Pattern Testing for Waterfowl - The HuntingPA.com Outdoor Community
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post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-17-2019, 11:00 AM Thread Starter
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Pattern Testing for Waterfowl

I'm 54 years old and rather new to waterfowl hunting. I've hunted just about everything else. I know how to pattern with smaller shot sizes for turkey but bigger shot size for waterfowl is something else. I just made this video of my pattern session with 2 chokes and various ammo brands. I'm not sure if I am expecting too much or if this is the norm. This video is rather long, but hopefully entertaining. If anyone has the time to check it out, feedback would be appreciated.
https://youtu.be/hNOeh4Sge6o
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post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-17-2019, 11:53 AM
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You did not say, at least that I heard what the distances of your targets were. If you were patterning for ducks you would get a better pattern from smaller shot. At reasonable distances there is no need for #1 or#2 shot. You should get more shot in the center of the pattern with smaller shot.
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post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-17-2019, 01:17 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Woods walker View Post
You did not say, at least that I heard what the distances of your targets were. If you were patterning for ducks you would get a better pattern from smaller shot. At reasonable distances there is no need for #1 or#2 shot. You should get more shot in the center of the pattern with smaller shot.
Distance was 40 yards, with both chokes. Basically wanted something for mallards and geese. I know #2 are a little light for geese. It's just that with larger shot sizes, I'm not exactly sure how dense a pattern should be. I basically use 5 or 6 for pheasants and turkey and 7 1/2 or 8 for dove. So when I pattern larger shot size with fewer BBs, I'm a little puzzled on what a good pattern should look like for waterfowl.
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post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-17-2019, 01:41 PM
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I hunt both big and small waters. I use #4 and #3 for most small waters depending on what I'm hunting say teal vs mallards. BTW either will work out to about 35 to 40 yards.

I use 3s and 2s for most everything else.

Here are two suggestions.

1. Find a load or two that your gun likes. BTW the most expensive stuff is not always the best stuff.

2. Verify that your getting decent patterns at the range you'll be hunting with the load you picked. I pattern at various distances with various chokes. For instance if I'm hunting a creek for woodies I might test 4 shot at 20 to 30 yards with skeet or LM chokes. If I'm shooting mallards on the river I might test 2 or 3 shot at 40 yards with LM or Mod. For divers on the bay I may stick with 1 or 2 shot and a choke that patterned tight out to 40 or 45 yards.

There is an ongoing dispute among hunters about speed vs payload. I prefer speed but there are many who prefer payload. My suggestion would be to ignore both and "shoot for" good patterns at the desired distance.
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post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-17-2019, 02:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Windwalker7 View Post
Distance was 40 yards, with both chokes. Basically wanted something for mallards and geese. I know #2 are a little light for geese. It's just that with larger shot sizes, I'm not exactly sure how dense a pattern should be. I basically use 5 or 6 for pheasants and turkey and 7 1/2 or 8 for dove. So when I pattern larger shot size with fewer BBs, I'm a little puzzled on what a good pattern should look like for waterfowl.
Here is a pellet count chart, you can see why your pattern with #1s and 2s are so sparse. I have been hunting waterfowl for over 40 years. Before non toxic shot was required I hunted ducks with #6 high base 2 3/4 inch 12 ga shells and geese with #5s. I do not pass shoot, I shoot over decoys so my shots are 35 yards or closer and I never had a problem killing birds. The first steel shot was so much lighter than lead that you had to go up several sizes to kill the birds. When Bismuth shot came out, I switched to it and never looked back, 5s for ducks and BB for geese. I shoot SxS 12 gage shotguns and I will not run the modern steel shot through them. I bought a cheap pump for the standard steel and sold it as soon s I started using bismuth. There is no doubt the modern steel alloys such as you were shooting in your test are heavier than the old steel and comparable with lead. You do not need ones or 2s to kill ducks over decoys at reasonable distances and you will have more strikes with smaller shot giving more shock to bring the birds down. Buy some smaller shot and pattern again and see what you get, I suspect you will have more holes in the center of the target, or if you use the same targets as before, in the duck.

https://shotgunpatternpro.com/forum/...nt-charts.html
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Last edited by Woods walker; 06-17-2019 at 05:08 PM.
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post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-17-2019, 02:19 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Woods walker View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by Windwalker7 View Post
Distance was 40 yards, with both chokes. Basically wanted something for mallards and geese. I know #2 are a little light for geese. It's just that with larger shot sizes, I'm not exactly sure how dense a pattern should be. I basically use 5 or 6 for pheasants and turkey and 7 1/2 or 8 for dove. So when I pattern larger shot size with fewer BBs, I'm a little puzzled on what a good pattern should look like for waterfowl.
Here is a pellet count chart, you can see why your pattern with #1s and 2s are so sparse. I have been hunting waterfowl for over 40 years. Before non toxic shot was required I hunted ducks with #6 high base 2 3/4 inch 12 ga shells and geese with #5s. I do not pass shoot, I shoot over decoys so my shots are 35 yards or closer and I never had a problem killing birds. The first steel shot was so much lighter than lead that you had to go up several sizes to kill the birds. When Bismuth shot came out, I switched to it and never looked back, 5s for ducks and BB for geese. I shoot SxS 12 gage shotguns and I will not run the modern steel shot through them. I bought a cheap pump for the standard steel and sold it as soon s I started using bismuth. There is no doubt the modern steel alloys such as you were shooting in your test are heavier than the old steel and comparable with lead. You do not need ones or 2s to kill ducks over decoys at reasonable distances and you will have more strikes with smaller shot giving more shock to bring the birds down. Buy some smaller shot and pattern again and see what you get, I suspect you will have more holes in the center of the target, or if you use the same targets as before, in the duck.
Thank you! I appreciate all the info.
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post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-17-2019, 02:20 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Dogface View Post
I hunt both big and small waters. I use #4 and #3 for most small waters depending on what I'm hunting say teal vs mallards. BTW either will work out to about 35 to 40 yards.

