Shotguns for Spring Turkey Hunting

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Today just deciding on the right turkey gun is a hunt in itself, let alone the varieties of turkey hunting shells to choose from. And more shotgun choices arrive every year, just a sure as a new updated and better version; than before, computer or car. The shotguns of today are specifically designed for turkey hunting or whatever your wild game of choice might be.

Don’t let the notion that turkeys are dumb fool you; they are one of the hardest targets for a hunter to choose. A clean kill on a spring gobbler hunt requires the placement of a dense pattern of shot into the bird’s head at ranges reaching upwards of 50 yards, sometimes a bit more. Sounds easy, right? Yeah… not so much. In the real world it’s a tough shot for anyone. That’s why there are so many long faces at the turkey shoot.

Back in the day, many hunters used the 10 gauge, thinking that the larger loads would give cleaner kills. But, that turned out to be a lot of gun to tote around after spring turkey. A 12 gauge with 3inch to 3 and a half inch shells do the same job and is a lot lighter. I’ve even known some turkey hunters that use the 12 gauge 21/2 inch baby mag shells. The choice between semi-automatic and pump shotguns really boils down to the turkey hunter’s preference. It’s quicker to squeeze off a second shot with the semi-automatic, if a second shot is necessary. But many gobbler hunters, myself included, still like to hunt with a 12 guage pump action. The ease of the second shot is really the only difference I’ve noticed. You won’t find many double barrel shotguns taken on a turkey hunt anymore.

This wild turkey is just waiting for you to get your turkey shotguns ready.[/caption]A shorter barrel is preferred, as most turkey shots are taken from a sitting position. The shorter barrels make it easier to swing around and shoot freely without hang-ups. This is handy when a spring turkey comes in close earlier than expected, and the turkey hunter has to shoot quickly. A short barrel is also easier to carry through the heavy brush that is sometimes encountered on a spring turkey hunt. Recoil is the downside; a 3-inch round in a 20-inch barrel and your shoulder will definitely feel it.

Whichever length barrel you choose, long or short, a shotgun is not designed for accuracy. But you’ll need to be somewhat accurate or come home with turkey burger, as you only want to hit the head and neck of the turkey you are hunting. Thus, a sight system added to your turkey gun would be a great asset. The simplest method is a series of beads on the barrel’s ribs. It’s not the best way to go, but at least it will give the hunter an aiming reference.

There are better ways to go though. Scopes, open rifle like sights, or even electro-optical systems. Turkey scopes usually run 1.5X to 4X in power. You won’t need a high powered scope, but you will want it to have good light gathering capabilities. Because a lot of times, the best turkey shots come early in the morning when the light is still relatively low. On the downside, there is often rain during a spring turkey hunt, and the gobblers keen eyesight will not forgive the movement of removing lens covers when a shot is at hand. The elecro-optical system places a laser aiming reference on a display. Though lightweight, low profile, parallax free, and highly accurate; it’s difficult to read in rain or mist. Open sights are efficient and simple. They use the same premise as on a riffle and allow you to accurately place the shotguns shot pattern to the head of the spring turkey. Open sights work in rain and don’t put a lot of added weight and bulk to your turkey gun.

The choke is the next consideration. Many of today’s shotguns have screw-in chokes. So if the shotgun you choose comes with a standard full choke, you can swap the choke out with an extra-full choke tube, also known as a turkey choke. But even if the turkey gun you choose has a fixed full choke tube, they are usually fine for most shots on a spring turkey hunt.

Perhaps the most trying part of buying a shotgun for turkey hunting is finding the shotgun shell. The thing to remember is that a turkey gun is only as good as its pattern. The relationship between a shotgun and the shotgun shell you use is no easy thing to discover. There is a lot of ammunition out there designed to kill turkeys, but there’s no guaranty that all loads will pattern well with your shotgun.

Most turkey loads are copper-plated; some are buffered and most have relatively high charges. The buffering and copper plating detour the pellets from deforming in the barrel, creating a tighter pattern. Shot sizes range from 4 to 6, five being a good middle ground. A shot size of 4 provides a penetration that allows for longer range shooting. You will have to practice and test different turkey hunting ammo to find the load that works best for you.

Finally, I recommend you buy a camouflaged gun. You spend a lot of time making sure that tom turkey does not detect you. And you spend a lot of money as well on camo clothing, gloves head nets and hats. It makes sense not to give yourself away with a non-camo shotgun.

If you’re in the market for new turkey shotguns, use these considerations when choosing it. Take the time to practice, and find the right ammo, and you’ll find your next spring hunting trip to be more successful.

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