) have to be tougher than what I may have experienced here. I know you handicap yourself with shell selections when you shoot a 20 gauge. I've had to order some stuff from my local gun shop just to get quality factory ammo in 20 gauge I wanted.

I would plan on shooting and bringing 20 ga. Remington Long Range Express, Nitro Pheasant Loads and Buffered Nitro Magnums in 2 3/4" #'s 4, 5, & 6 shot. I know it's not all about the gun and ammo, I'll have to do my part and am looking forward to it. I'm planning to bring both 12 & 20 ga. O/U for a trip like this.

Any opinions are appreciated.

Sorry, I guess I didn't keep anything too short or to the point as intended.
 

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There certainly have been a lot of wild pheasants shot with 20 ga. Since you have made your decision I suggest you stick with it. You have or will become proficient with your gun and it should work fine for you.

Since you are bringing a 12 ga you can always switch to it. Part of your decision will depend on whether the birds are holding tight and flushing close or away. If away, you may need the extra "reach" of a 12. That is determined by many factors such as type and ability of the dog used, weather, previous hunting pressure, and how late in the season you go.

You will be, however, in the minority with a 20 as most hunters use a 12 ga as their all around shotgun. That doesn't necessarly mean we are right it just is the way it is.

Hope you have a good hunt.... Are you planning your trip for yet this year, or next season? What state are you thinking of coming to?

Wayne
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
It will not be for this year. I would like for it to be early in the '08 season. All I know is you guys are in the pheasant capital and I need that one time experience in my lifetime. I'm going to compile info from the chamber of commerce of areas out that way, inernet sources, guides, whatever it takes. I would like to take the drive on out. To fly would be quicker, I'd like the road experience that time of year.
 

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Spankey said:
In true bird country do you guys recommend a 20 gauge? Your birds (heck of a way to put it) have to be tougher than what I may have experienced here. I know you handicap yourself with shell selections when you shoot a 20 gauge. I've had to order some stuff from my local gun shop just to get quality factory ammo in 20 gauge I wanted.
Opening weekend was last weekend in Illinois, and as usual I hunt more days than not. I've not shot a pheasant since yesterday, and here he is:



Over the last 40 years, I've averaged over 30 wild pheasants per year out of Illinois ditches. I must have wasted the first 10 years of my life?

I've taken well over 1000 pheasants with 20 and 16 gauge alone. The pheasant above was dropped dead with a 20 gauge @ 42 yards.

Really, "recommending" gauges doesn't have much endearment for me, as they all can work when used within their parameters and the championing of a ***** has little future. However, for my purposes, a 20 gauge is not just equal to a 12 gauge, it is superior. That's why I hunt with them far, far more than 12 gauges-- why else?

The three 20 gauge pheasant guns that get the most use these days are a Browning Mag 20, Beretta 303, and a Browning B-80. All use Trulock PH extended chokes, and all have been patterned with most commercial loads available today.

I use lead for the most part, and the pattern board proves that 1-5/16 oz. Federal Grand Slam #5 shot, 1-1/4 oz. Fiocchi Golden Pheasant #5 shot, and 1-1/4 oz. Winchester Super Pheasant loads are the current best of breed-- obviously, clearly, unmistakably outpatterning many 12 gauge 1-1/4 oz. loads (though certainly not all).

Using 1-1/4 oz. of the best patterning #5 shot 3 inch shells you can find for your gun, and if you do your job... I can promise you that strong, wild pheasants will drop dead from the sky for you out to 55 yards without a hitch.
 

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I use a 28 ga and a 20 for upland and have not touched a 12 ga for upland in years. It is all about learning the guns limitations and yours and staying within that. Don't get caught up in the bigger is better mindset it is just simply not true. If you like the 20 and shoot it well go for it. I also use reloaded #6 shot going at 1250 fps in a 3/4 ounce for the 28 and a 7/8 in the 20. I have already taken 10 birds this year so something is working right.

