squirrel hunting choke


November 1, 2009, 03:08 PM
I went squirrel hunting yesterday with a shotgun. My Dad's 12 Ga mossberg 500a. Saw a gray up in a tree. When I fired, the spread hit the squirrel, but it also broke a tree branch a good 3 feet away. Would a choke help to narrow the sprad? If so what kind? Using remington field 6 shot.

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November 1, 2009, 03:22 PM
Full or Modified is normally what squirrel hunters pick.

It will give you a killing pattern at longer range.

The down-side is, it will also blow game apart at closer range.

I'd suggest you get some big sheets of paper and pattern test your shotgun a different ranges so you have a better idea of what it is doing.


November 1, 2009, 03:28 PM
yeah, I kind of anticipated that. The 12 Ga with no choke messed up a squirrel pretty bad, and pretty far away at that.

dagger dog
November 1, 2009, 03:28 PM
If you took a poll of shotgunning squirrel hunters you would most likley see the modified choke on top, wether shooting a 12 or 20.

Using a full to narrow the spread could tear up a lot of meat. I have used a double Stevens 311 with mod and full, double trigger, it was great in heavy foilage in the early opening weeks being able to reach out and touch Rocky in the tip tops of those tall shagbarks, but yet being able to take a quick close up shot with the mod when you spook him picking up drops on the ground.

Low brass 6's are the best for all around, but you could carry 2 or 3 # 4 shotshells in your pocket and stuff one of them up the spout when that little rodent is hugging that branch way up there.

November 1, 2009, 03:30 PM
If you want the kill without making carnage asada (term shamelessly stolen from the forum @ california predator hunters) then a .410 might fit the bill. It's expensive if you don't reload, but it's fun to shoot. I use a full choke and limit shots to about 35 yards and closer.

Uncle Mike
November 1, 2009, 03:42 PM
There are two ways to look at this....use an extremely tight choke and enjoy pulling them out of the tops of those taller than tall oaks, aim small at close distances and try to keep most of the shot up front of the critter....

Or, use a more open choke and limit your range but have some meat left....hmmmm.

I like a tight choke, we used to use 3" 2oz. loads of #6 shot through a Hastings .665 choke...talk about a long distance smoker!
But the downside is if you didn't keep most of that shot in the head area, well, just chalk up the kill and forget the fried squirrel.

Matthew Temkin
November 1, 2009, 07:20 PM
.22 rifle?

November 1, 2009, 08:26 PM
I prefer using a modified choke in either 12 or 20 gauge, paired up with No. 5 shot, but have used a full choke often enough. My first pump gun was a Savage 20 gauge with improved cylinder choke, which was fine for cottontail rabbits but poor for squirrels generally.
Typically we find both fox and gray squirrels where I hunt in southern Ohio, my go-to load is No. 5 shot before No. 6, for fox squirrels. I like it as a decent enough compromise between No. 4 and No. 6 sized shot overall.

November 3, 2009, 02:13 PM
I haven't done any squirrel hunting in a loonnnnngg time, but my choice was #6 shot.

Unless I knew that we were going into the tall timber, then I used #5 in my 12-ga Mod choke. IIRC, those were either 1-1/8-oz or 1-1/4-oz loads...but I don't remember which....

Tim the student
November 3, 2009, 02:13 PM
Hard to beat modified, IMO.

November 3, 2009, 09:02 PM
First of all, most likely your Mossberg does not have "no choke," unless you mean you are using a cylinder choke tube or no choke tube. In the latter case, you have probably ruined the barrel.

I rarely use Modified for squirrels, and then only in the very early season with lots of leaves on the trees and expected closer running shots.

I use Improved Modified in the first part of the season when there are still leaves on the trees but I can get shots farther out.

I prefer Full in late season with no leaves on the trees.

I use #5 lead shot exclusively in 20 ga. and larger guns. #6 in smaller bores. I'd use full choke exclusively in the .410.

More choke will "mess up" your squirrel more, not less, as it theoretically puts more pellets in the target.

U.S. Choke % of pellets in 30" circle @ 40 yards

Cylinder <45
Imp. Cyl. 45-55
Modified 55-65
Imp. Mod. 65-70
Full 70-80
X Full >80

The above does not apply to .410 bore.

There are other chokes besides and between these.

November 4, 2009, 10:18 AM
I haven't killed a squirrel with a shotgun in a long time, but when I did use one it was modified choke with No 5 shot.

November 4, 2009, 10:30 AM
The early part of the season( Sep--Oct) I use a tight full choke because of the heavy foilage. When they are close and I am usung a full choke I aim right in front of their nose. Later in the season (Nov--Jan) I use eiter a doulble barrel full and modified. They are on the ground a lot later in the season and a modified chke works well when they are running. I also use a .22 WMR rifle.

November 4, 2009, 04:21 PM
Since I have a choke tube gun, I also tend to use improved cylinder in the early fall when the leaves are still up and then switch to a full choke when the trees are bare, late November through December.

I also like to use .410 early in the season.

My 12 guage load of choice is 3/34 dram equivelent, 1 1/4 ounce #5 Winchester Super X.
Stone cold one shot killers and they don't tear the critters up if I am forced to take a body shot.
It isn't hard to hit a squirrel in the head out to 40 meters if you are used to your gun.

November 6, 2009, 11:40 AM
Squirrel hunting is where a double comes in handy. Far away, left barrel, up closer, right barrel. Mod in left, IC in right barrel. I use #6 shot because it is easier to find in the backwoods where I live.

dagger dog
November 6, 2009, 07:10 PM

Any hardboot knows that Aug. 15 is opening day for tree rats in the Bluegrass State!,besides that you are shooting OHIO squirrels, as they are known for their uncanny preponderance for swimming!

November 6, 2009, 07:20 PM
I use a 12ga Winchester Super-X Model 1, 26" bbl, Improved Cylinder, #5 lead High-brass with great success on tree-rats. I'm shooting to thin a nuisance population though. I don't eat 'em.


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