© 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.
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Othmar Vohringer Outdoors
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