Steel shot question

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Steel shot question

Postby ShortBeardCommander » Thu Jan 02, 2014 12:09 pm

Hello all!

This was my second season in the waterfowl world I had a few interesting things happen to me and I would like to pose a question to the more experienced waterfowl hunters. I had this happen to me more than once but I'll set up the scenario of the last time it happened.

What I was shooting:
Benelli Nova
Modified choke
3.5 inch BB rounds for geese (Winchester Super-x, terribly nasty ammo, wont buy it again)

The shot:
We had a group of mallards come in but not fully commit to landing so we took the shot. We all agreed after the fact it was about a 35-40 yard shot.

The result:
I shot twice at the closest duck to me. I hit it on my first shot, saw feathers come out, and missed the second. The duck few up with the rest of the pack and started to fly away looking fine and I was astonished. Then, after flying about 200 yards it fell out of the air dead. It landed in a open grassy area with about 8 inches of snow. Due to the snow I could tell it hit the ground dead, it never moved. After cleaning the duck I counted 5 BB's that hit it. All of them passed through completely. One of the BB's passed through the lower neck area and the rest went through the left and right breasts. I'm guessing it bleed out and died.

I've seen this happen two other times this year, once with a black duck I shot and once with a hen mallard my brother in law shot. We shot about 100 ducks/geese this year so three times isn't many but it still seemed odd to me.

The Question:
I guess after seeing this I'm just in disbelief. Has anyone seen similar results to this? Is this just something that can happen with steel shot or are ducks just the toughest game animal around? I'm not "experienced" enough to have shot back when they let us use lead so I don't have that to compare it to.

Thanks for everyone's input! These forums have been very helpful to me getting into the sport.
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Re: Steel shot question

Postby chefletch » Fri Jan 03, 2014 8:07 am

i have seen this once before, but only flew about 75 yards and then went down. i am thinking it is a result of a non lethal hit..meaning no vertebrae, brain, or heart hit. think of hitting a deer in these spots..it will drop and so will a duck. probably bleed out or ran out of oxygen. either way sounds like you did the responsible thing and found it.

congrats on a great season! :hammer:
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Re: Steel shot question

Postby bulldawgsierra » Fri Jan 03, 2014 8:31 am

I could be wrong on this but talking to some other guys I know one the subject with the steel vs lead is that the steel is so hard I just passes thru and doesn't tear anything like the lead would do. I agree with above that it wasn't a solid shot to the heart or brain area that would of made a perfect kill shot. Thanks for being a good sportsman and retrieving the bird. Keep it up sounds like you are doing right for only your second season.
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Re: Steel shot question

Postby JustinNH » Fri Jan 03, 2014 9:20 am

Yeah, as mentioned, it sounds like the pellets missed the vitals. Ducks can be tough. I've dropped a bird from 50 feet up onto frozen ground only to have it get up and run 20 yards before dying. Sea ducks can be a pain too-- I won't swing on a second bird if the first bird's head is up when it is falling.

I know people call it a gimmick load but I really feel black cloud is worth the extra $. Both BC and Xperts pattern well in my gun on paper, but BC 2's dropped sea ducks far better for me than Xpert BBs. I don't shoot beyond 30-40 yards either, with most shots 10-20... so not pushing any limits shell wise.
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Re: Steel shot question

Postby ShortBeardCommander » Fri Jan 03, 2014 9:55 am

Thanks for the input. I just ordered a Patternmaster choke so I'm excited to see how that performs. I've hunted with a few guys this year that had them and I was amazed at how well they did on sea ducks even while using the same ammo I was.
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Re: Steel shot question

Postby Rise and Shine Retrievers » Fri Jan 03, 2014 10:08 am

I've seen this many times. As others have said, you didn't hit anything vital. Also, the steel shot is lighter and doesn't have the knock down power of lead. You just poked a hole in 'em, like a deer running after the shot before coming down. He had to lose enough blood to bring him down.
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Re: Steel shot question

Postby NHDuckHunter » Sat Jan 04, 2014 7:58 pm

200 yards isn't that bad. I've had them go further. I had a guy down river from me this year shoot three times at a bird that flew about 400-500 yards before dying right in the middle of my decoys. Guy didn't make an attempt to come get it either. :lol3:
thats why I will never again duck hunt without a dog. You were lucky it fell in a field. When they fall other places, there is no way you will ever find it without a dog.
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Re: Steel shot question

Postby JustinNH » Mon Jan 06, 2014 6:37 am

NHDuckHunter wrote:200 yards isn't that bad. I've had them go further. I had a guy down river from me this year shoot three times at a bird that flew about 400-500 yards before dying right in the middle of my decoys. Guy didn't make an attempt to come get it either. :lol3:
thats why I will never again duck hunt without a dog. You were lucky it fell in a field. When they fall other places, there is no way you will ever find it without a dog.


