© By Othmar Vohringer
In the past I’ve written on these pages about the proper chock tube choice for a turkey shotgun. I also have written a feature length article in one of Canada’s leading hunting magazines about detailing a turkey shotgun.
With that said, for all you that haven’t read the previous articles on the subject let me rehash the important steps in finding the perfect marriage between chock tube and gun load that will yield the consistent pattern needed to make a clean kill shot on any turkey from point blank out to 30 yards and beyond.
With everything being equal the choice of the perfect choke tube is one of the most important decisions you can have to make in order to achieve a reliable pattern. The process of choosing a choke tube begins long before the turkey hunting season begins. It begins with choosing the brand of ammunition you want to shoot. Purchase several boxes of loads with shot sizes considered effective for turkey hunting (No 4, 5, and 6), and of each pellet size get boxes containing 3 inch shells and 3.5 inch shells (provided you gun is chambered to hold 3.5 inch shells).
Try a few shoots of each load combination at distances between 15 to 35 yards with one choke tube. I usually start with a moderate choke tube and then move up to a full choke. If I do not get the desired result. Only if none of the regular available choke tubes performs to my satisfaction do I move on to specialty turkey type choke tubes. The performance of the load-choke combination also depends on the length of the shotgun barrel. For example my Mossberg 535 has a 28 inch barrel and performs perfectly with a regular full choke and Federal Premium Mag-Shok High Velocity, whereas my Mossberg 535 Turkey Special with a 22 inch barrel requires an extra full turkey choke tube with the same ammunition to give me the same performance as the Mossberg with the longer barrel .
The bottom line is this. To achieve the best pattern for your gun-load-choke combination you must experiment until you get a satisfactory result. To kill a turkey instantly you need at least 6 pellets in the vital area (brain and spinal cord) of the bird. The general rule of thumb is 100 pellets in a ten inch circle. However rather than relying to the 100 in ten rule I prefer to shoot at life-sized turkey targets with the vial zone highlighted and then just count the pellets that hit the kill zone.
When you pattern the shotgun you also want to pay close attention to pattern holes. My preference for a tight pattern has less than 3 inch holes, any larger and you may miss the vital area of a turkey completely. If you encounter one load with large holes in the pattern despite changing choke tubes move on the next lower pellet size, smaller pellets often provide a more even spread that larger pellets.
Don’t ignore the choke tube at the business end of your shotgun barrel this season as it can spell the difference of holding a turkey in your hand or seeing it running from you.
To find out how to create the ultimate turkey shotgun read my article “Detailing Your Turkey Shotgun”.