The goal in turkey hunting is a quick humane kill without wounding one of these tremendous birds. But the trend has been toward shooting at greater distances as turkey guns, chokes and shot shells all improve. This leads to a lot of misses and wounding because hunters really don’t know what their guns will do, every shot, at ranges beyond forty yards or more. They may drop a tom once a the that range with a couple of lucky pellet hits then assume their gun will do that every time and proceed to wound birds at that range.
I know still target competitors produce amazingly tight patters at ranges beyond 60 yards but off the shelf shot guns, which most of use, can’t pattern that tightly. And if they did they would handicap us with tiny patterns at 20 to 30, yards which is the range most turkeys are taken at. If a tom a 20 yards, moves his head 2 inches when you pull the trigger you will miss with a super tight pattern but you would still connect with a lethal dose of pellets if your choke had a less constriction.
Far better to find out the maximum range at whichyour gun will produce a lethal pattern every shot and calls birds within that range than to hope for some lucky hits beyond that range just because you have a super tight choke and the latest hot turkey load.
By shooting various brands of shells and patterning my turkey gun with them I’ve come up with a combination that I’m confidant will put a tom down and keep him down out to 45 yards. To go beyond that would be irresponsible and most of the turkeys I’ve taken have been inside 30 yards. I’ve only shot at 2 toms beyond forty yards and they dropped and flopped without taking another step. But Its always my goal to call ’em in close and if I can’t get them to come inside 45 yards they walk and I try again another day.
The deadly combo I’ve settled on is Federal’s 3 inch copper plated lead turkey load with no. 5 shot. The flight control wad in that shell combines well with my Undertaker choke with .665 constriction to produce consistently lethal patterns out to 45 yards in my Browning BPS with a 20.5 inch barrel. At the same time the pattern is wide enough to connect on a running turkey at twenty yards. Since most shots are within thirty yards and some as close as ten or twenty, I wouldn’t sacrifice the ability to hit a moving bird at that range for a lethal pattern at 50 yards.
Every shot gun barrel is an individual so its worth the time to pattern your shotgun and choke with different brands of shells and shot sizes to find out which combination produces the best patterns consistently in your gun.
Get detailed instruction on how to pattern your gun in a great new ebook. How to Hunt the Wild Turkey.