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minimum of weight and shot size #7 is required. Remember that shot sizes over #6 will carry a necessary distance. (Note: Plated shot is necessary for lethal game loads. Unplated shot is not effective on live birds.)

Force Two: The weather is getting colder with a slight wind is blowing. The birds have been previously hunted. The cover is rough and the dogs are working farther ahead. The birds are getting up at a longer range so you must extend your load's lethal range. You can use the same type of loads as with force one but switch to a modified choke. The two-barrel option of Improved Cylinder and Modified is a great pheasant one-two punch classic. You can still use 12 through 28 gauge successfully.

Force Three: Winds may be gusty at times and the temperature is dropping. The cover in some places separates the hunters. The dogs hunt selectively and the birds are not holding. Fields have spotty cover. Shots are mid to long range. Use large #6 plated shot and tighter chokes, especially with pheasant. The going is getting tough. The 28 gauge should not be used and the 20 gauge may be at its limit.

Force Four: Chilly weather with blustery winds. Cover is thin and rough. The birds are not holding. Long range. Nothing less than a 16 gauge and medium weight loads for the 12 gauge. Use plated #6 driven hard with medium-rate (cold compatible) powders such as HS6, SR-7625 or PB. In strong winds you can move up to #5 plated shot.

Force Five: Biting cold weather with strong winds. Pheasants are strong, few and running. Ground is frozen and the dogs are not staying close. The birds are tough. Use a #5 plated shot in a heavy 1-3/8 ounce load to get good ignition and full combustion of the powder charge. We have converted the old hard-driving lead duck loads in this weather. Use a large gauge shotgun with longer barrels for proper burn. Maybe time to give up…but it's hunting, so we stay out knowing our better loads will do the job!

How to take the birds:

Woodcock is about the smallest and tightest to flush. The woodcock is usually found in very tough cover. A lightweight double is needed for a fast swing (and a crazy dog that likes thickets). Use a spreader for the first shot and a fast, longer-range load (1 ounce 1300 fps) for the second.

Chukar has been planted in some areas and can typically be found around the top rim of canyons. They can be taken with modest loads as they fly unpredictably and low. They are not tough birds; even the .410 bore can take a chukar. A small bore 28 gauge 3/4 ounce load around 1250 fps will properly take these birds. This type of load is also great in hot weather.

The dove is small but his flight is stunning, laced with small, darting movements both near and far. To take dove, a hunter has to put together a rather speedy load such as 12 gauge, 1-1/16 ounce, 1360 fps with 7-1/2 plated shot. More velocity is better for this tough little bird. We are very fond of PB powder for delivering hard-driving, long-range loads with fine shot.

Grouse are usually found near the tree line of clear-cut areas. In the early morning, the grouse will venture out into the clear area to eat berries. But, by midmorning they'll most likely be along the edges, where food is still abundant but cover is but a few wing beats away. When flushed, unless stupid-drunk on berries, they'll most often head back toward the woods. Use light shot loads and a spreader device such as a Brush Wad with the X-Stream insert loaded with 1-1/8 ounce of plated shot. Hunt very far apart from other people and always wear protective eyewear to protect from pellets bouncing off trees.

Good loads for pheasant hunting need to be subcategorized for early season or late season. The pheasant seems to learn on the second day of the season to run at the slam of a car door. The smart hunter needs a one-two punch of a

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