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Originally Posted by Buzz
Larry, Have you ever seen a woodcock fly off like a grouse? I sure have…flew like rockets and even made a similar explosive like noise typical of grouse. I’ve often wondered if the slow one’s are the birds which are exhausted after their long haul migration….and the fast ones are the well rested. I think so.

Buzz, living where I do (northern Wisconsin), we have a pretty fair population of local birds. I've certainly seen flight birds that you almost had to nudge with your boot to get them airborne. But I'm not sure I've ever seen a woodcock's flight I'd compare to a rocket. It makes sense that they do fly faster when they're in the open, like flying down a trail or something.

Comment on flight birds vs locals: I've seen several articles that tell us woodcock breed and raise their young a lot further south than we once thought. I hunted them in Iowa for about a decade before I ever headed north to hunt them. Back then, the season opened in mid-September. We always found woodcock on our opening day hunts in northern Iowa. Pretty obvious that they wouldn't have been flight birds that early in the fall. And it turns out that some woodcock nest a good bit further south than Iowa.

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Originally Posted by liverwort
Oh, and by the way, this might not apply here but when someone starts talking loads I always want to know the gauge, shot weight, shot size, and choke. Like when someone says "cylinder choke is the best all-around choke with modern ammunition".

That's a good point. I'd say 9's are fine through a gun with no choke if you're shooting at least 7/8 oz loads. I had a nice little 20ga Sauer from the 30's that I had opened to C/IC. Worked quite well with standard 20ga skeet loads both when shooting skeet and when hunting woodcock. If you're shooting a 28ga and standard skeet loads, you might want at least a little choke.

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Larry I think he said cylinder choke was the best all around choke with modern ammunition.

Bottom line....

Only a total moron would shoot #9 sized shot or smaller at wild game.

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If a woodcock is shot at 15 or 20 yards there is not one that could fly through the pattern of a cylinder bore gun using 7/8 or 1 ounce of 7 or 7 1/2. But the larger shot might make a mess if the pattern was centered. Maybe that is the reason puny 9’s are commonly used—less damage to the bird. Can’t think of another reason. (Oh, I’ve never even seen a woodcock, so guess I’m an armchair expert).


If we feed our faith our fears will starve, if we feed our fears our faith will starve.
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Originally Posted by Stanton Hillis
Thanks for the responses so far, but no one seems to have addressed my experiences with 9s staying in the bird much more than 8s or 7 1/2s.

I am unsure if one size shot is more likely than another to stay in the bird. I do think that given the same weight of load, say 1oz, there are more 9’s than the larger shot and all other things being equal you get more 9’s in a bird than other shot. It might be more than just size as larger shot might pass though. I am not sure how much pass through penetration there would be. I would agree that larger shot penetrates more.

Ultimately if your find is happy with his load and it works for him, then that is enough.


Michael Dittamo
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Joe, you're absolutely right about a woodcock not being able to get through a pattern of 7 1/2s at 15-20 yards and, it's just my personal preference but, I'd rather have a tad more "meat damage" than bite a pellet. I get on a quail pretty quick occasionally, and you would think I'd center one in the pattern eventually. I've never had to throw a quail away from meat damage, shot with 8s out of a skeet choke. Not in years and years.


Size is the reason larger shot are more likely to pass through, Michael. Increased size means increased mass and amounts to increased momentum. Increased momentum means a higher likelihood of a shot passing through, all else being equal.


"With one foot in the grave ..........and one foot on the pedal, I was born a Rebel" T.P.
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Originally Posted by Stanton Hillis
Size is the reason larger shot are more likely to pass through, Michael. Increased size means increased mass and amounts to increased momentum. Increased momentum means a higher likelihood of a shot passing through, all else being equal.

Stan, you shouldn't have to say that. Some things are so rudimentary and obvious that they shouldn't have to be pointed out. But here we are...

I have often found even # 6 or # 5 shot embedded in the meat of pheasants, especially when shot from the rear at greater ranges. But I rarely bit into any, because the wound channel is evident and it is easy to find the pellet. But it is still prudent to chew gently on any bird killed with a shotgun, and especially game cleaned by someone else.

I haven't used # 9 shot for years, and never on game. I think it stands to reason that the low mass and greater pellet count per ounce is going to dramatically increase the odds of finding shot in your meat. I recall that i#9's seemed more likely to merely chip clay targets without breaking them than larger shot, but really smoked them with a good center hit at close range. I suppose it would be great on starlings or grackles at relatively close range.

That X-ray of the shot pellet embedded in your gum was impressive. A few inches higher and you could have been permanently blinded. If someone did that to me, I can't imagine not calmly walking over and knocking him out.


A true sign of mental illness is any gun owner who would vote for an Anti-Gunner like Joe Biden.

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I can recall one woodcock I shot that had very severe meat damage. It was an unusual incoming shot. Brain fart on my part. I shot it like a Station 8 at skeet rather than pivoting and shooting it going away. As best I can recall, I was using 7/8 oz of 8 1/2's in a gun choked somewhere between cylinder and skeet. Unlike a lot of hunters, I really enjoy the taste of woodcock. That one wasn't a total loss. I was able to salvage one side of the breast.

I also recall one bobwhite victim where my Brittany had difficulty deciding which piece to pick up. He finally decided on a wing. That one was shot with 7/8 oz 8's at close range . . . but through a modified choke.

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I had a similar experience with a friend’s dog when I shot a young rabbit too far back with a .22 Hornet.

The dog, a 3/4 Labrador 1/4 Collie, was usually very efficient but my friend’s puzzlement he seem to be spending quite a while fiddling around.

He eventually came back with a disgusted look on his face preceded by a fan of rabbit legs that he was gingerly holding by the paws with the sticky bits as far as possible from his muzzle!

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Huummm- the late Bert Popowski, Dean of crow shooters in a by-gone era- used 12 gauge No. 9 skeet loads in his Ithaca M37 with a modified choked barrel-- Of course, we are not shooting crows for the table, neither barn pigeons or other trash birds, and as he so wisely pointed out, 90% of the target area on a crow is the wings, they have slight body mass-- I once found a close out sale on a flat (10 boxes) of 12 ga. AA No. 9 skeet loads (about 10 years ago) and used them with great success on crows and barn pigeons. RWTF


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