Grouse Hunting - What shot?

Discussion of the Remington 870 for hunting.
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Scorpion8
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Grouse Hunting - What shot?

Post by Scorpion8 » Mon Dec 11, 2017 10:36 pm

I plan on using my new-to-me 870 12-ga for grouse hunting this spring. I've read a lot of contrasting opinions on recommended shot size. Some folks prefer #6 shot even for squirrels and rabbits over #7-1/2 or #8. Yet I'm thinking a grouse is a pretty light-body-mass bird. So it seems that #7-1/2 shot would be fine, and #6 might be overkill. But the contrasting opinion says #6 shot guarantees better penetration. Should be the same as pigeon, I'm thinking. I'm kind of swayed to #7-1/2 or #8 shot, light game loads.

Would prefer to hear some stories, thoughts, opinions, or anecdotal replies. Thanks.
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Re: Grouse Hunting - What shot?

Post by John A. » Tue Dec 12, 2017 1:05 am

7 1/2 to 9 shot are proven performers for grouse. Nothing really wrong with 6 shot either and I've killed plenty of them with it, but the smaller pellets give you a little denser field for them to fly through. I don't really like shooting super long ranges with the tiny stuff though.

I used to hunt them a lot until we got over-run with coyotes and they've decimated the grouse population so badly here, that we stopped hunting them :cry:

Whichever shot that you use, I still recommend buying a box of each and patterning it in your gun to see if one shot size patterns better than another through your gun. Ultimately, whichever your gun likes best is what you should use, regardless of what is recommended on the internet ;)
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Re: Grouse Hunting - What shot?

Post by Scorpion8 » Tue Dec 12, 2017 4:40 pm

Thanks, will do re: patterning.

Also, as regard ptarmigan, same issue. #7-1/2 to #8 shot? Or 22LR?
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John A.
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Re: Grouse Hunting - What shot?

Post by John A. » Tue Dec 12, 2017 6:19 pm

Never hunted them so I can't answer that question.
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Re: Grouse Hunting - What shot?

Post by Synchronizor » Sat Dec 16, 2017 8:15 am

Never hunted grouse myself, but I've heard folks recommend #9 - #6 shot depending on the situation, as mentioned above. Smaller sizes get you a denser pattern with less range and per-pellet energy, and from what I've read, grouse tend to be close-flushing birds that are relatively fragile. On the other hand, the larger sizes give up a bit of pattern population in exchange for more range & energy, and would undoubtedly be the better choice if the shots are longer. The little #9 & #8 pellets really do lose a lot of energy in flight since their sectional density is so terrible, and they're not all that powerful to begin with. A #9 pellet starts out with about half the energy of a #6 pellet at the same velocity, and then about half of that is gone within the first 20 yards.

If you know what ranges you're looking at, you can probably make a shot size decision based off that, and find a shell & choke that give you an appropriate pattern. If not, 7 or 7 1/2 could be a middle-of-the-road compromise; or you could pattern-test both closer-range and longer-range loads, and bring both (along with appropriate chokes for each) on the hunt.

One option if you do need or want the bigger pellets is to use heavier shells with a greater total weight of shot to bring the pellet count back up. There will be a trade-off in recoil, though. To match the number of pellets in a 1-ounce #8 shot load, for example, you'd want to look for a 3" magnum, 1 7/8-ounce #6 shell. That's probably about 3.5 times the recoil at the same muzzle velocity. But something like a 1 1/4 or 1 1/2-ounce load would still be an improvement without being so hard on your shoulder, or slowing down follow-up shots quite as much.

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Re: Grouse Hunting - What shot?

Post by couliewalker » Thu Jan 04, 2018 2:30 am

I hunt a lot of grouse,it is our number bird game bird in these parts.I've hunted them for 40 yrs.
Shoot 12 right down to 410.within 25 yds or so ( a long shot on grouse) there is no difference except it's easier to hit with a 12 than it is with a 410.however a hit grouse within that range is dead no matter which gun you use.They are not hard to kill.
1oz of 6 I think is best over smaller pellets.Especially on a flushed bird going away.You may have a better chance at breaking a wing with the smaller pellets only because their is more of em ,which even with a good dog you may lose it,but I find 6 kills better.A centred bird at normal grouse taking ranges with 7 1/2 or smaller even with cyl bore sustains more hits than my family likes,at the dinner table I mean.
Among the few local stores which sell ammo here # 6 outsells the smaller size shot.Truth be known #4 outsells all but only because most grouse here are head shot on the ground.
PS. I am talking ,Spruce Ruffed, Sharptail, and a smattering of Ptarmigan.

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Re: Grouse Hunting - What shot?

Post by Scorpion8 » Thu Jan 04, 2018 4:26 pm

couliewalker wrote:
Thu Jan 04, 2018 2:30 am
I hunt a lot of grouse,it is our number bird game bird in these parts.
Thanks. Sounds similar to my area except Sooty Grouse seem to predominate. Am looking forward to getting after a few this spring.
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Re: Grouse Hunting - What shot?

Post by couliewalker » Mon Jan 08, 2018 2:21 am

Are your sooty grouse as tame as our spruce grouse.
How do they taste?
Our Spruce are dark meat,in Sept early Oct when they are feeding on berries (blueberries) they are very good.
Once winter sets in and they eat pine needles they taste like a pine tree,but so do the ruffed at that time of year.

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Re: Grouse Hunting - What shot?

Post by Scorpion8 » Mon Jan 08, 2018 5:38 am

couliewalker wrote:
Mon Jan 08, 2018 2:21 am
Our Spruce are dark meat,in Sept early Oct when they are feeding on berries (blueberries) they are very good. Once winter sets in and they eat pine needles they taste like a pine tree,but so do the ruffed at that time of year.
Almost the same. I'm not sure tame is the word, but they will let you walk right by them since stealth is their best camo. The Sooty's used to be known as Blue's until a few years ago.
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Re: Grouse Hunting - What shot?

Post by efriedrich » Tue Jan 09, 2018 5:54 pm

My two cents on the topic, since predation, land management, ect. have decimated upland game bird populations in my neck of the woods and fields I scratch my wing shooting itch with crow hunting which is a frigging blast. I use 7.5 shot 1 1/8 weight 1200 fps Walmart special bs and crows are quite a bit bigger than grouse and usually pretty high up performing all sorts of acrobatics and it does just "ok" (I need practice also). Last time out I was using a #6 1 1/4 heavy field and it slammed the black buggers like a hammer. So, try both and see which one works best for your hunting.

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