A few years ago on one of my trips filming in Canada, a group of hunters were discussing hunting techniques after dinner one evening. One of the guys, Bob, mentioned that he rarely could bag a "triple" when hunting ducks and geese....a triple being able to bring down three birds with three consecutive shots.
There was a framed painting on the wall showing a small group of mallard ducks landing, so I asked him to look at it and tell me which duck he would shoot first. The art work was very much like the one seen in today's column, but ducks instead of geese. He immediately said, "Oh, I would blast that big old drake right there in front, and then go after the others."
I told him if he did that his chances of getting a triple would not be as good as they could be if he would forget about the closest bird, and go after one of the back birds first. He asked me to explain that concept, so I gave it my best shot. No pun intended!
The key to getting three in a row is to line up the birds properly so you have one long continuous swing when firing. Forget about the closest bird. It is still going to be close after firing two quick shots first at other birds. Picking a bird that is only 10 or 12 feet behind the leader really does not change your lead by any amount that matters.
What matters is hitting the first bird, then keeping the gun going in the same direction to the second. You take that bird out, and go on to the third, which should be the one that was closest to you when you first fired. And, make sure you stay down in the stock firmly. It is amazing how many shots are missed because your cheek is off the wood. I've seen video clips on the Outdoor Channel of hunters with their face 2 inches or more away from the gun on their second or third shot. It's the difference between a hit or miss.
The fact that many hunters are shooting 3-inch or 3.5-inch magnum loads is also one reason for this happening. Heavy clothing in cold weather may contribute to this, too. Just be sure you can see the rib on the gun and you have the beads lined up with each other.
Now it's time to put this information to work using the art work you're seeing on this page. The question is...which Specklebelly would you shoot first?
Let's pretend that there are no birds on the ground and that you are in a blind about 25 yards from the approaching flock and well hidden.
If you take the nearest lead bird first, you will then have to move your gun back to the right to pick up a second shot, and then move back to the left to see your lead and shoot. This is all really "herky-jerky" and should be avoided. If I was firing at the five birds shown, I would take the top-right side one first, then the lower-third bird from the left second. I then continue my left hand swing into either of the two birds that are on the left side.
Nice and smooth...boom...boom...boom. Plop...plop..plop. You must remember that when your first shot goes off the other birds will flair up and to the left immediately. But they are all well within killing range. The key is not to get focused on that bird that is close when coming up to fire. Be staring at that back bird.
I have a little bit more to relate about Bob, who I mentioned at the start of the column. The following year I went back to Canada for another hunt with the same outfitter. The guide mentioned that he had a group coming in from the Bay Area after dinner. Sure enough they showed up and there was Bob again.
Without hesitation he approached me and said:
"Ken... Ken, I have to tell you what happened last year after I left here and went home for our duck season. I remembered every thing you said and had absolutely the best shooting ever. I shoot in the Grasslands west of Merced, and I have never had so many triples on ducks in my entire life. It was amazing, and I just want to thank you so much for all the information about lining the birds up, and especially about staying down on the stock. It was totally awesome."
I thanked him for the great compliment and told him to please pass the information on to his fellow hunters and we will all save some ammunition.
Annual pheasant hunt scheduled for early November
I received a note about the Morning Star Fresh Food Ministry's annual pheasant hunt this past week. It will be held Nov. 11th, and will be limited to only 100 shooters this year due to a lack of birds available.
If you, your business, or your company is interested in taking part in this really worthwhile charity event, you need to contact Bret Sill as soon as possible. He can be reached at 661-900-8469 or ..firstname.lastname@example.org.
This organization feeds thousands of needy people throughout the state each year, and is just boundless in their energy. Give it a go!
One final note
I was saddened to read about the passing of Pete Cattani recently. Pete was a real, soft-spoken, gentleman in the truest sense.
As owner of the Ammo Dump for many years, he was always willing to give back to the shooting sports that supported his business. He will be missed by many.