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Zkight89

20 Gauge Duck Load Reccomendations?

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Zkight89

  After adding a new 20 gauge to the arsenal I'm going to be doing some patterning in the next few weeks.  2 3/4" Kent Bismuth #5 and Hevi Shot's Hevi Hammer in 3" #3 are the two I'll start with. Anyone got any 20 gauge favorites worth mentioning? 

 

 

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Craig Conroy

When I'm walking around with a 20 ga. on a "target of opportunity hunt" (Grouse, Wood Ducks and/or Woodcock), I'm loading 3" #3 steel loads near the water, and switching to 2 3/4"  7 1/2 lead on my way back to the Jeep away from where I might jump a duck.  So that's the best I can do, advice wise.  I do like #3 shot for ducks, though 😉.

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Zkight89
2 minutes ago, Craig Conroy said:

When I'm walking around with a 20 ga. on a "target of opportunity hunt" (Grouse, Wood Ducks and/or Woodcock), I'm loading 3" #3 steel loads near the water, and switching to 2 3/4"  7 1/2 lead on my way back to the Jeep away from where I might jump a duck.  So that's the best I can do, advice wise.  I do like #3 shot for ducks, though 😉.

I had pretty good luck with 3" #3's ( in 20 and 12 gauge) last year on everything from smaller ducks to one Giant Canada Goose that flew over too low one evening. 

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Rick Hall

Think this past season was my 15th of shooting ducks with a 20 virtually every day, and I've long favored 2 3/4" 7/8oz loads of steel 5s.  Was shooting Kent's Upland Steel version until my local suppliers quit carrying them, but am over a case into Rio's version of that loading without complaint other than them burning somewhat dirtier.

 

Should be noted, however, that I'm shooting working birds and not jump-shooting.

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Zkight89
1 minute ago, Rick Hall said:

Think this past season was my 15th of shooting ducks with a 20 virtually every day, and I've long favored 2 3/4" 7/8oz loads of steel 5s.  Was shooting Kent's Upland Steel version until my local suppliers quit carrying them, but am over a case into Rio's version of that loading without complaint other than them burning somewhat dirtier.

 

Should be noted, however, that I'm shooting working birds and not jump-shooting.

What choke are you using Rick? I just ran across a bunch of those Upland Steel #5's at Field & Stream.  

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Rick Hall

IC.  There, again, I'm mostly shooting birds tight and right.

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Windrider

#6 steel for doves, snipe, and teal.  Scored some 3” 1oz loads of fiocchi a few years ago.  Very happy with them.
 

#4 Hevi X for pond hunting big ducks or open water teal hunting.

 

#6 HW-13 tungsten hand loads for big water public duck hunting.  Kills like a 3.5” 12ga loaded with 1s at a fraction of the recoil. (Pellet count and energy comparison)

 

#4 HW-13 tungsten hand loads for geese.  Kills about like a 3.5” 12ga BBB steel load at a fraction of the punishment. (Pellet count and energy comparison)
 

 

I was talking to an older gentleman about a decade ago when I started having spinal fusions about how I had real difficulty handling the recoil of 12GA loads since the surgery. He replied that it happens to everyone For various reasons at some point if they want to keep hunting as they age.  Then he gave me a bargain price for his old turkey gun, a 20ga A5 Magnum.  Said he had to go to 28ga for everything a few years before when he turned 85.

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mccuha

I’m a big blue steel fan.  I’ve had great success with it. I bought a bunch of it several years ago when I caught them on sell.  Back then even before the sell they were a great value to me in my eyes.   I’ve killed a (ton) of ducks and geese with them.  To me I’ve tried the high priced brands of shells but I could never justify the cost for the performance.  I also like federal shells.  Go to Rogers when it gets a little closer to the season.  They usually have some great deals on shells that will work with just about any budget 

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ruffed1
12 hours ago, Craig Conroy said:

When I'm walking around with a 20 ga. on a "target of opportunity hunt" (Grouse, Wood Ducks and/or Woodcock), I'm loading 3" #3 steel loads near the water, and switching to 2 3/4"  7 1/2 lead on my way back to the Jeep away from where I might jump a duck.  So that's the best I can do, advice wise.  I do like #3 shot for ducks, though 😉.

Is that legal?  I’m pretty sure if you have a duck in your vest and lead in your pocket that is a violation.   I could be wrong but that is how I have understood the rules.   I hope I’m wrong because I would love to have options in some of the places I hunt.  

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mccuha
8 hours ago, ruffed1 said:

Is that legal?  I’m pretty sure if you have a duck in your vest and lead in your pocket that is a violation.   I could be wrong but that is how I have understood the rules.   I hope I’m wrong because I would love to have options in some of the places I hunt.  

unfortunately it is a violation if you have waterfowl in your vest and one single shell of lead in it.  Just get some smaller size steel to shoot other game with or just use the duck loads you are using.  I know as well around all the places I've hunted you cant shoot geese with any smaller shot than 2's in steel.  I'm not sure about the other non toxic options as to the shot size you can use.

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Flairball

I like the Kent Bismuth #6’s and #5’s. I’m pass shooting ducks at 25-35 yards. Seem to have better results with #6’s, but that’s anecdotal. I’d probably use the same loads for decoying.  

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Zkight89
11 hours ago, Flairball said:

I like the Kent Bismuth #6’s and #5’s. I’m pass shooting ducks at 25-35 yards. Seem to have better results with #6’s, but that’s anecdotal. I’d probably use the same loads for decoying.  

What choke are you using? 

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Flairball
On 6/1/2020 at 8:24 PM, Zkight89 said:

What choke are you using? 

In my Rizzini I use IC/Mod. In my Browning I use skt/ lt. mod. I don’t find there to be any noticeable difference between the chokes when hunting, but I have seen a big performance difference when shooting clays, so there is probably some difference. 

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charlo slim
On 5/31/2020 at 9:11 AM, Zkight89 said:

Anyone got any 20 gauge favorites worth mentioning? 

Yes, but it's FWIW - YMMV!!

Steel 7/8's to 1 oz loads

1350 ish fps

round pellets, #3 to #6 (consider #1 or #2 if geese on menu)

IC to LM chokes (consider MOD if really, really pushing it on 20 ga range)

 

Brands ?  Some seem to burn a bit cleaner or dirtier than others.  Beyond that, I have yet to discover any consistent meaningful difference in patterning among brands - this in substantial patterning with 20 gauge steel over about 30 years. 

 

Finally (and not that you asked) I would suggest just sticking with steel loads for upland hunting as well, whether / where legally mandated or not.  This particularly so with your kids coming up.  

 

Happy to discuss the reasoning behind any of the details above.  Or not, your call obviously.

Good luck, have fun.  Tell the kids to shoot 'em where the corn goes in - not where it comes out! 

 

 

 

 

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quailguy
On 6/1/2020 at 8:03 AM, mccuha said:

unfortunately it is a violation if you have waterfowl in your vest and one single shell of lead in it.  Just get some smaller size steel to shoot other game with or just use the duck loads you are using.  I know as well around all the places I've hunted you cant shoot geese with any smaller shot than 2's in steel.  I'm not sure about the other non toxic options as to the shot size you can use.

As it was explained to me by a warden in Kansas it is a violation if you have lead shells in your vest even though you’re hunting with non toxic shot. Like a  pocket for lead and one for steel. I’ve been told it may be a violation to even have lead shells in your truck if you are hunting waterfowl .  I asked what if I’m in Kansas and my truck is in PA. Smartazz was the answer. 
 

What I do is have a lead shot vest and a nontoxic vest.  Never do they share contents. 

 

 

 

 

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