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Has anyone on here hunted upland birds with steel shot? Have you had good results using steel shot - does it bring the birds down? What would be the best size steel shot for hunting ruffed grouse and pheasent?
 

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Has anyone on here hunted upland birds with steel shot? Have you had good results using steel shot - does it bring the birds down? What would be the best size steel shot for hunting ruffed grouse and pheasent?
My first question would be, why would you want to hunt with steel shot?
MG
 

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When using steel on pheasants, it is best to go with loads that contain #2 or #3 steel pellets. Steel shot lethality research conducted on pheasants by Tom Roster showed #2 steel to be more effective (at all ranges) than either #6 or #4 steel. Yes, #4 or #6 steel loads will kill'em too, but a little extra pellet energy is a good thing on wild pheasants where shots are often taken at longer going-away angles. The research also showed #2 steel resulted in fewer cripples than both #6 and #4 steel; and Roster speculated that the #3 steel pellet would be a good compromise between pellet count and downrange energy.

Here are a few of my pattern numbers to give you an idea of how some #2 steel loads perform in my gun/chokes!

Patterning results from a 12-gauge Browning Citori with 28" Invector-plus barrels using Briley flush chokes (patterns average of five, 30" post-shot scribed circle, yardage taped muzzle to target, and in-shell pellet count average of five).

12 GA 2 3/4" REMINGTON SPORTSMAN HI-SPEED STEEL LOAD
1 1/8 oz #2 steel (139 pellets) @ 1375 fps
30 YARDS – SK / pattern 116 (83%)
30 YARDS – IC / pattern 129 (93%)
40 YARDS – IC / pattern 111 (80%)
40 YARDS – LM / pattern 114 (82%)
40 YARDS – M / pattern 114 (82%)
50 YARDS – LF / pattern 100 (72%)
50 YARDS – F / pattern 106 (76%)

As you can see, there wasn't much difference between the IC, LM and M chokes with this steel load at 40 yards!

Here's a link to an article about Roster's research.

Hunting Forum & Fishing Forum • Steel Shot for Pheasants : Pheasant Hunting (nodakoutdoors.com)

Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
When using steel on pheasants, it is best to go with loads that contain #2 or #3 steel pellets. Steel shot lethality research conducted on pheasants by Tom Roster showed #2 steel to be more effective (at all ranges) than either #6 or #4 steel. Yes, #4 or #6 steel loads will kill'em too, but a little extra pellet energy is a good thing on wild pheasants where shots are often taken at longer going-away angles. The research also showed #2 steel resulted in fewer cripples than both #6 and #4 steel; and Roster speculated that the #3 steel pellet would be a good compromise between pellet count and downrange energy.

Here are a few of my pattern numbers to give you an idea of how some #2 steel loads perform in my gun/chokes!

Patterning results from a 12-gauge Browning Citori with 28" Invector-plus barrels using Briley flush chokes (patterns average of five, 30" post-shot scribed circle, yardage taped muzzle to target, and in-shell pellet count average of five).

12 GA 2 3/4" REMINGTON SPORTSMAN HI-SPEED STEEL LOAD
1 1/8 oz #2 steel (139 pellets) @ 1375 fps
30 YARDS – SK / pattern 116 (83%)
30 YARDS – IC / pattern 129 (93%)
40 YARDS – IC / pattern 111 (80%)
40 YARDS – LM / pattern 114 (82%)
40 YARDS – M / pattern 114 (82%)
50 YARDS – LF / pattern 100 (72%)
50 YARDS – F / pattern 106 (76%)

As you can see, there wasn't much difference between the IC, LM and M chokes with this steel load at 40 yards!

Here's a link to an article about Roster's research.

Hunting Forum & Fishing Forum • Steel Shot for Pheasants : Pheasant Hunting (nodakoutdoors.com)

Good luck!
Great info!! thanks!!
 

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Every once in a while I get invited to go to Wodmont Lodge in western Maryland. It is the former presidential retreat prior to Camp David.
The place only allows break action guns and requires steel shot. It is heavily stocked with pheasants and chukars. The lodge is 11,000 square feet and is used for weddings and parties when in Spring, Summer and early Fall when hunting is not allowed. They probably don't want any more lead contamination than they have already.
I didn't ask, but the reason for break action guns might be that empty shells are not scattered everywhere. They gave us #3 steel to use and we had to use their ammo.
 

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Fortunately today there are several alternatives for non-toxic shot that perform better than steel. Some approach the density of lead, some closely equal and some exceed. Density = weight which = downrange energy of the pellet on impact. Grouse usually don't take much to bring down but wild pheasant specially late in the year can be tough to bring down and sometimes even harder to kill.
 

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Fortunately today there are several alternatives for non-toxic shot that perform better than steel. Some approach the density of lead, some closely equal and some exceed. Density = weight which = downrange energy of the pellet on impact. Grouse usually don't take much to bring down but wild pheasant specially late in the year can be tough to bring down and sometimes even harder to kill.
Agreed but costly. Nothing like a healthy load of lead 4's or 5's to get the job done.
 

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Since I don't own a shotgun that takes steel shot, I used to use Bismuth shot for ducks and geese. Here in Texas, you can use lead for any non-migratory birds.
 
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