After a trip to the South Island chasing Chukar and Quail I talked to well known Hawkes Bay guide and outdoor outfitter Dave Hern about shot. I had not taken some long shots at Chukar that I felt were a bit out of range.
Dave pointed out to me that compared to the cost of the trip and the gun the cost of ammunition is tiny, yet most guys buy cheap ammo. He sold me some Remington Nitro Pheasant 6s for my next trip.
Since then I have been absolutely sold on Nitro Pheasants. They hit birds a lot harder and knock them down at greater ranges. Both 20g and 12g are great cartridges that have increased my killing range as well as increasing the number of birds I recover because they hit harder than the standard lead loads.
From a technical perspective the difference between Nitro Pheasants and the Eley VIPs I had been using for upland is speed and composition. The copper plated Nitro Pheasants travel at 1400 fps, while the lead Eley VIPs travel at 1296 fps. They are both 1 ¼ oz, but the copper plated Nitro Pheasants hit a lot harder than the VIPs.
Nitro Pheasant loads are not cheap, usually costing about $15 a box more than a good lead load. They are a lot more effective than a standard lead load, and as Dave Hern rightly pointed out an extra $15 dollars on shells is insignificant compared to the cost of fuel, the ferry, accommodation and other spending when you are travelling.
My next trip down to Central Otago I had taken Dave’s advice and taken some Nitro Pheasant 6s. The shooting in the high country is tricky, with birds flushing very close to the gun, so a lot of close range shots needing an open choke and a small load. The quail would often jump within four metres of the gun, and duck down under the cover very rapidly, so it is snap shooting at close range.
The other typical shot is a very long one, with birds flying several hundred metres down hill in the open meaning very long shots where the open choke and the light load don’t work well.
To deal with these two very different shooting scenarios I used an Improved Cylinder choke in my Remington 1100 G3. I wanted a very open choke for the close birds and load that spread rapidly so my first two shells were Eley Olympic 8s. The next three loads I wanted longer range and greater knock down power, so loaded with three Remington Nitro Pheasant 6s.
This combination worked very well. I was getting the close birds with reflex shots, and making some long shots with the Nitro Pheasants. The Nitro Pheasants knock down power has to be seen to be believed, as it was really hammering the quail compared to the lead 6s I have used extensively until Dave Hern put me onto Nitro Pheasants.
This coming season I will only be carrying Nitro Pheasant 5s & 6s in my upland vest right hand pocket when hunting where there are pheasants and quail. That’s my pheasant load, and in my left hand pocket will be quail load, Eley Olympic 8s. I’m looking forward to shooting more ducks with the Nitro Pheasant 20s, after having one day with Parries and knocking down birds further out and harder with the Nitro Pheasant 5s.
Ammunition Mentioned in the Article
Remington Nitro Pheasant 6 2 ¾ inch 1 ¼ oz 1400 fps 12 gauge
Remington Nitro Pheasant 5 2 ¾ inch 1 oz 1300 fps 20 gauge
Eley VIP 5 & 6s 2 ¾ inch 36g 12 gauge
Eley Olympic Blue 8s 28g 2 ¾ inch 12 gauge