By: Justin Hunold
As much as most of us spend a lot of time pursuing waterfowl and spring gobblers this should not be the only game we consider taking with our shotguns. It shouldn’t be the only thing we hunt either! I have found when certain styles of hunting turn into more of a “Job” than an “Adventure” exploring different hunting opportunities has really spiced things up and made hunting exciting.
When the early fall comes around and the leaves are still up a shotgun make for a perfect tool for chasing bushy tails. Squirrel hunting is where a lot of us cut our teeth on hunting and there is no reason it should drop off our radars, they are fun to hunt and delicious. When the Canadas aren’t cooperating or Teal season is still too far away get out and get on those squirrels!
A shotgun is a great tool for hunting Squirrels. Some may argue that a .22 is where it’s at for chasing tree rats. I think that a 20 gauge is about the greatest thing since sliced bread when there are still leaves up. I also use one when I am just overall small game or “pot” hunting when I may encounter rabbits, squirrels, ruffed grouse or maybe doves. Most of the time the seasons for all of those species and even some more overlap. A shotgun is able to be a one stop shop for all of these hunts.
A group of hunters that will give waterfowlers a run for their money for both shotgunning and passion are upland hunters. Whether it is Pheasants, Grouse, Chukar, Wood Cock, Quail or any of the other similar birds. People go on vacations, train dogs and hone their skills trying to bag these birds. They are no small blip on the hunting scene, upland hunting is serious business in more ways than one.
Whether it’s a “gentleman’s hunt” as my friends and I call it, where we hunt pheasants and chukar at a game preserve or getting a semi trained dog and getting after some grouse I thoroughly enjoy a few romps with my shotgun chasing these fast moving avian every year. I have taken to liking a slim light semi automatic 12 gauge. This became a go to over the past few years with the pinch on ammo. 12 gauge game loads of some variety are almost easy to find. And generally people don’t guard them like hens teeth in a pinch.
Another option when the winter time blues creeps in is predator hunting. Now in many states Coyotes are open season but I don’t know many folks out chasing them in summer time. During the winter though predator hunting has taken off in the past few years. In many states with Coyotes, Bobcats, Fox and other furbearers on the menu for hunting the winter season is a time of plenty.
A shotgun is perfect medicine for a lot of predator hunting. A Tactical style shotgun or your turkey gun will make great tools for getting on those furbearers. Short barrels and optics or sights able of aiming make for awesome quick, close to mid range tackle. I again give a 12 gauge a nod for this work. A lot of states have a shot size restriction. There are predator specific loads with heavier than steel/lead options. A lot of the time they are a bit “big” for the smaller game like foxes or even Bobcats. A good heavy turkey load will do well in most applications if you are not looking to get overly specific. Good camo and a mouth call are a must. Plus this opens up fur selling/trading as another hobby. Predator hunting will make you a better overall “woodsman” for sure.
Most of us will not devote ourselves to these options, but when you don’t want to put out another decoy, have a bit of cabin fever or maybe want something different for the table these are all great options. I also love the fact that I don’t take these hunts as seriously as the things i pursue on an everyday basis. These hunts and species allow me to put the fun back into hunting and my friends, family and a shotgun is about all I need for all of that.