Here is opening day all birds were shot with either the 20 or the 28. I used my 28 ga Franchi al-48 or 20 ga Benelli M2. Partner used his M1 20 ga or his Bereta Silver Pigeon 20 ga.

 

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I agree with Chaco1 - know your gun, it's linitations and yours. Any wild pheasant that finds itself in the center of your pattern of 6, 5 or 4 shot, whether commercial or re-load is a dead bird. Here are three from Friday using 12ga 4 and 6 re-loads. I will try a 20ga single shot with #6 tomorrow and see how it goes. Not a gun I use often but occasionally like the challenge of no second shot.
 

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I hunt upland birds hard here in beaver county Pa and i believe a 20 gauge is the best all around gun with the 16 and 12 close behind. They are a little faster and nimble than a 12 but still have good killing power on animals that are tougher like a squirrel or pheasant. I shoot a stoeger condor for my upland hunting now but in the near future i see a 20 gauge taking over because that 12 is just a little heavy on 10 mile walk through woodcock cover.
 

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And after 62 years of wild pheasant hunting, let me tell you, to use the 12 gage! Period! Unless you are an expert and don't mind severely limiting your range and number of shots. (You already admitted that your are not, or at least are not experienced!) Otherwise figure on losing lots of wounded birds because you didn't!

Last year at this time, I had 9 or 10 birds in the bag. Carrying a 20 gage, in my old age! Shame on me, I knew better! Both the wife's and my 20 gages went on the sale block, right after we got back from the yearly trip to ND and NE.

Replaced with Benelli Ultra Light 12 gages. 6 pounds, light as most 20 gages and can be loaded to match the 28, and 20 gage, and yet handle 3 inch 12 gage ammo. Yes, the hunting was a bit better this year, in numbers of birds seen, but vastly better in the bag and in sharply less cripples! So far, 33 pheasants, two turkeys and a couple of little birds.

First days take.



And a little interesting note about one of those. The very first one was taken about 20 minutes AFTER legal shooting hours, still 10 minutes to sun up. It was taken in the truck headlights, the fog was so thick, that if it had made it out of the lights, it would have been gone. Now, that was a 20 gage shot, or could have been!

Clyde
 

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My buddies and I took 9 birds today I shot both 12 and 20.
My first 2 roosters were stone dead before they hit the ground but my buddy's - well they ran around a bit and the dog had fun with them!
He said it was because I was shooting a 12 and he was shooting a 20 so we swapped.
My next rooster never knew what hit it. My buddy's rooster… eh lets say I had to help him out a bit.
I fired 4 rounds and had 3.5 birds a good day for me.

If you can shoot then you can probably kill'em with a 410, not that I recommend doing that.
Shoot what makes you happy and be an ethical hunter that's my motto! :D
 

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My buddies and I took 9 birds today I shot both 12 and 20.
My first 2 roosters were stone dead before they hit the ground but my buddy's - well they ran around a bit and the dog had fun with them!
He said it was because I was shooting a 12 and he was shooting a 20 so we swapped.
My next rooster never knew what hit it. My buddy's rooster… eh lets say I had to help him out a bit.
I fired 4 rounds and had 3.5 birds a good day for me.
You hit the nail on the head there Bob. DOn't blame the gun it's usually from focusing on that long tail and shooting them in the butt.
 

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Unless you are an expert and don't mind severely limiting your range and number of shots. (You already admitted that your are not, or at least are not experienced!) Otherwise figure on losing lots of wounded birds because you didn't!
Severly limiting range eh?

20ga, Winchester Double-X magnum, 3in, 1 1/4oz, 50 yards out of F-choke.

http://www.axcessmypics.com/photos/phot ... c4cbc1.jpg

Maybe it's just me, but it would be rather hard for a rooster to survive that pattern. ;)

As to the original topic, shoot a good shell, and you really don't lose much if anything to the 12.
 

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And for the life of me, why oh why would one buy a 20 gage, only to shoot 3 inch shells out of it????????????????

Totally defeats the concept of a light gun! Kicks even harder than the 12, unless it is a very heavy 20 gage gun.

