In the days of silk fly lines, English fly anglers would utter “God save the queen,” before setting the hook. This gave the trout time to take the fly in his mouth and turn, setting the hook himself rather than the angler pulling it away too soon. I’m convinced it’s good advice for bird hunters too, for a slightly different reason. When it comes to shooting, I try to live by the axiom “Good things come to those who wait.”
Most shots on birds connect at 25 yards, maybe 30, tops. If you’ve patterned your shotgun, you know an improved cylinder choke at 30 yards only makes a pattern about three feet in diameter. At 20 yards, it’s tiny. With that condensed shot cloud, there is little chance of actually hitting something. It’s why we can flock-shoot and still miss every bird … the holes between birds can be bigger than our shot cloud!
When the birds fly, take a moment to focus, and I don’t mean just your eyes, but your head, too. Your pattern will open up, evening the odds a bit, and with more space between covey birds, you might not flock shoot … as often.