A long time ago I muffed a really slam dunk shot at a nice buck. No surprise there, we all miss once in awhile but…We all can take measures to at least minimize the misses. After agonizing over the muffed shot I came to the conclusion if I practiced diligently and took only those shots I “knew” would make, passed up shots I “thought” could make, well hell man, you ain’t about to ever miss again. And while I have muffed a couple since the hits far and away outnumber the misses…and looking back, guess what, the misses all came during periods when for whatever reasons I slacked off the practice sessions and/or took iffy shots. In other words rocket science it ain’t.
Shotgun artistry is different. I don’t know and don’t expect to ever meet a wild bird, upland or waterfowl, hunter doesn’t miss sometimes. We all muff even the easiest shots once in awhile…some of us (me) way too often. Like rifle shots I strive to only take those wingshots I “know” can make and, especially avoid anything close to a Hail Mary or those you ethical waterfowlers label, “sky busting”.
Alas, despite nearly 6 decades semi-serious to downright serious wild upland bird hunting under my belt, not a single season even close to perfection. And I don’t harbor any greater expectations in the few seasons I have left. But that doesn’t mean I can’t continue trying my damnedest to get there. Clearly diligent practice in the off season translates directly to fewer misses in the field. For me to get better I need to repeat often: don’t lift your head, watch your gun mount, focus on the bird, no you dummy, not the whole bird, his eye, focus on his eye and swing, keep swinging and don’t you dare even think about aiming.
I believe strongly in old adage “beware the man with one gun, in all likelihood he knows how to use it.” I also believe strongly with today’s shot cups at the sort of ranges most insure clean kills say, sub 40 yards, open chokes—cylinder, skeet, improved cylinder—work best. And only on rare upland occasions , say late season roosters, is it necessary to use shot larger than #6; for what its worth I shoot #7-1/2 at least 90% the time, no matter what bird. I don’t do much waterfowl hunting and when I do ducks at modest ranges are about it so…#6 Hevi-shot seems to get ‘er done pretty darn well.
My mantra then goes like this: When I hit ‘em we eat wild chicken, when I miss ‘em its Safeway brand…shot size be damned.
Bottom Line: When I practice regularly, take only sure shots, remember to not lift my head, watch my gun mount, focus on the bird, the eye if possible, keep swinging and never, ever take aim, I do pretty well…Slack off any part the operation and the results are not so hot; really its that simple.