B&P Heavy Pheasant

By Joe Ferronato

“Get up front now!”

Mr. William’s deep southern drawl echoed through the long-leaf pines calling to Willy, the old English pointer on the edge of retirement. The gentle breeze, warm sun, and the smooth gait of the Tennessee Walker were nearly enough to make me fall asleep in the saddle. If it wasn’t for my keen interest in the operation, and the desire to see the dogs lock on point yet one more time, it would’ve been a pleasant nap.

I cut my teeth on birds. Growing up, it was waterfowl and upland birds alike. Dogs were always a part of the picture, pointers for the uplands and labs for the wetlands. It made me appreciate the finer things in hunting: Good times spent with close friends, fine shotguns, well-trained dogs, and expensive wines and whiskeys.

A recent trip to southern Georgia delivered on all I love about bird hunting and provided a chance to sling some Baschieri and Pellagri ammunition at some wild bobwhite quail. I couldn’t turn down that opportunity as there’s not much I like more than following a good bird dog while holding a well-finished double.

The hunt marked my first experience with B&P shells in the field, but the Italian company has been in operation since 1885 and knows a thing or two about shotshell performance. Throughout the years, B&P focused on refining powders, components, and innovative designs. One of those designs is the Gordon System.

The Gordon System is a fascinating design that is meant to reduce felt recoil. The wad is a sort of shock absorber that softens the shot without sacrificing velocities or pattern. It’s not going to make your 12-gauge feel like a 28, but it would be noticeable in a high-volume situation. The system is found across many of the loads in the B&P line up–including the Heavy Pheasant, which I used on the hunt.

Sinkola Plantation in Thomasville is unique. The property is maintained for timber and wild bobwhites. In this part of the world, especially with traditional plantation hunts, wild birds are a rarity. Many of the operations in the south utilize put-and-take birds meaning they’re pen-raised and released for the hunters. These are high-volume hunts where you can shoot hundreds of birds, and that’s fun, but it doesn’t deliver on the thrill of pursuing and shooting the fast-flying wild bobwhites.

The plantation enlists the help of horses to pursue these birds—Tennessee Walkers to be exact, and I’ve decided that Walkers are what all horses should be—followed by a mule-drawn buggy that holds eight far-ranging English pointers that are rotated in pairs throughout the course. All the shooting had to be done with a break-action shotgun as well, over-unders or side-by-sides…just my style.

Late-season, wild bobwhites don’t offer a high-volume shooting scenario by any means, but the challenge is what it’s all about. Only two people shoot per point. With four shooters, we rotated between shot opportunities. It was slow for pulling the trigger, but it was deeply immersive and a great way to learn about the history, dog training and to test my wingshooting skills.

The dust coming off trees and brush indicated that the B&P Heavy Pheasant held a good pattern, but I was well behind the fast flyers on my first covey rise. They flush like honeybees, flying between cover, bobbing up and down and side to side, and they do it in the blink of an eye. If a bird flushes at 5 yards, by the time the gun is to your shoulder it’s a 15-yard shot. They’re just a little harder to hit than a lumbering pheasant in a corn field.

Knocking down my first wild bobwhite felt great and the Cocker Spaniel riding shotgun on the dog wagon retrieved it. The pointers aren’t allowed to retrieve the birds, so the Cocker gets all the reward for the pointers’ hard work. My two pointers would disown me if they weren’t allowed to retrieve—or maybe they’d be better pointers…who knows?

I squeezed the trigger less than a dozen times over the course of the two-day hunt—probably not high enough volume to fully appreciate the benefits of the Gordon System—but the ammo shot well, and I still put birds on the ground. In one instance I even shot a true double—and Willy got to point them for me on his last hunt before retirement.

Cost: Around $23 per box

Pros: Patterns well, hits hard, consistent and innovative

Cons: Hard to find on the shelf at your mom-and-pop gun shop

From the FE Films Archive

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