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Thread: Viability of the Shotgun in Western U.S.?

  1. #1
    Boolit Master
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    Viability of the Shotgun in Western U.S.?

    As much as anyone, I really appreciate the do-it-all nature of the shotgun. I have used a shotgun in one iteration or another to hunt all game here in the Peepels Socialist Republik of Nu Jork. But, my bride turned 62 last week and is seriously looking at retiring in January of '19. Nevertheless, when she does we are leaving the slime pit of the PSRNJ and heading to Arizona, most likely the Lake Havasu area...... maybe Flagstaff.

    Larry Gibson lives in Havasu City and has commented on the usefulness of the shotgun for coyotes. I'm thinking further than that, other small game, maybe big game. We all agree that a 12 gauge RB or slug is certainly adequate in the Eastern US, what about the west? Are the more open areas not conducive to shotgun use? The shotgun IS my favorite tool! What do you fellows think?

    P.S. I have rifles to kill mulies, bear and elk, I'm not concerned about that!
    “Now and then we had a hope that if we lived and were good, God would permit us to be pirates.”

    ― Mark Twain

  2. #2
    Boolit Master

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    You stated that you have rifles for larger animals at longer ranges, so that's covered. As for the usefulness of shotguns in the West vs. N.Y., they'll do the same job. What's the maximum range for shot...40 yards? So, inside that distance your shotguns will work fine, with slugs out to 100 yards plus, and past that you have your rifles. Where you're at doesn't make too much difference.

  3. #3
    Boolit Master
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    Yes, I should have been more specific; Is a shotgun a realistic weapon for big game out west, considering the relatively open terrain? Yes, I know, stalk closer, but for those who live/hunt out there, what do you think?
    “Now and then we had a hope that if we lived and were good, God would permit us to be pirates.”

    ― Mark Twain

  4. #4
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    Mr Peabody's Avatar
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    For big game? Ask the archers about the range of their bows, shotguns match up pretty closely.

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    Boolit Master bikerbeans's Avatar
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    Take your scattergun, you can get a security job on a stage coach.

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  6. #6
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    Big climate difference between Lake Havasu City area and Flagstaff. I used to shoot coyotes back east with a shotgun, they would come running to the call. Been in Arizona for 18 yrs, and find the rifle to be the weapon that works for me.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Peabody View Post
    For big game? Ask the archers about the range of their bows, shotguns match up pretty closely.
    Ya' know, I never thought of that!
    “Now and then we had a hope that if we lived and were good, God would permit us to be pirates.”

    ― Mark Twain

  8. #8
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    M-Tecs's Avatar
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    For open areas for self defense or hunting coyotes an AR is hard to beat. I call a lot of coyotes and shotguns have there place but range is the limiting factor. If you are not calling shotguns are basically useless for coyotes in open areas.

  9. #9
    Boolit Master GhostHawk's Avatar
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    Like every other weapon, depends on exactly where and how you plan to use it.

    Pronghorn at 400 yards, not a great plan.

    Up in the big pines, 40-60 yards it will do the job.

    Like you said, when it gets down to brass tacks, nothing is more versatile.
    If nothing else put it next to the bed loaded with your choice of big bad varmint killers.
    Shotgun will do it all, just don't expect it to reach as far as a rifle. But in thick cover there is very little better IMO.

    I grew up in a shotgun and slugs only zone in Minnesota. Not enough tree's, hills, and too many people.

    I had no problem killing deer with a shotgun, prefered a 20ga actually. Lighter, quicker, faster to shoulder and target.

    But most deer I actually hit were actually in the "too dang close for comfort" category. Eyeball to eyeball range. But I am not exactly the average joe either. So YMMV.

    Look for choke points, places they prefer to cross open area's, rivers, etc. Most wildlife prefers to sneak and not be seen if hunters are about.

    Use what is there, the big 10 point buck on my wall jumped over the 4' firebush I happened to be hiding behind. He never saw me till the 20 barked and he could not believe what he saw when he did.

    Less than a foot from the end of my barrel to his chest. He did not go far.

