Friday, February 26, 2010

Shotguns,Chokes and Loads

The season is over for 2009 and we had a great year. Lots of sea ducks, the new layout boat and loads of fun. My absence from the blog has been long and now finally with the boats and gear put away for the season I now have the opportunity to share some thoughts.

Over the years I have been asked many times by friends and customers alike what I prefer for shotguns, chokes and loads for waterfowl. I must first state, that I am first and foremost a sea duck hunter so all of you puddle duck hunters out there might not find this to be accurate for the type of hunting you do. I will say that I do a fair amount of puddle duck hunting and I don't stray very far from the suggestions that I make here.

Lets talk about shotguns. I have used about everything in the way of shotguns over the last 35+ years from Browning Auto 5's, to Remington model 11 and 1100's to Benelli SBE's and everything else in between. I have never and will never buy a Mossburg as I personally have no confidence in them. That doesn't mean they are not good guns but for my needs the don't fit the bill. I have at this point settled on the Beretta Xtrema II. I've been using this shotgun for the last four seasons and have yet to have a malfunction. Over the last four years I have only cleaned my gun at best three time per season. That doesn't mean I do not wipe it down after each hunt because I do but, I don't completely disassemble it. I must also state that the Benelli SBE is just as good if not better but I for one don't like the recoil with the 3.5" shells. That being said, shooting a Beretta every day for almost five months has given me a new appreciation for a quality gas gun. The felt recoil is in my opinion is about 50% less than the Benelli. It's also quite nice as a man of five foot seven to be able to adjust the drop and cast as well as the length of pull without buying additional recoil pads to accomplish this. It's important for any waterfowler to take some time and shoot as many different shotguns as possible before buying a new gun. There is nothing worse than shelling out your hard earned dollars and finding out six months down the road that you made the wrong choice in shotguns.

After deciding on the next gun to add to your safe the question of choke tubes remains. Should I go with the factory tubes supplied with my gun or should I look into an aftermarket tube. That question has plagued duck hunters for years now. If you are the type of hunter that shoots over decoys at close range then the answer is really simple shoot a factory tube as they will do a more than satisfactory job at 15 to 25 yards. On the other hand if you tend to see most of your shots running at ranges further than that maybe it's time to look into an extended range tube. I find that in sea duck hunting most of the shots in the early season tend to be around 15 to 30 yards however, when the season hits month three and the Eiders have become educated to the gun shots can easily extend well beyond 25 yards and easily reach 40 or 50 yards. When this happens a factory tube is not going to cut the mustard. The only answer is an after market tube that extends the effective range of your gun. I have over the years tried several different tubes but, when my reputation is on the line I now look at one tube. ( WAD WIZARD) this is the only wad stripping tube that doesn't reduce muzzle velocity. I have found in my own testing that this tube will extend the effective range of your 12ga by fifteen yards. I have in fact demonstrated to more than one customer of mine that the effectiveness of this tube is second to none. When all else fails the WAD WIZARD will not. Don't be fooled by others like the Patternmaster they are not even close in comparison. Try it you will love it. The Wad Wizard crew hunted with me two seasons ago and I must say that Lori is the Hottest girl in waterfowling today.

Moving forward to loads. This is a subject that could go on for days. #1's , #2"s, BB's, #4's, three inch or 3.5 inch. This question could go on for days but, to answer all the questions here it is. When I shoot puddle ducks I shoot #2 three and one half inch #2 shot. When I shoot sea ducks in early season I shoot 3.5 inch #2 steel. After about December 1st when the season is about two months old I then move to 3.5 inch #1 steel. I use only steel shot and have found that by focusing on good shots I can kill as many if not more ducks than other hunters shooting the much more expensive heavy shot.

Please keep in mind that my opinions are based on almost 40 years of sea duck hunting and are only my views. If you disagree please let me know but, once you try the shotguns, chokes and loads I use I am sure you will see the same results.