Upland Shotguns 101...


Dave McCracken
January 30, 2004, 09:22 PM
The Shorthair worked up the gully that bisected the cornfield. We followed, spread out a bit and huffing a bit from the climb. As the gully pinched out, every fiber of that dog was at full alert,saying "Bird Close", then "Bird HERE!"
The shot was a postscript ....

Hunting upland game is fun without pressure. There's no Boone and Crockett listings for quail,grouse or pheasant. Safari Club cares not one whit if your woodcock has a 4" bill. And, the fact that good upland hunting oft exists near our homes makes it all that much more attractive.

When we say Upland game, often we mean upland birds. Starting from quail and woodcock up,the biggest game is the pheasant unless there's turkey on the agenda, and turkey are not much hunted these days over a dog.

And this IS dog hunting, by and large. This is old calendars with ribby pointers hunting, or excited spaniels and sports wearing ties and handling double guns.

And to those of us who have done it, it's close to being in Heaven.

Let's take a look at what constitutes a good upland gun. Be aware that if one asked 10 upland hunters what makes a good upland gun, one gets at least 11 answers.

Starting with the load needed...

Except for pheasant, an oz of shot will suffice, mostly in sizes from 8 to 6. Wild pheasants can soak up a lot of shot without dying right then, and I used to use 1 1/4 oz of 6s or even 5s to anchor them. Otherwise, an oz suffices, and lots of folks use the 3/4 to 7/8 oz loads found in 28 to 16 gauge shotguns and consider it enough.

The 16 used to be the darling of the uplands. Improvements in ammo brought the 20 to the fore, and the 16 has faded from the scene. That's a shame.

The 28 gauge refuses to believe it's small, and often gives the quietus to stuff we'd rather whack with a 12. IMO, the 28 gauge is more for the experienced shotgunner than the beginner, to achieve sufficient density with the small shot charge one needs to tighten the choke a bit, thus limiting the apread.

While some favor the 410, I'm no fan if we talking hunting stuff that can suffer. Even quail get hard to recover with the 410, and quail are not exactly armorplated.

Lots of us just own 12 gauge shotguns. These can be used for the uplands if they aren't on the heavy side.Many are heavy for this,from a little bit to way too much.

As a very loose rule of thumb, a shotgun weighing more than 7 lbs is probably not going to be fun 5 ridges away from the truck. Uplands run more to vertical than plains or wetlands, and the weapon has to be carried for miles. After 45 or so, this becomes more important.

On the light side, shotguns of less than 6 lbs are harder to keep the swing going from lack of inertia.

FYI, a riot barreled 870 just squeaks in under the limit. And some of us do very well with it. The Ithaca 37 has its fans for these conditions, and oft runs near optimum at 6.25 lbs. The Mossy 500 and the Winchester 1300 series oft are contenders here.

Some autos meet the weight limit, including the venerable Franchi AL-48. One friend has a 20 gauge AL-48, it's very light and he's toted it hundreds of miles.

The 1100s in the smaller gauges have lots of fans. So do the Beretta and Browning autos in 20 gauge.

But the classic Upland guns are SxS doubles. From old Crescents to the British best guns, these just plain work. Many are "Pretty" also, a nice plus. O/Us will work also, but they are not as common. They also run a little heavier, good for a waterfowler or target shotgun, but again not the best for the uplands.

Besides the weight thing, upland guns should have open chokes,Cylinder to Modified mostly. I'd call for choke tubes, and would take along a Full in case the birds are spooky.If I HAD to pick just one choke here, it'd be IC.

Classic upland guns tend towards short barrels, though the coach guns now common with the CAS folks may be a little too short for best work. Inertia again. Something around 26" for a double, shorter or the same for a repeater, ought to work for you.

As for balance, a neutral or muzzle light feel is more popular than a weight forward one, these may be a bit faster to deploy. It's up to you.

Since most birds will be rising, a POI of something like 60-40 is probably best, but again, it's your call.

Basically, grab your scattergun and go upland hunting.If it works for you, it's an upland gun.

Mac's Gogo Girl,known around the house as Girl,worked through the alders with a gait belying her 12 years. I fought greenbriars behind her, cussing as I handled the little French/Belgian SxS. As the first woodcock flushed, I swung up and pointed, catching the funny little bird as it towered, the bang hiding the sound of another flush a few yards away. I saw a flash, identified it and shot milliseconds before it would have been hidden by branches. As it tumbled, and Girl nosed my thigh to let me know she had the first one, the memories jelled...

