Begin with a steel shot load that is two sizes bigger than your preferred lead load. If you hunt pheasants using No. 6 lead shot, switch to No. 4 steel shot for comparable results. The reason for this recommendation is that the flight of pheasants is very erratic and can take them far away from where they were released. If they fly low after taking off, they may have to travel long distances before finding food or water. The extra size of the steel will help them stay in close proximity to where they were released.
Six-pound test (0.9%) steel has been shown to remain effective after being hit by several birds, so it's best not to use up all your shots on one bird. But if you do happen to shoot one then release it as close as possible next time. Birds tend to follow certain roosting areas every night so giving them space will allow others to find food and avoid conflict.
The number beside each shell describes how much powder was used to fire it. Shells with more powder require stronger ignition sources such as blackpowder or smokeless powder. Use fewer shells when hunting pheasants because they don't fly as far or hold their position as long as ducks or geese. A maximum of six shells should be used in one shooting session out of concern for overloading shotgun shells.
The Popular Alternatives The majority of pheasant hunters prefer #4 to #6 lead shot fired via a modified or upgraded cylinder choke. For longer-term shooting, you can use heavier loads with expanded metal or plastic chokes.
There are many alternatives to traditional lead shot for pheasant hunting. In fact, over 90% of pheasants killed in North America are done so without lead shot at all! The three most popular non-lead options are steel shot, brass shot, and wood shot. Each has its advantages and disadvantages which we'll discuss further below.
Why Is Lead Shot So Effective? Lead is extremely lethal to birds because it is soft and pliable and will completely fill out their lungs upon impact. The lead shot also acts as a percussion cap on each shell, causing it to fire when it hits the ground after being thrown by your shotgun. Without this feature, shooting within the range of a pheasant would be very difficult if not impossible.
Lead is also cheap and easy to come by which is why it is used worldwide as a standard form of ammunition for small game such as pheasant and partridge.
Don't under-gun during pheasant hunting. Use a load of 1-1/4 ounces of #4 lead shot or 1-1/8 ounces of #2 steel shot. Make use of a dog. Without a dog, it might be difficult to locate crippled birds. But with a dog, you can easily find them.
Dog training is important when using a firearm to hunt game. Without a dog capable of pointing out prey, you would not be able to find animals such as deer and grouse. However, this does not mean that you should purchase a puppy and train it yourself - there are many good training facilities across the country where you can take your new hunter.
South Dakota law allows you to use lead shot in season if you want to. It is against the law to shoot a bird with silverware or zinc alloy ware but since these materials are used by most manufacturers to prevent corrosion and injury to your gun, they consider them acceptable substitutes. Of course, if you choose to use non-lead material, then you must use stainless steel or tungsten instead.
The use of lead ammunition is prohibited in North Carolina during dove season because down feathers are protected species. If found with lead on them, you could face a fine of up to $10,000 and six months in jail. Your best option is to not bring lead onto private property during dove season.