The dove hunting around here this season has been dismal. There is a stock tank about 500 yards from my house that is usually a pretty good place to shoot some doves. The guy who owns the place is a buddy of mine and he keeps at least some water in the tank for his livestock, even in the worst drought. This is, at this time, the only open water within miles.
I just bought a new used Beretta Model 686 12 gauge that I wanted desperately to try out on feathered targets, so this last Saturday my brother David, my buddy Todd Tate, Sweety, and I headed over to the tank to see what kind of action we could find.
The first bird of the day was so far that both Todd and David declined to shoot. Normally I would have, also, but it had been so long since I had any dove hunting I badly misjudged the range and took the shot. I thought it was just on the far side of normal, but when I stepped it off it came up to 75 steps. And the bird was not flying away, which always increases the ground range, but was flying parallel to me.
The next bird was a fast crosser at about 40 yards and I dumped it at the edge of the tank.
The last bird was a high flier that David said was wearing an oxygen mask. I have no way of knowing how high it was, but if I had not intended to quit with that shot, and if the shooting had been better, I would have declined. However, I took the shot and the dove folded up and fell way out in the pasture. It took Sweety and I several minutes to figure out where it was.
Somewhere in there I missed a single, making my score for the evening 3 out of 4. Or maybe David slipped an empty into my bag. He has been known to do such dastardly things.
The load I was shooting was the B&P (Baschieri & Pellagri, and don’t even think about asking me to pronounce the name) High Pheasant load of 1 1/6 ounces of number 7 (no, not 7 ½, I do mean number seven) shot at 1280 feet per second in a 2 1/2” shell. I have always loved number 7 shot, which I have mentioned several times in the pages of Texas Fish and Game. This box of shells was given to me by my friend Jay Bute, who read and remembered my preference. (Thanks Jay. Now I have to figure out how to load 1 and 1/16 ounces of shot on my MEC reloaders.)
Actually there is no magic in the load. A similar load of one ounce or 1 and 1/8 ounces would work just as well. I usually prefer a load of one ounce of 7s at about 1200 feet per second for quail and doves. The slightly larger shot seems to give me more instantaneous kills than the smaller 7 1/2s or even smaller 8s, and the patterns are denser than the slightly larger 6s. Why the Italian maker would call it High Pheasant is beyond me (possibly they may prefer it for driven birds on one of the big European preserves. It is, actually, the same size as European sixes, or so I’m told), but it would be a good all-around load in situations where you were hunting quail with the possibility of running into the odd pheasant. Strictly for pheasants, however, I would just prefer a heavier load of 5s or 6s.
I may cut up one of these shells to see what kind of magic components B&P uses to attain that kind of performance, but I probably won’t, because I don’t want to waste one of them.
Anyway, the performance on game of this load is most amazing. I may even order a flat for further “testing.” This is the kind of load that should be perfect for upland game like bobwhites, or for grouse in the mountains or Eastern thickets, if I get to try them this season.
If you are looking for a game load and don’t mind paying a bit more — about $84.00 for a flat of 10 boxes — I can certainly recommend this brand and load. B&P has been one of the most popular brands around the sporting clays ranges for years, and now I know what all the fuss is about.