#4 Shot For Geese: Is It A Good Idea?


If you’ve been hunting ducks, you’ll probably know that a #4 shot is effective at bagging more of them. But when it comes to geese, this isn’t always the best shot size.

What’s the most successful shot size for geese? Some of the best loads for geese include the #1, BB, BBB, and T shot. These are larger shots that accommodate the larger size of geese as compared to ducks.

They’re the best shots because they offer a decent amount of pellets while driving enough energy into the target so you can take down a goose instead of just wounding it. But, is there ever a good reason to use a #4 shot? Here’s what you need to know.

What Is A #4 Shot Size?

The #4 shot size is recommended for the hunting of small ducks, and it works effectively at distances of between 15 and 40 yards. This is because the #4 shot has a decent amount of pellets (usually around 118, if you’re talking about lead pellets). For geese, however, this isn’t always ideal.

It’s important to note that the transition from lead shots to non-toxic shots has influenced the way hunters shoot geese. For example, a #6 lead shot used to be renowned as one of the most effective shots for taking down geese, but after the lead ban, non-toxic materials started to become popular.

To achieve the same power of the #6 lead, hunters had to start using the #4 steel shot. But, if your #4 lead shot was your chosen shot size, you’d find that moving up to a #2 in steel worked better.

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(To find out more about the #2 shot, read, “#2 Shot For Geese: Why Is It Good?”)

Why a #4 Shot Isn’t Great For Goose Hunting

Geese are larger than ducks. You need to ensure that your pellets will penetrate their feathers and skin, with enough energy to take them down. The last thing you want to experience is a situation in which you’ve wounded geese instead of killed them.

Since shot sizes such as the #1 and BB shot have fewer pellets but they’re larger in size, this enables you to make an instant kill when using them because they produce more energy instead of dispersing that energy into a greater number of pellets.

A #4 shot has small pellets and a 0.13-inch diameter. This provides a dense pattern when shooting waterfowl, but it doesn’t give you enough energy to take down geese.

While you can use a #4 shot for hunting geese, you shouldn’t rely on this shot size whenever you head out to hunt these birds. This is because it only works well in certain situations, which we’ll explore in the next section.

How To Use #4 Shot For Goose Hunting

If you’re dealing with slow-moving geese, a #4 shot can work to kill them. However, make sure you follow some important tips.

Use A Full Choke

Using the right choke will extend your initial range and open up the shot pattern. Full chokes are effective when you’re engaging in long-range shots, such as when hunting geese over open water and fields.

Before preparing to take aim at a goose on the water, make sure you’ve read our guide, “Can You Shoot Geese On The Water?”

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Shoot Geese With #4 Shots Over Decoys

If you’ve seen geese wandering into your decoy spread, you could use a #4 shot to kill them because they’re closer. This will ensure you can kill the birds, but make sure you aim for the goose’s head or chest to increase your chances of making a successful kill with just one shot.

This table shows that #2 steel shots work well for taking down medium and small geese when they’re over decoys. This is most effective at between 35 and 50 yards.

Use #4 Lead When Shooting Geese Flying Close To Land

There is an important advantage of using a #4 lead shot when hunting large birds such as geese. This shot travels well through the air and maintains a dense pattern for a long range, which makes it useful when you’re hunting geese while they’re flying.

However, you should ensure that the geese are flying close to the ground when you take aim, such as if they’re ready to land on the water.

If they’re far away from you and you’re not going to effectively strike the bird, opt for a larger shot instead, such as a T shot. You can find out more about this shot by reading, “T Shot For Geese: Is It A Good Idea?”

Related Questions

What type of choke is most effective for goose hunting?

For waterfowl that you’re shooting at close range, such as 25 yards, you should use an improved cylinder choke. However, you should switch over to a modified choke tube if you’re shooting geese further away, such as around 35 yards.

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What’s the best shot size for hunting snow geese?

When hunting snow geese, you should always opt for a large shot. Your best bets are BB, BBB, and T sizes.


You might assume that you can use the same shot size whether you’re shooting ducks or geese, but this isn’t always the case. While you can get away with using a #4 shot size when hunting geese, this isn’t a versatile, all-around shot size.


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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>