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Wednesday, November 21, 2018
When a combo hunt all comes together

Time to move up to high velocity and bigger shot ammo
The southerly migration is now in progress and this portion of the Pacific flyway is seeing more northern ducks and geese, as winter weather settles in on the Columbia valley of eastern Washington and the western Great Basin region of the Rockies. Waterfowl now arriving are mature birds and pretty well feathered up as pin-feathers have grown out and the addition of comforting down.

An example of the need to switch over to a heavier payload in shotgun ammo was a drake widgeon that this hunter harvested this past week while gunning out of duck blind in Prado Basin. There were not a lot of ducks on the ponds but at lift-off, a pair of widgeons winged overhead some 30 yards out. I was still shooting a 20 ga. O/U Charles Daly loaded with Federal #4 copper-plated steel shot. A single pellet downed that very mature widgeon, probably the largest of that species this shooter has ever killed. It was a lucky shot for sure and Sierra did a fine job of retrieving that duck, which was as big as a mallard with striking colorful feathers.

ONE HUGE CANADA GOOSE — Canada geese that are now arriving in this portion of the Pacific flyway are pretty much fully feathered up along with a layer of down packed around their body. Heavier shot size, with a higher velocity, is important when hunting geese out of a pit blind or pass shooting as these big birds fly overhead. WON would suggest moving up to BBB or T shot when hunting Canada geese for the rest of the waterfowl season. Pictured above is a big honker that was harvested by Capt. Buzz Brizendine of San Diego during a late December hunt last year at the Cibola Sportsman’s Club’s South Ranch location. WON PHOTO BY JIM NIEMIEC

Now it’s time to move up to a 12 ga. autoloader and replace that lighter 20 ga. load with 3-inch, high velocity, #3 shot ammo. This heavier load not only will be pushing steel shot out the muzzle at 1550 fps, but it will have better down range knock-down energy and pellet penetration through feathers and down, and hopefully will produce more ducks on the game strap.

Upland game bird hunters should also take note of moving up to a larger shot selection and at least high-base ammo. Most all game birds out there will be pretty much feathered up, even those hunted on game farms and hunting with small shot will likely only result in a dusted bird as it wings off. There was a pretty good hatch of valley quail along the coastal region, but by now this year’s hatch has pretty much matured up into adult birds. The same holds true for any flocks of mourning dove still hanging around, as their flight feathers have darkened with the changing of the seasons. While #8 shot was good enough to kill quail and dove during the early fall, now would be the ideal time to move up to high-base #7.5 shot or even better yet it wouldn’t be a bad idea to back up #7.5 shot with copper-plated #6 shot.

There are only a couple of weeks left in the fall wild turkey season and hunting these now flocked-up birds is going to be really difficult. Just locating a moving flock of turkeys is going to be a great accomplishment, but getting into effective shotgun range is even going be tougher. Now is no time to be loaded up with # 5 shot, expecting a close in target, as with the spring season. In the fall, if a hunter can locate a moving flock of turkeys, likely a shot will be at a minimum of 35 to 40 yards. The maximum shot size for turkey hunting is #2 non-toxic shot. Having been on a number of successful fall turkey hunts over the years, this hunting editor’s choice would be Federal Premium #4 shot as the first load in the chamber, backed up by #2’s, as the shot will most likely be from the side or back-side of a turkey moving away. The heavier feathers of a mature turkey are extremely difficult to penetrate and trying for a head shot during the late season almost never happens.

Western Outdoor News has just learned that the Lone Pine Pheasant Club is temporarily closed due to a health issue. According to co-owner Denny Ponso, the club will remain closed, but will back in business as soon as the medical problem is taken care of. “We are hopeful of being able to re-open sometime this upland game bird season, but for sure we will be back in business next season. The club and its fields are being taken care of during this hopefully brief interruption to our upland game bird hunting program,” said Ponso.

WON readers, with an inventory of lead shot ammo, should again be reminded that come July of 2019 regulations will require all bird hunting, including dove, quail and snipe, will be allowed only with non-toxic shoot. Now, and through the end of the upland game bird seasons would be the most opportune time to shoot up lead ammo. Lead ammo might still be okay to shoot at trap, skeet and sporting clay ranges, but there could be restrictions coming on line in the near future about busting clay birds with lead shot.

Currently, other than waterfowl hunting, adjoining states and Mexico still allow upland game birds and big game to be hunted with lead bullets or pellets. No word has come across this hunting editor’s computer that restrictive bullets and pellets will be required by our neighbors in the near future.

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