I really didn’t mean to become an expert with a buckshot shotgun. It happened by protocol hunting in the South, and reiterated by the use of a Combination gun, taught to me by the Yaegermiesters of Germany.
When used correctly it will flatten the biggest buck or wild boar in the woods, but it has rules few really want to go by. First you have to know the trick to judge range instantly and you won’t have time to use a range finder. That’s simple, if you can clearly see a Deer’s eye its in buckshot range. That’s going to be under 50 yards.
Next, is the Shell. Bigger is better with the 12 gage 2 3/4 inch shell as absolute minimum. #4 buckshot is not recommended but I must admit I killed a deer flat out with it. Better is a heavy load of #1 Buck to 000 Buck. It all depends on how your gun and choke handles a particular load. This takes some testing. The brand of shell for hunting should be of premium quality, for me its Winchester with 50 buckshot kills to my record. If you can find someone that can match it, I bet they will say the same thing.
The hunting shotgun and the police shotgun are two different things. Working with the best Cryogenic man in the country he received a complaint that treating a police weapon ruined the “Pattern” on a riot gun. It went from a scatter effect to a tight full choke pattern. (Yes, that’s what happens). For the hunter this is pure magic. You want a tight pattern with buckshot, Cryogenics is the way to Nirvana with a lot of firearm technology and my tests were down right amazing, and it works with all kinds of shot.
Your Big Game Shotgun needs an optical sight, or at least rifle type Iron sights. I zero in at 25 yards and then test at 50 yards from the bench. Going back to low tech, your particular load diminishes when you can no longer get 3 buckshot hits on a Paper Plate. The optical sight centers your pattern and takes out the guess work.
In our Buckshot and Turkey Gun tests at Ft Polk we found the Mossberg back bore barrel shoots a slightly tighter pattern. My standard Remington barrel matched it when cryogenically treated. After that it becomes trial and error (that’s fun too). Since a 3 1/2 inch Magnum 10 and 12 gage gun has more recoil that a 458 Mag this was not a pleasant endeavor.
Trail and error is in effect with chokes verses the load as you may get a tighter pattern with Modified than a Full choke with the Nitro Ammunition Company telling us a Turkey choke is better. This all requires study just like I did.
Ethics: You don’t use buckshot in open country its an up close and personal thing like bow hunting and about at the same range. From my experience, the only thing that can match it up close in knock down power is a 45-70. Its the only thing you would use on running deer up close (if you can hit a cotton tail rabbit, a deer is somewhat easy especially with 18 35 cal, round balls). Its only legal in states that have thick or jungle like terrain where close in or running shots are normal. Personally I have only had 2 run 50 yards, both with only one lethal hit, the others were Train Wrecks….Pass it on.