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Going after sharp tails for the first time. What gauge and load do y'all recommend?
 

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I've shot sharpies with everything ranging from 410 and 32 ga with 5/8 oz of 7 1/2 to a 10 ga with 2 oz of 4 shot. My most used loads utilize #6 lead shot ranging from 1 oz to 1 1/4 oz in a 12, 16, or 20 ga.

Many use 7 1/2 shot early in the year but I stick with 6's as I have little use for them in other applications. For some reason the vast majority of ammo I am gifted are 6's as is a lot of shot for reloading. 6's are pretty effective on grouse sized birds as far out as I am willing to shoot them so they are a decent choice for me.
 

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They can flush far out, and hoofing up and down Nebraska Sandhills can be a lot of walking. A 20 gauge with a 3” pheasant load, or a light-carrying 12 gauge would be nice.

Just like pheasants, we could talk all night about the pros and cons between #4, #5 and #6 shot and not get anywhere.

They aren’t going to get up right at your feet like an early season pheasant can, so I like big pellets and tight chokes.
 

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The Nebaska sandhills are a sight to see. They go on forever and have some of the least populated counties in the nation. There is not a lot of public land as it is mainly huge ranches. It is dotted with small towns of 3-4 hundred population. There are a lot of small lakes due to the water table being so high.
 

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The Sandhills are beautiful, if you’re near McKelvie pull in and checkout the prairie club golf course, even if you don’t golf. Enjoy , the Sandhills are amazing.
 

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Going after sharp tails for the first time. What gauge and load do y'all recommend?
Not been to Nebraska after them but in South Dakota they do tend to flush wild even with good dogs. In a single barreled gun I wouldn't use any choke more open than a Modified but in a double gun I'd have an IC/IM or M/F combo, depending on how it patterned my loads.

About any 12-gauge 2 3/4-inch 1 1/8- to 1 1/4-ounce load of #6 or #5 lead will handle them since they aren't as tough as pheasants and the cripples don't tend to run as far. My buddies and I typically use 20-gauge 2 3/4-inch 1-ounce loads with #6 lead instead of #5s to maintain good pattern density.

Here are a few of my pattern numbers with the gun/chokes/load combo that I've taken both Prairie chickens and Sharp-tailed grouse.

Patterns from a 20-gauge Browning Citori with 28" Invector-plus barrels and Briley flush chokes (patterns average of five, 30" post-shot scribed circle, yardage taped muzzle to target, and in-shell pellet count average of five).

20 GA 2 ¾” RELOAD (BLUE DOT)
1 oz #6 lead (233 pellets) @ 1200 fps

30 YARDS – SK / pattern 147 (63%)
30 YARDS – IC / pattern 168 (72%)
40 YARDS – M / pattern 146 (63%)
40 YARDS – IM / pattern 163 (70%)

Good luck!
Dog Black Carnivore Dog breed Companion dog
 
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