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January 30, 2004, 11:30 PM
Surprise ! You said tomorrow and it came in tonight. Thank You. Gives me a little understanding of Upland.

Did you say something about Waterfowl?:) Need input, more input!:D

Much appreciated!

January 31, 2004, 03:04 AM
"Funny" somehow, maybe better expressed as provoking.

For all the big game hunting I've experienced (whitetails, mulies & elk), I still rate upland game birds as my most fave - southern quails being the best, just followed by western pheasants. & maybe not an upland bird, hot flashes of doves coming into water holes late afternoon has just got to be some of the best offered!

Raised on 870s, I cannot imagine using anything else - that's just me.

Started on a 20 & "graduated" to a 12, I later found out that a 20 will do all the 12 will, with the possible exception. The astute know the difference.

Far as gun/load preference, I'd just as soon tote an 870 youth 20, cambered for my own sight plane - I have ajusted it with ya'll's help ;) ... quail =s an ounce of 7-1/2s

Pheasants, I'll still go for a 1+ oz #4s in a 12 ... like to drop 'em. Although depending on how tight they hold, a load of #6 isn't a bad fisrt choice.

A great dog, decent enough birds, frost on the cover - good dose of Heaven, good buds .....

I couldn't disagree one bit.

January 31, 2004, 03:49 AM
Did some mention Upland , doves, quail...and dogs?

I have done a bunch of this alone - without dogs. I have used anything from single shot .410s to 12 ga semi's.

I enjoy this type of hunting - period. I enjoy going with good folks and good dogs and just being in "heaven". Gimmee a gun, any gun...heck I'll go with without one if need. If one has never experienced Upland bird hunting...it cannot be explained, somethings have to be experienced.

NO pheasants here, never felled one...I will someday.

Ok, Before I gave away my 3 bbl set, that was what I used quite a bit. Yeah the 20ga was used...I really enjoyed the 28 ga. Told I had to "let some clients take some quail". Had to put the .410 bbls on to continue. Well that didn't work, not my fault the clients couldn't shoot. So me and the first set of dogs got sent back to the truck. I had my limit, and the dogs and I played. :p

I like the O/U in a 20 or 28 ga given a choice. Those 870s and 1300s in 20 and 28 are handy. 1100s and Beretta 303 in 20 are great. something about a Model 42 Winchester as well. I only take 2 shots...usually...

My only Triples were with my SX1 , quail the first time , doves the second go around about 2 weeks apart. Walking up - explosion of birds, pick one and shoot, pick a second and shoot, third...well heck - why not- pick a third and down. Found all the birds and there I was all by my lonesome. Grinning and enjoying the moment.

Not having any O/U guns, I'll be the guy showing up with a SX1. Of course if there is a Citori in 28 ga not being used, toss that the truck...I'll oblidge and run a 'few' rds thru and help get it "birdy" for ya. I promise to put hits - not misses in the gun too.

Heck its the folks, the dogs, the property, the whole dealie. Gimmee any gun, I'll try anything, I enjoy trying and shooting anothers gun.

So , when we going - we there yet? :D

January 31, 2004, 04:15 AM
"heck I'll go with without one if need."

I'm assuming no gun at all.

If so (& likely, if not) I like your style, sm!

Done it enough myself while just watching & playing with those who did ... great fun!

"Merely" plying the fields while still being only a participant is entirely a hoot.

I don't really have to even hold a gun, but there is that aspect of the personal hunt in of itself that does make for a thing .....

Any event? Uplands a true hoot!

January 31, 2004, 05:37 AM
Yes , I admit I have gone dove hunting without a gun. Be hard pressed to tell whom had the most fun or biggest grin tho'....Me or the kid out for the first time and me coaching, watching, instilling the safety and fun factor.

Hey I have no problem if a little gal hits a dove, opens the single shot 28 ga, hands the gun safely to me and outruns the dog to retrieve her first dove. Made perfect sense to me. :D

Hey, it is what one does - pass it on. Get doves flying, get some kids paired up with adults, or in my case no kids ...but an adopted Uncle to some. Widowed mom raising a daughter, her brother is doing what he can, helping with the outdoor stuff and all- but has his son out that day. So heck yeah, I'd be honored to pair up with the gal. Same gal I help teach with a single shot 28 ga earlier busting low 7.

Shush , this dealie about me being sentimental and having a soft spot for kids, dogs and passing it on might leak out. ;)

Dave McCracken
January 31, 2004, 06:22 AM
LCSNM, you're welcome. Waterfowling guns will be along shortly.

