Talkin’ Turkey: Is Your Shotgun Ready?

A year ago, I wrote an article addressing the issue of getting your weapon ready for turkey hunting season.  You may want to look at it too (clickable words).

Today, I want to talk about …

The Importance of Pattern

Turkeys Use Their Wings to Protect Themselves from Your Pellets; Think of Those Wings As Kevlar-Covered Protection!

There are 5 ‘turkey load’ ammo manufacturers:  Federal, Remington and Winchester (the big boys), plus Activ and Fiocchi.   Most hunters I know recommend #4, #5, #6 or even #7 and 1/2.

However, it isn’t really about the brand or the pellet size.  A hunter needs to study  the pattern and range of the ammo.

Remember, the turkey has one of the smallest ‘killing zones’ — specifically the brain, head and neck.  A turkey’s brain is the size of a walnut!

Thus, you need to make sure that your shotgun blast has an even scatter, with no large holes (blank areas where no shot strikes).  If the shot pattern is too widely dispersed, on the other hand, you can lose a turkey if only a pellet or two hits the neck area.

If you are hoping to “wing” a gobbler, forget it.  Most pellets bounce off of the wings. The best you can hope for:  If you can match his 15 mph running speed, you can hear him curse you as he runs!

Checking Your Shotgun’s Pattern

Is the Pattern Evenly Dense, or Are There Holes and/or Thin Areas?

You will need 30″ square paper targets (purchased or home-made), a safe place to shoot, your gun and ammo.

Finding a good ammo pattern is largely one of trial-and-error.

One of the smart hunters I know suggests that a hunter place the target out

  • 25 yards for a 20 gauge,
  • 35 yards for a 12 gauge, and
  • 40 yards fo a 10.

After getting a satisfactory scatter at that distance, move back 5 yards and repeat.

If the pattern isn’t what you need, try a different shot size or brand.

Other Problems & Solutions

What if the pattern is OK but the pattern is too low or too far to a side?  Correct your aim or you may need to adjust your sighting or scope.

This is starting to sound expensive.  Is there a short-cut?  If you have turkey hunting friends, ask about their gun and ammo.

The bad news is, even if he/she has the same gun, don’t be surprised if your gun creates a better pattern with another size or brand of ammo.  However, this will give you and idea of where to start.

Next time:  More about your gun!


This blog is a companion to my website:

One Comment

  1. […] It may seem obvious, but a turkey has a small “killing zone.”  For more, specific info, go to:  Is Your Shotgun Ready? […]

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