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esox49

Which choke and what shells for pheasants?

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Hard to beat a mod choke as a good all around choice. As for shells, if using lead, 3" 2oz copper plated 6's work wonders smile but 5's or 6's are what I'll generally run. If using steel, 3's and 4's work well for me.

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Lots of variables. But it boils down to this. Assuming you are an average shot for the given conditions at what distance will you take your first shot and are you shooting steel or lead?

<20 yds

Lead - IC and 6 shot. 1 1/4 or 1 3/8 oz will work.

Steel - IC and 2 or 3 shot. 3" Mag

20-30 yds

Lead - MOD and 6 or 5 shot. 1 1/4 or 1 3/8 oz will work.

Steel - MOD and 2 or 3 shot. 3" Mag

30-40 yds

Lead - MOD and 5 or 4 shot. 1 1/4 - 1 3/8 oz will work.

Steel - MOD and 2 or 3 shot. 3" Mag

>40yds - IMHO nobody should be taking a shot beyond 40 yds.

Notice for the lead suggestion I didn't suggest 3" mag. You don't need 3" mags to kill pheasants with lead.

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I shoot IC at all ranges for the entire season and don't seem to have a problem killing birds out to 40 yds. I have on occasion gone to the Mod. but always find myself putting back in that IC. My brittany often helps me hold birds close, even late in the season.

My preferred load is #4 Federal premium copper 1/14 oz. 1500 FPS. I find that the more open choke allows for a more consistent pattern in my Beretta. I am sure others will not find this combination suitable to them, but it is my experience that this combo works well for me...

If I have birds flushing wild 25-35 yds or more I sometimes go to a 1 and a half ounce load made by Kent. I almost never shoot 3 inch loads.

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gspman outlined it very well. I, too, go with steel shot all year...a lot of the public land in SD is non-toxic shot, and we hunt waterfowl at the same time...so I haven't even bought any lead shot for a few years now.

Early season, I will go with #4 steel. By this time of year, I am to the #2. Modified choke may be the better choice, but when going with the larger (#2) shot, I find that an IC choke patterns better. The mod is a bit too tight for the larger shot.

If using lead, #5 is a good all around, all-season choice.

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Perhaps the best solution is to take your gun out and pattern it with both chokes and different load to see how they perform in your gun. Every one is different and you can learn a lot about patterns and where you gun shoots by spending some time with a patterning board. You can google patterning a shotgun and get the how to's pretty easily.

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2 3/4" and 3", #5 Federals. Mod choke w/a 26" barrel 11-87 12 ga. Either seems to pattern similiar, with a little better coverage with the 3". Phred52

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These guys are right, shoot whatever patterns the best be it 2 3/4 or 3 in. I shoot a briley quail choke with 3 in 1 3/4 Golden Pheasant 6's or 3 in Kent 1 1/4 #2 or #3's for steel. With steel I limit my shots to 35 and with lead the birds are dead to about 45. This choke allows me to shoot birds real close without blowing them up and be very deadly at longer ranges. It took some pattern testing but these loads open up quick and hold together good enough for distance, it was well worth the effort.

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Today I got 4 birds (5 guys) with modified choke and 3" mag steel 3's out to about 40 yards, no problem. Like others have stated, modified is your middle of the road suitable for most situations choke. And lead my favorite is 3" 5's, and with steel go a little bigger to have that knockdown power.

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With temps hovering around 40 degrees I wish I could've been out there today. I usually use #2's or 4's. Man I sure miss the lead 8's for grouse & 5 & 6's for stubble ducks.

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Here's an example of choke and load gone wrong. I put in a mod choke on Thursday due to the high winds and was using 1 3/8 oz Fiocchi Golden Pheasant loads. Didn't get a shooting opportunity on Thursday. I forgot to take it out and put the cyl tube in for Friday's hunting. I used the same load. The dog stuck one in short cattails and I shot it at about 10 yds. As soon as I touched the trigger I thought to myself this isn't going to be good. Sure enough when the dog brought it back it was completely disemboweled with one breast essentially missing and a leg dangling by a piece of tissue.

Choosing the right choke for the conditions and expected range of first shot is very important.

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Here's an example of choke and load gone wrong. I put in a mod choke on Thursday due to the high winds and was using 1 3/8 oz Fiocchi Golden Pheasant loads. Didn't get a shooting opportunity on Thursday. I forgot to take it out and put the cyl tube in for Friday's hunting. I used the same load. The dog stuck one in short cattails and I shot it at about 10 yds. As soon as I touched the trigger I thought to myself this isn't going to be good. Sure enough when the dog brought it back it was completely disemboweled with one breast essentially missing and a leg dangling by a piece of tissue.

Choosing the right choke for the conditions and expected range of first shot is very important.

I would say any load is going to make a pheasant into a puffball at 10 yards. Hard to restrain yourself sometimes, especially after a few misses.

I go with #2 steel with a modified choke all season long, I go back and forth between public and private, I don't want the hassle of changing out shells. Early season its all 2 3/4 inch, just recently I went to 3" shells.

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On Sunday I had the opposite happen to my previous post. Knocked one down at the edge of effective range for my choke and load. Luckily the dog saved the day.

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On Sunday I had the opposite happen to my previous post. Knocked one down at the edge of effective range for my choke and load. Luckily the dog saved the day.

What would we do without our retrieving dogs?? I find as the season wears on, I have more of those epic chases, wing tipped birds, longer shots, poor shooting when you're surprised by a rooster. Fun, fun!

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Go with #5 lead. 2 3/4 in is all you need in general. If birds are close, but who plans on that?????, #6 IC is sweet. Believe it or not, with my lab I have found trap loads effective as long as birds aren't weiry. Point is, try to plan on shots according to wind and elements. Personally, I hate steel and dislike patterns and killing range associated with it. BUT it seems like non toxic shot is the future so we have to get used to it. Therefore, buy ten shells for thirty bucks in #4 and previously spend time throwing lead at trap ranges so you can shoot straight with your "jewel" shot.

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