If you want to try turkey hunting but are holding back because you don’t have a fully tricked out turkey gun, choked so tightly it lets out the pellets in single file, don’t let that keep you out of the game. Most toms are killed within 30 yards anyway. And Hornady’s Heavy Magnum turkey shot shell can make you regular shot gun a reliable tom thumper at that range.
This shell, introduced in 2012, achieves a tight, lethal patterns at thirty yards and possibly beyond through improved cylinder and modified chokes. It is not to used through full and super full turkey chokes. So if you regular shotgun is chambered for three inch shells and has a modified or improved cylinder choke you are good to go.
With this shell, the choke is in the wad rather than the barrel. The Versatite wad stays with the pellets further down range and keeps them in tighter formation. Also the heavy nickel plating on the lead pellets keeps the lead pellets from deformation contributing to a tighter pattern. Shooting it through full and super full chokes will degrade the pattern because tighter constriction strips the wad prematurely and causes more pellet collisions, deformation flyers and off target pellets.
Shotgun tinkerers and salesmen are all about extending the range of turkey guns to fifty yards with super tight patterns to sell you a “must have” new gun. But you can get into the game with three things; your standard shot gun, the Hornady shot shell and one key tip – set up to call from a location where the tom will be inside thirty yards when he steps into view.
Instead of setting up where you can see seventy or a hundred yards, use elevation differences or a turn in the trail to set up where a tom coming to your call will already be inside thirty yards when he steps in to view. The reason toms hang up at forty or fifty yards is because they can see the spot the call is coming from but can’t see the hen so they hang up waiting to see her. But if they can’t see the spot the call comes at fifty yards, they keep coming until they can.
The Hornady Heavy Magnum steps out at 1300 feet per second for significant knock down power. Its available in 12 and 20 gauge three inch shells in 4, 5 or 6 shot. Inside thirty yards its not going to matter to the turkey which size shot you use. But at 35 yards, one or the other may give you a vastly improved pattern.
Pattern you gun with the shells at 25, 30 and 35 yards before you hunt with them to be sure you know where they hit and how far out they produce a lethal pattern through your gun and choke.
The gold standard for a lethal pattern is 100 pellets inside a ten inch circle that you aimed at. The farthest range at which you can achieve that is your ethical, lethal range.
Stretching it beyond that risks wounding a tom. Check out the Hornady turkey shell here.
If you are new to turkey hunting or you haven’t achieved the success you would like, get the e-book How to Hunt the Wild Turkey on the e-book page. The cost is less than a couple of turkey shot shells.