When it comes to choosing the right load and shot size when waterfowling, there are huge differences between shooting incoming early season teal and pass shooting wary geese in January.
Not only are distances away from the shooter and speed of the targets factors a hunter must consider, but having the right shot size for the size of the ducks or geese likely to be encountered is a critical consideration. Common shot sizes used for waterfowl (from smallest to largest) are No. 4, 3, 2, 1, BB, BBB and T shot. Naturally, smaller shot sizes are best suited for ducks, while the larger shot is better for geese and swans.
Winchester makes the following recommendations when it comes to choose the right size shot, choke and choosing the proper yardage for making shots at waterfowl.
Winchester Waterfowl Shot Guide:
|SPECIES||IDEAL RANGE||SHOT SIZE||CHOKE||GAUGE|
|Small Ducks||15-40 yds||4, 5, 6||IC/Mod||12, 20|
|Large Ducks||10-40 yds||BB,1, 2, 3||Mod/Imp. Mod||10,12, 20|
|Geese||10-45 yds||T, BBB, BB||Mod/Imp. Mod||10,12, 20|
In addition to shot sizes, waterfowlers will also want to consider shotshell length as it can impact how much of a charge and payload of shot the hunter can send flying with each pull of the trigger. Most waterfowlers eschew 2 ¾-inch shells simply because of the limited amount of shot and charge. Three-inch shells are most common, while 3½-inch shells hold the most shot, but also generate more recoil for the hunter. Both of the larger loads deliver the best patterns when fired from a 12-gauge or 10-gauge.
Winchester was at the forefront of creating dedicated loads for waterfowlers in the early 1900s and continues to lead that charge today with three dedicated waterfowl brands including Blind Side, Drylok Super Steel and Xpert HV. Blind Side has become the go-to load with its patented hex shot and diamond-cut wad that allows more shot to be stacked inside the hull and delivered in super tight patterns to pack a wallop on tough waterfowl. It is available in both a magnum waterfowl loading and a high-velocity load.
Similarly, Drylok Super Steel with its water-resistant construction, super steel wad and magnum shotcup is also a favorite among 12-gauge and 10-gauge shooters. The line boasts a plethora of load configurations in 12-, 10- and 20-gauge shells and in No. 4 to T shot. Lastly, Xpert HV loads are designed to fly fast and hit true for steal loads with offerings spanning the spectrum of all the common waterfowling shot sizes.