If you have never patterned your shot gun or are using a new turkey gun, a new turkey shell, a new choke or a new sighting system this season, pattern your gun. Or if you missed a shot last year and don’t know how or why, pattern your gun. Turkey hunting heartbreak is assured if you don’t know where your gun hits and how it patterns.
The golden standard for a lethal pattern is one hundred pellets in a ten inch circle that you aimed at. The farthest range at which you gun will put a hundred pellets in a ten inch circle is your guns maximum lethal range for turkey hunting.
To make sure you are on target and have a lethal pattern take these steps.
1. Print a dozen free turkey targets from this sight.
You can print them on 8.5 x 11 inch paper. You need a new target for each shot.
If you can’t print the target, draw a ten inch circle with a thick marker on some wide paper and put a 3 inch black dot in the middle of it. A ten inch pot or plate from the kitchen makes a good template to trace the circle.
2. Fasten one target to a large piece of cardboard or plywood.
3. Sit on the ground with a back rest like a tree as you would in turkey hunting, twenty yards from the target. Rest your forearm on your knee to support your gun. Aim carefully and shoot at the target. If your pattern is not centred on the target adjust your sights or eye position if you are using the bead sight.
Shoot as many new targets as it takes target to verify that you are centered on target. For this step light target shells are adequate. Save the turkey shell for the next steps.
4. Move the target back to thirty yards. Take a shot with your turkey load. Count the pellet holes inside the biggest ring on the target. Some turkey loads hit higher that standard loads because they are higher velocity. If your pattern is above centre, adjust your sights and shoot again to verify that you are centered on the target
5. Move it back another five yards, shoot again and count the pellets holes.
6. Keep moving it back five yards at a time and take a shot. The farthest distance at which you can put a hundred pellets in the ten inch circle consistently is your maximum lethal range. To take a shot beyond that range risks wounding and wasting one of these great birds. Be patient. Wait until you get him in closer or try him again another day.