As many times as this question has been asked/answered, I wish I could just copy/paste it from somewhere. But it's probably quicker just to answer it again. First, WPAs & GPAs require non-tox for pheasant hunting. WIAs & CREP do not. Those are really the only 4 types of "public" ground you need to be concerned with. Exceptions exist, but they're rare.
If you are only going to hunt a few days you probably won't shoot that many shells. Personally I would forget about steel shot and buy a box or two of Bismuth. Yes, they are expensive but when you factor it into the whole cost of your trip it's not that much.
Boss bismuth can be had for about $1.50/shell. The fancy, name brand, high velocity pheasant loads in lead are approaching that same price...or more.If you are only going to hunt a few days you probably won't shoot that many shells. Personally I would forget about steel shot and buy a box or two of Bismuth. Yes, they are expensive but when you factor it into the whole cost of your trip it's not that much.
If you happen to be a 16 gauge shooter, talk to Kre. He has quite of few of the absolute best. Tungsten Matrix #5s. 1-1/4 oz even. So jealous. They were SUCH great pheasant loads!
I must have gotten in on the same deal as you. Seemed like a lot of money for shells as the time, but now glad I have them. I use them very sparingly so they should last me as long as I'm going to be hunting. Still have a dozen 10 round boxes left.I paid $420 for the flat about 8-10 years ago. I thought it was crazy at the time, but looking back now, I'm very glad I got them.
I only shoot 5-10 of them/season and I'm sorry, but I'm not parting with any of them.
I had about 3 flats of a mish mash of twenty and twelve gauge loads and had every intention of shooting them all up . After watching bare shelves , for what the third year in a row? And with the bird shortage I wanted to make sure I was shooting loads I had the most confidence in and broke down and bought . 3 more flats. If I only shot pheasants 25 birds last year banging away at 50 percent with my automatic. What would that last me? 30 yearsIf I stick to a 16 gauge this season, as I typically do.
And if I shoot only 1 rooster per shell.
And if I party hunt...a lot!
I can shoot 704 roosters this season!
198 Boss Bismuth 1 oz #4.
82 Kent Bismuth 1 oz #5.
36 Kent Tungsten-Matrix 1-1/4 oz #5.
17 Hevi Bismuth 1-1/8 oz #4. (dissection shows more like 1 oz #4.5)
225 Fiocchi 16HV5 1-1/8 oz #5.
120 Federal 1-1/4 oz #4.
13 Federal 1-1/8 oz #5.
13 B&P F2 1 oz #6.
View attachment 3853
Probably need that many shooting a 16ga. Never seen anyone hit anything with a 16ga. Just lots of shooting and a very occasional feather comes loose.View attachment 3808
~200 Kent Tunsten Matrix 1-1/4 ounce 5's
~280 Boss bismuth 1 ounce 5's
~35 Handloads of 1-1/4 ounce nickel plated #5
and a mish-mash of 1-1/8 ounce lead in 4, 5 and 6
A decent batch of 16 gauge loads. I wonder how many years it'll take me to shoot these up? But, I think as I use these up I will switch completely to the 1 ounce Boss bismuth loads. Their performance has been excellent and I don't have to worry about switching around non-tox and lead.
Cha chingView attachment 3541
This was finally gonna be the year where I would buy a flat of #5's and be done with shell shopping. Of course shells have been a little less prevalent and so I've been putting together a mish-mash of brands and loads. I've got a pile of quality steel shells as well. I guess it's better than throwing rocks at them.
I think anything more than 1 1/4 lead is too much for pheasant.It is often said the higher velocity blows the patterns up, I have never tested it, I have a load that works well (middle of the road payload/charge) and I stick with it and I don't switch-up shotguns either. Use what you have confidence in. In saying this, I had a friend that came out with us once last season, had hunted with him in prior years. He was shooting some heavy weight crap (said they were all he could find), those just destroyed the birds, then he had to "get going" and didn't take those mutilated birds with him. He will not be going out with me this year if he still only has those shells. Isn't that what is happening with you fellas that shoot the one & three eighths loads and higher loads? I had a good dog and hope I do again, and would rather the dog has to track down a winged-bird, than end-up with birds that have little left to eat. I see no sensible reason to kill pheasants if you aren't eating them, so I would think that might play into shell selection. But with the shortage, I guess guys grab what they can find if they aren't somewhat well supplied before all this hoarding started.