September 22, 2014
The call came in, and I was off to Pierre, S.D., with a few cases of Hevi-Shot's new Hevi-Steel, a less expensive alternative to the company's tungsten-based loads. Tyson Keller of Banded had us in the layouts and on thousands of wintering Canadas near the Missouri River. They had stayed through some of the worst weather we had seen in years on the Dakota plains. Tyson had found a harvested cornfield, and the late-season honkers were feeding by the hundreds.
I passed around the 1¼-ounce, BB and No. 2 steel shells and we waited on the geese. With two hours till sunset, the skies were barren. The birds had been heavily-pressured for months now, and on this final day of the season the deep freeze had finally broken. It was a balmy 45 degrees and not a breath of wind could be found. Warm air, cloudy skies and a full moon on the way meant this hunt could be a bust.
Suddenly, a large group came from the northeast, something flocks never seem to do in this area. Singles landed all over the spread before the main flock of seven put their flaps down. The five hunters to my right were shooting Hevi-Steel and not a single bird left the decoys on that side. Only one honker was crippled and had to be finished on the deck.
After the initial volley it was game on, and flocks began coming off the river and closing tight. The windless day brought birds in from every direction, so it was load-and-fire as geese landed in the massive 700-decoy spread. Daylight was burning fast, but geese were falling, hot empties were raining down into the layout blinds, and Hevi-Steel was making a grand entry onto the waterfowl shooting scene.
Three-inch Hevi-Steel (1,500 fps) carries 90 pellets of BBs, and 156 pellets of No. 2s with a conventional wad. I tested the loads with a Dead Ringer choke and Remington 870. At 40 yards, the 2s averaged an 81 percent pattern and the BBs 79 percent. Switching over to a Browning BPS and Invector-Plus choke, the pattern percentage results were 61 for the 2s and 64 for the BBs. Couple this shot data with the field results I saw on Canada geese, and it was evident Hevi-Steel passed the test. The best results came when I shot the fodder through Hevi-Shot's own long range choke, recording 87 percent patterns inside a 30'' circle at 40 yards. If you're looking to put high payload density on waterfowl, this choke system is the right pick.
During the goose hunt, it was difficult to discern exactly how many birds Hevi-Steel killed, but I received no complaints form the shooters helping me test the new non-toxics. I did study the wound channels on birds I knew to be shot by Hevi-Steel and they were deep and deadly.
Load: Hevi-Steel 3-inch BB, 1¼ ounces