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When it comes to quail loads, lighter and smaller is usually better. An ounce of No. 7 ½s or even 8s will usually get the job done, especially over pointers. But what if pheasants are also on the menu? Across much of the bobwhite’s northern range, quail and pheasants often share the same haunts. Upland hunters need a load that’s stout enough to drop tough roosters yet has enough pellets to avoid any quail-size gaps in the pattern. In places where I might encounter either species, my first barrel is usually loaded with a 12-gauge, 2 ¾-inch load with 1 ¼ or 1 ¹⁄₈ oz. of No. 5s or 6s. If my dog finds quail, I’ll shoot that load on the covey rise, then put in a spreader load and go after the singles. Here are some proven performers for quail in pheasant country.

spreader

1. Spreadable Load
Proven: Polywad Spred-R, 12-gauge, 1 ¹⁄₈ oz., 1,200 fps, No. 7 ½ lead. Polywad’s versatile spreader rounds are my secret weapon in the battle against close-range quail. Spred-R is also available in 16-, 20-, and 28-gauge. ($15/25 rounds; polywad.com)

Also consider: For closer shots, Herter’s Super Spreader 12-gauge, 1 ¼ oz., 1,200 fps, No. 7 lead. After the initial covey rise, load this heavy spreader round and go after the singles. ($7/25 rounds; cabelas.com)

hevi

2. Double-Species Load
Proven: Hevi-Game, 12-gauge, 1 ¹⁄₈ oz., 1,250 fps, No. 6 lead (No. 7 also available). This new lead-shot offering has become one of my favorite quail takers, and it works equally well on pheasants. Hevi-Upland, which is identical to Hevi-Game, is available in Nos. 5 and 6 lead. ($10/25 rounds; hevishot.com)

Also consider: If you’re hunting nontoxic zones, Hevi-Metal Pheasant, 12-gauge, 1 ¹⁄₈ oz., 1,500 fps, Nos. 5 and 4 steel/tungston mix. ($24/25 rounds)

hert

3. Upload for Pheasant
Proven: Herter’s Select Field Pheasant 12-gauge, 1 ¼ oz., 1,200 fps, No. 5 lead. This is one of the best upland loads I’ve used. Every rooster I hit with this affordable yet potent load (available exclusively from Cabela’s) was dead in the air. It has proved equally effective at bagging bobwhites, especially at medium yardages, once they got out from some holes in the pattern at close ranges. The load should be gentle on fragile upland guns. ($7/25 rounds; cabelas.com)

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