Once you’ve decided you’re ready to take up wild turkey hunting, there are a lot of considerations that must be taken. In this blog, I’ll discuss the basics in choosing a firearm, choke tube and shot shell before you venture out on your hunt.
I’ll be honest and say that if you and I were to own the same model shotgun, with the same model choke tube and same shot shells, they probably will not pattern the same. So, there lies the challenge. What do you use?
If hunting with a shotgun (rather than archery) you don’t necessarily have to have a “turkey shotgun”. You can use basically any type of hunting shotgun. Most people prefer 12 gauge but I use and prefer my Benelli M2 in 20 gauge with a 26” barrel (that thing is super light and patterns quite well!).
You can use about any shotgun, as long as the barrel is threaded so that you can remove and replace choke tubes in the barrel. Pictured below is a Beretta A300 with the choke tube partially out.
Notice how you would use a choke wrench to remove your choke and install a turkey choke of your choice. Keep in mind that turkey shotguns don't have to have threaded tubes; if you have a fixed tube shotgun with a full choke that patterns well enough to do the job you can use it. I have a friend that uses the very first shotgun he ever owned, a Browning 30" barrel fixed choke, he has harvested several toms with this old gun. Threaded barrels allow you to use one gun for multiple reasons.
Here are some shotguns in our upcoming Spring Hunting Sale.
Even an all black gun will work well, most shotgun manufacturers make these color options. The Benelli Super Vinci is a great choice.
It can be a bit overwhelming when you are looking at choke tubes to turkey hunt. There are many manufacturers out there and they all want your business. The cost range can be as cheap as $25 and can go up to nearly $100, even higher on custom shop choke tubes found on the internet. My advice on purchasing a coke tube is to go ahead and spend a little more and get a good quality choke. I’ve tried turkey chokes in all parts of the price range. I’m currently using an Indian Creek Black Diamond choke tube in my Benelli M2.
It is a higher end choke tube and it has proven to be effective. If you arent looking to come off the hip with a large investment for your turkey choke, here are some great values in the upcoming Spring Hunting Sale.
Turkey Shot Shells:
When I talk to customers about what shot shell to use, I’ll be honest with them and say that it’s challenging and sometimes frustrating when it comes to choosing your shells. There are many choices out there for turkey hunting shot shells. There are different brands, different shell length, different shot sizes.
Basically, all of the major shot shell manufacturers are making shells for wild turkey hunting. Choosing a brand is part personal preference but it also has to do with what shoots best in your gun. Note that my next blog will cover basics in how to pattern your shotgun. Part of that discussion will have more info on brand choice.
Turkey shot shells will have more recoil when fired than your standard dove/quail or target load will have. Take recoil into consideration especially if you’re setting up a gun for a youth or a small framed individual. A 3½ inch 12 gauge turkey shell most likely isn’t a good choice for them. If someone small is using a 12 gauge, consider a 2¾ inch or maybe a 3 inch shell. Better yet, consider that 20 gauge for a small framed individual. As I stated earlier, I use a 20 gauge with much success and I use 3 inch shells. That combination has a fairly light amount of recoil. An even lighter recoil option is a 20 gauge with 2¾ inch shells. Also remember that longer shells in length will have more pellets available to strike the target, but it will also increase the amount of felt recoil when shooting your gun.
Traditional shot sizes for turkey hunting are #4’s, #5’s and #6’s. There are some manufacturers that are now mixing different shot sizes together in each shell to produce a “blend” of shot sizes. Below is a chart that shows the differences in diameters in each.
In considering what size to choose, keep in mind that #4’s will have fewer number of pellets inside each shell, BUT #4’s will have more energy, or knock down power at a further distance. So, if you attempt to shoot a bird at 50 yards with shot size #4’s, you’ll have less pellets available to strike the bird in the kill zone, which is the neck and head but it will have more energy, or knock down power that the smaller #6’s. On the other hand, if you shoot at a bird at 50 yards with #6’s, you’ll have more pellets available to hit the kill zone but will have less energy. So, it comes down to preference in knock down power at further distances or more pellets at shorter distances.
To help determine what size shot to use in your gun, it’s VERY important to take the time and buy a few different brands and a few different shot sizes “pattern” your gun. To pattern your gun, you’ll set up paper targets and shoot at different distances to determine what shoots best in the set up you’re considering in you gun. If you prefer an actual turkey to shoot at we sell these lifelike Redhead 12" targets.
- Special dual-color, flake off technology makes it easy to pattern your shotgun for turkey season
- Flake off technology provides an explosion of color that can be seen from great distances
- Kill area shots show florescent green behind turkey image
- Misses show bright white behind red background
- Self adhesive to stick to almost any backstop
- 12'' turkey head image
- 10 targets to a pack
Patterning your gun can be come fairly expensive, but it will be worth it in the long run. if you plan to take your wild turkey hunting seriously and take it to the next level. If you’ve got a friend willing to pitch in, you can share some of the expense if you both shoot the same gauge shotgun. You and your buddy can pitch in to buy a few different brands and different sizes of shot shells and go out and pattern your gun to see what shoots best in each or your firearms. In my next blog, I’ll discuss tips for consideration when you go out to “pattern your shotgun”.