Sharptail Grouse and Hungarian Partridge
Usually these two birds share the same country and can be hunted together so I will discuss them together! In many states the season will open in September. Early in the season Sharptails will usually hold tight and can be found in very small coveys of about six birds. A 20 gauge or 28 gauge will be plenty and are light and easy to carry all day. Hungarian Partridge can be found in very large coveys and will also hold tight early in the season and a 20 or 28 gauge is also great for the epic long hunt on these little birds. Both birds can be shot with number 7 shot or 7 ½ shot. My “pet” chokes of skeet I and skeet II are perfect in the early season. As the season progresses, both birds will flush wild. Now you would be wise to move up to a light-weight 12 gauge or a 16 gauge. Make your shot size a number 6 and your chokes improved cylinder and modified. Side by sides are recommended of course! :)
Note: On page 117 in my book is a picture of me and my father after a Sharptail and Hun hunt. All the birds were shot with a 28 and 20 gauge.
Doves are usually the first bird species to hunt when the season for upland bird hunting opens. My favorite set up for hunting doves is to hunt in a line of Russian Olive trees at the edge of a wheat field. I will hunt this spot in the morning and move to a water hole in the evening. I like to shoot small gauge doubles with Skeet I and Skeet II chokes. All my shots are fast and furious at close range. Number 8 shot is my favorite shot size with one ounce of shot being my heaviest load. If I use 7 1/2 shot or a heavier payload, it is overkill and damages the meat.
For pass shooting at longer ranges, 7 1/2 shot with modified choke may be suitable. Dove hunting is not like other upland birds we bird hunters normally hunt. Instead of flushing them off the ground, we shoot them in passing flight like driven game. The upland gunner should still hold your double unmounted in the proper ready position. You will step forward, swing and mount, pull through and fire all in one smooth movement every time you shoot at a dove. This is great practice for technique and the small, fast doves can help tune up your focus for the rest of the season. Any shotgun will work for dove hunting, but a classic side by side with an instant choke selection is preferred of course! :-)
*Note: Dove hunting is discussed in my book on Pg. 113
Go check out some of Jamie's dove cooking recommendations in the game recipes section on this site! Enjoy your hunt!