Sep 10, 2014
As this issue is getting to you, bird hunting seasons are either open, or about to open.
If you haven’t already, now is the time to make the “change over” from clays shooting to real bird shooting/hunting.
Hopefully, you’ve been shooting some clays over the summer months to stay in shooting form. If not, it’s not too late to get out and reacquaint yourself with your hunting gun and get some shooting “feel” back with it.
Even if you’ve been practicing regularly with your normal hunting gun, there will be some things that you’ll need to take into consideration and adjust to.
Clay target shooting is great, it helps your shooting skills and it also helps you in your ability to judge distance.
Unfortunately, MOST game birds fly more erratically than clay targets. Judging their distances, especially waterfowl, can be very different.
Additionally, if waterfowl is your game you need to adjust to the speed of our modern steel shot vs. the normal lead shotshells you’ve used for clay target practice.
The average lead target shotshell speed is somewhere between 1145-1200 feet per second (FPS). My favorite steel shot load is 1550 FPS and with that extra speed, it’s easy to over lead ducks, especially “close” ones.
Get used to it by using your steel shot loads on some clay targets. (Just make sure that’s okay to do at the range you go to, some restrict shot size, so just ask.)
Now is also a good time to go over your hunting gun for any maintenance issues. You want to make sure there are no surprises when you go on your first hunt and pull the gun out of the case for the first time this season. A little normal maintenance and a good cleaning will go a long way to building the base for a successful season.
One last thought; every year many of us go on hunts we’ve waited for with anticipation.
We’re going to invest vacation time, travel costs, probably pricey out of state licenses, new gear, etc. for our dream hunt.
Now is not the time to cheap out on your gun, ammunition, or maintenance.
I was once on a waterfowl hunt to Canada when we joined up with some guys “from back home.”
One guy had an old, rusty pump shotgun. The stock was cracked, the wood forearm was missing (he used the metal forearm mechanism to pump it), the safety didn’t work and he didn’t chamber a round until the birds were on approach or setting into the decoys (strange how no one wanted to hunt near this guy).
His off brand bargain ammo didn’t cycle or eject well. He missed birds because his gun didn’t function well, and he clearly NEVER used the gun in the off-season and as a result, missed many of the opportunities that presented themselves to him.
Don’t be that guy; it will make for a miserable trip and worse memories.