There’s lots of hype these days about hyper-volicty this, maximum-load that,  for making successful long shots on ducks and geese. This quote from a 1920s-era article shows that making that long shot was not only possible “back in the old days,” but was the only way hunters got it done in a group shoot known as a “duck drive.”

Market duck hunters from the 1920. The long shot filled bags and stocked restaurants--all without "hyper-velocity maximum payload" shells.
Market duck hunters from the 1920s. The long shot filled bags and stocked restaurants–all without today’s “hyper-velocity- maximum payload-super-engineered” shells.

My own duck-shooting experiences have covered many years and a wide range of country … lastly in Southern California, where almost every known species of ducks comes in during the shooting season. It was here that I had my first dip in the mysteries of the duck drive. …

Sitting behind a blind and calling in mallards … as they come swinging in and slowing up to the decoys is dead easy as compared to this style of shooting. Fifty, sixty, and seventy yards are the average ranges, and with the ducks coming lickety-split overhead, it takes the acme of skill and experience to get your birds. Not many birds are killed at seventy yards, it is true, but some are, and you never get those thirty and thirty-five yard shots … . My first forty shells brought me in eleven birds, which my companion said was “doing fine.” With my next twenty-five shots, fired on the return drive, I got an even dozen … . I had begun to hold two or three townships ahead of the fastest flyers to get better results.”
—Ernest McCaffey, “Duck-Driving at Sweetwater Lake,” circa 1920, from the book Western Bird Hunting, Sand Lake Press, 1980


Did you like this quote? Then we think you’ll love the Gun Digest Book of the Remington 870 by Nick Hahn!


Ammo: Reloads or Factory?
Gun Digest the Magazine March 25, 2013
Jennifer L.S. Pearsall joined Gun Digest in summer 2011 as a books editor. She began her career selling guns in a retail gun shop and handgun range in Northern Virginia in the early 1990s. Recruited by the NRA to join its editorial staff in 1999, she then went on to succeed as a freelance writer and photographer. She's been a competitive shooter in many disciplines, including sporting clays, IPSC, and metallic blackpowder cartridge silhouette, and she has been an avid hunter for many years.