Turkey Hunting: Choosing the Right Load for Your Shotgun


"This Bad-Boy's Body Can Absorb/Repel Puny Shot!

"This Bad-Boy's Body Can Absorb/Repel Puny Shot!"


On 9 February, I wrote the following:  ‘The goal in using a particular shotgun is to get a tight spray pattern up to 40 yards.’

Getting that tight spray (to kill the turkey – in the head, not the body), requires your shotgun and ammo to work together.

Popular Shot Sizes and Loads

The pellets in the load must be large enough, and powerful enough, to fell the turkey immediately. A body shot is not optimal; turkey feathers can absorb/repell. Take a look at a gobbler – he’s well-padded.

According to MDH, * Lead Shot #4’s or 6’s seem to do the job well. (Remember, the smaller the #, the bigger the pellets are – in the load).

A Useful Graph *

To clarify my meaning —

— — — — — — — — — — — — The # of pellets in a load — — — — — — — — — — — —

Lead Shot             1 oz. load     1.78 oz. load     2 oz. load     2.25 oz. load


# 4                                 135               253                    270                  304

# 6                                 225              422                    450                   450


* This graph is from The Complete Book of Wild Turkey Hunting, by John Trout, Jr. 2000, The Lyon’s Press, p. 46.

Back to Our Goal

The same load in two same gauge shotguns may produce very different shot patterns. The best way to be sure of shot placement is to practice – until you get the shot scatter you need.

However, MDH says most hunters (he knows) go in for on-the-job testing. In other words, many hunters assume it works (or have enough experience to know what works) and don’t really practice.

A Sight for Your Shotgun?

If you shoot turkeys at less than 50 yards, you probably won’t need a telescopic sight. They may be helpful for seeing turkeys in dim light or while trying to find the big birds in the brush.

Another group that finds a low-powered scope to be helpful are those hunters with poor eyesight.

Generally, MDH’s friends use an open sight.

Your Homework

Are you still practicing your turkey calls? Unless you plan to wait for turkeys to cross your path, you’d best invest in some turkey callers — and start practicing.

Gobblers spend so much time strutting, spitting and preening, they aren’t usually in a rush to find a hunter. Unless you are good at calling, you may have a long wait before the “big boys” take a stroll past your hiding place!


* MDH = My Dear Husband or “He Who Likes to be Obeyed” ….But Rarely is!


This blog is a companion to my website:  GreatGhilliesAndGraphics.com