Patterning Your Turkey Gun
Turkey season is right around the corner. The sound of a tom gobbling on a warm spring morning is one of the most thrilling noises in nature. It takes a lot of skill and patience to get a mature gobbler within range. From the calls you make to the way you conceal yourself, there are a lot of moving parts that come into play.
It’s common for the outdoorsmen to spend their time leading up to the season opener researching, purchasing, and testing their new gear. From turkey calls to the newest clothing, and everything in between. However, many hunters fail to correctly test their shotgun and the shells they hunt with.
Not all guns are created equal and neither are the shells. You may not realize it but quite a bit of technology goes into making shotgun shells such as Winchester LongBeard XR, Federal 3rd Degree, and Browning BXD shells, among many others. These shells have been made specifically for shooting longer distances while still patterning well at 15-20 yards. There are many more brands on the market as well. The same goes for aftermarket chokes. With all of the new products available it sounds like you can’t go wrong picking out a choke, plugging it into your gun, and grabbing whatever shells are available. Wrong.
I would recommend picking out a few different shells that you feel are applicable to your hunting needs. It’s easier to switch out shells than it is a choke or the gun itself. For that reason I recommend testing many brands of shells until you get the pattern you desire. It’s not uncommon for the 3 inch version to pattern better than the 3.5 inch version of the same brand, or vice versa. The same goes for the different size shots such as number 5’s or 6’s.
When patterning your gun, I set up targets at 20, 30, and 40 yards. Fire off one shot at each target with each brand of shells. Use a target with a turkey on it so you can see exactly how it would’ve performed when shooting at a real bird. The results may surprise you. Once you have found a combo that works well with your set up, stick with it. Be sure to compare how the different shells matched up at various distances. Then you can make an educated decision about what will work best for the area you’re hunting.
When it comes to killing wild turkeys, there are a lot of factors to consider. Pulling the trigger on an ole tom should be the last step in that process. Don’t let that be the step that trips you up. Take a few minutes and test out setup prior to hunting this spring.