Turkey Hunting Shotgun - Can't Miss Tipsby Matt Wettish
With the efficiency of today’s turkey guns and their capability of throwing super tight patterns, shot placement is becoming more and more crucial. The turkey hunter is beginning to move into a realm similar to that of a target shooter. Going to the range with my friends to pattern our guns prior to season brings out the same competitive qualities as if we were shooting rifle at 100+ yards. Each of us boast of having the tightest pattern and the highest percentage of shot in the vitals. Our patterns have evolved to a point were it is easier to miss a bird between ten to twenty yards than it is to miss between twenty and thirty.
A few years ago, a friend and I walked to the edge of a steep ridge. At the bottom was where we began our morning hearing nothing at all. It was the end of our circle around the property and we were returning empty handed. “Let’s call one time just in case.” I said. My call was answered immediately by a deep throaty gobble from directly below. We moved back to set up and call again to get a fix on his position. The distance between us had been cut in half and we had nowhere to sit. We retreated once again to find a better area. One more call and we were forced to sit down where we were. The bird was no more than thirty yards and we could hear him running at us. Throwing myself against a tree, I found the bird in full strut at fifteen yards in front of my barrel as I brought the gun to my knee. Between five to eight steps the bird cleared the brush. I blocked out the head and neck and squeezed the trigger throwing 2oz.’s of #6 lead at him. As the gun barked I thought, “ This oughta take care of him!”. The bird immediately took to the air most likely hurt more from powder burn and concussion than anything else.
Once sighted in properly, adding a red dot scope to your turkey gun can help eliminate any guessing on where your pattern is going to hit.
Photo by: Author
This unfortunately is a common occurrence among turkey hunters, but it doesn’t have to be. There are many things that can be done to increase the ease of accurate shot placement. There are sights and optics on the market today built specifically for turkey hunting. There are even sights designed for completely different activities that work fantastic for closing the deal with that ol’ gobbler.
It was when I matched up my gun with a XX-Full turkey choke that I found myself slightly missing a direct hit on the target under twenty yards. I would hit the bird with enough pellets to harvest it, but it was by no means the core of the pattern. While looking at a big hole through the paper in the center of my pattern, a friend stated that my shotgun shot like a rifle. With a comment like that, it didn’t take long to eliminate my problem.
Shooting with bead sights has always been a part of shooting a shotgun and has both benefits and drawbacks. As a benefit, the sight picture is always the same; the beads can’t be knocked out of alignment. If a bird gets up after the first shot it is easier to get on target and follow it with open sights. These are great qualities, but think about what is seen when sighting down the vent rib of a barrel. You might be able to see the outline of the bird’s head and that’s about it. The bead blocks out the head and the barrel blocks out the rest of the body. There is no seeing other birds coming up from behind or even seeing the body actions of the bird being targeted. If you do see thee things, you’re probably not down on the gun in a ready-to-shoot position with the beads lined up properly. This could result in a miss if the shot is taken hastily at the moment the bird decides he is in the wrong place at the wrong time.