How Far To Lead Quail?

When it comes to shotguns, the word “aim” is negative. Drawing a bead on a target with a shotgun while shooting it like a rifle causes you to lose focus on the target and shoot from behind.

I’ll admit right away that the perdiz I shot in Uruguay many years ago was the longest shot I’ve ever taken at an upland bird. I attached the bead to the bird’s tail feathers as it flew away, supporting a friend who missed, and it was neatly killed at a distance of about 60 yards. When I saw the bird and the bead were perfectly aligned, I remember staring back and forth between them while debating whether or not to snap the shot.

Nevertheless, I continue to advocate for keeping all visual attention on the target and none on the bead, like many other folks. Aiming is effective for straightaways and 60-yard perdiz, but less so for targets that require leading.

That is my account, and I stuck to it up until yesterday when I taught a shooting session. I occasionally assist Rachel, who oversees the Edible Outdoors program, although she has never really gone hunting. She should accompany Springerman3 and I while we go dove hunting, we decided (I know, I know: second prize, two dove hunts with me and Springerman3).

We split up the pre-hunt work, however. Finding doves is SP3’s area of expertise. I’m the one instructing the shooting. Rachel is a good student and follows my instructions. Straightaways took her no time at all to crush, but approaching and crossing targets were problematic. She was shooting over, in front of, or above everything. Smoothly and at the target’s speed, but with no visible angle to the bird, she would move the gun.

I questioned her regarding the distinction between the crossers and the straightaways. She answered, “I can shoot at the straightaways.”

I said, “Okay, I usually don’t say this, but go ahead and aim at this next crosser just a little bit,” as opposed to my typical “all your emphasis on the target let the gun go where it wants to.”

By the end of the class, she was hitting high and low house 4 crossers, which call for the longest leads on the field. She then smashed another one. On Friday morning, I started to worry that the doves might be having a problem.

I could see from her muzzle that she was still focusing on the target with both eyes, but now that she was conscious of the connection between the rifle and the bird, everything changed.

The lesson here is not that you should aim, but rather that you need to be a little bit conscious of the muzzle. Gil Ash, an instructor who spends more time than anybody else contemplating shooting and vision, defies conventional wisdom and claims that it is really better to concentrate on the target for 95% of the time while only 5% of the time should be spent on the muzzle. Sincerity be damned, that seems about right. See the bird clearly, but focus on the bead’s position in relation to the target, which should be blurred. My new story is that, and I’m sticking with it.

Theo Lopez

a really challenging question to respond to. For instance, three feet of lead might be required for a quail crossing at 20 yards (which is very usual). But at 40 yards, a goose or duck crossing might require 7 or 8 feet of lead. Additionally, the 6 feet of lead you see may be exactly the same length as the 4 feet of lead I perceive. “Read the line, Feel the lead” is a book I believe Peter Blakeley wrote. That essentially sums everything up. Really, lead is a question of feel and experience.

The best piece of advice I can give you is to head out to a shooting range. If you’re truly curious about the lead’s true measurements, they are 3 1/2 feet. Now, that is a somewhat deceptive response. For every bird fired at the center stake from any point on the field, with the exception of station 8, the actual lead will be 3 1/2 feet. The issue is that you can see the entire 3 1/2 feet at stations 3, 4, and 5. But because of the different angles at the other stations, the lead, which is 3 1/2 feet long, will appear much shorter. You could give this a shot. Put a marker at the distance from the middle stake to the target home is exactly 3 1/2 feet (a traffic cone works well). similar action for the opposite house. You can now clearly see how the lead image ought to appear as you move around the field. Just be careful not to start measuring the lead as you are firing your target. Swing at the target while paying close attention to the sight picture. And remember to follow through!

Gunshot Loads

Quail are little birds that can be easily killed with little effort and lead. Now, depending on how far away the birds will be flushing, different loads will be required.

Quail hunting often involves shooting from 15 to 30 yards away. Some birds that are tightly held may move closer, and some wary birds may move farther away.

Each hunter has a preferred method. Once more, having two barrels can be useful in this situation.

If you don’t have a vest, a shell bag you can carry around your waist is the ideal solution.

Playing around with different loads eventually gets you in the sweet spot if you’re one of the hunters who enjoys lounging about the truck discussing tactics just as much as you like the actual hunting.

However, other hunters might prefer to limit themselves to a single kind and call it quits.

You can never tell how the birds are acting until you are out in the field. A 1 and 11/8 ounce 8 or 71/2 shot will typically perform just fine with the 12 gauge.

