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?
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.
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.
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