View Full Version : Old Shotguns, Long Barrels, Full chokes- Lost Techniques?
November 06, 2005, 18:41
For opening day of the second split of duck season my buddy and I decided to buy some bismuth and take out the old full-choked vintage duck guns. His- a fox-sterlingworth twice barrel, mine- a model twelve heavy duck. (There was also a suggestion that we wear period dress and use vintage decoys, but we decided that would be as gay as cowboy action shooting).
Anyway, after missing countless ducks and turning the ones we did hit into hamburger amidst a red mist, we concluded that ducks must have been taken at more extreme distances in the old days for the chokes to be optimized for the ducks. Distances that are, frankly, beyond our abilities and probably that of most hunters. So, back in the day, were the ducks spookier? the hunters better? The decoys set further away? Possibly shell wads were different resulting in looser patterns? From what I read the difference in pattern soley attributable to bismuth vs. lead should not be significant. Any thoughts would be appreciated.
November 06, 2005, 19:01
There was also a suggestion that we wear period dress and use vintage decoys, but we decided that would be as gay as cowboy action shooting
I've wondered about this before as well, I'm very inerested in what others have to offer. My guess has always been that ammunition improvements have turned the 30 inch barrel into overkill in certain situations.
I regularly take wood ducks here with a 20 inch police gun. No shit.
November 06, 2005, 19:04
barrel lenght has nothing to do with pattern size..
they are that long for sight radius..for long distance pass shooting..
November 06, 2005, 23:01
Thanks splatt. Of course that begs the question. Why were the old guys doing long distance pass shooting? Was it harder to decoy ducks back then? Was it simply the fashion of the day? Was the challenge considered more sporting? It certainly seems a particularly difficult way to go about it.
November 07, 2005, 05:18
plus decoys were exspensive and time consuming..i am thinking.
November 07, 2005, 08:45
Actually, the choke constriction of the barrel, determines the shot pattern, obviously.
As for the 30 inch and sometimes longer barrels on the full choked "duck" guns, it is a holdover from the black powder days, when the longer barrels were required to fully burn the heavy blackpowder loads used. Modern smokeless powder doen't need as much length to burn. Thus, the 26 inch barrels of today with interchangeable chokes, allowing one gun to do the job of three.
November 07, 2005, 09:10
I don't think market hunting alone can explain the longevity of the long barrel full-choked gun which, in my totally unscientific observation, seems to be the predominate form for a waterfowl gun well into the fifties. Market hunting is formally ended in 1918 with the Migratory bird treaty act, by the '30's duck stamps are required, live decoys are banned and the duck hunting we know today becomes the dominate form, i.e. blown duck calls over artificial decoys. Formal decoys are expensive, whether in terms of money or time, but informal (rags, silhouettes, etc.) are in wide use.
Interesting that the long barrel may be a hold over from black powder days. The full choke still seems too tight for me in most circumstances and I have to conclude that either ammunition patterned differently or that ducks were taken at greater ranges.
As an aside, I think decoys are still incredibly expensive given that they are just injection molded plastic junk made in china.
November 07, 2005, 09:57
The further back you go the less ducks. You would not get as many shots in the 1930s as now. The shotshells are different too. The barrel length is just tradition. If you hit a duck with a full choke 2 3/4" 4 or 6 shot from 30-40 yds it won't vaporize.
I have found that the same loads in a modified gun often does not do the job, especially with head-on shots. Ducks are tough.
November 07, 2005, 14:01
Wind, I guess your reply shattered my illusion that there were simply more ducks back in the turn of the century. My thought was that the hunter would simply plow a pattern into a bevy of high-fliers and wait for the ones that dropped, as there was a much higher concentration of the migratory waterfowls at that time. Hmmmm. Interesting question. Thanks for the orthonological observation! :wink:
November 07, 2005, 14:36
Ducks were very intensively hit back then, almost to the point of extinction in the 20s and 30s. As with most other game there numbers were revived by hunting laws.
The only time those huge flocks would have been around is just after the indian epidemics. Once the pressure by the indians was off they really got populated until the Euro and Chinese immigrants took to it and got populated enough to do so. So, by early in the 20th century they were beaten back pretty well.
November 07, 2005, 17:04
It is interesting that the period we think of as the "Golden Age" of duck hunting was characterized by relatively few ducks.
November 07, 2005, 21:37
That probably explains why they were so ornate. They spent more time looking at them than shooting. :tongue:
November 07, 2005, 22:55
Alot of the past hunting technigue also was a far diffrent type of hunting. I spoke with a bunch of old market hunters in the 70's right before they exited this world. Many of their techniques involved ducks on the water or ducks on the ground. From what I heard especially during the Depression years ducks were viewed simply as table fare. Many used English call ducks and scull boats. Also the wad technology we have today wasn't there or the buffered shot. I remember old farmers that were reared in that era still sneaking the ducks in the grainfields to what we called Arkansas them. (Shoot them on the ground). A whole different outlook on ducks than the current view.
November 08, 2005, 11:20
Most shotguns back in the old days were cheap all in one tools for the homestead. Good for snakes, varmints, deer & the occasional duck for dinner.
I used a full choke mod 12 Winchester for 20 years on dove & ducks. It always took a box of shells to start bringing any thing down learning to lead, after that their ass belonged to me. I always used low velocity 7s or 8s on dove & HV 4s to 6s on ducks. Single ought on deer, the jackrabbit size deer we have can't handle single ought buckshot.
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