The beauty of the 12 gage I carry, is it can be used with 3/4 oz. 28 gage type loads, 7/8 oz. 20 gage loads, and right on up to 1 7/8 or even 2 oz. 3 inch loads! Take your pick!

Clyde
 

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And for the life of me, why oh why would one buy a 20 gage, only to shoot 3 inch shells out of it????????????????

Totally defeats the concept of a light gun! Kicks even harder than the 12, unless it is a very heavy 20 gage gun.
Recoil is hardly a factor in wild pheasant hunting; I might walk 12 miles and pull the trigger twice. Late in the year, I have walked 15 miles and pulled the trigger zero times, jumping only hens.

No one I know so much as feels recoil when a rooster jumps, cackling and hollering like mad. Most of the time, I don't even hear the gun go off. If recoil bothers you under those conditions, then you might want to consider taking up bowling or curling.

The limit is two Illinois roosters a day. It is called hunting, not finding. Now, it might take me 3 hours of windshield time and six hours of walking to drop two cock pheasants. That isn't just a good day, it a a great day for myself and Rocky the Wonder Dog. More fun yet when Dad and some the gang join in.

Two trigger pulls in nine hours should not intimidate anyone. The way a gun carries and comes up is just as important as the way it patterns. Carrying a pheasant gun is how you use it for the vast majority of the time.

Sure, I use 3 inch 20 ga.shells for pheasants-- they extend my effective range. Not a single pheasant gun I regularly use has so much as a recoil pad. Totally superfluous.

I hardly use the "intimidating, fearsome" three inch shells in a 20 ga, for quail, dove, grouse, or even partridge. Just because your car can do 120 miles and hour does not mean you have to drive it that way through the parking lot.

There is little question that fixed breech guns have more felt recoil than gas guns, and that a good recoil pad attenuates sharp recoil pulses.

Obsession over recoil makes little sense to those who are hunting, not just shooting. That is what the "game gun" is all about-- ability to carry it, mount it, and quickly get on the bird. Just shooting is a different subject matter.
 

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And this guy is new to pheasant hunting. Personally I think it pretty shortsighted for a bunch of experienced hunters to be giving him advice that he just might find, does not work work well for him!

In my 62 years of hunting pheasants, I have killed untold thousands, with all the gages, and most of the types and brands of guns as well. In my old age, at 70, last year, I went back to the 20 gage, as I said, I knew better! Shame on me, I lost at least 3 times the birds as I did this year with a 12 gage. (I too walk those many, many miles, and that is after 3 knee replacements and 5 by-passes!)

The guy has to make up his own mind and I personally hope he makes the right one! He will be way more successful. After that he can take the plunge, into the small bores for a tough bird! Been there, done that! Numerous times, I just forgot why I stopped, and tried it again last year! I also don't think it fair to the game! They are not clay pigeons, where a chip counts! Take every advantage, that you can, especially just starting out! (Or when finishing up, as in my case! I don't know just how much longer I will be able to do it! But I am not quiting until, I just can't go on any longer!)

There is another guy on here, new to pheasants and wondering why they don't fall for him like the grouse he is used to! And that is with a 12 gage!

Clyde
 

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I hunt with a 12 because it is what I grew up with. All I own are 12's I wouldn't take a 20 into the field because it doesn't feel right to me. But that's just me.
 

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I have made a decision this small game season to hunt exclusivly with a 20 gauge. I'm having a pretty good season so far with a couple of birds and rabbits and a bunch of squirrels. I have (2) 20. Wingmasters I've owned for years (fixed full & fixed modified).
I think you misread his post he is not a beginner and has obviously been shooting these 20 ga guns for years. He just never used them for Pheasants. His question was do people think he can be sucessful with the 20 and the answer is yes you can.
 

