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Banding Together for Waterfowl

Master Five Important Shots

These tips from expert wingshooters will help you master waterfowling's toughest shots
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  • Never rush your shot when a group of birds takes flight.
    photo by Mark Metcalf
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Story at a Glance

Some tips to master these five tough shots:
  1. The Crossing Shot
  2. The High Overhead
  3. The Flushing Shot
  4. The Dropping-in Shot
  5. Layout Shooting

3. The Flushing Shot

Rushing the shot is one reason hunters sometimes miss flushing birds. According to Woolley, shooters commonly experience a bit of panic on this shot because the bird is moving away from them. As a result, Woolley observes, hunters will often miss this shot because they mount their gun improperly. "To mount your gun correctly, the stock should hit your face first and then your shoulder," he explains. "When you try to get a gun up too quickly, you tend to hit your shoulder first. This makes you look back to find the gun, which breaks your focus on the target. It also makes you mount the gun too low on your shoulder. When this happens, your eye connects with the bird and you fire before you have time to get the gun and the bird aligned. So you nearly always miss low."

To curb this tendency to rush, Bowlen tells shooters to let their eyes start the process of pointing at a flushing bird. "The eyes [not the hands] need to lead the parade," he explains. "If you bring the gun to your shoulder first, before your eyes have made contact with the target, you are left with one option—to use a sort of aiming technique." And aiming, as opposed to pointing, usually produces a miss because it does not incorporate leading a moving target. Bowlen continues by suggesting that shooters should "take time to see the bird clearly enough to identify detail. If it's a mallard, try to see the green head on a drake."

Cherry also thinks that focusing on detail can help hunters avoid hurrying their shot on a flushing bird. "Try to see a color on the bird or anything that stands out to your eye," he advises. "That may take a full second, but there's a lot more time for this shot than you think."

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