Snow geese can provide insane action, testing your shotgun to the max. With Alberta’s daily limit of 50 white geese per hunter and no possession limit, you may go through more shotgun shells during snow goose season than you will the rest of the year.
Maybe you’ve heard this bird hunter’s rule before: “Take care of your shotgun, and it will take care of you.” Whether you use a break-action, pump, or semi-automatic shotgun, clean and maintain it regularly. Fouling and rust can compromise the performance of any gun. Just like a vehicle, a firearm needs regular maintenance.
Clean the action and barrel of your shotgun with a good solvent and use cotton cloths or nylon brushes to remove all debris. Grease a hinged gun where the barrels join the receiver. A pump gun needs a light coating of oil, but silicone or graphite are even better. You don’t want anything that can attract or hold dust, dirt, powder residue or carbon generated with each shot. Just remember, too much oil can cause fouling.
Pattern your shotgun with the loads you intend to use when hunting. Shoot a one-metre circle drawn on paper or cardboard, experimenting with difference chokes and shot sizes to maximize the number of pellets you can get in the circle.
Likewise, shoot the ranges you would attempt when shooting birds in the field. Quickly reduce your missing or wounding rate by paying attention to what your pattern is doing at 20, 30, 40, 50, or maximum 60 metres. If you can maintain a dense pattern, you can shoot snow geese at the same range in the field. If not, you have a higher chance of missing or wounding birds.
Practice makes perfect, whether you are shooting pattern boards or clays. Each time you shoot, it’s more practice at cleaning and maintaining your shotgun consistently and properly.