duck hunting

duck hunting

Advocate – Baton Rouge, La.
Date:Nov 2, 1997
Start Page:20.c

There are all kinds of ways to look at today’s nontoxic-shotgun-shell story, and there are all kinds of ways to shoot holes in what was found in the two simple tests.
More important than finding out that bismuth shells and the new tungsten shot perform better at greater ranges than steel shot is that you need to test your shotgun before hunting with it.
After talking with representatives of three of the top shot-shell companies, Winchester’s Mike Jordan, Federal’s Mike Larson and Bismuth Cartridge’s Ken Levin, what was amazing is that they said they were surprised about the call, that very few folks do what David Reynerson and I did over the past two weeks: fire their shotguns for patterns.
It’s something dedicated skeet and trap shooters do on a regular basis, but apparently very few hunters do it.
After almost 10 years of using steel shot, it’s apparent those days are numbered, at least for me. It’s not that I’m independently wealthy, but the simple tests showed me that the more expensive bismuth and tungsten shot-shell patterns are as good or better than steel, and that bismuth and tungsten hold the potential of doing something I’ve found lacking in steel – a clean kill.
Three seasons ago, on a foggy morning in a blind with ace duck guide Quentin LeBoeuf, a shot about 40 yards out folded a gray duck, which bobbed up and swam away. We never found the duck. There were other ducks around to make what was then a three-duck limit, but the thought of what should have been a dead duck swimming away made me sick.
The killing power of bismuth and tungsten was evident in the tests, and the promise of using one bismuth or tungsten shell to take a duck instead of using one steel shot to down a duck, then another to finish off the crippled bird makes we want to carry this shot for the season.

With more days (60) and more ducks allowed in bag (six a day) this season, using the new shot could, by the end of the season, pay for itself by using fewer shells.
Overall, from these tests, I’m going to take bismuth to the blind. Not that bismuth outperformed tungsten by a wide margin, but I can carry even a full choke into the field without fear of damaging my barrel. And bismuth comes in a wide range of shot sizes, smaller sizes if smaller birds are flying, and larger shot for bigger birds. Tungsten comes in only BB and No. 2. What’s more, Federal Cartridge advises against using tungsten to dispatch on-the-water crippled birds because tests found it ricochets on the water. That’s something we saw in the tests.
However, one thing you must know is that neither bismuth nor tungsten will make you a better shot. You have to know how to use a shotgun, and more expensive shells won’t do that.

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