10/31/2012 9:10:00 AM Don't blame missing on your modern slug gun
Ron Kuecker Outdoors Columnist
When the deer returned to Minnesota in numbers large enough to justify hunting again our area of the state was declared a "slug zone." That is to say, only shotguns with single slug shells could be used to shoot deer in the largely agricultural territory. The decision was made at that time because it was determined shotgun slugs had a shorter range and ricocheted less. They were quite simply deemed safer in the open and, at that time, more populated countryside. Center fire rifles were declared illegal due to their higher velocity, lighter bullets and longer range that could more easily bounce off objects and strike unwanted targets, most notably farm livestock. Farm animals at that time were frequently pastured and few were confined to life in a barn. There was also the human safety factor. For years the most accepted slug was the foster. It had rifling on the slug itself, designed to input a spin to the bullet for more accuracy as it left the smooth bore of a shotgun. There has been little change to the rifled slug over those many years and it is still, probably, the number one slug type in use today. A few years ago that changed, for the better. A new philosophy evolved. Put the rifling into a specialty barrel and send a plastic coated, more ballistically accurate bullet out the end of the barrel. That projectile became known as the sabot. It's French origin would deem it to be pronounced say-bow but most have Americanized it to be, "saa-but." This rifled barrel should not be confused with an intermediate, short, smooth bored shotgun barrel that preceded the rifled barrel. That barrel had better rifle type sights than a 28-30" conventional barrel. In my hands it was no improvement over shooting a long smooth bore that one might have become very comfortable with shooting ducks and pheasants. Sabot slugs are not routinely used or recommended in a smooth bore due to lack of an accuracy improving spin to the bullet. Nowadays a 300 grain saboted Hornady slug can be pushed down a rifled slug barrel and exit at 2000 feet per second (fps). That's nearly as fast as an old time 30-30 centerfire cartridge weighing 150 grains would deliver. I personally find the slower Winchester sabot slug at 1350 fps to be more accurate than the speedy Hornady. Remington makes a similar cartridge and Federal has stepped their's up to 1450 fps. For those of you that have stuck through this discussion 'til now realize that modern guns and ammo are improved to more cleanly and quickly dispatch an animal while providing ultimate safety to those around us. Better slugs and improved firearms are welcome to all firearms hunters. The downside, we can only blame ourselves when we miss. Deer hunter numbers There will most likely be nearly a half million orange clad deer hunters out this coming weekend. That's more than all the duck, pheasant, grouse and turkey hunters combined. Although wearing blaze orange has helped a lot in terms of preventing hunting accidents, be careful out there! Pheasant hunting The light rain has helped the dogs scent and find the birds. There is no corn for them to hide in. They have even moved to the dense cattails from the prairie grass when it is available. But there just aren't many pheasants out there for hunters to shoot. An increase of 25 to even 50% may be represented as a nice increase but as most of us well know percentages don't translate into many numbers when the initial figure was quite low. Many of whom I have spoken to say they are seeing fewer pheasants in October than they saw in September. As always we remain optimistic and revel in the number of hens we see. Why aren't people such as game officials, local tourism promoters and a few column writers more honest with folks? I recently read a column by a hunter in South Dakota with we had a successful hunt in the title. He hunted all day and he never shot a rooster. I've done the same many times and enjoyed the outdoors, dogs, exercise and friends. Successful hunt? Not!