Small Game With 12 Gauge?

Discussion in 'Small Game Hunting' started by Lumen, Jul 18, 2020.

  1. Lumen

    Lumen Spike

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    Apr 24, 2020
    Bullitt County
    Hi Guys!

    Apologies in advance if this has been beaten to death or asked countless times but I was hoping for a little insight on hunting small game with a 12 gauge. I did try searching the site but I didn't see anything specific. I know there's going to be multiple opinions on this but I'm interesting in any opinions you all are willing to share.

    I've been primarily a bowhunter for the last decade so I'm a bit out of my element here. I did a lot of small game hunting when I was a kid (rabbits and squirrel) with an old .22 Marlin; it's been many years since I used a rifle/shotgun for hunting. I know a .22 LR, 410, or 20 gauge might be better options but a few of the public land spots that I hunt (Fort Knox, etc) are shotgun/muzzleloader only and I don't have a 410/20 gauge in my possession. Right now the only shotgun I have is a single shot 12 gauge.

    How do you all feel about using a 12 gauge for rabbits and squirrel? I'm far from an expert but I was thinking #4-5 shot should work for squirrel and hopefully rabbit as well. If that's incorrect please let me know! Obviously the goal here is to harvest the animals for consumption and I wouldn't want to ruin the meat.

    Thanks for the education in advance fellas!
     
    HeadedWest likes this.
  2. davers

    davers 12 pointer

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    2,867
    Jul 14, 2014
    Kentucky
    The 12 gauge is very popular for use in hunting small game, such as rabbits & Squirrels. I have used a 12 gauge, when I first starting hunting, but now I use either my 20 gauge or my .410-3" shotguns. If you can find 12 gauge shells loaded with 1-oz of shot and fired in either a full or modified choke this would be a nondestructive load for small game. The regular: 1 1/4 oz will also work fine but I'd use a improved cylinder bore for this 12 gauge load on Squirrels and Rabbits with #6 or #7 1/2 size shot.
     
    Lumen likes this.
  3. luvtohunt

    luvtohunt 10 pointer

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    Sep 1, 2011
    Eubank, Ky
    Killed plenty of both with a moss berg 500 in 12 gauge Modified shooting low brass 6’s. I actually like one early in the squirrel season for those old growth trees that seem to be a bit high for a 20 gauge. Try to use high brass 6’s in those situations.
     
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  4. Dark Cloud

    Dark Cloud 12 pointer

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    Aug 14, 2009
    Lawrence Co.
    Twelve gauge back in the day was the go to gun, for any small game ,and slugs for deer
     
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  5. bowhunter269

    bowhunter269 12 pointer

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    Nov 21, 2006
    Fisherville, KY
    Low brass 5s or 6s.....I prefer my 16 gauge with 5s, but killed plenty of squirrels with the 12......many on Fort Knox.
     
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  6. HeadedWest

    HeadedWest 8 pointer

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    Nov 22, 2016
    You’ll be fine with whatever you have. Shoot your gun, see how it patterns, and set your range from there...

    Glad to see another person getting off the koolaide and back to small game.
     
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  7. Lumen

    Lumen Spike

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    Apr 24, 2020
    Bullitt County
    I’m very excited to get back into small game hunting! I’ll be out there start of the August squirrel season even if it’s 100 degrees.

    Thanks for all the advice guys! I’ll be buying the appropriate shot for small game hunting and patterning it. I can’t wait!
     
  8. luvtohunt

    luvtohunt 10 pointer

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    Sep 1, 2011
    Eubank, Ky
    Cut ya a stick if you are gonna hunt in August and carry it head high out in front of you. Not much worse than walking right into a big spider web at the crack of dawn in the squirrel woods!!!
     
  9. Velvet ears

    Velvet ears 8 pointer

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    Nov 6, 2013
    West KY
    #6s and let em fly. 7 1/2s work too, but the humane side of things work better with 6s.
     
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  10. Doug 16

    Doug 16 6 pointer

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    Jun 7, 2020
    New york
    I use 6 shot out my 12ga. Squirrel is my favorite thing too hunt and my favorite meat too eat. You could use your bow too. I use my recurve some times
     
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  11. Lumen

    Lumen Spike

    59
    122
    Apr 24, 2020
    Bullitt County
    Oh man good advice! Early squirrel season promises to be hot with lots of bugs.

    Man oh man squirrel is good! Thanks for the advice. I’ll get some 6 shot!

    I need to make some flu flu arrows for my bow. I’ve taken a few squirrel with my bow which was fun and definitely a challenge. I’m having a longbow made now - might have to take that out as well once I get arrows tuned for it.
     
  12. xbokilla

    xbokilla 12 pointer

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    Late to this thread. Just excited. Didn’t squirrel hunt last year but plan on getting out with my brother and being kids again. 12 gauge is still the most popular out there I’d say. I got a 20 o/u I’ve used since I was a kid and got a little 410 I haven’t shot yet. Like they said above, get some #6s or 7 1/2s and go have fun!
     
    Lumen likes this.
  13. rcb216

    rcb216 12 pointer

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    Sep 25, 2005
    Robertson Co.
    Same as above. I have a bunch of 7 1/2’s I use them late season but early I always use 6’s to reach the tops of the hickories with the leaves. I have been killing rabbits for years with 7 1/2’s. Got several hundred of them in a dollar box at a auction once. Thought I was buying junk tools in a cool wooden box. Bottom was filled with old peters and Winchester’s.
     
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  14. davers

    davers 12 pointer

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    Jul 14, 2014
    Kentucky
    I was shopping at our local Walmart, and went by their sporting goods section. I saw a few semi-auto .410 shotguns, but really surprised me is there was only ONE box of .410 shells: Federal #6 shot!! In fact they had several boxes of 28 & 16 gauge shells!!
     
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