Spring turkey season is soon upon us and I keep reading on forums and Facebook posts about folks asking questions about shotguns and comparing apples to oranges or pears to bananas, Yadda… Yadda. Ever wonder how do I put all the products together to get an awesome wild turkey hunting gun? Here we go, grab the shotgun, turkey loads, maybe an Extra Full Choke and out the door, right? Or is there more? Ever want to know what it takes to optimize your shotgun? I’m going to discuss what we have came up with and how to get your turkey gun patterning well.
Now I know, there are tons of different shotguns that you can use for turkey hunting but there is a way to make the gun of your choice more efficient. Our guns of choice are the tried and true Mossberg 500 and the Mossberg 835. Yes, 870’s are great, as are so many others, we have just settled on the Mossberg’s, as they have dialed in so well. With the 500, I prefer the quick and nimble size with the short 24” barrel, while still getting enough speed along with maneuverability to make quick clean kills out to 60 yards, if I wish too.
Patterning a Turkey Gun
Is it important, Heck, yes it is. Simply the most important part of making a devastating shotgun. Some will say, oh but you can’t pattern to tight because then you can’t make close shots? Hmm, really??? I’ll get there in a minute. Yes, for sure, you can kill a turkey by not doing all the things I’m going to talk about, but would you really go deer hunting without sighting in your rifle, not tuning your bow? Yeah, right. So then, you should prepare your shotgun with the same vigor.
- Where are you hunting?
- How far are average shots?
- How thick is the area I’m hunting?
- Semi or pump, which one? 12 gauge or 20 gauge or ?
- Barrel diameter and length “inches”
- 3 in chamber or 3.5 in chamber
I could go into long dissertations about how, why and answer all those questions but then this wouldn’t be a blog post, it would be a magazine article. I think you will catch my drift if you read along.
Turkey Chokes are Key
- Extra Full, Extra Extra Full, Full or ?
- Extended or Standard
- Forcing cone length
- Shot shells (oh the Mirada of them that are out there)
- Shot size (4, 5, 6, 7.5) AHH!!
- Length (3 in, 3.5 in)
- Velocity (1100, 1200, 1300 Fps) Really, this changes with barrel length also.
- Shot charge (1 7/8 th , 2, 2 ¼ oz) 12 gauge
- Shot wad technology
Good gravy, all the things out there can be more confusing and hard to decipher then reading an ingredient list on some canned food you get at the store. Ok, so lots of stuff, lots of good stuff to choose from. But how do we make good stuff work together to make a great combination. Here is what we do.
Buy $500 worth of chokes, $300 worth of shot shells, 4 different shotguns, $200 worth of turkey targets and a year’s supply of Bengay for my shoulder after getting pounded on for hours by all the combinations. LOL, no you don’t have to do all of this, that is why I’m writing this. Actually, I think that is close to accurate to how it all played out too. My shoulder is still wincing in pain as I write this, thinking about the days with 3 in and 3.5 in shells. You know, you don’t feel the recoil out hunting but, on the range, hell yeah, you do. Ok, I’ll quit digressing.
Well, to say that I didn’t play with tons of combinations would be an understatement. I want it right and I will do the research and work to find it, that is how I have always been and how I will always be. After years of banging away at turkey targets, I finally got something that I don’t want to change. When I can put 200+ pellets in a 10” circle at 30, 40 yards, turkeys don’t me like very much.
My Turkey Hunting Setup:
Mossberg 500 12 gauge
24 inch barrel
Mossberg X-factor Turkey, XX-Full, .670, accu-choke
3 inch Winchester Long beard XR
#4 or #5 shot, this changes with the area I’m hunting and the average distance I could be shooting.
Truglo 3 dot fiber optic front and rear sights, Three dot lining up is what makes the close shots actually easy. 🙂
1 7/8 th shot charge
1150 fps out the barrel
My Buddies Turkey Hunting Setup:
40 yards 61 yards, no pellets in the body
Mossberg 835 12 gauge
28 in barrel
Heavy shot . 676 Turkey choke
3.5 in Winchester Long Beard XR
Truglo 3 dot fiber optic front and rear sights
2 oz, shot charge
1240 Fps, out the barrel
It looks like my turkey gun patterning worked.
Over 200 pellets in a 10” circle at 30 & 40 yards. Having the ability to extend my range out to 60 yards if needed, Maximizing the loads intended use, Front and rear three dot sights make target acquisition quick and accurate. These loads pack a big punch along with tight patterns that keep my pellets out of my turkey’s body (I don’t like picking pellets, worse yet biting one while eating).
As I said earlier, I could go into all the details and Blah, blah, blah but that would or could turn into a complete magazine or novel. If I did all of that for you though, what fun would it be for you and your shoulder? LOL
Take some time, try some options for yourself and your gun. It will make you a better shot, with better results down range. Turkeys like every other animal we hunt, deserve your best, my best. That is what makes us sportsmen and sportswomen. Turkenators “up”, let’s hit the woods for Thunder chickens… Have a great season everyone. Next up will be getting you bow ready for turkey season, don’t miss it! I’m off to hunt Rio’s in Texas!
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