    But I was parked on a grassy depression he liked to sneak across to the next big patch of trees. And I was out of sight, not moving, not playing with a cell phone, making no noise. Only thing moving was my eyes.
    Yes even out in the big wide open spaces you can still get close to them.

  10. #10
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by GhostHawk View Post
    Like every other weapon, depends on exactly where and how you plan to use it.

    Pronghorn at 400 yards, not a great plan.

    Up in the big pines, 40-60 yards it will do the job.

    Like you said, when it gets down to brass tacks, nothing is more versatile.
    If nothing else put it next to the bed loaded with your choice of big bad varmint killers.
    Shotgun will do it all, just don't expect it to reach as far as a rifle. But in thick cover there is very little better IMO.

    I grew up in a shotgun and slugs only zone in Minnesota. Not enough tree's, hills, and too many people.

    I had no problem killing deer with a shotgun, prefered a 20ga actually. Lighter, quicker, faster to shoulder and target.

    But most deer I actually hit were actually in the "too dang close for comfort" category. Eyeball to eyeball range. But I am not exactly the average joe either. So YMMV.

    Look for choke points, places they prefer to cross open area's, rivers, etc. Most wildlife prefers to sneak and not be seen if hunters are about.

    Use what is there, the big 10 point buck on my wall jumped over the 4' firebush I happened to be hiding behind. He never saw me till the 20 barked and he could not believe what he saw when he did.

    Less than a foot from the end of my barrel to his chest. He did not go far.

    But I was parked on a grassy depression he liked to sneak across to the next big patch of trees. And I was out of sight, not moving, not playing with a cell phone, making no noise. Only thing moving was my eyes.
    Yes even out in the big wide open spaces you can still get close to them.
    Well done GhostHawk!!! I can see you've been studying my book.... That's exactly the way I like to hunt, get in close and wait, still and silent......then POP 'em!
    “Now and then we had a hope that if we lived and were good, God would permit us to be pirates.”

    ― Mark Twain

  11. #11
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    ....and not just compound shooter. Many traditional bowhunters still hunt the hard way, gotta have concealment of course, and they regularly take all the animals you mentioned. Wide open country fuggitaboutit but in timber a shotgun loaded with what you know and trust works anywhere.
    "My main ambition in life is to be on the devil's most wanted list."
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    I've only used a SG for small to medium game, and only because it was restricted to such, I found that the slugs would have too much of a drop. Except for the challenge of taking big game with a SG I don't see the want of using one out west. I didn't like taking shots much more than 2-300 yards in CO, but most of my shots were within 100 yards or less. As soon as I got me a piece of land to hunt here in TN, I stopped going to places that restricted me to SG only.
    "Freedom is the sure possession of those alone who have the courage to defend it."
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  13. #13
    Boolit Master
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    I grew up in a "shotgun-only" area and have hunted here all my life. Today we are allowed to use rifles, having done so for several years I now find myself drifting back to the shotgun. Forty years of ingrained muscle-memory is not a bad thing! I'm pretty sure I could kill an elk with my 870, archery hunting taught me how to get close.........There are certainly clear reasons to use a rifle in some circumstances, I'm not saying you shouldn't! I know you guys understand the charm of the shotgun or you wouldn't be reading this sub-forum. All my life I've wished I could hunt with a rifle instead of a shotgun, for the last 10 years we've been allowed to do that. And I still find myself playing with the 870 more & more......life is funny!
    “Now and then we had a hope that if we lived and were good, God would permit us to be pirates.”

    ― Mark Twain

  14. #14
    Boolit Master GhostHawk's Avatar
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    ^

    Yep, same path here, hunted shotgun but had no "luck" until I learned enough bowhunting.
    Then it all went click.

    Never killed one with a bow, but got close enough to a couple that I could have touched their nose with my hand.

    Yes that is my favorite, although it has been 22 years since I killed anything bigger than a gopher.
    Get hid, get quiet, patience, and as long as they are coming at me, let them come.