You may always make adjustments as you gain expertise and become more familiar with how birds fly. These ammunition loads are more than sufficient to kill quail. Additionally, they don’t completely destroy the bird, which is crucial if you want to enjoy some good eating, which I highly suggest.

What is the best advice you could provide seasoned hunters?

Even seasoned hunters might pick up new skills in the field. The main piece of advise I have for seasoned hunters is to always keep in mind the fundamentals. It is simple for experienced hunters to become complacent and overlook important details like their lane of fire or the need to specifically target one bird in the covey. To take it a step further, if you are shooting at two birds that are rising, keep in mind to take your time and let your eyes guide the rifle to the second bird. Even though it seems easy, most seasoned hunters still require a quick refresher course on good foot positioning and avoiding rushing the shot.


Most contemporary shotguns ship from the manufacturer with three different types of choke tubes: full, modified, and improved cylinder. Since it generates the most open patterns out of those three, IC is definitely the best choice for quail. When hunting over a pointing dog, shots at quail are typically taken from within 25 yards, therefore it is necessary to choose a choke that throws widely and even patterns that open fast.

Aim for one (only one) quail.

When it comes to firing your shotgun at a just flushed out covey, it’s definitely not a free-for-all. You need to choose a target that you can zoom in on and have a plan for your shooting.

So, after choosing your quail, focus even further on a certain area of the bird and narrow your target. You’ll have better success killing a bobwhite quail if you can make an even smaller target, whether it’s the conspicuous stripe over the eye or the white patch at the throat.

And while it will be tempting to fire off a few bullets given the large number of quail in the covey, you shouldn’t. Prior to trying to score a double, concentrate on downing your first bird.

Can you use lead to shoot quail?

When taking any upland game bird in the state, save for dove, quail, snipe, or any game bird taken with the permission of a qualified game bird club, hunters must use certified non-lead shot.

What is the most effective quail shot?

I’ll end here for the sake of length because I have a talent for rambling on and on about firearms.

Obviously, if you haven’t noticed, I tend to favor No. 6 loads as this is a size that has consistently been successful. Many producers are continually manufacturing loads in the world of consumerism for various reasons. I’ve never understood the necessity for 3 1/2-inch loads, and you don’t need them for a 6-ounce bird either—2 3/4-inch shells would do. Furthermore, shooting No. 6 or No. 8 shot has been shown to be effective because quail are relatively delicate birds.

The main cause of a man’s poor accuracy when shooting quail is not the inappropriate shot size, but rather the hunter’s disregard for the morals of the sport. Finding and recovering downed wildlife, with or without a dog, is a part of ethical hunting.

For many people, like myself, hunting with a dog increases my odds of finding dead game as well as the experience of trailing a dog through the woods. Since I rarely locate crippled or running birds, shooting No. 6 has also made retrieving shot birds much simpler for me.

Combining understanding the habits of the birds themselves with configuring your shot size, pattern, choke, and barrel length results in a successful hunt. With all due respect to Bob, I would prefer to pursue game birds in a dignified and ethical manner. Hunting properly requires learning all aspects of your shotgun, including the ideal shot size and gauge. That entails using No. 6 shot, ideally steel, in any gauge, from.410 to 12, using a skeet and/or modified choke setup, and taking a willing dog that will track down and recover your prey.

Regarding the #6 vs. #7.5 loads, I’m torn. I haven’t noticed a significant enough difference to make a decision. However, I disagree with the chokes you chose. An Improved Cylinder/Light Modified combination out of my Beretta has given me much better results.

I concur with your selections but like 71/2s better. Compared to other shot sizes, I notice a very low number of cripples, so perhaps this is because I only ever use lead shot shells. My firearms were created before steel was necessary. If I were hunting quail in the West, I would choose lead 6s, and I like them for grouse.

The author is right when she says that quail are a delicate bird. Although #6s will certainly get the job done, they seem excessive for the Bob White, especially given that that is the size shot used for pheasants. When pheasants are flushing close together, as quail do in the south, I have killed a lot of them with #6s in field loads. For quail, you normally see 7.5s and 8s with a little load, and I prefer the same in 28 gauge. The meat is not torn up like it is with heavier shot; it just takes a few pellets. Any choke, from skeet to mod, works well in a double gun, with one barrel used for close range work and the second for distant rounds (IC for a single bbl gun). Make careful you pattern your gun to determine what produces the best pattern at various ranges.