A Guide for the Duck Hunter - With Chapters on Blinds, Decoys, Making a Hide, Shelter in Open Field, Flight of Birds, Running a Shoot, Trapping, Legal Aspects of Wildfowling and the Gun for the Job
82 pages
English

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A Guide for the Duck Hunter - With Chapters on Blinds, Decoys, Making a Hide, Shelter in Open Field, Flight of Birds, Running a Shoot, Trapping, Legal Aspects of Wildfowling and the Gun for the Job , livre ebook

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82 pages
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This book contains a concise yet detailed guide on duck hunting, including remarks on blinds, decoys, making a hide, shelters, bird flights, trapping, and much more. This book is both informative and accessible, making it perfect for the amateur. A book sure to appeal to anyone with an interest in this avocation, 'A Guide for the Duck Hunter' is well deserving of a place in any collection of hunting literature. The chapters of this book include: 'Wildfowl Shooting – Duck Shooting', 'Guns for Duck Shooting', 'Blinds, Decoys', 'Making a Hide', 'The M. B. Curtain', 'When Inside a New Hide', 'Shelters in Open Fields', 'The Hen-coop Reproduction', 'Miscellaneous Hints', 'The Flight of Birds', 'Your Shoot', 'On Trapping Woodpigeons and Winged Vermin', 'The Legal Aspect of Wildfowling', 'The Gun for the Job', and 'More about Guns'. We are proud to republish this antique text here complete with a new introduction on shooting wildfowl.

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Date de parution 01 décembre 2020
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9781528764490
Langue English
Poids de l'ouvrage 1 Mo

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A Guide for the Duck Hunter
With Chapters on Blinds, Decoys, Making a Hide, Shelter in Open Field, Flight of Birds, Running a Shoot, Trapping, Legal Aspects of Wildfowling and the Gun for the Job
Copyright 2011 Read Books Ltd. This book is copyright and may not be reproduced or copied in any way without the express permission of the publisher in writing
British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library
Shooting Wildfowl
Wildfowl hunting or shooting is the practice of hunting ducks, geese, quail or other wildfowl for food and sport. In many western countries, commercial wildfowl hunting is prohibited, and sub-genres such as duck hunting have become sporting activities. Many types of ducks and geese share the same habitat, have overlapping or identical hunting seasons, and are hunted using the same methods. Thus, it is possible to take different species of wildfowl in the same outing - waterfowl are by far the most commonly hunted birds though. Waterfowl can be hunted in crop fields where they feed, or, more frequently, on or near bodies of water such as rivers, lakes, ponds, swamps, sloughs, or oceanic coasdines.
Wild wildfowl have been hunted for food, down and feathers worldwide, since prehistoric times. Ducks, geese, and swans appear in European cave paintings from the last Ice Age, and a mural in the Ancient Egyptian tomb of Khum-Hotpe (c. 1900 BC) shows a man in a hunting blind (a covering device for trackers) capturing swimming ducks in a trap. Wildfowl hunting proper - with shotguns - only began in the seventeenth century with the invention of the matchlock shotgun. Later flintlock shotguns and percussion cap guns have also been used, but in general shotguns have been loaded with black powder and led shots, through the muzzle, right up until the late nineteenth century. The history of shooting wildfowl is very much tied up with the development of the shotgun. It was the semi-automatic 12 ga. gun, developed by John Browning in the very early twentieth century which allowed hunters to shoot on a large, commercial scale. Once wildfowlers (primarily in America and Europe) had access to such guns, they could become much more proficient market hunters. They used a four-shell magazine (five including the one in the chamber) to rake rafts of ducks on the water or to shoot them at night in order to kill larger numbers of birds. Even during the great depression years, a brace of Canvasbacks could easily be sold, but legislation was gradually brought in to prevent such practices.
Early European settlers in America hunted the native birds with great zeal, as the supply of wildfowl, especially waterfowl on the coastal Adantic regions seemed endless. During the fall migrations, the skies were filled with birds. Locations such as Chesapeake Bay, Delaware Bay and Barnaget Bay were hunted extensively. As more immigrants came to America in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the need for more food became greater. Market hunting started to take form, to supply the local population living along the Atlantic coast with fresh ducks and geese. Men would go into wooden boats and go out into the bays hunting, sometimes with large shotguns - and they could bring back one or two barrels of ducks each day. Live ducks were used as decoys, as well as bait such as corn or grain to attract other wildfowl.