Thanks, folks. Upland hunting is as addictive as crack, just not as illegal or debilitating.

A couple things...

The little SxS in that last paragraph came with sling swivels. The studs, with the swivels removed, approximate QD studs. A sling can be a nice accessory. If the shotgun's not equipped for them, and too pretty to modify, Bean, Orvis et al sell a double loop sling requiring no studs nor swivels.

One of the double's best points for the uplands is the instant choice of chokes or loads possible with a two triggered shotgun.

Repeater shooters can stack loads, so that the first one up will work best at closer range, then bigger pellets and heavier payload for second shots. I used an AA trap load in 7 1/2s first up for years, followed by a heavy load of 6s, 5s or 4s for followups. Still hard to beat from a fixed choke, one barrel shotgun.

Labgrade, you know my feelings on 870s. However, there's lots to be said for something like that little SxS. It boils down to personal choice.

As for doing it without dogs, it's OK. But, the dog work is the best show in town.

And time spent teaching kids to do this and taking them so they can makes good Karma, a Mitzvot of high value. It's also FUN!

January 31, 2004, 07:02 AM
Now you know why my skeet 3bbl set had "character" markings...I used it off the range - a lot. :p I bought it to "use" and "use" I did.

Both bbls were skeet , I "stacked and tweaked loads". Depending on the cover , type of bird and "reports" * ahem* I was "adaptable". Even with a skeet gun. Chilled shot, Hard shot, shot sizes, payload. I learned to shoot with fixed chokes only...this gave me some insight as I and the pattern board had spent a lot of time together.

Choices on gun depended on carrying lots and shooting little, or being pretty much stationary and shooting lots. The 3 bbl set didn't have swivel studs naturally...but as long as I can remember a length of rawhide slip knotted around bbl and grip has allowed me sling many a gun to and fro a hunting spot...walking in...rolls up small for a pocket while shooting...back on for walking out.

I reloaded and tweaked my loads, when applicable I used different colored hulls to distinguish. Different side of shell pouch and / or marked when using 20 ga.

Have used a bunch of various pump guns, including the 870 of course. Heck even a full choke will work if one knows the chilled shot for first shot and stack as need for 2nd shot.

I used the SX1 and Citori 3 bbl set a bunch because I competed with them. The more I handle and shoot something , the better the guns are an extension of me. I did this to improve,and be consistent. The SX1 I use is the one I had the Nu-Line Chokes installed in. I have the .735 screwed in and to be honest...I just leave it in. Being steel proof as well I admit I've left in for waterfowl as well.[ ok I forgot, the ducks didn't know that tho'.]

Just always tweaked loads, if for some reason we no longer had screw in chokes...I would not be affected.

Police trade in 870 with cyl bore has taken a lot of upland birds. When the late dove season hits, the doves are wary, distances increase, feathers heavier...well I go from a 7/8 oz load of chilled shot/ hard shot/ 1 oz loads of hard shot ... to the 1 1/8 oz of hard shot in #8 or #7.5.( my old standard superlight 2 3/4 dr 1150 fps skeet load) . Doves get onery or start laughing...I use the old classic pigeon load that stops that right quick...even from a cyl bore 870 Police trade in with 20" bbls. ;)

Not a good thing to be a "tweaker" whole different meaning now-a-days :D
I spent a lot of time tweaking loads and shooting pattern boards and a "moving pattern board". Not quite the Brister station wagon dealie...did get some real questions about my sanity tho'. :p

Adapt, Improvise, Overcome
It ain't cheatin' if it works - it's ingenuity

January 31, 2004, 09:52 AM
You seem to bring the memories flooding back. Don't get me wrong, sitting around the fire in deer camp, sharing a brandy and dreams with your closest friends, is a special thing indeed. But when I was still hunting nothing got me out of bed quicker than the thought of of a covey of quail busting in front of Myka, my little brittany. She wasn't the best, I had adopted her from an elderly friend who had passed away, so her training started late, but a more spirited dog has never lived. The family place had an abundance of quail, and dad had a hatred for coyotes that kept predators down to a minimum. My weapon of choice has never changed, a handed down 12g 311 with 1 1/8oz of 7 1/2 shot powered with reddot powder. Same load I loaded 20 years ago, same load I loaded last weekend. My love for upland hunting is so bad that I actually got caught hunting quail out of season a few years ago. The look on the ranger's face was priceless when he found out the gun was loaded with snap caps and I didn't have a real shell on my body. He told me he always thought I was crazy, now he had proof.

