thaner wrote: It was just like shooting lead again.
todays steel loads are better than lead for waterfowl. this was written in 1983!!
Numerous state conservation agencies — and the U.S. Department of the Interior itself — have conducted controlled studies of the performance of lead and steel shot in both duck and goose hunting. The research technique typically used was developed at Tulelake, California by the Department of the Interior during the 1977-78 and 1978-79 hunting seasons. In that test, over 2,200 hunters fired more than 40,000 steel and lead shot shells (without knowing which was which) and brought down a total of 4,182 whitefronted, snow, and cackling geese.
The hunters were given a random selection of steel and lead shells of various sizes and were asked to record the number of shots taken, the estimated range, and the effect (bagged, crippled, or missed). All birds that were visibly hit but not bagged were considered to be crippled.
In the Tulelake study, there was no significant difference found between lead and steel. For every 100 shots fired, the hunters were able to bag 17.5 geese (and cripple 7) at an average range of 46.4 yards. Nor did statistical differences show up in either bagging or crippling rates, whether BB, No. 1, No. 2, or No. 4 shot was used. (Interestingly enough, hunters regularly indicated more satisfaction with shell performance when they thought they'd been shooting lead . . . even though some who reported that fact had actually been using steel shot.)
The Missouri Department of Conservation has done a similar study, with duck hunting as the subject. During the 1979 waterfowl season at the Schell-Osage Wildlife Management Area, researchers had hunters shoot a mix of buffered and unbuffered No. 4 lead, No. 4 steel, and No. 2 steel shot. During that season, hunters bagged 20.6 ducks per 100 shots with unbuffered lead, 19.1 with buffered lead, 18.0 with No. 4 steel, and 17.4 with No. 2 steel. There was no recorded difference in the crippling rate. The results also showed that hunters were most likely to take a shot in the 30- to 40-yard range, and that their bag rate dropped considerably beyond that distance.
Other studies have provided similar results, with little or no difference in the bagging rate (in fact, steel has seemed to be more effective in some cases) and no significant difference in crippling. Thus one of the concerns about steel shot — that more birds may be wounded by the less energetic pellets — doesn't seem to be borne out in fact.