There are several items used by almost all wildfowl hunters: a shotgun, ammunition, a hunting blind, decoys, a boat (if needed), and various bird calls. The decoys are used to lure the birds within range, and the blind conceals the hunter. When a hunter or hunters sees the wildfowl, he or she begins calling with an appropriate bird-call. Once the birds are within range, the hunters rise from the blind and quickly shoot them before they are frightened off and out of shooting range. Duck or goose calls are often used to attract birds, but sometimes calls of other birds are simulated to convince the birds that there is no danger. Today, due to the ban on lead shots for hunting wildfowl over wedands, many wildfowlers are switching to modern guns with stronger engineering to allow the use of non-toxic ammunition such as steel or tungsten based cartridges. The most popular bore is the 12-gauge. Only certain quarry species of wildfowl may legally be shot in the UK, and are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. These are Mallard, Wigeon, Teal, Pochard, Shoveler, Pintail, Gadwall, Goldeneye, Tufted Duck, Canada Goose, White-fronted Goose, Greylag Goose and Pink-footed Goose. Other common quarry targets for the wildfowler include the Common Snipe.
An intimate knowledge of the quarry and its habitat is required by the successful wildfowler. Shooting will normally occur during the early morning and late afternoon flights , when the birds move to and from feeding and roosting sites. A long way from the market hunters of the eighteenth century, current wildfowlers do not search for a large bag of quarry; their many hours efforts can be well-rewarded by even a single bird. Wildfowling has come under threat in recent years through legislation though. Destruction of habitat also has played a large part in the decline of shooting areas, and recently in the UK right to roam policies mean that wildfowlers conservation areas are at risk. However, in most regions, good relationships exist between wildfowlers, conservationists, ramblers and other coastal area users. In America, the situation is rather different, due to the concerted efforts of J.N. Darling in the 1930s. He urged the government to pass the Migratory Bird Hunting Stamp Act better known as the Federal Duck Stamp Act , which required hunters to purchase a special stamp, in addition to a regular hunting license, to hunt migratory waterfowl. This scheme has funded the purchase of 4.5 million acres of National Wildlife Refuge land since its inception in 1934. The Duck Stamp act has been described as one of the most successful conservation programs ever devised. Thanks to such efforts, which maintain the natural habitats of wildfowl, and especially of waterfowl, the sport is still enjoyed by many, all over the world.
Contents
Wildfowl Shooting - Duck Shooting
Guns for Duck Shooting
Blinds
Decoys
Making a Hide
The M. B. Curtain
When Inside a New Hide
Shelters in Open Fields
The Hen-Coop Reproduction
Miscellaneous Hints
The Flight of Birds
Your Shoot
On Trapping Woodpigeons and Winged Vermin
The Legal Aspect of Wildfowling
The Gun for the Job
More about Guns
WILDFOWL SHOOTING
D UCK S HOOTING
The charm in duck shooting lies in the opportunity presented of judging the speed, distance and angle of flight of the coming bird. If these estimates are truly made and the pressure on the trigger is correctly timed, the result will be the death in midair of the flying target. The grouse, the quail and other upland game birds fly into the air when least expected, and the direction of their flight is uncertain, often suddenly changed, and no time is allowed to estimate either speed or angles, but in duck shooting the bird is usually seen in advance, its flight is uniform, there are no obstructions in its path, the shooter has time to prepare for the coming shot, and all depends upon the accuracy of his judgment.


JUMPING MALLARDS
Among the shots which frequently present themselves in duck shooting are the rising shot commonly met with when jumping mallards or teal from their feeding grounds; the incoming shot, either high over head or low down, and the crossing shot, as well as innumerable modifications, all of which demand rapid thought and action. In the duck blind or at the pass the gunner meets a diversity of angles and varying degrees of speed to be found in no other form of shooting, and the hits and misses give both the novice and the expert unlimited opportunity for thought and study.
An inexperienced man gauging distance on ordinary or small ducks is apt to be deceived as to the distance of larger ducks, canvasbacks, redheads, geese and brant, and shoot too soon.
Another thing to be remembered is that ducks do not go down when shot at: they go up. They begin to climb on sight of the first movement. This is not gradual but sharp.
