The Right Loads for Ducks

Helping You Get the Most From Your Hunting Dogs

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The Right Loads for Ducks

by L.P. Brezny

Making that pre-season run to the sporting goods store expressly to meet your needs in the waterfowl shotshell load department can be an exercise in stress now-a-days. Checking over any listing of new or older ammo will uncover a multitude of load options that can cause any hunter to develop a powerful headache. With that in mind what are some of the required elements of a workable field load today? In every case, is the most powerful and longest range shotshell first up on the required needs list? No, I think not, and here are some ways to make a quick check and see how best to meet your needs and still keep a few bucks in your wallet at the same time.

More Bang for the Buck
Currently, if you are aware of it or not, we have a crisis in the sporting ammunition industry. That crisis is rooted in the raw elements that make up a pellet of shot. With our new so called world trade agreements the United States has lost control of some major suppliers of everything from iron to tungsten and copper ore to name a few. China is the king pin in this area, and like it or not we answer to that tune when it comes time to pay the raw products bills within the ammunition production industry. What’s that got to do with you your asking? Nothing much save for the fact that it will hit your wallet dead center every time you buy a box of shotshells or other types of sporting ammo. It is no secret that the cost of some shotshell ammunition has gone through the roof if even a trace amount of some metals are contained in the pellets. Tungsten iron for example is on the increase even above the high prices of last season. At close to $ 20.00 per pound in the raw product form this can raise the cost of a shotshell in a hurry.

When you buy shotshells this season give some serious thought to where and how they will be used. By taking some time to plan your ammo use wisely you can save a great deal of money in the long run, and still fill your game bag in the event that is a priority. If you are waterfowl hunting local farm ponds, flooded timber, or switch back streambeds it is just possible if not quite probable that your not going to need the hardest hitting non-toxic loads on the market. For the most part, regardless of the style of waterfowl hunting with the exception of pass shooting geese, any of those newer heavy weight ultra high velocity loads are in many cases overkill rounds, and are not at all necessary.

There is such a thing as under kill here in that you don’t want to go so light in the ammo department that you cripple game, but in most cases under gunning is not the issue, but sending very high priced ammo at low budget birds is a problem for many of us in the field. As an example, while hunting ducks in timber anything over a budget load of say Winchester Xpert #3’s at 2 3/ 4 “ or a max 3" magnum, is a pure waste of hard earned money. I have selected Xpert because it was the first real budget price non-toxic with a Sunday punch offered to hunters, and as such has done well and stuck hard with hunters that understand that most workable field kills take place inside the 40 yard mark.

Now if you’re moving out onto sea ducks, or even big water blue bill shooting, yes, some increase in firepower is advisable. Here the newer tungsten iron shot loads by Federal, Remington, or Enviornmetal, start to fill in the cracks in the old duck boats water tight ammo cans. However, how many duck hunters are gunning sea ducks? How many duck hunters are taking on big northern blue bills that are a rare commodity now-a-days? The answer is darn few, and for the most part less than 20% of the waterfowl hunting public need more than a good working load of budget iron shot.

A greater consideration may be selecting ammo for the fall, shot size versus pellet material of payload amount. So often hunters under shoot pellet size with steel because that is what dad did when he used the old lead shot loads. Remember this refresher course here. Shooting #4 steel is like shooting a #7 1 / 2 lead pellet at a duck. How many of you would use 7 1 / 2 lead to get the job done? Darn few, I would tend to think.

On ducks a #3 steel pellet inside say 35 yards is about as small as I would consider. If your range is moving up to 40 through 50 yards on ducks push any conservative nature aside and go straight to a BB steel shot pellet. Send a budget load of 1 1 / 4 oz of iron BB’s at a duck and you will be quite impressed by the end results.
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