Turkey Tune Up

If it’s not already turkey season in your neck of the woods, it should be soon. As much as it’s a thrill to have a tom thundering his gobble on his way to you, it’s equally devastating to miss one. I mean it’s a shotgun, right? You can shoot doves out of the air at 40 yards, so how the heck do you miss a gobbler at 25?

Sighting in turkey loads is no fun. Be sure to use a recoil absorbing rest or a sandbag between your shoulder and the gun so you don’t develop a flinch.

Sighting in turkey loads is no fun. Be sure to use a recoil absorbing rest or a sandbag between your shoulder and the gun so you don’t develop a flinch.

Actually, it’s pretty easy because the guns, chokes and loads we have today pattern that tightly. Growing up in rural Virginia, we had a saying, “Twos for turkeys” because everyone had a fixed modified choke and we body shot turkeys with that large shot. Today, it’s all about having a tight swarm of smaller pellets and making a tom into a jelly head.

There are a few things you can do to reduce your chances of a miss.

First, pattern your gun with your load. This is so basic, but so many hunters don’t do it because they think just because it’s a shotgun, such things don’t matters. I patterned literally thousands of loads and counted millions of pellet holes while on the NRA Technical Staff, and I assure you, not all load/gun/choke combinations are created equal. When you pattern a turkey load, look for one that provides a nice, evenly distributed pattern with no “holes.”

Next, sight in your gun. Sure, a shotgun is sort of like a fire hose with a spray nozzle, but when a bird is up close, the pattern isn’t that big and it’s easy to miss. I personally like a scope that has a circle reticle that subtends a turkey’s head at 40 yards. That way, if the head fits inside or is bigger than the circle, the bird is in range. Red dot sights are also great, and iron sights are better than a bead.

Just like with rifles, sight shotguns in initially with cheap loads, and then fine tune with more expensive turkey loads.

Just like with rifles, sight shotguns in initially with cheap loads, and then fine tune with more expensive turkey loads.

Finally, know your limits. Whether you shoot 4, 5, or 6 shot, or any of the duplex loads, pattern them out to 50 yards or until where things start to come apart. Remember that distance, subtract five yards, commit that limit to memory and don’t take a shot past it.

 

Scott Mayer

www.tacticaltshirts.com

www.john1911.com

“Shooting Guns & Having Fun”

 

Scott Mayer

Scott Mayer

Writer at John1911
Mayer began his outdoor industry career in 1993 on the NRA Technical Staff where he became American Rifleman magazine first Shooting Editor. Mayer left NRA and entered the business end of publishing in 2003 as Advertising Account Executive for Safari Club International SAFARI Magazine and Safari Times newspaper. In 2006, Mayer was named Publisher of Shooting Times magazine where he was also tasked with launching and leading Personal Defense TV, the first television show of its kind.

In 2008, Mayer returned to the editorial side of publishing, this time in the digital field, as Editorial Director for Guns & Ammo, Shooting Times, Handguns and Rifleshooter online magazines. After a brief stint in 2011 as the Digital Media Director for an ABC TV affiliate, Mayer returned to the outdoors industry and Safari Club International where he is currently Assistant Publisher and Multi-Media Communications Editor.
Scott Mayer

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  • Mikial

    Great article. I have never hunted turkey, but I have really got the bug to give it a go. Pheasant, grouse, quail, doves and rabbits are all a blast and mighty tasty, but a turkey just seems like a great challenge.

    • Scott Mayer

      It’s one of those things where you either like it or you don’t.

      • I have been told when the Turkey gets close to you and starts making a ton of racket, it’s an experience. The story was intriguing. –Marky