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20th of October 2018

Pria



5 Takeaways From My 28-Gauge Dove Opener

Having been deprived of a dove season for my entire adult life, the need to catch up drove my choice of dove guns when Iowa finally opened a season in 2011. Usually, in the name of efficiency, a 12-gauge semiauto got the call. And it still will at times in the future.

For opening day this year, however, I went with a 28-gauge o/u that I thought would make a more refined dove gun than the usual 12-gauge autoloader. Springerman3 and I opened the season together starting in a cut cornfield near SP3’s house at about 10:00 a.m.—once the thunderstorms stopped—and finishing our limits within a minute or two of one another at 3:30 in the afternoon on a public area.

Here are my observations, drawn from a sample of 15 doves:

A 28-gauge hull holds 5/8 ounce of No. 7 steel shot, which counts out to 253 pellets. Based on one hunt, with Improved Cylinder/Improved Modified chokes in the gun, that is enough to kill doves cleanly. I didn’t lose a bird, and every one I knocked down was dead when it hit the ground. Most of my shots were in the 15- to 25-yard range, but I made a couple of longer shots, too. Steel No. 7s have been my favorite dove pellet ever since I stocked up on them prior to Iowa’s first dove season, when we were told steel would be required. We can use lead, but I’ve never felt the need to switch. And the steel pellets penetrate deeply enough that I rarely bite into one when we eat our doves.

The 28 gauge isn’t magic, as some will tell you. I just think it benefits from comparisons to the .410, which punches below its weight. But the 28 is definitely enough gun for short and mid-range wingshooting and it doesn’t kick much. The late Gene Hill called the 28 “the thinking man’s 20 gauge.” I call it fun to shoot.

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