Picking Dove Ammo

Keep It Simple Series

For the average shooter, hunter or sportsman

By Johnny Dury


Dove Ammo: Saving Cents May Not Make Sense


   Bargain shotshell ammunition floods the market in August and September each year when Texas dove hunters are anxiously awaiting the chance to test their wing-shooting skills against the aerial acrobats of fall.

   Shooters in the Lone Star State bag about 30 percent of the national dove harvest each year – far more than any other state – and with about 330,000 hunters taking advantage of the Texas bird bonanza, the demand for shotgun ammunition is very high.

   Even during a bad year in Texas, hunters knock down about 5 million mourning doves and about 1 million white-winged doves in addition to several hundred thousand Eurasian Collared doves that don’t fall under migratory bird regulations.

   The commonly accepted estimate is that for each bird dropped out of the sky, the average shooter will fire about four to seven shots.  Naturally, experienced and skilled shooters do a lot better than that, while some wing-shooting challenged individuals probably do a lot worse.

    Using the worst case scenario, more than 45 million shells might be fired during dove season.  That is one of the reasons ammunition manufacturers love the Lone Star State – we are big business and a huge customer base for them.

    That brings the subject back to bargain ammunition that fills sporting goods shelves each year at prices that are often seemingly too good to pass up.  Some retailers are charging prices that are below their costs to take a loss in order to draw customers through the door.

    There is something to be said about being cost-conscious and saving a few dollars when possible, but frugal hunters should be aware that they are may be fueling the dismal estimate of the number of shots needed to down each bird.

    Generally, bargain ammunition is produced with cheaper components such as hulls, primers, wads and shot.  The ammo will still make a shotgun go “bang,” although the chances of a dud round are more likely than with high-quality ammo.

    The lower quality hulls may split or have a bad crimp that allows shot to leak out; primers may misfire; wads may not protect shot as well as it travels down the barrel; and the softer shot used for bargain loads may be deformed or irregularly shaped as it heads toward a target.

    The result is often a poor pattern of pellets reaching the intended target.  As the pellets fly through the air and spread out, holes can be formed in the pattern that can cause a miss or superficial hit, rather than a clean kill.

    Even when a shooter is skillfully fulfilling his role of putting the pattern on target, the bargain shells may be falling down on the job with ineffective performance.

    At the very least, shooters should try to fire a few rounds of their intended dove ammunition at patterning board to see if the shells perform in an acceptable manner before venturing onto the dove field.

    What they may find is the better patterning performance of ammunition that may cost a few more dollars is well worth the result of being able to impress your hunting buddies with your shooting skills.      

   By the Way:  There is always a wide selection of shotgun ammunition available at Dury’s Gun Shop and our experienced employees will be happy to assist shooters in selecting the right loads for their needs.

Posted in: General, Reports From the Range and Field