Thanks once again Dave. The wife is gone taking her CCW class, it's too cold outside to finish up my projects, and I was wondering what I was going to do today. Now it appears I have a shotgun to clean and a photo album to go thru.:)

Dave McCracken
January 31, 2004, 02:16 PM
Maybe we're crazy, but it's a fine and gentle madness indeed.

sm, we agree. Choice of tool is secondary. Just go hunting.

John, you're welcome. The book gets closer all the time.

January 31, 2004, 02:55 PM
Thanks again Dave!
I like to see the feathered game. I can fill the freezer faster with a couple fat midwestern whitetails but it's birds I live for. Its the reason I train and feed a dog (or dogs) all year, and its the reason I shoot skeet, the reason I plant habitat and food plots. It was -12degreesF here last night and I just got back from a 4x4 drive around the prairie checking the bird tracks in the snow.
I like and respect the gentleman quail. I've shot a few grouse and partridge. But I declared WAR on the baudy Rooster Pheasant 35 years ago and its those big, beautiful, cocky chinese chickens that get me going.
I grew up with one shotgun for everything. An Ithica mod 37 deluxe 20g. Only shotgun I owned until I graduated from college and bought a Browning 12g SxS with 26" barrels. A bit on the heavy side but balanced exactly below the chambers. First time I picked it up and shouldered it I knew it was a rooster killing machine. It is. If I had all the feathered game that shotgun has terminated in a pile in front of us, it would embarrass me.
For years, I had a golden retriever from real good breeding. Back then we hunted just him and me and he had pheasants figured out. O'l Buckskin hunted like a combination pointer, cattle dog, and retriever. Buck was smart enough and flexible enough to adapt to whatever gameplan those roosters decided to run and if they wouldn't set 'till I got there, he would circle out and ring 'em in like a border collie on rangy livestock. If they sat he slowed down and worked 'em nice and easy and close. When they were down he brought 'em in without a toothmark. He was blind, mostly deaf and thoroughly old when he flushed his last pheasant from a fencerow right behind the house. I had to lead him over to where the bird dropped but he picked up the scent and made the retrieve like he was delivering the crown jewels to the queen herself. Ol' Buck is buried by that fencerow under a patch of switchgrass, bluestem, and wildflowers.
Atleast I still have the 37 and the Browning, and a little female black lab "Maggie" that ain't half bad.
My choice for pheasant medicine is the fiocci Golden Pheasant nickel plated #5.... After all... it is war.

January 31, 2004, 05:42 PM
You know, an old Stevens 12 ga with 20-24inch barrels and modified/full is just about the bees knees for upland birds. Haven't seen a "real" (as in not a new Russian import) Stevens for sale in a long time. Always wanted one for that purpose, as opposed to cowboy shooting.

No matter what you use, the joy of upland hunting is working with your dog. I've used an 870 for most hunts, but I've also carried a Pedersoli BP double.

The FIRST Ruger red label I ever saw was in the hands of a crusty old cowboy out shooting sage hens. That gun positively shined, the cowboy and his dog were no slouches either.

January 31, 2004, 07:06 PM
sm - Since I use a piece of 550 cord instead of a length of rawhide... that must make me "tactical", right? ;)

M Jager
January 31, 2004, 07:10 PM
Right on on the dogs, I love my golden, although I have treked many miles minus a dog. I tend to prefer longer barrels in the 26-28 range for pheasants and its hard to beat a good load of number five shot. I geuss my favorite choke is modified but I've used I.C. and full.
Never had the pleasure of hunting doves- IA sucks in that regard. I have shot lots and lots of pigeons and 7.5s work well in that regard.

Dave McCracken
January 31, 2004, 09:03 PM
Kingcreek, the tragedy is that dogs do not live as long as we. But in the few years they're around, they improve our lot by just being there. And when they leave way too early, they take a piece of our hearts.

A hunting dog, a hunter and a shotgun are the other Holy Trinity.

"Men who cannot always recall their first ex wife's name will speak through tears in broken voices of dogs dead 20 years"- John Gierach....

And ringneck fanatics are a special breed. Men with tattered brush pants and greenbriar scars will set all else aside when November comes to chase Technicolor chickens across two counties. They count trophies by the length of the tail and the volume of perspiration shed.

Dr Rob, the dog work is what keeps folks going sometimes.

Matt, doves are fun also. A good reality check, every time I think I've got a handle on wingshooting, feathered, cooing bullets administer a comeuppance.