I use 3s and 2s for most everything else.

Here are two suggestions.

1. Find a load or two that your gun likes. BTW the most expensive stuff is not always the best stuff.

2. Verify that your getting decent patterns at the range you'll be hunting with the load you picked. I pattern at various distances with various chokes. For instance if I'm hunting a creek for woodies I might test 4 shot at 20 to 30 yards with skeet or LM chokes. If I'm shooting mallards on the river I might test 2 or 3 shot at 40 yards with LM or Mod. For divers on the bay I may stick with 1 or 2 shot and a choke that patterned tight out to 40 or 45 yards.

There is an ongoing dispute among hunters about speed vs payload. I prefer speed but there are many who prefer payload. My suggestion would be to ignore both and "shoot for" good patterns at the desired distance.
Thank you! I will get some smaller shot sizes and give them a go.
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post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-17-2019, 04:45 PM
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I just watched your video. Your off to a good start.

I have a lot of different manufacture's shells in my "stock pile". Some will never get used for hunting because they are junk as you found out. I don't have much Kent because if I'm not shooting reloads I'm probably shooting Kent. It is cheap and it works.
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post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-17-2019, 11:16 PM
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Congrats, you're doing something that 80% of the waterfowlers never do, shoot some paper. It can be an eye opener.
But you need some standards to follow and make sure you can make the correct decisions. Fortunately you're in luck cause I'm anal about this stuff!

If you follow these basic standards you will be able to decide what choke and shot size is best for the ducks you are targeting at the distance you'll be shooting.
When deciding what size shot to use here are the only reliable guidelines that are available to waterfowlers. Gel Penetration from KPY Ballistics.

"Here’s the info from KPY Ballistsics for folks to compare. I used 1450fps for all loads because that is decently achievable and is a published speed for all these. I calculated for 1.5″ ballistic gel penetration which is commonly accepted yardstick for mallard ducks, and for 2.25″ gel penetration, again a common yardstick for geese–whether you think that is a correct penetration or not is immaterial to using a single standard calculated penetration to compare loads. I’ll give pellets in 1oz so you can calculate easily other payloads."

shot size pellets/1oz 1.5″gel 2.25″gel
Steel #4 190 pellets, 31.0yds —-
Steel #3 152 pellets, 38.8yds —
Steel #2 124 pellets, 46.2yds, 24.0yds
Steel #1 102 pellets, 54.4yds, 30.8yds
Steel #B 85 pellets, 62.8yds, 37.7yds
Steel #BB 71 pellets, 71.5yds, 45.0yds
Steel #BBB 61pellets, 80.7yds, 52.7yds

So, as you can see if you're targeting ducks, #3 steel gives you the desired gel penetration out to about 39 yards. #2 steel gives 1.5 inches of gel penetration out to about 46 yards. If ducks are in your face, #4 steel will work.

When shooting paper it is important to have a standard to follow, there is good info available for the 40 yard shot and the number of pellets inside the 30 inch circle. This 30 inch circle has been a proven and accepted size of what it takes to reliably kill a duck or goose. This is why you shoot and count pellets inside the circle, it gives you a standard to follow so you can make informed decisions.

You'll need to shoot at paper at least 40 inches by 40 inches, bigger is better. To help eliminate any human error draw the 30 inch circle AFTER the shot around the densest part of the pattern.
Now count the pellets inside the circle. Since we know how many pellets are in any shell you'll be using we can calculate the % of pellets inside the circle compared to how many total pellets you're shooting. For an easy math example let's say you're shooting a 1 oz load of #2 steel shot which is 124 pellets and you got 93 pellets inside the circle. 93 divided by 124 gives you a 75% pattern which would be considered a good pattern.
However, if you only got 70 pellets inside the 30 inch circle with that load it would only be a 56% pattern and you would definitely know to try a tighter choke cause there are 54 pellets outside the 30 inch circle that are being wasted.
So, find the choke that gives you anywhere between a 65% to 80% pattern at 40 yards.

Finally, how many pellets does it take inside the 30 inch circle to reliably kill a duck? The highly regarded Tom Roster came up with this chart and it is by far the best info available.
https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/hunt/docume...ntoxicShot.pdf

This chart shows that it takes 85 to 90 pellets inside the 30 inch circle to make a clean kill of a large duck over decoys.
If most of your shots are at 30 yards this job is easy, if you're gonna have shots beyond that 40 yard mark keeping the pattern together at longer distances becomes more of a challenge.
Just remember, it takes 1.5 inches of gel penetration with 85 to 90 pellets inside the 30 inch circle, at whatever distance your shooting.

Since you are just starting out on this venture it is common to ask, Where do I begin with all this info?
I know a little bit about your SBE2 and would recommend starting with your Factory Modified Choke using #2 steel shot. Shoot at 30 yards and count pellets then move out to 40 yards. Then if you wanna shoot the after market tubes you'll have info to decide if it's worth the cost and time of chokes. My guess is you'll be pleasantly surprised at how well the factory chokes pattern. The SBE2 is a fine quality weapon.
Good Luck!
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The rest of my money I just wasted.
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post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-17-2019, 11:30 PM
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Some more info you might want to look at regarding your SG.

Your patterns seem to be trending to the left but your camera seems right on. This will help you determine POI. There could be an issue you'll want to address.

http://www.claytargettesting.com/POI...t_13_Yards.pdf
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