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December 05, 2008

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Bourjaily: Why I am a Girlie-Man

It’s a bad bird year around here, so people I know have been traveling for their pheasants. A friend of mine just came back from northwest Iowa, impressed by the numbers of birds but bemused at his reception by the locals. “They called me a girlie- man hunter because I shoot a 12 gauge,” Cody reported. “They said real men shoot 20 gauges.”

Me, I own guns of other gauges, but the half dozen I actually take out of the cabinet to hunt and shoot with are all 12s. Admittedly, one of the reasons I only shoot 12s is simple-minded:  I don’t want to get to the field only to find I’ve brought the wrong gauge ammunition.

Of course, all my ammunition would fit all my guns if I shot only 16s or only 20s, but I don’t. No other gauge comes close to being as versatile as the 12. Mine range from a double weighing less than most 20 gauges to a near 9-pound target gun with 32 inch barrels, and I shoot loads from 3/ 4 of an ounce (targets) up to 1 3/ 4 ounces (turkeys) out of them. The big bore of the 12 gauge helps it pattern well with a wide variety of payloads. If you shoot steel shot, it takes a hull the size of a 12 gauge’s to hold enough of the light pellets to kill a duck or a goose. And, as much fun as light, skinny small bores are to handle, I believe it’s easier to shoot well with a gun that’s a little more substantial and hand-filling.

All of the above seem like logical reasons to shoot 12s to me. Still, the idea persists among some hunters that small gauge guns are somehow more sporting and more manly because they give the birds “a chance” (A chance to fly off and die crippled maybe). Me, I will stick to my 12 gauges. Just today I had a shot at a rooster with a 25 mph north wind under his tail. By the time I got the gun up he was 35-40 yards out and quartering away. If I had brought a small gauge gun like the 28 my partner was shooting, I don’t know what would have happened, but when I shot my 12 gauge at the rooster, it crashed to the ground dead. If that makes me a girlie-man, I’m okay with it.


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Here in Eastern Ky., the quail population has dropped in the last 20 yrs. Due in part to no farmers planting the cover crops needed for the birds, Perhaps the advance in coyote populations have been a factor. Not my shooting.... Maybe some day they will improve. Nothing to me is as rewarding as working a good English pointer.. Grouse are still doing good here because of the rough, thick brush found through out the region here. ... I will still carry my 12 ga.(call me what you want) but with 7 1/2 shot, not #4's .( That's girlish....)


wooperjack, If I'm going to ride my fourwheeler down to Tygarts creek just to ride, I might throw my Win. single barrel, 20ga. on it, but to hunt anything, it will be with my pump 12 ga.


Good post Wade...


Wade: I like where your head is at here.

The best reason to go smaller gauge is to get a smaller gun, not to give the game a fighting chance.

What Phil knows, too, is that even when the bigger gauge delivers the same payload as the little gauge (same recoil as a 20 or even a 28) it does so with a shorter shot column. That means that even though he may be shooting an ounce of shot, just as the 20 gauge guys are, he is putting more pellets on the target, which equals cleaner breaks/ kills. Best of all worlds.

SD Bob

Wade is sounding like me! I don't know him but I like him already!

Use you're 12 gauge and call it good.


Wad & SD Bob, I could not agree more. I heard this argument made by Ralph & Vickey C a few years ago and they were spot on. United we stand, divided we fall!!


I say go 12 gauge. I have 5 and I use them all, SBE waterfowl, Red Label, pheasant, Lefever side by side, to be cool, 870, slug only, damn! That's only 4! Huh, I better go look for another one! My ten yr old shoots my 870 .410 untill she gets a little bigger, but w/ all the choices of loads you can get for the 12 and for the price of shells, it makes for a pretty good arguement for MR 12. .410's are going for around 9 bux a box here.


Any one use thye duplex shells, #4 and #6 s in same shell. Bought some the other day, thought they might be good on turkeys..especially the feathered kind..is that girlish...


You could take this logic the other way and say that you're not a real man if you don't use a 10 gauge.


When you have a good shot and are on - they die. When you take a bad shot and/or you are off - they fly.

I love my CZ-USA 20ga auto. I shot 9 (IA) rings w/10 shots w/the IM choke, that little gun is light and flawless.

My 12ga Browning Gold Hunter, I love and have done some excellent shooting with it also.

My Mossberg 500 12ga is my good old work horse for turkeys.

I love my shotguns almost as much as my wife of 42 years, which leads me to ask how many of you all are puhing 65? Does age and physical condition enter the equation?

Bottome line if it fits and works have fun, lifes too short. Da Preacher.

Del in KS

Clay and Jim,

Last week in London I picked up some high quality coffee at Monmouth St. Coffee Co. for only 18 pounds a Kilo. It was from a plantation in India. No cat sh*t though ha ha. Where the heck is that pound symbol on this keyboard?

I hunt just about everything with a 12. The exception is when a light gun is needed. Then the Barreta 28 guage Silver Pidgeon comes out.


The banter about about the coffee made from crap reminds me of an old joke. A farmer, hauling a wagon load of horse manure, is passing by the grounds of a mental institution. A fellow from inside yells "Hey mister whatcha' gonna do with that load of s*#@. The farmer replies "Gonna put it on my strawberrys". The fellow in the fence calls back "Ya oughta come in here, they put sugar and milk on ours".

