Pheasant Shotgun Shell Review
When choosing Shotgun Shells for Pheasants, there are many factors to consider. The biggest factor in my opinion is what gauge will you be using. I usually hunt with a 12 gauge, though I grew up hunting with a 20 gauge. A couple guys I hunt with a lot use a 28 gauge. The second most important factor is choke tube choice and barrel length. I firmly believed you need modified for most of the season, then full for late season or when the wind is really blowing. The longer I have hunted I have realized that improved cylinder is really the way to go for most, if not all of the season. Even when birds are getting up 20-25 yards out, my 12 gauge or 20 gauge with an improved cylinder choke is taking more birds than I was with a modified. The last really big factor for me is price. I find it really hard to spend more than $15 a box for shells unless I have really seen the difference those shells can have. I hunted with a guy that was all about having the best shells he could. He would bring Federal Premium Copper Plated 3 ½” Turkey Loads that were around $18 a box for 10 shells.With that all said, let’s get to some shells I have used and go over them.
Fiocchi Golden Pheasant:
I really like these and have been using these shells for many years. I have used both 12 gauge and 20 gauge in 3” number 4’s and number 5’s. They are an excellent long range third shell. I have taken birds at 50+ yards with these multiple times. The recoil from them is noticeable, especially when your shotgun is not probably position to the shoulder. I have taken birds with just one or two of the nickel plated pellets in the breast, head, or neck. They penetrate really well. These are some of the pricier shells I shoot, but they have proven to me time and time again they are worth a couple extra bucks per box for an excellent third shell. I would highly record these shells to any hunter looking for a new or better pheasant load.
Herter’s Select Field Pheasant:
For 2 seasons I have been trying these loads in the 2 ¾” number 4’s. They are a great bargain. They have decent knockdown power at short to medium range. Velocity is a little lower than shells I usually shoot, so I had a lot of trouble at first leading the proper distance. Leads need to be about 20-30% longer than shells with 1400+ fps velocity. There are better options out there, but for a short range load, the price make these an excellent choice for most hunters.
Federal Premium Prairie Storm:
With all the hype around these when they came out, I was really excited to try them out that fall. So I bought a case and used them for my second and third shot during opening weekend. By the end of Saturday, I had missed many birds I felt I should have hit. 2 other members of my hunting party were using these as well, with little luck. By lunch Sunday I had taken all of these out of my vest after missed shot after missed shot. I have gone back to them a couple times to see if it was just a bad shooting weekend, and I had the same results on 4 different days. Missing birds, and unable to kill birds that were hit. I would recommend asking a buddy if they have a box that you can borrow a few shells from before going out and buying a box or case of your own.
Kent Fast Lead with Diamond Shot:
Currently these are my first and second shot. I really like the 2 ¾” # 5’s. These shells have excellent knockdown power at all ranges. High enough velocity that you do not have to have extra long leads. The shells have low recoil. At around $15 a box these shells are very reasonable. I have used these shells for 3 seasons now and plan on continuing to use them this season. I would highly recommend these to anyone looking to get into pheasant hunting.
-Tim Berges, Fall Obsession Field Staff