There's a couple long held regrets I have. One is I never inherited Pop's gift with dogs, and the other is that there's so little wild ringnecks and quail around here now. Been too long since I heard a rooster cackle-boast or a bob white whistle that music.

January 31, 2004, 09:32 PM
Haven't had the pleasure of chasing a dog after Panhandle pheasants in quite awhile. I have an Australian Shepherd that oddly enough works as a retriever for Dove and Quail. Won't point though. :D

Working behind a good dog on "Whites" or watching some short hairs flush a circle on "Blues" is a sight. Sad to say Quail's hey-day here is long past. Coveys are rare. Nobody wants to shoot any, have to go west to do any Upland hunting these days.

I prefer the doubles, either configuration. A good double just feels right. I carry autos on occasion when I feel like wasting that third round....usually throw it just for spite.

I have had the good fortune to hunt with some very masterful shooters on occasion. And been privvy to hunt behind their dogs. When the day comes that I can shoot as well, train a dog as good, and be as kind, giving, and as hospitable as most of these have been to me. It will be a good day.


January 31, 2004, 09:44 PM
TR - I don't consider 550 cord that "T" word...I call it Practical. 55O is good stuff and reminds me, I need some more myself.

Leather to me is sentimental and practical.

:( No Pheasants here...never been, never experienced that pc of heaven...someday I have to experience that - just gotta.

Dogs: I better not go there , do have friends with various hunting dogs, and I'm like an adopted uncle to them.

I miss a certain dog really bad - better stop right there.

February 1, 2004, 05:47 AM
"Labgrade, you know my feelings on 870s. However, there's lots to be said for something like that little SxS. It boils down to personal choice.

Total agreement, sir.

"I miss a certain dog really bad - better stop right there."

I've still some ashes in a box that I've yet to find the heart to spread in all those places he & I went together ..... (sniff) Spook, my black Lab, once flushed a single quail out of some snow cover/smallish brush - & caught the thing in his mouth! Flush/snap! that quick.

I'm thinkin' what a great conservation tool - catching a wounded bird - yada. Who knew at the time that there wasn't a single thing wrong with that bird - or the other 2 dozen hidden in the snow/low brush.

Bending over to praise Spook & retreive the bird, the covey starts erupting between my feet! couple at a time.

Being the great hunter I am :rolleyes: , I stand, point, shoot, shoot, reload, another 2-3 birds erupt at my feet, I point, shoot, shoot, reload .... it went on for 2-3 weeks seemingly.

Now I"ve had close-flushing birds, holdinh way tight before, but these were literally flying out of my socks! :D

I think I fired over 11 rounds - got two birds though. Maybe I got somewhat flustered.

Spook got one - without firing a single shot.

Dave McCracken
February 1, 2004, 09:20 AM
Smoke, Amen to your last paragraph. Heroes have never been hard to find, and role models of worth.

sm, I better not go there either.

Labgrade, had a ringneck launch so close I felt his wings. Talk about adrenaline....

Brian Dale
February 1, 2004, 11:42 AM
Talk about adrenaline....Yup, even when I've been expecting it and hoping for it, I jump when a rooster explodes skyward from in front of my feet; I'll take all of that I can get. I'd like it if they flew more and ran less, but we tend to shoot the ones that fly early, and genetics works in birds just the way it does in dogs and horses.

I grew into shooter-hood with the Remington Model 11 that my Granddad gave me. It was his, bought used, and was built in 1915 out of slightly less steel than a Sherman tank. It wears a 24" barrel with a Poly-choke — remember those? I've got other repeaters that get more use nowadays, and some day I'll add a light, pretty double, but if anybody'd ever suggested that the Model 11 was the "wrong gun" for upland hunting, I'd have just laughed. Dad grew up in goose country. I suppose that I'm the black sheep in a goose-hunting family, but they forgive me since Mr. Pheasant is my favorite bird. After 60 years of secondary duty on pheasant and quail (geese were primary), it's continued in my hands for almost 30 more years on pheasant and quail, doves, chukars and Huns, sage grouse, ruffed grouse, bunnies, woodcock, other species I'm forgetting, and some more ducks. Clays too, of course.

It is a lot of gun to carry for miles in the field, but it was so much better than the borrowed .410 that I'd used for my first hunting season that it shortly became my most treasured possession. In fact, as "Granddad's gun" and my first gun, it's still right up there near the top.

And Sam The Hunting Dog, who was a scared, abandoned blue-merle pup last spring (cattledog mix?), seems to be coming along marvelously.

