Spring Turkey Hunting
Turkey hunting is one of the most exciting outdoor adventures in the field and we have seen strides of development in the gear used for hunting gobblers over the last few years. Not too long ago, all turkey hunters had was the option of using some regular small game loads or even duck BB loads. We’ve come a long way since then. With the growing popularity of the sport of turkey hunting comes innovation in products designed specifically for serious turkey hunters. Among these innovations are specialized shotgun configurations and premium high-performance shotshells.
When choosing a shotgun for turkey hunting there are several variables to consider. The 12 gauge is the most popular choice but if you plan to take a youth hunting or looking for less kick, you may want to consider a 20 gauge shotgun. However, you must realize the effective range of the 20 gauge is considerably less than that of a 12 gauge.
Another key decision is the action of the gun. A semi-automatic can cost double what a pump from the same manufacturer would cost. Keep in mind, a semi-automatic shotgun allows for quick follow-up shots on gobblers and usually will have less recoil. When it comes to reliability the pump shotgun almost never fails. While you can still use a single shot shotgun it would be ill-advised for no chance of a follow-up shot if needed compared to today’s pump or semi-automatic shotguns.
The next element to look at is chamber size. Cost is a factor as most guns that chamber a 3-½” shell are priced at a premium compared to firearms with 3” or 2 ¾”” chambers. A 3-½” shell thumps more recoil but can also be used for waterfowl hunting later in the season. If you plan to hunt turkey, waterfowl, small game or deer with your shotgun you need to consider the versatility and variety of shotshells that are safe to fire from the weapon.
Speaking of size, barrel length is another factor. Many shooters prefer a long barrel for shooting winged game birds. But for turkey hunting, a little shorter is better. A 24 or 26-inch barrel is easier to swing when shooting from a seated position. Often times turkeys approach from an unexpected direction and it’s just easier to move around with a slightly shorter barrel. Another factor to consider is chokes on that particular barrel. All new turkey guns come with full or super full choke tubes. In addition, many companies manufacture aftermarket turkey tubes with even tighter constrictions. You should experiment with a variety of chokes and loads to see which throw the densest and most consistent patterns.
Another important thing to consider when looking for a new turkey gun are the sights that you want to use. Most, dedicated turkey guns will have sights that are more advanced than the single bead found on other shotguns. The options can include standard iron sights, fiber-optic sights, or a flat top rail to mount a red dot sight or scope. Choose whatever you are most comfortable with while also considering your hunting areas and what would be most appropriate.
These extra options are pure cosmetic and just personal preference that include the gun’s finish, accessories, and type of stock. The most important factor in buying a new shotgun for turkey hunting is the weapon fitting you and you being able to shoot it comfortably.
With so many shot shells on the market, how do you decide which load to shoot for turkey season? There really isn’t a perfect answer to this question. Not all turkey hunters hunt the same way, some run and gun, hunt thick brush, hunt in open fields or hunting a creek ridge all would have different answers as to which is the best load to shoot. The bottom line is you should take the time to pattern your shotgun with premium turkey loads. With so many turkey loads out today it comes down to finding the right one that works well with your shotgun and style of hunting. Try patterning different shot sizes with your choice of choke at different yardages to find the best for your style of hunting with the most consistent pattern. Knowing exactly what to expect from your shotgun and ammo prior to going turkey hunting will pay off with more success in the field this season.
What shotgun and shells do you use for turkey hunting?
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