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My Favorite Shotgun for Pheasants

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Guns have been an important part of my life, since I was old enough to shoot –guns to hunt with, guns to shoot, and also guns for collecting. Often I’m asked which gun is my favorite; but there’s no simple answer to that question. You see, being a shooter, a hunter and a collector, and having quite a few years of experience, I have many favorite guns; it just depends on what I’m hunting or shooting.

Pheasant hunting has lots of different facets — early season, late season, wild birds and released birds. While I’ve hunted all of these, most of my experience has been with released birds — sometimes on game farms here in Missouri, but other times on the vast prairies of the Dakotas. In my experience, released pheasants generally hold tighter for the dogs and fly a little slower than the wild ones. Wild birds typically require more lead, heavier loads and tighter chokes.

So my favorite shotgun, for most of the pheasant hunting that I get to do, is a 20 gauge over and under, choked improved cylinder and modified – that I’ve had for several years. Now remember I’m also a gun collector and always prefer a vintage gun to something more modern. This is a Belgian-made Browning Superposed. It’s very special to me because it was made the year I was born and is documented as having been in the first shipment of 20 gauges shipped to the United States – in 1949.

On a recent hunt up in the Dakotas, I took my favorite shotgun for pheasants and also a 12 gauge side by side – in case the shots were longer. I started with the 20 and never took the 12 gauge out of the case.

Every rooster that flushed near me was down cold with one shot from the lower barrel, except for one time when we flushed a report pair. The second bird came up over my head and rather than waiting for him to level out, I tried to show off and shoot him in the head as he went over the top. I missed! Anyway, for me at least, a favorite gun is dependent on the game I’m hunting, how well the gun hits what I’m shooting at and of course it’s going to be a vintage gun that could tell lots of stories, if only it could talk.

Larry Potterfield
Hecla, South Dakota
14 November 2013

Larry Potterfield is the owner and founder of MidwayUSA. Read more at Larry’s Short Stories.

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6 Responses to “My Favorite Shotgun for Pheasants”

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  1. frank lewis jr says:

    Enjoyed your short story Larry, recounting life’s stories are fun to recount, and live through others lives. I’m an avid pheasant hunter also, from South Dakota to Oklahoma each fall. I moved to the Benelli ultra light a few years ago and cases my older 21′s. I ilke lightweight, and low recoil these days, lol…your fan, Frank

  2. erzola says:

    For North Dakota pheasants I like my .12 gauge S by S Ugartechea with improved and modified cylinders. Wild birds get up fast and fly even faster. Two shots is about all you are going to get. Preserve hunting is a different story. Use any gun you like. I am not a fan of the semi-auto. It tends to make the hunter shoot too fast and empty the gun too quickly. In addition I have yet to see a semi-auto shotgun completely foolproof in every kind of weather. Everyone I have hunted with, including myself, has had a malfunction in the field with a semi-auto. No matter the make or model.

  3. Brandon Moss says:

    My dad has a light 20 gauge Browning Superposed. I have a Browning White Lighting 20 gauge. It is neat to have the old and new version of Brownings over and under with a father and son hunting birds on the Montana praries together. Neither one of us own a 12 gauge.

  4. Richard Kowallik says:

    28 ga; Browning Superposed (1963) with 1 oz loads of 6′s. for back up on “kick and shoot” birds I use a 3″ Browning Superposed 1963 .410 (M&F). Head shots are fairly easy as these birds hold until “booted”.

  5. Nick L says:

    Thanks for sharing! I just picked up an 80′s model Citori Upland Special last season! I haven’t had much opportunity to shoot it yet but I sure spend enough time handling and staring at it!

  6. Jay Gore says:

    Any of the several shotguns I have that shoots yellow shells. Mostly I shoot a Remington Model 17 pump made in 1925. Guess you could call that vintage! Works well, birds are dead when it goes bang.

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