February 1, 2004, 12:20 PM
Talk about adrenaline....
As you most of you know I helped raise my younger sibs. There is a "baby brother" despite the fact he is bigger than I now. Before the family went they way did...

I had invited 'little" brother and his friend to dove hunt with me and a friend. bought him a new 870, sent him to a Hunter Safety course...and I gave my usual safety dealie and instructions for hunting. I had taken over the "dad" role so many years ago. I played it like an eldest brother...his first time dove hunting...we had quail back all those years ago.

Yeah here it comes, you guys know what happened.:D

Guns are unloaded as we walk out to where we plan to hunt, it is legal shooting time, though not 'sunrise" as he called it. Understand he was spending a lot of time at church activities, still a kid living with mom and I was on my own. Naive' perhaps and "well mannered".

I'm leading the four of us - brother behind, his friend ( green as could be as well) and my buddy bringing up the rear.

Hedgerow and all of a sudden a covey of quail exploded...I toss a shell into my 870 as does my buddy and slide the forend home, pick a bird and BANG! We each did this and got a quail...

This feat was completed despite the fact my brother used language his momma wouldn't approve of and the two of them stepping and fetching and - oh my- the language. :D

"What the hell was that ?" Bro asked with flushed face
*grin* Quail I replied
"Your are supposed to try and shoot them , after all that racket,and pee running down your leg?" He asked.
*laughing* Yep, that's the general idea

So we retrieve our quail and let the boys see these beautiful birds. "That made all THAT racket?" Yep

"Oh please tell me Doves don't do that...quit laughing and answer me..."

Well got that right of passage out of the way early on for them...:D

February 1, 2004, 03:01 PM
Did someone here mention pheasants?


This is my oldest boy, from earlier this season. I took him out for an afternoon, and we mostly walked and talked about everything from safety and pheasant hunting to his friends in kindergarten. Although getting the bird was nice, his favorite part of the day was stumbling across an pile of junk at the bottom of a ravine. You just can't beat a day in the field with your son and your dog. If only my dad were still around to have gone with... <sigh>.

I'm planning on teaching him to shoot a .22 rifle this summer. Right now, we're working on the Four Rules and range safety. He's learning quickly and shows the right attitude, which makes me feel pretty darned proud. That 1930 16ga A-5 is just waiting for him, although I'm making sure to keep it warm in the meantime. :D

Dave McCracken
February 1, 2004, 03:18 PM
Happy Bob, family guns are special. If naught else, one should be exercised periodically just because. That 11 sounds just like a family gun I had, Kin has it now.

sm, good on ya.

TR, thanks for making my day. And, I note the ear protection and shooting glasses. Kudos!!

February 1, 2004, 05:29 PM

great photo, I look forward to the day when I first take my daughter (and in a couple of years) and son out on their first bird hunt. Then you've got a huntin' bud for life.

February 1, 2004, 06:00 PM
I always enjoy re-discovering this place. As a SG fan who has never hunted but still enjoys nothing more than the mountains & woods, is a sling not on the menu for an upland gun? My bride's 1100 Special Field has no sling provisions and I thought its purpose was as an upland gun. She does slay her share of clays with it though.
Nice post Dave.
Good to be back,

February 1, 2004, 06:20 PM
9mmMike - At least for me, the only time I will use a sling (the aforementioned piece of 550 cord) is when I'm in a "transport" mode. For example, a long walk back to the truck after limiting out, or crossing some terrain where two hands are a definite advantage (after making sure that the gun is unloaded).

Aside from situations like that, you want to be ready to shoot almost all of the time. Once, I've had a rooster come up while I had a shotgun slung over my shoulder. Surprised the heck out of me... enough that I flubbed the safety and he was somewhere in the next county by the time I was ready to shoot. BTW, I'm sure many of you have noticed how much a pheasant's cackle sounds like laughing.

Mostly, I try to maintain either port-arms or something pretty close all the time. Besides, in much of the heavy cover I find myself hunting, a sling is just an extra branch/corn/grass catcher. The beauty of the 550 cord (or rawhide) is that it's very light and only takes a second to slip over the muzzle and tie on the grip. It's also useful for roughly 10,000+ other things.

Dave McCracken
February 1, 2004, 07:11 PM
Good to see you, Mike. Welcome back.

A sling here is for carrying when one needs one's hands. Steep slopes,after the limit's reached. or on those occasions when one carries out a dog with more heart than leg. When hunting, it's off the shotgun.

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