When it comes to choosing shot size for waterfowl, there are numerous considerations to take into account.Finding the correct balance between getting enough pellets on target and ensuring they have enough energy for a clean kill is key. The smaller the shot size, the larger the pattern. However, if you’re dealing with windy conditions or long range birds they may lack the energy for deep penetration and quick kills. So how do you choose?
First, you must determine what your average distance on shots will be. If it’s early season and you believe ducks will be decoying nicely, most of your shots will probably be 25 yards and in. If that’s the case, you can use a little smaller size shot and make sure to pattern your gun at that distance. Set up a target at 25-yards using the choke and ammo combination you plan to shoot. Ideally, you want about 70 to 80 percent of the shot to be inside a 30-inch circle at that distance. Obviously, having more pellets will help fill out the pattern. This in turn means you’ll probably have better luck getting birds even if you’re not perfectly centered.
If you’re thinking longer shots and windy conditions may be in your future, consider heavier loads that will have a little tighter pattern and more energy upon impact. Personally, I like to always use BB for geese and even switch it out if a flock of geese starts working in-close to decoys.
Another great thing to note, regardless of what shot size you use, is the hex shot featured in Winchester Blind Side. When this shot hits the target it, has six sides to cause more trauma and bigger wound channels. Also, because of its shape, it can fit more shot in the same size so you get higher packing density which means more pellets on target. The diamond cut wad guides the shot so you get consistent patterns and increased kill zones by up to 25%.
The key here is finding a combination that works best for you, the gun and choke you will use and the conditions you’ll be hunting in. I’m a firm believer that knowledge is power and knowing why small shot is beneficial at times and why larger shot is beneficial can be the real key.