On the Hunt: For the Little Gray Darter

The volley of shotguns ringing out across the state over Labor Day weekend can only mean one thing. Hunting season in Mississippi has officially begun! There is nothing quite like the tradition that is opening day of Dove Season. But for many the quest for the little gray darter results in both bruised shoulders and egos. Wing shooting has always been a favorite sport of mine. My Dad and I probably spent more time behind a shotgun than any other type of firearm. From skeet and trap shooting to amazing dove and quail hunts in my old stomping grounds of South Texas, my trusty Browing 28 Gauge Citori has been my slung over my shoulder for most of my life. This little beauty is still my “goto” gun for the little gray darter, and it has accounted for more than my fair share of spectacular wing shots.

Unfortunately, the 28 gauge (and other sub-gauge shotguns) has waned in popularity over the years, giving way to the more popular 12 and 20-gauge scatter guns. This is in part is due to the higher ammunition costs and belief that bigger is better. The truth is that the gauge you shoot really doesn’t matter as much as how you shoot it. A No. 6 pellet fired at any particular speed carries the same energy whether it is fired from a 12, 20, 16, 28 gauge or .410 bore. A quick look at Federal’s website you will find # 6 shot available in 28 and 12-gauge (as well as 20,16 and 410) that have a velocity of about 1200 fps. Which means, they have the same effective energy and effective range, the only difference is the number of pellets flying through the air. When it comes to wing shooting, the fit of the shotgun is a key factor. Bird hunting is more a “throw up and shoot” style than skeet or trap and the ability to properly mount the shotgun quickly and instinctively is more important than the gauge. Add in the factors of the lighter weight and lighter recoiling sub gauge shotguns and you may find yourself filling your bag limit faster and with less of a bruised shoulder (and ego) than with the 12 gauge options.