The Best Ammo for the Best Hunt

Apex Waterfowl Shells

It is no secret that one of the keys to having a great waterfowl season is being prepared. Having an advance plan of where and how to hunt is imperative, and being fully equipped with the proper guns and gear is critical as well. Last but not least is having the right ammo for the type of waterfowl being targeted. Nowadays there’s a long list of non-toxic shotshell options for the duck and goose hunter, and picking the right loads can be the difference between success and disappointment. APEX Ammunition, of Columbus, Mississippi, has taken the shotshell industry by storm through its ability to design and load cartridges in a way that maximizes the performance of non-tox shot. The company offers a wide range of products to cover every waterfowling scenario. APEX’s Director of Marketing, Kile Jones, who moonlights as a duck and goose guide with world-championship calling credentials, likes to break down the ammo-selection process using a rundown of four classic waterfowl hunts and the APEX cartridges he recommends for each.

Early-Season Teal

For most waterfowlers, early teal is the kickoff for the new season. This hunt features hot weather and hot-barreled shooting at ducks that are both diminutive and ultra speedy—a combination that accounts for one of the higher cartridges-to-birds-bagged ratios of all duck hunts. Although steel is generally the least desirable non-toxic shot, early-season teal is one of the occasions for which it makes sense. “Not only are the ducks small,” Jones explains, “but they also sport easier-to-penetrate early-season plumage; thus the need for super-hard-hitting ammo is less critical. For that reason, I think our S3 Steel #4 shot is a great choice. Thanks to the premium-plated shot and one-piece wad, this load will produce larger patterns, too, which is always helpful when trying to hit hard targets. Plus, with all of the aforementioned shooting, a teal hunter can expect to go through a lot of ammo, and this is one of the rare opportunities to shoot lower-cost non-tox without sacrificing much in the way of performance.”

Decoying Puddle Ducks

Be it plumed-out northern mallards, whistling pintails or coastal black ducks, nothing beats the experience of having cup-winded ducks bearing down on your decoy spread. And when it’s time to “take ’em,” nothing culminates that experience like solid hits that result in instant kills. “If all goes to plan, shots will occur at close range, meaning that steel can again get the job done,” says Jones. “I recommend our S3 Steel in #2 or #3, which when shot through a modified choke is going to produce the best possible performance that you can expect to get from steel. That said, my first choice would be our Mossy Oak Habitat Blend, which combines 1-1/16 oz of #3 steel with 1/4 oz of #8 Tungsten Super Shot (TSS). Yes, #8 shot is small, but the TSS version of those little pellets brings so much kinetic energy to the table that they usually pass entirely through the duck, making them extremely lethal. And speaking of small shot sizes, APEX’s all-tungsten TSS #8 and #9 loads work amazingly well for decoying ducks for those who enjoy shooting 20-gauge guns.”

Big-Water Divers

Divers can be hunted in numerous ways, but gunning over decoys from boats on big water is what most consider to be the classic hunt. Diver species are noted to be fast flyers. Throw a little wind into the mix, and they become outright burners. For that reason, centering them in the shot pattern can be a very tricky thing to execute consistently, even for those with advanced shooting skills. Consequently, birds that are hit are often hit with fewer pellets than, say, decoying mallards. It is therefore critical that the pellets that do connect are able to inflict maximum damage. Dropped divers need to be DOA, because chasing crippled divers on big water can be extremely disruptive to what could otherwise be a stellar hunt. The use of high-quality ammunition on diver hunts is paramount, and nothing rises to the task like APEX’s TSS products. “Our Habitat Blend combo of #3 steel and #8 TSS is great for birds that are decoying well,” states Jones. “And our tighter-patterning, harder-hitting TSS #8s anchor longer-range ducks unlike anything in the history of shotshells. Also, on the rare occasions when cripples need to be raked on the water, it can be done quickly and definitively.”

Geese in the Field

The decoy spread is expertly set, the shooters are well hidden and the first flock of big honkers has just committed to dumping right into the wheelhouse. This is one of the most exciting moments in the realm of hunting, and it’s what thousands of waterfowlers live for. It’s also a time when you want the right ammo when the shooting begins. “APEX tungsten products have become legendary for their ability to consistently produce instant kills on waterfowl,” says Jones. “A large part of that reputation comes from the way our cartridges perform on geese, which are the biggest and toughest of all gamebirds taken on the wing. Our Steel/TSS Blend in #BB (steel) and #7.5 (Tungsten) is probably the best goose option for a duplex load, although I love the previously mentioned Mossy Oak Blend too. For an even harder-hitting load, our TSS #7.5 cartridge is the ticket. It regularly kills geese at astounding distances and, because TSS is heavier than lead, the 20-gauge version allows small-bore shooters to enjoy a level of effectiveness unlike anything they’ve previously experienced.”

APEX Ammunition is an all-American, veteran-owned company. Check out the full catalog of shotshell loads at

Photographs courtesy of APEX Ammunition and @j_lewisphoto.

More from Shooting Sportsman Advertising

A Shotgunner’s Nirvana on the East Coast

SPONSORED CONTENT: BRAYS ISLAND PLANTATION What shotgunner doesn’t dream of having a...
Read More

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *