Two Simple Upgrades Will Improve Your Waterfowl Hunting Success This Season
by Rob Reaser
Experienced waterfowlers know there are many variables and nuances that contribute to success.Everything from shot loads and gun fitment to barrel length and action type can influence the outcome, depending on the hunting conditions and the species you are after. If you are looking to gain an edge this year, here are a couple of quick and easy shotgun upgrades that can help.
We all know that selecting the proper choke for your shooting needs and shotgun/load combination is a major factor in delivering a lethal pellet swarm to your target. The problem is, waterfowl hunting is something of a moving target (ignore the pun, please). The distance to your target, speed of your target, shot size, and other factors can demand different chokes for your gun. Forty-yard flyovers may beg for a full or extra-full choke while decoy shots could be better suited for light-modified or improved cylinder. In addition, the choke you used at first light may not be the best to use two hours later, when the birds change their patterns. That is why the ability to match your shotgun’s choke to meet varying conditions is essential.
The downside, though, to changing out choke tubes is that you must carry extra chokes with you (along with a choke wrench to make the swap)…and hope you have time to swap them in-between fly-ins…and that you’re not standing waist-deep in the marsh…and that you don’t accidently drop the choke into some sticky, gritty mud… You get the idea.
A simple answer to the waterfowl choke dilemma is the adjustable choke—one that allows you to go from wide open to super tight with a simple twist of the wrist. The adjustable choke is not a new concept, of course, but it has come a long from a gunsmith-required permanent installation to a do-it-yourself screw-in upgrade.
Like most things, adjustable chokes are not created equal. Some are heavy enough to send a shotgun’s balance into the ditch, while others are so wide and “bulbous” as to distract the eye and interfere with your sight picture.
The TITAN adjustable choke tube by TRUGLO® is a unique adjustable choke tube that addresses all the shortcomings of the old-style adjustable chokes, and advances the breed a few more steps down the evolutionary path.
To start, it features lightweight, durable Titanium, so it not only stands up to heavy use, but most shooters will not notice any change in their shotgun’s balance. Part of the lightweight equation is due to the TITAN’s slim profile. That svelte figure also means that, unlike the older-style adjustable chokes, the TITAN is not an obnoxious blob on the end of your barrel. In fact, after spending a little quality time with it on the range, you’ll soon forget it’s there.
Installation of the TITAN is as easy as removing the factory installed choke and screwing in the TITAN. Again, unlike the popular adjustable chokes of old, the TITAN will align true to the barrel’s bore because 1) it uses the OE barrel threads and 2) it features a precision-machined eight-spline collet for choke adjustment and ensuring axial alignment with the barrel.
In addition to its top-shelf material construction and precision machining, the TITAN offers the broadest choke adjustment range on the market today: Cylinder, Skeet, Improved Cylinder, Light Modified, Modified, Improved Modified, Full, Xtra Full, and XX Full (an industry exclusive setting that happens to be a free bonus setting for those of us who turkey hunt as well). All settings are laser-engraved on the choke, and you switch between pattern settings by turning the collar approximately one-quarter turn. Detents in the choke provide audible and tactile “clicks” for each setting.
David Oliver is a friend and serious wingshooter who has been using the TITAN adjustable choke tube for years.
“I use the TITAN,” David says, “from dove season all the way through late goose season with great success. The TITAN choke—I like to describe it as the only choke needed when doing any kind of bird hunting. During waterfowl season, you usually have gloves on and you’re in water, so changing a tube can be difficult and it can easily be lost. The TITAN can be adjusted in the field or in the blind quickly, adjusting for how birds are flying. Different times of the year can determine how birds fly, and the TITAN adjusts for all of it with a quick twist of the choke.”
Even if you do not need to make continual adjustments throughout the day for bird flying patterns, the adjustability can come in handy. For example, if you have the choke set for a wide pattern for close decoy work and need to make a finishing shot on a bird in the water, you can dial in to one of the full choke settings to make a clean head or neck shot.
Finally, you can safely use the TITAN with Tungsten, steel, or other popular loads such as HEVI-Shot®. Use steel shot only with choke settings ranging from Cylinder up to Modified.
Light at the End of the…Barrel
After patterning your various loads with the TITAN choke tube, it is all about getting on target. In the spirit of one-stop-shopping, TRUGLO® delivers with an assortment of super-bright fiber-optic front-end shotgun sights to replace your factory bead.
When talk shifts to high-visibility front sights for wingshooting, there will always be some who predictably pull out the old saw of “if you do it right, you properly shoulder the gun and align down the barrel, you don’t use your sight.” Well, the reality is that some folks are natural-born, instinctive shooting Jedi; The rest of us…not so much. We need that clear and obvious front sight to achieve a proper sight picture, to track our target with both eyes open and heads down, and to do so in all lighting conditions. This is where TRUGLO’s Dual•Color series of fiber-optic front sights comes into play.
As the name implies, the Dual•Color sight series features two fiber-optic elements: a central red element and an outer green element. This two-color concept is ideal for wingshooters because of the varying backgrounds and lighting conditions we hunt in, and because our eyes react differently to certain colors. When shooting against a light sky, for instance, the red fiber-optic element stands out most clearly. In lower light conditions, or when swinging against a background of dark trees, the green outer element is easily visible. This two-in-one configuration becomes a huge benefit when you are in a situation where tracking birds can shift quickly between light and dark.
TRUGLO® makes three different Dual•Color sights that speak directly to the needs of bird hunters: the GLO•DOT™ Universal Dual•Color, the TRU•BEAD™ Universal Dual•Color, and the FAT•BEAD™ Dual•Color. The key difference between the three sights is their length.
The longest of the Dual•Color series is the GLO•DOT™. This sight is especially beneficial for those who need some extra help in aligning themselves with their shotgun—in other words, properly mounting your shotgun, looking straight down the barrel, and keeping your head down. These are some of the main principles of consistent and accurate shooting, and the longer length and “tubular” design of the GLO•DOT™ passively forces the shooter to settle into and maintain that proper alignment.
At the other end of the Dual•Color series is the FAT•BEAD™ sight. This is the shortest of the three sights. It is more for those who have established good shooting form and simply prefer a compact front sight that is brighter and slightly larger than the factory bead sight.
In the middle we find the TRU•BEAD™ sight. Think of this as the bridge between the GLO•DOT™ and the FAT•BEAD™. It delivers some of the alignment assistance of the GLO•DOT™ but with a footprint somewhat longer than the FAT•BEAD™.
Whichever style you need or prefer, all of the Dual•Color series sights will improve quick target acquisition over conventional bead sights. In addition to boosting visibility in all lighting conditions, the Dual•Color sights by TRUGLO® help you to keep both eyes open because your dominant eye will more easily pick-up the front sight. With that comes the ability to maintain peripheral vision and depth perception so you can keep your muzzle correctly oriented while tracking birds.
All of the Dual•Color sights feature durable CNC-machined metal housings and are described on the packaging as having a “universal” fit on most shotgun ribs. Installation hardware is included where required.
As waterfowl hunters, we invest heavily in guns, gear, and ammo (not to mention cold and wet body parts!). Fortunately, two things that will significantly improve our success rate—an adjustable choke tube and a fiber-optic sight—may provide the best cost/benefit ratio of all.