There can be no snap shooting at ducks. The sight must be deliberate and in most cases the shot must be thrown well ahead and above the bird at the instant of pull.
Disregard of these precautions is the constant cause of misses.
The Wilbur shotgun sight is a great aid to men who are unable to bring their line of sight down to their gun rib or have difficulty in estimating the lead to be given crossing birds.
I NCOMERS
The incoming bird, either high overhead, below the level of the shooter s eye or straight at the shooter, is one of the commonest shots met with in wildfowl shooting in the blind or at the pass. It appears to be a difficult shot and bothers beginners as well as many old duck shots, but after it is once learned it is one of the easiest shots to negotiate. Success is dependent simply upon giving sufficient lead. In the case of the overhead incomer this necessitates shutting out the view of the bird at the time the trigger is pulled. The accompanying drawing is intended to illustrate this shot. The gun is brought up with a steady swing beneath the flying bird, and the swing is continued until the bird is hidden from view by the barrels; then press the trigger without checking the swing of the gun and your bird comes down.
The difficulty that many men have with the incoming shot is due to their trying to estimate how much lead to give each particular bird. To be sure, birds of different speeds as well as birds of different distances should be given different allowances, but with overhead incomers little conscious estimation of leads is necessary.
The gun decides the question of the bird s speed as it follows it up in its flight. As it catches up with it and swings by and blots it out of vision it decides the lead that is necessary. In other words, the speedier the mark the speedier the gun swing so that keeping up the swing until the mark is blotted out is all that is necessary to effect a kill in actual practice. It is an easy shot for the first barrel if you know how to make it. If you miss, however, and it is necessary to swing in the second barrel you will have to do fast thinking.


OVERHEAD INCOMERS
There are fast flying birds that have so much confidence in their speed of wing that they do not swerve or tower when fired upon. They simply put on an extra burst of speed. The canvasback and blue-wing teal are conspicuous examples. It will, therefore, follow if you miss one of these incomers with the first barrel and he goes on by you the second shot will be at a going-away bird, and you have to see a lot of him above the muzzle of your gun to get your load of shot in front of him.
A duck can change his direction of flight with bewildering rapidity. They start climbing when fired upon. This introduces a new angle that must be allowed for in the briefest moment of time. There are other ducks that will shift into a towering curve. This is also a proposition that calls for fast thinking and prompt work for the second barrel.
If the incomer is a low-flying bird and its line of flight is below that of the shooter s eye, the line of aim must be well down and under the bird. In other words, shoot low and see a foot or more of daylight between the bird and the end of your gun, for misses are all the result of firing behind, which in this position would be firing over the bird.
In the case of the direct incomer, that is, a bird flying directly at the shooter s head, lose no time in covering it promptly and pulling the trigger. The greatest danger of missing lies in the bird getting so close to you that the load of shot will not have time to open out and make its pattern, but will be delivered like a solid ball. Under these conditions the bird will probably be missed, or if struck, will be unfit for food. If the bird gets very close it is sometimes better to allow it to pass by and turn and take a shot at it going away, but on the whole it is best to accept a bird coming towards you, because the impact of the shot will be much greater in this direction, and it is also difficult and sometimes dangerous to attempt to turn quickly in a small boat.
C ROSSING S HOT
The crossing shot frequently met with in duck shooting calls for nice accuracy of judgment of both distance, time, speed and angles, all of which each man learns only by experience. It is well, however, for the gunner to remember that old duck shots declare that crossing birds are always missed by shooting behind. In fact, it is almost impossible to lead a fast flying, crossing bird too much. A charge of shot does not move in a solid mass, but strings along for several yards and success depends upon placing it ahead of the flying target. The importance of keeping your gun moving after the trigger is pulled cannot be urged too strongly. No man can hope to become a good duck shot who does not do so.


HIGH CROSSING SHOT
It is also well to remember that as a rule birds which pass to the right call for considerable more lead than those that pass to the left simply because most men are right-handed and are unable to swing as rapidly in that direction. In the case of a left-handed gunner the opposite would be true.
