Hovey's Outdoor Adventures

Hovey Smith

Hovey’s Outdoor Adventures – Blunderbuss Swan Hunt

Blunderbuss Swan Hunt

Blunderbusses are strange guns and the people who enjoy shooting them are perhaps even stranger, including me. When I first saw one advertised in Sportsman’s Guide I knew that I would need to get it and wring it out. The .54 caliber gun was shot at outdoor writers’ conferences in Mississippi and Tennessee, hunted small game and deer in Georgia and was now off to hunt the nation’s largest waterfowl in North Carolina.

The 20-gauge is usually considered to be a small-bore shotgun compared to 11, 12 and 10 gauge guns, that are considered medium-bore guns. (Big-bore shotguns start at the 8-gauge and go up to 2-gauge punt guns which are not legal in the U.S. for waterfowl.) Because the Traditions-made gun’s barrel is a cylinder-bored 26-gauge, its maximum effective throw of shot is about a 1-ounce load. You can shoot more shot out the barrel, but you lose any pretense of a pattern and your shot winds up as a hollow-centered donut. This condition is aggravated because I am also using hand-cut cardboard and foam wads derived from beer cartons and egg crates.

Given enough time, I can usually count on getting at least one swan to decoy within the 20-25 yard kill range of the blunderbuss. I loaded it with 70-grains of Hodgdon’s TripleSeven powder and 1-ounce of mixed steel and HeviShot 4s with a Cream of Wheat buffer between the over-powder wad and the shot. This load generated sharp recoil from the light-weight gun.

I was at Bodie Island, got the blind I wanted for each of the three days The first two mornings’ hunt produced only two distant swan. The last day I hunted all day and had several flights over me just before dark. All but one bird was out of range and offered a butt-profile shot that I did not take. I downed a bird by taking a shot at what turned out to be the last flight of the day. The bird was beyond my 25-yard limit, but I broke a wing. I finished it by chasing it down with a Mossberg 500 3-inch pump cartridge shotgun.

This hunt demonstrated that you can take down swan with a 20-gauge gun, but the trick is to get them in close and take neck-head shots. HeviShot 4s from a 20-gauge can be effective when used in this manner, but wait for a good shot.

Ads on the show include those from Invasive Species Control, whose motto is,” We kill ‘um, you eat ‘um.” and SIN, Inc. (Synthetic Industrial Non-Nutritives, Inc.) who announced that its Puke Vodka is now available for home therapy in 5-gallon and 1-gallon pails as well as in 55-gallon drums and tank cars for use by alcoholic treatment and rehabilitation centers.

The cooking section consisted of a visit to the Sanctuary Vineyards and a product tasting with the Wine Maker which included my own pear wine made from my back-yard pear trees.

A video of this tasting may be seen at:

A description of this show with photos is at: