The Big Payoff
If you have done everything else right, shots will be close, straight on, and easy. “I typically don’t shoot until ducks are fully committed and as close as I think they’re going to get,” says Goodpaster, who shoots 12-gauge 3-inch Winchester Supreme steel 2s. “Then I rise up and take the time to smoothly make the shot. I think a lot of hunters panic at ‘show time.’ Many hunters would shoot better if they didn’t rush their shots.”
Swineford, who advises his hunters to focus on an incoming bird’s head instead of its body, shoots 12 gauge 2 3/4 inch Hevi-Shot 5s on both ducks and geese. “This combination is very effective if you’re shooting the head and neck area of either bird at 25 yards,” he says.
Swineford believes another benefit of getting birds in close before shooting is a reduction in crippling losses. “This is a good conservation tool,” he says. “Plus, you don’t lose a lot of hunting time chasing cripples. This allows you to move out of the hunting area sooner, which cuts down on the disturbance factor.”
“It’s a lot easier to be a good shotgunner on birds at 25 yards than at 50 yards,” Goodpaster agrees. “So, if you find where the birds want to be, hide well, put out a realistic spread, don’t move, and shoot straight, you’ll get your share of birds. And by waiting for close shots, you’ll have more fun and satisfaction in the process.”