Jim in Mo

I saw something really stupid while I was out deer hunting a couple weeks ago. The fella that let us hunt his land the last weekend said his two grandsons would be on the ridge over from ours. We happened to meet the boys on the road as we were walking in. One of the boys didn't own a hunting rifle so a buddy's dad loaned him one. Now get this, a .416 Weatherby! The boy didn't know what he had but by the size of the shell he was sure it would kill his deer deader. I'll bet that guy chuckled at the practical joke as the boy drove off.
Now this is a good way to turn a person off from hunting and maybe getting hurt.
BTW, here's to all vets on Pearl Harbor day. Haven't heard it mentioned on tv or radio yet this morning.

Dr. Ralph

$50 a cup for some of that cat shit coffee! I thought I'd heard it all... 26 degrees outside today and my neck and back are sore from treestanditis. Taking the day off.


Well, my two cents worth is that some shotguns work for you, some don't. They've gotta fit.
To start, I've always shot pump guns, growing up with Winchester Model 12's.
I had a 3" mag Mossberg 500 that I never hit anything with. Only new gun I ever bought. Happiest day of my life when I sold it.
Also have my granddads Stevens double barrel hammergun 12, that's killed a lot of ducks, seems to shoot wherever you point it.
Cheap gun, good shooter.
Latest purchase, a Browning Citori 20 gauge Feather over/under. For an old guy wanting a light gun to carry in the field, it's great. I have yet to hit anything with it.
Problem is, I loaned it to my son, and he limited out with it in one hour, and I may never get it back.
Bottom line, it ain't the gun, it's the shooter.

Brian T

My favorite 12 is my favorite because the stock fits ME. It shoots where I'm looking. Lots of AM choke tubes and lots of different loads. "If it flies, It dies." (Who said that?)

Clay Cooper

I was in one of the local candy stores, Chris one of the employees known fantasies is take on a Grizzly with a knife, NO JOKE FOR REAL! knew me and thought I would be impressed of the rifle on top of the sales counter. I glanced at the short action and asked Chris what’s this rifle chambered in, 308 Win and it’s a varmint rifle he responded. It had a 20ish inch mega ported barrel and the ports were large enough I could stick my pinky finger in it. After a quick glance I said, “Wimp rifle!” and walked off.

I remember age 13 shooting skeet with a 410 bolt gun 23 out of 25 and I dare them to call me a wimp!

I like to see those 20 gauge wimps out on the 1000 yard line and give them a choice between a M14/M1A and a 300 Win mag. I bet they wouldn’t know to defecate or wind there watch!

Clay Cooper

Hey Ralph!
26 degrees outside today?


Check this out and you think it’s cold!

Tossing coffee in the air at minus 40ish below Fairbanks Alaska!!



Whatever criteria set up a post for anti spam flagging? This isn't the first time I have written a fairly respectful post (insulting no one directly and putting forth information I felt relevant to the discussion only to have it flagged as spam. This is frustrating and I'd rather avoid it, so whatever gets my posts flagged? I see quite a few rather disrespectful postings that don't get flagged so why flag mine?


If you can't find what you are looking for, Call Superior Ammunition in Sturgis, SD. He handloads rounds in any caliber bullet Combination and is very Reasonbly priced, Competitive with factory prices and accuracy of handloads. My 7MM shoot 1/2" with his ammo. www.superiorammunition.com


Sorry, wrong address. Here is the correct one.

Jim in Mo

Do not get offended its happened to me too. Read what you wrote and change a word or two. Any filter is better than none if you'd go back and read some of the stuff that was getting through. I've been flagged for using the 'c' word in describing bringing back the hammer on a gun, but thats ok.


Hokay I'll try again. I am of the distaff gender and I shoot a 12. I have gauge mate adapters for 20 and .410 that will make my Ithaca Super single lever action shotgun handle almost anything. I like the shotpatterns that result too. I mostly shoot it as a 12 gauge though, it could be a little tough on the shoulder so I got a decelerator pad for the buttstock.
As far as "girlymen" go recent studies show an ever higher rate of feminization in many species of wildlife, ranging from hermaphroditic bears and intersex fish to breeding failures in eagles and snapping turtles. It is happening to humans too and the smoking gun is endocrine disrupting agricultural chemicals. A Dr. Dorner in Germany did a study finding vastly increased incidences in intersex human children as well. This is very bad, and you have to ask...Is roundup ready corn and soy worth the distruction of fertility? The next time you meet a tranny, don't scoff.. you are looking at the fallout from an environmental disaster just unfolding...

Clay Cooper

It’s just like being out hunting, some day you’re going to trip and fall and cram a butt load of mud in the muzzle! It’s a question of when, not if!

Breathe Son!


Clay Cooper

Bourjaily and DEP

Off subject, have you tried the new “SPOT” satellite tracking device?

Bought one several months ago and love the darn thing! I can go back and see the trails I’ve been on, send OK messages and get help and 911. Above all the wife knows where I am due to no cell phone coverage.

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