T IME TO S HOOT
There are different rules given by the knowing ones as to the best time for shooting at ducks over decoys, the best being, Wait until they are in the act of alighting and then give it to them. It may be added, however, that the best time cannot be decided by rule. The number of the ducks, their manner of approach, their species and actions, whether suspicious or otherwise, all influence the decisions. If single ducks or pairs come in there is no need of waiting until they are ready to alight, as they may see something to alarm them, and instead of alighting sheer off. Much time is also lost in waiting, and others might be coming or arrive in time to be frightened by the wild shots made at retreating birds, and then two chances are gone. As soon as you are sure that birds are within easy killing distance, the opportunity should be accepted. It looks better to see a man kill his pair prettily when flying over or by his decoys than to wait until all headway is lost and then shoot as though at a stationary mark.
J UMPING
In jumping ducks a light, flat-bottomed boat is generally used, and if two go together, one shoots while the other sits in the stern and paddles or pushes the boat along the borders of some small stream. It is along the edges of the rice or at the mouth of some small creek that the birds will be found feeding or resting. The shooter in the bow of the boat should sit with his left side advanced, so that he can more readily draw on the birds that cross to the right. If working alone, the gunner sits in the stern of the boat, with his gun resting in front of him, ready to be grasped the instant birds rise. The boat is paddled quickly, but quietly, as near the edge of the weeds as possible without brushing them. It is necessary to be constantly on the alert, and care should be exercised to shoot only at those ducks which, if killed, will fall in open water or in places where they can be retrieved easily. Those that fall into the marshes are usually lost.
In jumping ducks, the difference between the flight of the mallard and the teal, the two varieties usually hunted in this manner, should be considered. The mallard, when aroused from its feeding or resting bed, lets out a squawk and climbs straight upward for fifteen or twenty feet above the rushes before straightening away. The teal, on the contrary, simply clears the rushes and then goes scurrying away low across the marshes. In the case of the mallard the principal precaution to be observed is to shoot well above the ascending birds. While some men aim at their bills and others shoot several feet above them, the latter system is the only one for the beginner to follow, and he need have no fear of shooting too far ahead, for even if the advance of the load misses the rising bird, the balance of the charge comes stringing along for several feet and into this hail of shot the bird springs. In the case of teal, the only advice is to get on to them as rapidly as possible, and if you miss with one barrel send in the other with as little delay as possible.


DOUBLES
The widgeon also goes into the air with a bound and then goes off at a sharp angle while a pintail climbs steadily, and gradually works off into a circling flight that keeps them within range of the gun for some time. Therefore, the time to shoot at the widgeon is at the end of his first jump of ten or twelve feet, for after that he will quickly change. his angle of flight and get out of danger, whereas with the pintail the gunner can proceed more deliberately.
D OUBLES
In trying for a double always aim to get your birds while they are coming in and not, as frequently advised, one coming in and the other going away. A duck moves so rapidly that there is little time to turn around or shift your position, particularly if you are in a boat or blind where your movements are restricted. This picking off double calls for good judgment but as a rule if the ducks are close in it is well to take the leader first. If they are well out take the rear one as that will still leave you time to connect with those that are closer in. The idea being that if you fired too quickly on the leading bird it would give those farther out an opportunity to climb out of reach.
S ECOND B ARREL
There are many men who handle the first barrel of a gun with rapidity and accuracy, but are ineffective with the second barrel and unable to get in a good second shot. There are various reasons for this. One of them is that the duck fired at and missed with the first barrel was loafing along at a thirty-mile-an-hour gait, but at the sound of the gun it galvanized into strenuous activity, and almost immediately increased its speed to sixty miles an hour, climbing into the air at an entirely new angle. There is no time to study his intentions; it is all done with such rapidity that unless you are schooled to the conditions you have to make new calculations. The best way to increase your control over the second barrel is to use it at every opportunity. If you kill a bird dead in the air with your first shot, try and hit it again before it strikes the water. One of the principal secrets in developing facility with the second barrel is the practice of continuing the swing of the gun even after the trigger has been pulled, for the man who does this methodically finds that after shooting the first barrel his gun continues mechanically along its course, and by the time he has steadied himself is practically in the right position to be fired again. The man who checks his gun immediately he has fired the first shot finds himself so far behind when he is ready to fire again that the only way he can get his gun up is with a jerk or a movement so rapid that he is unable to point accurately, for if he moves it up slowly the bird will be out of range.
