Small game is a survivalist’s best resource for food energy in a dire situation. It is also a primary and consistent food source for homesteaders living in game-rich environments. While big game is an excellent way to stock the freezer for the long term, harvesting larger animals takes up both time and resources that are not always available given your situation. And when it comes to harvest small game in a big way, using a shotgun is the key. While a shotgun can be a “Jack of many trades,” given that it has the ability to fire a various number of loads which can be effective for many different types of quarry, using the right load truly matters. And while there is a universe of ammo manufacturers out there, pushing do-it-all shotgun loads for smaller game, we’ve found that taking a somewhat unconventional approach to the matter works best. Here’s what we mean.
Turkey Loads for Rabbits
One of the tastiest and proliferous small game animals on the planet, rabbits are excellent prey for a hungry hunter or homesteader. Out west, rabbits are often found in thick brush or sage. This is where shotguns can really be great. But while the standard issue recommended rabbit loads on the market for 12-gauges are usually a # 7 shot, choosing the unconventional turkey load can put more bunnies in your bag for the walk home. Turkey loads move fast, like 1300 fps, and a #5 shot will allow for less wasted meat on your rabbit. That’s way fewer pellets to pick out of the meat when it comes time for stew.
Pheasant Loads for Grouse
Another fine choice for small game hunters is grouse. Whether it is Sage Grouse, Blue Grouse or Ruffed Grouse, they all taste fantastic in a well-made grouse-noodle soup. But unless you have a dog, and a well-trained one at that, you will be flushing grouse up out of hiding and often into trees. Trees have branches. Want to know how to knock a big grouse out of a far away tree? Use pheasant loads. A pheasant load has enough power and size to bust up the brush and take out a grouse without tearing it to pieces.