Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Which shot?

© By Othmar Vohringer

“Just get the heaviest and biggest load and that should do the trick.” This was the answer I overheard given by a sporting goods store clerk to a customer inquiring what the best load for turkeys would be.

While it is true that a turkey can be shot with a magnum load and large pellets – heck you could even use buckshot - there is more to choosing the right load than just picking any shot shell box that says “Turkey load” or something to that effect on it.

Your goal should be to find the perfect gun / load / choke combination that will provide you a consistent pattern out to 30 yards and beyond. This is easier said then done. Each gun is different in what it likes to shoot. My turkey gun for example performs best with Federal Premium High Velocity Turkey Load 3” with #4 shot pushed through a full choke. But don’t take this as the gospel. Your gun might like something entirely different.

The only way to find out what your gun likes is to spend time at the shooting range. Purchase as many different loads from 3” to 3 1/3” (provided your gun is chambered to accommodate 3 ½” shells) stuffed with pellets from size 4 to 6’s. I also recommend using different brands and different designations from the normal to the “turkey loads”. If your gun comes with interchangeable choke tubes, most do, try different chokes with each load. The results can vastly differ. For example my gun didn’t perform a consistent pattern when I used the “extra full turkey choke”. When I changed to a ordinary full choke I had the pattern I was looking for.

Another often overlooked but very important factor is recoil. The 3 ½” and the 3” magnum turkey loads deliver a heavy payload, but the recoil these loads produce can be very uncomfortable to handle for some. Heavy recoil creates flinging. Believe it or not, but it is a fact that magnum loads account for more hunters to miss turkeys because they flinched in anticipation of the severe kicking a magnum load dishes out then anything else.

As ethical hunters we owed to the turkeys to develop the perfect killing pattern and not just head in the store a day or two before hunting season opens and buy any old load that’s on sale. Or as in the case at the beginning of this article let a sales clerk that obviously had no clue tell you what you should use. Take the time it takes to figure out what makes your gun a turkey harvesting tool and you will not have to live with doubt and spoiled memories.

Image Copyright by Othmar Vohringer Product Stock Photography

Othmar Vohringer Outdoors
Founding Member of Outdoor Bloggers Summit


Deer Killer said...

Grate post! people really need to pay attention to what they shoot. I shoot Federal Premium Mag Shok 3 1/2 in. 2 oz. #5 shot out of my Benelli Super Nova with a turkey choke.

Othmar Vohringer said...

The Benelli Super Nova is my next shotgun on the wish list. Thanks for your input on the subject Deer Killer.

Tom said...

Great advice. I need to upgrade to a little better gun for turkeys. My old 28 inch Winchester Model 1300 shoots Remington Nitro Mags in #5 pretty well, but its too long for my liking and not a 3.5 inch.

Deer Killer said...

If you plan to get it just for turkey get one with the Steady Grip stock. If you plan to use it for more than turkey get it with the Comfort Tech stock. I have the Steady Grip stock and I wish I had the Comfort Tech stock because I use mine for everything from trap and skeet to geese. I probably put upwards of 2000 round thou it a year.

Othmar Vohringer said...

Tom – A long barrel can be a bit cumbersome in the turkey woods, but you not necessarily need a 3 ½” magnum. I have hunted turkeys with a 3” for more than 14 years and never felt that I needed more. The new gun is chambered for 3 ½’ and so I tried the larger shot shells but it is very likely that I will return to 3” shells after I shot all the large shells.


Othmar Vohringer said...

Deer Killer – Like you, I use my shotgun for everything from waterfowl to upland bird, trap and turkey hunting. At first I was tempted to get a gun with a pistol grip but then my frugal nature not the better of me and I asked myself. “Why get a gun that only does one thing when I can have a gun that does it all.” I have shot pistol grip shotguns and yes they are a bit more comfortable and a smidgen more accurate but in my opinion the difference is not enough to justify the extra cost and the limitations.

Bio Bo said...

I couldn't agree more. I shoot a Browning BPS w/ an Undertaker ported turkey choke and the same 3" Federal Mag Shok #4's that you shoot. I patterned the gun last year w/ that combination, and I was consistently putting 8-12pellets in the kill zone at 45 yds. The same load in #5's didn't perform as well even w/ more pellets. So far I have bagged 3 turkeys, 1 last year and 2 this year, out to 40 yds w/ this load and they have all been clean head shot kills. I am very impressed w/ the combination. But before I patterned the gun and adjusted my load, it wasn't as effective.

Anonymous said...

This was my first year out so I pumped a lot of people for information and a salesman told me that it was unethical to use anything less than a 12ga.3". Knowing better I neglected to tell him that I had an AAS in gunsmithing and 10 yrs gun shop experience. The bird I shot didn't know that that I used a shiny 22" BPS uplander in 20ga with Remington Nitro 3"#6's(patterned best). Six different loads, Three shot sizes and it really boiled down to huntcraft as I shot him @ 15yds. I need to take that beard to the salesman and give him a talking to about loads and mass physics.

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