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Taking some bird shot to the face gets you some more street credibility Stan. FWIW, agree with your thoughts on 9s. For my experience, copper plated 6's sail through everything I hit with them. 9's are just for target practice.


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Larry, the main problem I see with using smaller shot, such a 9's is that most of us aren't able to consistently hit our birds with the center of the pattern. I often only hit them with the fringe of the pattern. Using the 7's one pellet is often all that is needed to penetrate to the vitals but a single 9 seldom has enough energy to put a bird down hard but they fly off to die later. Now, all I shoot are wild birds and the action is quick and often unexpected and on very uneven ground with mesquite trees everywhere. So, quick intuitive reactions are critical and no time to plan where to center the bird.


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This comment about #9s was made recently on another site.

"One of the better live bird shots I knew once told me he always loads high brass 9's for the rise and sometimes in both barrels, but he'd prefer 10's if they were available. Mark was a very quick shot."

This in an event where considerable sums of money are often on the line.

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I have reached out to Paul (mel1541) and asked him if he would share his considerable experience with wild quail, doves and flyers, and his opinions of #9s for the same. I hope the idiocy that seems to pervade this place hasn't run him off, and that he will weigh in.


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I never shoot 9’s at upland birds. I hunt primarily bobwhite quail and ruffed grouse over pointing dogs and prefer 7 1/2 shot, almost never shooting 8’s. I might use 9’s on a dedicated woodcock hunt, but I’m usually sorta bummed when my dogs point a timberdoodle instead of a grouse. Like the .410 (except for dove), #9 shot is a game crippler imho.


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I made the mistake of shooting #9’s at a rabbue teal target at the US open a few weeks ago. Trap was about 20 yards and they threw the rabbue up at maybe 45-50 degrees. Fast too. I came up with the bright idea to use #9 and skeet choke since it was pretty close……BAD IDEA. I think that tiny shot may have just glanced right off that target. Shipwrecked my good score. Shot an 87 despite missing all 4 of those targets. I decided I’m not shooting any more #9 shot at sporting clays ever again after that fiasco. ;-)


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Not much on clays now, back when I shot 16 yd. Trap- we all shot Federal Champion paper shells No. 7&1/2-- great load- also used those shells for years in the first barrel (imp. cyl.) of the M21 12 bore- used an express No. 6 shot in the left (mod) barrel-- seemed to work pretty well, back when we had pheasants to hunt here in MI-- season opened Oct. 20th- ran to Nov. 14- 2 roosters/daily limit. Now I read that our dipsticked DNR clowns are charging an extra $25.00 for a pheasant tag in addition to your base hunting license- what next?? RWTF


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Originally Posted by Joe Wood
Larry, the main problem I see with using smaller shot, such a 9's is that most of us aren't able to consistently hit our birds with the center of the pattern. I often only hit them with the fringe of the pattern. Using the 7's one pellet is often all that is needed to penetrate to the vitals but a single 9 seldom has enough energy to put a bird down hard but they fly off to die later. Now, all I shoot are wild birds and the action is quick and often unexpected and on very uneven ground with mesquite trees everywhere. So, quick intuitive reactions are critical and no time to plan where to center the bird.

Joe, it's worth noting that "period" literature on shooting woodcock makes reference to using 10's. (John Alden Knight's "Woodcock", for example.) As I've noted above, I tried one box and determined that was enough for me. The good thing about 9's and open chokes is that they tend to fill out a pattern very nicely. Were that not true, skeet shooters wouldn't use them. And having walked around skeet fields and picked up unbroken targets with at least one hole in them--sometimes 2, rarely 3--it's a certainty that good skeet shooters aren't counting on single pellet hits to do the job. But they seem to work quite well on woodcock, which are often shot very close (and also very quick) before they disappear in the cover. Outdoor writer Steve Smith, who's shot a lot of woodcock and lives in northern Michigan where he doesn't need to travel much to find them, once paced off woodcock kills and recorded distances: Average of 13 yards for first shot kills; 15-16 for 2nd shot kills. They're not particularly fast, but they often don't need to fly far to be out of sight. That, I think, explains very open chokes and 9's. Maybe something larger in the tighter choked 2nd barrel.

I'm sure you have a bunch more experience on bobwhites than I do. I'd never use 9's on them. 8's seem to be a better choice, or even 7 1/2's. Especially the latter for a 2nd shot, because they're a lot faster than doodles. And most of the places I've hunted them, at least sometimes they stay in the open long enough that you can take longer shots than you're likely to get very often on woodcock.

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Larry, Have you ever seen a woodcock fly off like a grouse? I sure have…flew like rockets and even made a similar explosive like noise typical of grouse. I’ve often wondered if the slow one’s are the birds which are exhausted after their long haul migration….and the fast ones are the well rested. I think so.


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I'll answer just for fun. There are quail around but they are rare enough that I haven't seen one in thirty years and those were in a kennel club dog training area so the only thing I would use lead 9s on is woodcock that seem to always get up very close. I usually load for grouse though so at least 7.5s. The woodcock I flushed turkey hunting this spring confirm the ranges I remember. when I first started shooting trap I used 9s but that was forty years ago and I can't remember the results but I do remember I used 7.5s later on. Oh, and by the way, this might not apply here but when someone starts talking loads I always want to know the gauge, shot weight, shot size, and choke. Like when someone says "cylinder choke is the best all-around choke with modern ammunition".

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