Shooting Tips for Bagging Fall Upland Game Birds
Whether you are busting big timber in search of grouse or moving alongside fence rows for pheasants, shotgunning fall upland game birds is a different kind of hunting compared to big game hunting. It requires a skill set unlike other types of hunting. Everything is moving, from yourself to the birds not to mention the concentration required while hunting to watch everything that is going on around you including other hunters. When it comes down to bird hunting, you want to know you have prepared well enough to be able to make a clean shot when that bird final flushes.
Wing shooting, in general, is a use it or lose it type of hunting skill. If you are not practicing and putting in the time before the season, your success rate is greatly diminished once upland bird hunting season rolls around. Take these five upland bird shooting tips, paired with a good shotgun, when you go afield this fall
5 Upland Bird Shooting Tips
Your shotgun is important, no doubt about it. But even the highest quality shotgun is not going to improve your upland bird hunting without these wing shooting tips.
Pattern the Shotgun
How often have you patterned your upland game bird shotgun? Probably less than your turkey shotgun and far less often than you should. Each shotgun shoots differently, and knowing the point of impact is critical for accuracy in the field. First, you want to know if your shotgun is shooting straight. If it is off too much, a gunsmith may be required to make some adjustments. Second, you want to pattern your shotgun in order to test various shotshell loads and chokes based on your intended use. Are there enough pellets at different distances with different combinations of shells (shot size, weight, length) and choke (modified, improved, etc.)? Answer these question before you take that first shot of the season at an advancing bird.
Clay Birds Are Your Best Friend
Patterning your shotgun is first and foremost. After you have a good handle on shot dynamics, it is time to put some boxes through your barrel. Clay birds are a great way to practice your fall upland game bird hunting. Start by shooting easy floaters out in front of you to get a feel of swinging your shotgun and following a moving target. Once you are comfortable with that, move to more realistic shooting scenarios including shooting at clay birds through the woods, low to the ground and multiple targets at the same time. Also, do not think that you need an expensive automatic thrower to take part in practicing your game bird shooting, On the contrary, a hand thrower works as well if you can grab a buddy or two to shoot with.
Hunt Ready to Shoot
No matter if it is grouse or pheasants, each step you take while hunting, you should be prepared to shoot. Fall upland game birds can be up and gone in several seconds and if you are not prepared to shoot as you are moving then you missed your chance. Carry your shotgun in a shooting position, but one that does not make your arms tired. Also, pay attention to your footwork as you move through the brush or open field. With each step, you should keep your feet shoulder-width apart and slightly turned with the left shoulder leading the way (reversed for lefty shooters). This puts your body in a shooting position over each step, making it much faster to pull up while bird hunting.
Forget About Aiming
Each bird flush involves a split-second reaction so trying to aim will only leave you missing the shot. More appropriately, you want to point your shotgun to the flushed bird with both eyes open. Keeping both eyes opens allows you to naturally follow the target with almost any upland bird hunting shotgun. Natural instincts (muscle memory and practice) take control at this point and allow you to land a good shot on the bird by being relaxed, responsive and repetitive. Keep your swing steady and smooth, following the target to the point where you line up and pull the trigger.
Know Your Surroundings
Hunting fall upland game birds is a fast-paced sport, much faster than say fall turkey hunting. Birds flush out of nowhere and frequently there are multiple people involved in the hunt. As you move through the brush or fields, be aware of your surroundings. Know where your hunting partners are and if you are hunting upland game birds with a dog, where the dog is. You want to be constantly thinking about this so when that bird flushes you do not have to think but only react.
3 Must Have Shotguns for Fall Upland Game Bird Hunting
Now that you have a few upland game bird shooting tips, what is the best upland game bird shotgun to carry and use with those tips? Well first, a good bird hunting shotgun is lean, light and shoulders fast and smooth. You want a shotgun that can be lugged through miles of terrain and perform at a moment’s notice when that long awaited bird finally flushes. Additionally, you want the right gauge to match the species you are pursuing. Pheasants can be taken with .12- and .20-gauge shotguns and grouse and quail can be handled with anything from a .12-gauge to a 28-gauge shotgun.
Shotguns for Sale Worth Carrying for Wing Shooting
Benelli Super Black Eagle II
The Benelli Super Black Eagle II is a long and trusted friend by many who hunt fall upland game birds. This gun can be carried for hunting birds, turkeys and waterfowl with minimal effort. It is lightweight and shoots fast, important in hunting upland game birds. Although the newly released Benelli Super Vinci has some nice upgrades compared to the Super Black Eagle II, it still packs a nice bunch for all your shooting needs.
Beretta A400 Lite
Beretta’s A400 Lite shotgun is the ultimate carry shotgun for long days bird hunting. It packs a big punch in a light, 6.6-pound frame that is easy to point and shoot. This semi-auto shotgun has a smooth action but only chambers up to 3-inch shells. Also, this shotgun has no camo option available yet for, which is not all that big of a deal for most fall upland game bird hunters.
The new V3 model shotgun from Remington is an updated version of the VersaMax with the same Remington reliability as its other semi-auto shotguns. The versatile VersaPort system lets you move from different shell types with ease, ejecting them quickly and smoothly. The V3 has good balance and shouldering is quick and clean. An all-around shotgun for many types of bird hunting situations.
In conclusion, whether you decide to pull out your trusted shotgun or maybe look to purchase a new shotgun, fall upland game bird hunting is here. It is not enough to head out once or twice a year but if you are serious about hunting upland game birds then you need to put in the time. The right shotgun and the right preparation can go a long way in putting more birds in your vest…and ultimately making the dog happy!