    Same year I got the big buck, was posting kind of an out of the way spot while 5 guys went through a long tree strip. I was in the middle of a plowed field, less than a foot from a powerline pole. Tucked in behind a few weeds less than 2 feet tall.

    Saw the doe cuttting around the walkers, quarter mile away. She was sneaking slow down a little drainage ditch. And coming right at me, and coming, and coming.

    When I shot she was totally face on at me, so I put it fairly low in the middle. She folded, somersaulted tail over teakettle 3 times. Came to rest with her nose on my left foot.

    10 min later my old hunting buddy comes walking up my right side.

    "I heard you shoot bill, only one shot, means she must be down."

    Circle around the pole kermit.

    Midway around he see's her tracks, find the hair from the shot, blood. I'm still sitting there tucked in.
    See him work it out, through the somersaults. Walks up 2 feet away, looks at her nose drooling blood on my left shoe.

    "Letting em get a little close arn't ya bill?"

    Well, yeah, maybe, a little. I could of side stepped and ducked if I'd had to.

    But hey, long as they are coming my way and landing at my feet. Who's going to complain?

    Kermit laughed loud and long. Miss ya Kermit. You were a HECK of a good man, father, taxidermist, hunting and fishing partner. As long as we were together my folks did not worry and your wife did not worry. They knew we'd take care of each other.

  15. #15
    Boolit Master



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    Good morning
    Up in the high ground around Flagstaff there are the wooded areas that will restrict visibility from maybe 100 yards down to "just around this cedar tree". In those tight areas a 12 gauge with Buck and Slug would be a good combination in a double or whatever you have.
    Our son lives in the valley and hunts from the lower desert up to flag area. Most his shots on critters are well under 100 yards. Even calling yotes most his AR kills have been close out in the scrub / desert.
    My mom and sister are up on the rim in Show Low area. Very woodsy there with the rare "forest opening" that would offer shots longer that 100 yards. Most my wanderings about those trees a shotgun is more than adequate with that rare opening that I have seldom see any critter in. Most my sittings are in the trees as I enjoy wandering through them. But you can get away from the trees and there is plenty of open country.
    We were just out there for 18 days. Saw antelope from 5 yards out to 175 yards in the open no tree areas. Saw 8 elk in a marshy area that could have been closed on through tall reeds / grasses. Just depended on whether we were in the trees or out on the fringe of the more open land. The close in antelope and one yote could have easily been done in the 00 buck.
    Mike in ILLinois
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  16. #16
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    I have lived in the Northeast and hunted there and now live and hunt in the Rockies.

    As someone above pointed out, there are archers out here, so you can hunt with a shotgun. The latest fad of attempting to kill animals at 500+ yards with rifles is most decidedly not my cup of tea.

    Having said that, in the Southwest, cover is sparse. While the SG may be effective in predator calling, going after Cervidae and Bovidae with a shotgun is going to be very, very challenging in that terrain. Manufacturers are practically giving away MOA rifles these days. Were I moving out West, I'd take my SG for birds and maybe give it a go with predators and big game, but I'd also pick up a rifle in 270 Win or 7mm-08 that will serve for everything from speed goats to elk.

  17. #17
    Boolit Master WRideout's Avatar
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    I grew up next to the Coast Foothills in Southern California. I hiked and camped in the chapparral since I was a teenager. In some places the manzanita is so thick you can barely walk through it, and even the archers would have a hard time since the game has to be on top of you before you see it. If you can find a spot in the thick stuff with a good shooting lane, the shotgun would work fine. I also hunted jackrabbits in the dry creek beds, and a 20 ga was real fun for that. BTW jackrabbit tastes the most like beef of any critter I have tried.

    Wayne
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  18. #18
    Boolit Master Texas by God's Avatar
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    North Texas has thick woods and far as you can see prairie and I know several people who have used shotguns for deer. I've killed three with handguns and a 20 ga slug would have worked on all three. I've just never tried it here because we're rifle addicts.

  19. #19
    Boolit Master
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    Glad somebody mentioned jackrabbits! Shotgun and fast reflexes are perfect for them!
    Loren

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