Well, here we are again. It is the most anticipated week of the year for duck hunters in Northeast LA. We are on the cusp of yet another season and anticipation is high due to the early cold fronts. As we begin to get all of our gear ready, it is important to not forget about arguably the most important piece of equipment….your shotgun.
Knowing your weapon inside and out is key to being a successful hunter. This does not just mean how it works and all moving parts. How does your gun handle certain loads? Which choke does it like? Is you barrel still straight or has all of the rough rides in and out torqued it a little? The easiest way to determine all of these things is to pattern your gun. It is something I do each and every year before season.
Now granted, we are charged with shooting the newest guns with the newest shells and the newest choke tube systems made by our partners so that really ramps up the need for us to do so but it is also good practice for the weekend hunter.
Here is how I go about patterning my weapon:
1. Place a target 25 yards away. I choose 25 yards because that is the farthest I want my first shot to be when shooting ducks. 25 is a great distance for videoing ducks and showing you folks our hunts. If you regularly hunt in a field or pass shooting scenarios, you may want to stretch it to 35-40 yards.
2. I gather all of my Kick’s Chokes. I shoot IC through Full each and every year.
3. I gather the shells I want to use or test. This year I decided to pattern the new Hevi Shot Hevi Hammer and Hevi Bismuth.
4. I then select which guns I want to shoot. This year I chose both the Benelli Super Black Eagle 3 and the Benelli M2 20 gauge. I switch between guns all year long depending on hunting scenario. I also mix a 28 gauge in quite a bit.
5. I then shoot each load with each choke out of each gun and compare the results. Once I do this, I choose the best all around results.