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jugchoke said:
In my 62 years of hunting pheasants, I have killed untold thousands, with all the gages, and most of the types and brands of guns as well. In my old age, at 70, last year, I went back to the 20 gage, as I said, I knew better! Shame on me, I lost at least 3 times the birds as I did this year with a 12 gage. (I too walk those many, many miles, and that is after 3 knee replacements and 5 by-passes!)de
Perhaps one day, when you mature, you will know that gauges don't kill birds, pellets do. My father, soon to be 80 years old, warned me about young, abrupt whipper-snappers such as yourself. :shock:

For the last 12 years, Dad has dropped his pheasants exclusively with 20 gauges. Dad has always been happy to share the fine points of pheasant hunting with newbies such as yourself. :lol:
 

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NoDak_Dude said:
Maybe it's just me, but it would be rather hard for a rooster to survive that pattern. ;)
Difficult to tell what size that circle is, but if it is a 30 inch circle, then yes, it is just you! :shock: There are some serious pheasant sized holes there, again, if that is a 30 inch circle. The other thing is that at 50 yards, you will have some serious shot string problems and with density that thin, that is a crippling pattern!

As to the original topic, shoot a good shell, and you really don't lose much if anything to the 12.
While this will help you solve the disparity, it is a one sided argument on a two way street. What happens if you use premium ammunition in the 12ga? The twenty gauge (or the 16, or the 28 ) that can compete on even terms with a 12ga just doesn't exist, provided we are discussing similar levels of quality. Why is this so difficult to understand? The advantage of the 20 is in its' weight and (hopefully) handling. But this doesn't tell the whole story either. A lightweight 12ga balanced well will be just as responsive and, to many shooters, a more manageable gun than any 20.

Twenties are wonderfull guns and I use mine quite often. However, they do not compare with the 12ga ballistically.

Frank
 

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Chaco1 said:
I have made a decision this small game season to hunt exclusivly with a 20 gauge. I'm having a pretty good season so far with a couple of birds and rabbits and a bunch of squirrels. I have (2) 20. Wingmasters I've owned for years (fixed full & fixed modified).
I think you misread his post he is not a beginner and has obviously been shooting these 20 ga guns for years. He just never used them for Pheasants. His question was do people think he can be sucessful with the 20 and the answer is yes you can.
Sounds like a pretty much newbie hunter to me! But then, what would one expect, never having even seen a wild rooster? No put down to him, but a couple of birds and rabbits, and a bunch of squirrels? Squirrels are .22 targets! Again, no put down, but that to me is almost a kid with a BB gun!

WHO misread?

Then define successful. Be that one for two? One for ten? Some success in both!

Basically the 20 can never equal the 12, with the same level of ammo being used in each. Just a fact of life! Yeah, I sometimes even handicap myself and carry a muzzle loader. BUT, in that case, it is a 10 gage! So each to his own!

I am sure he likely has read enough by now, and will make his own decision and have to live with it, whatever it may be.

Clyde
 

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Frank, what took you so long? Please don't tell me that you are older than my Dad, or have survived more surgeries than he has!

As far as "Twenties are wonderfull guns and I use mine quite often. However, they do not compare with the 12ga ballistically." that is completely wrong.

Shotstring is not relevant to begin with; it is nothing but trivia to pheasant hunting and other flushing game.

A 28 gauge may compare VERY favorably to a 12 ga., so long as you use 3/4 oz. of shot.

A 20 gauge may compare VERY favorably to a 12 gauge, so long as you use no more that 1-1/4 oz. loads.

A 16 gauge may compare very favorably to a 12 gauge as long as 1 oz. and 1-1/8 oz. loads are used.

Certainly, where very large shot sizes are used (larger than #4) a 12 gauge can often pattern better than sub-guages. Certainly, you can have more pellet pattern density with larger payloads (1-3/8 oz. - 1-7/8 oz. and heavier) allowed by the 12 ga. platform than subgauges as well.

Within range, the matter quickly becomes moot. What do you think is more than a sufficient pattern at 25 or 30 yards?

If anyone thinks that gauge equals ballistics, than they should be prepared to give range limits per gauge. There is no such thing, because a well-populated pattern at the ranges you intend to shoot is is just that; pheasants cannot get more than 100% dead, and 100% game drop and 100% game recovery cannot be bettered.
 
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