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Saturday, 1 September 2018

Hunter Gatherer Ethics; Shotguns

I don't normally release posts on a Saturday but today is significant as it't the beginning of Partridge and Duck season, Red Grouse season started back on the 12th of August but as I live in a lowland area at the moment I have very little to do with that. Pheasant season will start at the beginning of next month. 

This marks the time of year where the amount of wild meat that gets put on my table increases quite significantly. Most of the game birds shot around the world are shot with shotguns for the simple reason that shotguns are a weapon which makes it possible to shoot moving targets far more simply than rifles as they fire a cloud of 'shot; or small pellets. 

Shotguns fire a range of ammunition from simple shot on the right for game birds, these very in size from very small number 9 shot to large number 1 shot suitable for geese and even larger BB, AAA and SSG shot, I normally use 5's for pheasants. Shotguns can also fire slugs (shown on the left of the picture) solid projectiles which can be used for shooting boar, deer or for tactical situations. 
Whether you are shooting birds on a 'driven' shoot managed by a gamekeeper or rough shooting which involves walking through cover and flushing birds which you shoot as they fly away a shotgun is the tool of choice. 

Waiting for the birds on a driven day with a 20 bore side by side shotgun. 
The problem with  a shotgun is the fairly indiscriminate damage it can do to the meat of your target, shooting with a rifle is fairly precise and carefully aimed head and chest shots do absolutely no meat damage. 

A headshot on a rabbit with a 55 grain hollow point .223 bullet. No meat damage there. For more about the effects of bullets on targets check out our terminal ballistics article in the BushScience series. 

Carefully aimed head shots with air rifles are also very effective and leave absolutely no damage to the meat;

Pristine breast meat with no damage at all on a delicious woodpigeon. 

Unfortionately shotguns can sometimes cause a lot of meat damage, it's true that rifles can as well if the shot is poorly placed particularly through the guts or through a large muscle mass such as a haunch. Shotguns through by design kill through shock and the potential to do damage to a vital organ, to achieve that a lot of pellets often strike non vital places and damage the meat;

This pheasant breast is a prime example of the undesirable meat damage that can be caused by shotguns. 

That's not to say the damage is inevitable, these ducks have very little meat damage, the problem with the pheasant is that it was probably shot at close range and from directly beneath as it flew towards the shooter so it too the full load of  shot in the chest. 
 From an ethical point of view the shotgun kills humanely and gives you the ability to take moving targets effectively but just be careful about your shots, if your quarry is too close you will destroy your meal and are you shooting for the table or just to see something fall?

Think about it!

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