Are you shooting steel? Heavy shot? Bismuth? all depends on that. If you are shooting steel for geese I would use BBB or T shot. Are you shooting 3" or 3.5", again makes a difference.
Generally you can shoot and kill geese out to 50 yards. I've killed them out to 60-70 but you should not make a habit of shooting at them that far. I shoot a 3.5" and with the T shot it has the power to break wings, etc and bring them down.
On ducks pretty much the same rule and if you are shooting over marsh I would not shoot them past 30 yards if you don't have a dog as you will never find them. Shooting over water, 50 yards is a good rule of thumb. I use steel and use 3 shot which I have found to be the best all around size for steel. 4's cripple too many and 2's a bit sparse on the pattern.
If you don't mind spending the money for heavi shot, etc then you can use 4 and 5 shot just fine and BB for geese but depends on how much you shoot and how much you want to pay.
I kill them both fine with steel so can't justify the extra expense for what I consider a minor advantage at best.
Don't shoot the large steel BB, BBB or T out of anything tighter than improved modified. It can damage full chokes. It will shoot basically a full pattern out of Modified.
I shoot my duck shoot and goose shot out of an improved modified which works great out of my Browning Gold Hunter 3.5" and yes I only shoot 3.5" loads. I do see a big advantage of it over the 3".
I shot a 10 Gauge for over 10 years before going to the 12 3.5" which I feel is just as deadly as the 10 and a whole lot easier to swing than a 14lb gun.
The closer the better. I would say 40 yards max maybe even 30. I took a goose with 3" #3 shot at about 30 yards this past weekend and I think that was pushing it. I just feel more comfortable shooting when they are right on me rather than wounding them from far away. But BB has a little more power at 40 yards than #3 does.
I like a Light Modified for the most of my shooting myself. With that choke I'm pretty good out to 35 yds or so. If I wanted to extend that out a touch I probably wouldn't go much over a modified or an improved modified as mentioned earlier. Steel shot doesn't take a whole lot of choke. Generally the bigger the shot the less choke you need, but then again if your using the smaller shot your not looking at shooting too far anyways. Shooting in the swamps where my shots can be anywhere from 5yds to 25yds I like either cylinder bore or at the most improved cylinder and #4's. For big ducks out of the river blinds or in the marsh I like the fast #2's. I dont do much goose hunting so I'd have to do some patterning, but I think the LM choke would probably do alright with BBB's. Anways, pattern your gun and see. I think you'll more than likely shoot better with the modified choke versus the full choke, but you never know.
I think you are definitely better with Modified rather than full. If you feel like you need full then you are shooting at them when they are too far away. I would say 40 yards for ducks and geese is a good rule, any further and you will wound too many birds, especially the geese. They are a lot easier to wound than they are to kill at anything over 40 yards.
The tough part is telling when they get inside 40 yards. If you have a doubt, wait until you think they are at 40 yards and then wait until they get 10 yards closer, then they will probably be inside 40. Too often it is easy to pull up early, even for veteran waterfowlers.
I use a improived to help manage my shots to be within 40 yards. I really hunt the early season and late December - January for ducks and geese, but when I do, I use Bismuth # 4 or 5 2 3/4 inch loads even though my gun can take a 3", and the Bismuth will clean them out of the air like nothing else. The chant is whe they get close,m give them the Bismuth.
I think the ammo selection is more important than the chokeas long as you don't pass shoot at 50 yards. Let 'em get close, then let them get closer, when you can see their eyes and hear their beaks clacking, shoot them and they are in range. Mark a 40 yard spot when you set your dekes and this will help you from shooting too early. You rarely hear a hunter say he shot too late...
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