GUNS FOR DUCK SHOOTING
It is impossible to describe any particular gauge, weight or description of gun for duck shooting as it is the most diversified of American sports and is carried on under a variety of conditions all the way from the great marshes of the Hudson Bay country to the tidal waters of the coast. There are over sixty varieties of ducks to interest sportsmen and they all have their peculiarities.
Naturally different localities have different methods of pursuit; pass shooting in the Northwest, sneak boats on inland lakes and streams, sinkboxes on tidal waters and blind shooting in one form and another all over the country, each with a more or less specialized technique. It follows that the gun that admirably serves the purpose in one place is not the ideal weapon in another.
There was a time when no limit was placed upon the weight and gauge of the weapons that could be used in wildfowling. To-day the 10-gauge is the largest size permissible. It is the gun that in the hands of the old-time duck hunters decimated the country s flocks of wildfowl until sportsmen aroused legislatures and laws were passed establishing bag limits, shooting seasons and designating the weapons that could be used. The standard weight of the old-time 10-gauge was in the vicinity of ten pounds. It was loaded with five or six drams of black powder and from one and one-half to two ounces of shot. A 10-pound 10-gauge gun loaded with sixty or seventy grains of bulk nitro and one and three-quarters ounces of No. 4 shot is a very effective weapon for open water shooting on ducks and geese late in the season when their coats are heavy and they are flying high. It is not, however, an agreeable weapon to handle except by a powerful man and their use is frowned upon by the majority of sportsmen. The 10-gauge guns that a few American gun makers are building to-day to fill a limited demand for these weapons, run somewhat lighter in weight, many of them being under nine pounds. This is a mistake and really brings them into the 12-gauge class as there is nothing to be gained by increasing the gauge of a gun without a corresponding increase in its weight. All that can be safely accomplished with a lightweight 10 can be better done with a heavy 12.
The 12-gauge gun has supplanted the 10-gauge in popularity because it is a more sportsmanlike weapon and its weight and recoil more agreeable to the majority of sportsmen. It is more easily aligned than the heavy 10 and can be handled with much greater facility. The superiority displayed by the 10-gauge at the testing range is, therefore, not always available to the shooter of average strength. The gun makers of this country have largely devoted their attention to perfecting the 12-gauge because it is a good all around weapon that the man of average strength can handle with facility and the ammunition makers have kept pace in creating powders, primers, wadding and methods of manufacture that fully develop its possibilities. There is a considerable range in 12-gauge weights and localized faiths that are not easily disturbed. The bay-men of the Long Island coast, Barnegat, Curretuck and Chesapeake waters being disposed to heavier weights and longer barrels than the pass shooters of Manitoba and Dakota where the seven and one-half pounds thirty-inch medium and full choked weapon has the call.
The most interesting weapon that the last thirty years have developed in American gunnery is the long-barreled heavy-breeched 20-gauge weighing from six and one-half pounds chambered for a two and one-quarter or three-inch shell. These highly specialized weapons came into being in response to a demand from duck shooters in Texas and California where blind shooting is carried on under most agreeable conditions. The place that the graceful 20-gauge with its sharp report, light recoil and slightly higher velocity now occupies in every field of sport has been brought about largely through the patient efforts of the late Captain Arthur M. duBray, one of the greatest sportsmen of his day, a scholarly writer in whom the sporting public reposed the utmost confidence. Captain duBray studied the 20-gauge ballistically and in the game fields he eventually came out as its champion and presented its merits in a series of articles that have had a most wholesome influence in every branch of out-door sport. In an article in Forest and Stream, Captain duBray has modestly presented his experience with the 20-gauge and indicates his interest in the 28:
When I first began to investigate small-bore guns, giving them every practical test to which they could legitimately be subjected, I came to the conclusion after a great deal of game shooting with a 20-gauge, six pound ten ounce gun, that for upland shooting I had found what in my opinion would prove to be a suitable fowling piece, that would meet every reasonable requirement under ordinary conditions. I claim absolutely no merit so far as relates to making a discovery, because my first intimation that a 20-gauge was a real gun, came from shooting bluebill ducks with some of my Texas friends at Gum Hollow near Aransas Pass, Texas. The object lessons given me on that extremely difficult style of shooting-birds coming fulltilt, high overhead-tough customers, able to carry plenty of shot, offering breast shot exclusively-was certainly affording any one open to conviction a first-class opportunity to learn.
