If you’ve just started hunting small birds, you probably have a lot of questions about the activity. From choosing shotgun chokes to perfecting your stance, there are so many crucial factors that determine whether or not you succeed and today, we’re breaking down one of the most important ones: choosing shotgun chokes – which shotgun chokes are best for hunting small, fast and close birds?
The type of weapon you choose depends entirely on the prey you’re going out to hunt. This article assumes you’re hunting small and fast birds that are quite close to you. So the shotgun chokes mentioned here might not work for you if you’re hunting larger prey.
Before getting into the different types of chokes, let’s deal with the basics first. What are shotgun chokes and what are they used for?
What Are Shotgun Chokes?
Chokes are a tapered constriction of a gun barrel at the muzzle end. They’re mostly used on shotguns but can sometimes be seen on airguns, pistols, and rifles. This is unlikely though.
The average cartridge has 300 pellets so the width of your shot patterns determines how successful your shooting goes.
Shotgun chokes are used when hunting to improve performance. They shape the spread of the shot to increase accuracy and range. You choose a shotgun choke based on the size and range of your target. You should also consider whether the target is moving towards or further away from you.
When shooting game birds like shooting squirrels, you want a large and broad shot pattern. This will ensure that you hit multiple targets.
Best Shotgun Chokes For Hunting, Small Fast, Close Birds?
When you’re out hunting small fast close birds, the best shotgun chokes are Modified and Improved cylinder chokes.
Precision is the most important factor when hunting small birds that are close to you. Even if your aim is slightly inaccurate, you’ll miss the target. Both Modified and Improved Cylinder chokes provide fantastic precision and so are the best for hunting these types of birds.
The improved cylinder choke is the most open shotgun choke as it has very little restriction. The choke produces a broad shot pattern that allows your bullets to fan out rapidly at close ranges.
You can use these two shotgun chokes to hunt small birds easily at close range. Since you get a spread out pattern, there is a big chance of you shooting the target many times.
You should remember that if your shoot the birds too closely, you might end up destroying the meat on the birds. So keep a good distance. However, if you shoot from too far away, you might end up wounding your targets instead of killing them cleanly.
The best distance is one from where you can accurately and humanely shoot your target frequently. This can’t be too close or two far away from it.
In addition to shotgun chokes, you should also think about shotgun barrels when choosing a weapon. There are some big differences in the different types of shotgun barrels that determine what you should use each type for.
There are a few different distinctions you can make in shotgun barrels. The first is between smooth and rifled shotgun barrels.
Smooth shotgun barrels are meant to shoot shots. The pellets in a shotgun shell are called ‘shot.’ Rifled barrels have spiral cut grooves which are meant to spin the bullets.
The next distinction is on the basis of diameter. This determines the shotgun’s gauge. It is important because it determines the power and drive of your bullet. You want something strong enough to make an ethical kill, but not something super powerful or you’ll damage the meat.
As the gauge increases, the bore diameter decreases so you should use a larger gauge for a smaller bird. Generally, the gauge and the size of a target have an inversely proportional relationship.
Best Shotguns For Hunting, Small Fast, Close Birds
Now that you know which choke tubes are the best for hunting small birds and what the difference between a smooth bore barrel and rifled bore barrel is, we can move on to looking at the best shotguns in the market these days.
There are hundreds of options and choosing one can be quite difficult. To make your job easier, we’ve got a list of some of the best shotguns.
This model comes in 12, 20, 16, and 28 gauge models. It only weighs 6.75 pounds and comes in a highly polished blued metal, chrome plated bolt with three modified Rem-chokes, and excellent wood.
The Stevens 555 comes in 12, 20, and 28 gauges with interchangeable chokes. It’s a great budget-friendly option and weighs a little over 6 pounds.
This shotgun has a set of three Accu-chokes. They have IC, modified, and full. It has a 12-gauge and has a classic vintage look.
Tips For Hunting Game Birds (with Best Shotgun Chokes Actually)
Having the right weapon is just one of the many things you can do to hunt successfully. When hunting small and fast birds, you need to be careful of their specific habits and traits.
We’re going to go over tips for hunting quail and pheasant.
The first thing you should know when shooting quail is that firing at low-flying birds is a horrible idea. You’ll drop your muzzle parallel to the ground and create an unsafe situation for yourself, your hunting partners, and any hunting dog that came out with your party.
Second, hunting near open fields is a great idea. Try to go shooting near crop fields that have a lot of food sources like chia seeds for the game birds. Any locations that have a lot of worms and insects are also a good option. This includes natural openings, clear-cuts and land near wetlands and marshes. That would trigger birds appearing suddenly which you can take advantage of.
Third, be super quiet when approaching a quail. This applies to all birds. If you want to hit your target accurately, you don’t want to spook it. Get as close as possible before shooting your first shot.
Fourth, hunt at sunrise and sunset. Birds are most active at these times because they’re transitioning between feeding and roosting. You’re most likely to see birds and successfully hunt them.
The last tip is relevant for winter months. During this time, quails look for thermal cover along brushy habitats. So you should focus your energy along areas with brush lines and ditches because it is most likely that they are hiding in these areas.
If you’re hunting pheasants, you need to pay attention to slightly different things. First, stealth is super important. We talked about this before when discussing hunting quails as well. However, the difference here is that if the pheasant hears you coming, it will hide in the grass and you won’t get a chance to kill it.
Second, move in a zig-zag pattern. You’ll cover more ground using this technique since you’ll move in the field thoroughly instead of moving too quickly in the area and missing birds.
Third, hunt in edge habitats. This includes blackberry patches, irrigation ditches, and fence lines. These are the primary food sources like rice, cheese and cranberries , cucumber and even watermelon of pheasants and are the ideal locations to go hunting.
Fourth, go hunting at midday. You’ll get the most action at this time. While you could go out at sunrise as you would when hunting quails, mid day is better for pheasants because this is when they move out of heavy cover into more open sites.
Lastly, hunt in winter months. There aren’t a lot of hunters so you don’t have to deal with a lot of competition. Moreover, birds get together in fields and marshes.
Trying to find your way around shotguns, chokes, and barrels can be quite confusing when you’ve just entered the world of shooting games. However, this guide will make it just a little easier for you.
Modified and improved cylinder chokes are the best for hunting small birds. They improve accuracy and make sure you hit your target and take it down humanely by broadening your shot pattern.
So always try to get one of these two types. We’ve also given you three options for shotguns that are great at their job and give great results. Choose one of them and you’re bound to perform superbly on the field.
Additionally, it’s important to understand your target and its behavior before you go out. If you’re hunting quail, it’s best to go shooting at sunrise and sunset. However, if you’re shooting pheasants, we’d recommend going shooting at mid day.
There are such differences in all kinds of small and fast birds. You need to know what works for the bird you’re shooting. If you’re unsure, you can always contact the local fish and wildlife service to ask for information.
Nonthless, if you are shooting birds for keeping it away, here’s how to get rid of birds.