If that were me, I probably would have thought I missed and your decoy set up was good enough to land a educated duck :lol3:
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Re: Steel shot question

Postby Rise and Shine Retrievers » Mon Jan 06, 2014 7:11 am

I will never again duck hunt without a dog


I saw 5 other groups of hunters yesterday. Only 1 with a dog. I don't get it :huh:
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Re: Steel shot question

Postby aclumpkin » Mon Jan 06, 2014 9:31 am

Like others, I have seen it before. I also agree with Justin. If BC patterns well out of your gun (as it did with my last duck gun), it is a great load... in my opinion and from my experience.

That said, with my new A400, I have switched almost exclusively to #1's (Kent Fasteel 3" 1.25oz) from recommendations of others. You drop about 20-25 pellets in your pattern but what I have found thus far this season is that the #1's really have some incredible knock down power. My cripples have gone down significantly.

#1's might be something worth a try for y'all. Even if you shoot them only in the breast, it may also cut down on how far they fly afterward.
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Re: Steel shot question

Postby ShortBeardCommander » Mon Jan 06, 2014 3:49 pm

Rise and Shine Retrievers wrote:I saw 5 other groups of hunters yesterday. Only 1 with a dog. I don't get it :huh:


Unfortunately I'm normally one of the people with out a dog.I have a few friends I hunt with that have them but I just don't have the money to buy one. My wife is already on my case with the money I've spent on duck hunting these past two seasons :sad: .I've been watching the classifieds trying to find somebody who's giving one away close to here but no luck yet.

I do fairly well with my boat and waders retrieving them but I do waste a lot of hunting time that I wouldn't have to with a dog. My goal for the next few years is learn how to properly train a duck dog and then acquire one as duck hunting is quickly turning into an obsession that takes priority over all other hunting/fishing activities.
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Re: Steel shot question

Postby Rise and Shine Retrievers » Tue Jan 07, 2014 9:19 am

I certainly don't mean to bash dogless hunters. Everyone has different circumstances. I understand that. My son lives in a condo and desperately wants his own dog (he wants a Chessie, she wants a Lab). It's just not feasible, so he borrows one of mine when he goes with his dogless buddies. My issue is, I see hunters who don't have a "snowballs chance in Hell" of finding many of the birds they shoot, because of their set up or hunting situation. Or worse yet, don't even try to retrieve difficult birds. We've all seen it. Or, they have a dog and it's not trained well enough to get the job done. My dogs don't find them all, just ask Sharkbait. As a serious dog guy and duck hunter, it's a pet peeve of mine. Same thing in the pheasant fields. I have hunting scenerios that don't involve decoys, boats or even duck calls. But every hunt has at least one dog along.
It sounds like you're making an honest effort to retrieve your birds :thumbsup:
That's my end of year rant. Have a great new year.

One of the dogless hunters we saw Sun is now on a waiting list for a Lab pup :beer:
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Re: Steel shot question

Postby NHDuckHunter » Thu Jan 09, 2014 4:20 pm

JustinNH wrote:
If that were me, I probably would have thought I missed and your decoy set up was good enough to land a educated duck :lol3:

Yeah, I'm pretty sure that guy never even saw it go down. It was a poke for sure.
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Re: Steel shot question

Postby NHDuckHunter » Thu Jan 09, 2014 4:24 pm

Rise and Shine Retrievers wrote:I certainly don't mean to bash dogless hunters. Everyone has different circumstances. I understand that. My son lives in a condo and desperately wants his own dog (he wants a Chessie, she wants a Lab). It's just not feasible, so he borrows one of mine when he goes with his dogless buddies. My issue is, I see hunters who don't have a "snowballs chance in Hell" of finding many of the birds they shoot, because of their set up or hunting situation. Or worse yet, don't even try to retrieve difficult birds. We've all seen it. Or, they have a dog and it's not trained well enough to get the job done. My dogs don't find them all, just ask Sharkbait. As a serious dog guy and duck hunter, it's a pet peeve of mine. Same thing in the pheasant fields. I have hunting scenerios that don't involve decoys, boats or even duck calls. But every hunt has at least one dog along.
It sounds like you're making an honest effort to retrieve your birds :thumbsup:
That's my end of year rant. Have a great new year.

One of the dogless hunters we saw Sun is now on a waiting list for a Lab pup :beer:

X2.

As far as different situations. Honestly, in retrospect. Gun, shells, dog. Thats the importance I put in my dog. We lost one this year, it was ridiculous, and I have no idea how it happened. Sure, we all lost them, but the day I decided to buy a dog was 7 years ago, I lost 3, out of the 4 I shot. The last three years my dogs retrieved well over 100 birds, I think I've lost 2.
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Re: Steel shot question

Postby papageno » Tue Jan 21, 2014 2:44 pm

From your original question…. that happened with lead, too.

BTW: All steel patterns full, regardless of what choke you use. Just to answer the inevitable angry comments - at short range, it doesn't spread out, and at longer ranges only the center of the pattern is going fast enough to kill a duck. There's no forgiving with it - you have to be dead-on. Fortunately, the newer high speed loads are very lethal.
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