I took it so much to heart that I have done all in my power ever since to popularize the small-bore gun, and have made many converts by precept and example, until now the little guns are to be found, scattered all over the country, and what is more to the point, giving general satisfaction wherever they have been given a fair chance and decent treatment.
At the time of which I write, small-bore guns and rifles were regarded as nice little toys, good enough for boys and girls to pop away with, but as for men-for practical game shots-nothing less than a 12 was to be considered; in fact any one whose temerity permitted him to advocate the use of any gun smaller than the 16-gauge, was politely, but firmly classed as a faddist in whose headpiece the wheels went round and round. As was to be expected, derision, and even calumny, came broadcast and abundant from men whose knowledge (mainly of the most meager kind) was limited to the standard 12-gauge, or perhaps even to the 10 bore, depending on locality and environment, also on the kind of game mostly pursued. Then it was considered funny to ridicule the ideas of any one whose rashness impelled him to advocate the use-much less to actually shoot-a small-bore gun; critics forgetting in their zeal that the justly vaunted 12-gauge was a usurper, which had unmistakably sounded the death knell to the good old tens, which had for so many years been the recognized game and trap guns of the United States.
The 20-gauge, being now firmly established as an upland gun, needs no further championing from me, as I have at different times put myself on record unequivocally as to its merits, and while it is no wildfowl gun exclusively, yet for all kinds of duck shooting over decoys it will be found to answer very well if properly bored and loaded, and when weighing about six and one-half pounds, can be shot with comfort and ease with its regular load of 2 1/2 drams of bulk nitro powder and 7/8 of an ounce of shot-a formula worked out by the veteran ballistic expert, Mr. Wm. M. Thomas, for me years ago, and used to this day, having found no better.
Naturally enough if the advent of the handy little 20 bore caused a hubbub in the ranks of the dyed-in-the-wool wide bore advocates, the 28-gauge being eight sizes smaller, must inevitably come in for its full share of invective; not only that, but as happened to the 20-gauge, a roar loud and long emitted frequently by men who knew absolutely nothing about those little guns beyond barking at them, following the example of the prowling dog whose sole object is to make a noise to announce his presence, which otherwise would have been unknown and ignored.
But since the truth will prevail in spite of prejudice and ignorance, we will allow the little guns to stand on their own butt plates and speak in their snappy little voices for themselves.
Shooting some years ago in North Carolina with perhaps the finest upland game shot this country has ever produced, the late James F. Jordan of Greensboro, N. C., I saw him day in and day out bag twenty or thirty Bob White quail, taking all shots presented, doubles and singles, in thickets, in piney woods, anywhere, and very seldom miss one. It was a 10 to 1 bet that he would bag his pair out of every covey rise in the open; furthermore, he could always say how many flushed and locate them with unerring certainty. There are many sportsmen to-day who knew and loved Jim Jordan, and who will vouch for all I have written; in fact I am not competent to do so grand a shot full justice, much as I admired him. Well, he shot a 28-gauge 28-inch barrel gun for a long time, and afterwards one of still narrower bore, but I am not sure of its caliber. The shooting I saw him do was nearly all with the 28, and it would have been a waste of ammunition for so superb a marksman to use a bigger gun, his loads having less than two drams of E. C. powder and 1/2 ounce of No. 8 shot; most of his shells were loaded by our dear Uncle Billy Wagner of Washington, the best beloved sporting goods dealer in America (himself a splendid game and trap shot), who, by-the-way, was the first man of any prominence to bring these small-bore guns before the public when he introduced them to the Washington sportsmen who had such fine Sora shooting on the Potomac marshes.
The next man I have shot with whose work is of the highest order, is my grand old chum Maurice Abraham of Portland, Oregon, who has bagged so many duck, some geese, snipe, quail and Chinese pheasant with a long 28-gauge that I am bewildered even now when writing about them. Last fall when pheasant shooting with him in Oregon, I saw him kill Chinks stone dead in the air at all distances from thirty to forty-five yards and as for quail, he just smashed them right and left. His loads were 2 1/8 drams of bulk nitro powder and 5/8 of an ounce of No. 7 chilled shot in 2 7/8 inch cases-a deadly load when fired from a good gun with a good man behind it.
