Shotgun Ammo for Kansas Pheasant Hunting
Naturally, the downed birds don’t make pheasant hunters think twice about what shotgun ammunition they are using. But when we miss, that results in a slippery slope of doubt, indecision and gnashing of teeth.
Shotgun enthusiasts will test and argue endlessly about what to buy for just the right turkey load. The tight choke, distance, shot size and weight, shell length, wadding, and a whole ammo forum of other factors go into making that critical decision.
With wing shooting pheasants, however, on most aspects to ammunition, there seems to be a little more consistency in the preferences with regard to what will “get the job done.”
Recently, I surveyed nine long-time Kansas pheasant hunters about their preferences in pheasant loads. These guys have been hunting Kansas pheasants for an average of about 34 years in different areas of the state, so experience is not lacking. Since the focus is primarily on ammunition, I abandoned the shotgun brand, velocity and choke for now, although those certainly can factor into anyone’s ammunition decisions.
All hunters but one favored the standard 2.75 inch length of shell. Two-thirds of the group preferred size 6 shot, while another couple preferred 5 shot. However, over half of the hunters listed more than one shot size preference, mostly hovering in the 5 to 6 shot range, so it’s probably safe to say one magical shot size number doesn’t necessarily put more roosters in the hunting vest. And more than three-fourths said the 1.25 ounce shot weight is adequate with a few preferring one-eighth ounce lighter or heavier.
A few had some specific preferences such as “the heaviest shot I can find” or “copper-plated shot.” And one respondent fires slightly larger shot size (2 or 3), but that has more to do with his situation of hunting pheasants in or near waterfowl marshes with steel loads.
A 12-gauge is the gun of choice; however, one wing shooter in the bunch prefers a 16-gauge. Ammunition brands are what varied the most: the respondents said everything from reloads to Federal to Fiocchi to Winchester to “whatever is on sale.”
If a hunter has a little more money to spend, he or she can experiment with such things as copper-plated loads and “Flight Control” wadding. Of course, every shotgun shoots a little differently as well, so patterning your gun with different loads and your preferred choke is important, just as it is with turkey hunting.
By and large, based on these results, most likely a hunter will have a good, reliable load in a 2.75 inch shell with 1.25 ounce 5 or 6 shot. Experience will be on your side.