Dr. James Vance of El Paso, Texas, shoots a 32-inch barrel highest grade double gun exclusively at all kinds of game, and while the Doctor makes no pretense at being a target shooter, yet he has scored thirty-nine straight Blue Rocks at sixteen yards rise-regulation targets-and El Paso is no picnic of a place to make high scores at any time of the year. His general average is about forty-four to forty-seven out of fifty. He shoots factory loads, 2 drams of powder and 5/8 of an ounce of shot, and his gun patterns from seventy-five to eighty percent in the 30-inch circle at forty yards, using No. 7 chilled shot. Imagine if you can the silly folly of attempting to prove that such a gun is not to be depended on beyond twenty-five yards at any kind of game!
Lester Reid, one of the foremost trap shots, in America, shot for several years a 28-gauge 28-inch barrel gun, and as men in the Puget Sound country can testify, did remarkable work with it on Chinks and ducks, some snipe, blue grouse and sage hens. So entirely satisfactory was the little gun that he shot no other afield although he had guns of wider gauge.
It occurred to me some time ago while in Los Angeles, that a little diversion might be brought about by asking some of my friends down there to show what could be done at Fred Teeple s night shooting place at Venice on the pier, so here is what they actually did:


Pfirrmann, Mellus and Holohan shot borrowed game-guns that they had never seen before, all much too bent in the stock, too short, and ill adapted to target shooting. Doctor Fitzgerald used his own gun, one he shoots exclusively afield, and right well does he point it at any kind of game. All shells were loaded with 2 drams of bulk nitro powder and 5/8 of an ounce of No. 8 chilled shot, and quite 90 percent of the targets hit were pulverized. The electric lights being properly placed, the reflectors showed up the white target perfectly, and I feel certain that on a second trial, instead of the quarter scoring 86.2 percent it would have reached 90 percent or better. Barring that the rise was 10 instead of 16 yards, all the other conditions were regular, and the little guns with their Selby factory-loaded shells worked admirably all the way through.
To say that these men are all good shots is a mere platitude, as it would have been worse than folly to have enlisted any other kind when desirous of exhibiting what the guns and loads could accomplish. But it is not as a target-shooting gun that the 28-gauge shines, as no reasonable person could expect 5/8 of an ounce of shot to make any showing against the standard load of 1 1/4 ounces, so that even the 20 bore with its 7/8 of an ounce is always handicapped when pitted against the justly famous 12-gauge-the regular fellow in trap guns.
Personally, being only a mediocre shot at game and a very poor one at targets, I lay no claim to being able to demonstrate what guns of any gauge can actually do, and while I have always shot my 28-gauge at quail, and often at duck and doves, with very satisfactory results, yet it has been when pigeon shooting, strictly under rules, that I have done my best work-simply because I shoot better there than in any other way.
All told, in California I have shot my 28-gauge at ninety-six pigeons, nearly all at twenty-eight yards rise, a few at twenty-six yards, and more at thirty yards, and out of the lot I have scored an even 90, which is 93.5 percent. As a rule the birds were mixed, many of the average quality, some screamers, some duffers, and so on-but at no time have I felt that when the little gun was pointed straight did it fail me, and of the six I lost, quite as many as half of that number fell beyond the short boundary sometimes only thirty yards from the center trap.
The experienced duck shot will almost invariably insist upon a moderately heavy weapon that shoots hard, close and even, and which does not, like most trap guns, shoot very high above the line of sight.
In 12-gauges the most popular duck loads are probably 3 1/4 drams of bulk, or 26 grains of dense powder and 1 1/8 or 1 1/4 ounces of No. 6 chilled shot. The first develops an average velocity of 939 foot seconds over a forty-yard range; the second, 919 foot seconds. A charge of 3 1/2, 1 1/4 ounces develops 959 foot seconds, while 3 1/2, 1 1/8 ounces speeds up to 979 foot seconds. In 12-gauges this is about as high as it pays to go with 6 s without sacrificing pattern to get velocity.
We still find baymen occasionally who swear by the heavy double 10-gauge for open-water duck shooting. A velocity table will show us why. A charge of 4 drams, 1 1/4 ounces, develops 953 foot seconds, practically the duplicate of the 3 1/2, 1 1/4 load in the 12. A charge of 4 1/4 drams, 1 1/4 ounces, however, develops 993 foot seconds velocity with 6 s. In 4 s it gives us 1,027 against 997 in the 12.

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