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In the Line of Fire

Some turkey hunters are under the mistaken impression that 2-ounces of shot will smash cleanly through most anything to kill a gobbler. But, at best, firing through a hazard is an unsure proposition.

A small twig, saplings or vines may seem like small obstacles, but they can wreck a shot pattern and turn a killing shot into a miss, or worse, a crippling shot.

A load of lead shot hitting briars or small saplings is much like a train wreck. When pellets strike a small branch or weed, they ricochet, slow down and the pellets behind plow into the back of the forward shot, causing both to go off course.

Another thing that happens to lead shot when it strikes an obstacle is that the individual pellets get misshapen and take on the flight characteristics of a Phil Neikro knuckleball. All this banging and bouncing causes the shot to scatter.

Two factors play significant roles in shot pattern distribution.

  • First, the distance between the obstruction and the gobbler will determine the gaps in the pattern. For instance, if the obstruction is at 10 yards and the bird is at 35, the pattern will be more disrupted than if the obstruction is only a few feet from the tom. The further the shot has to travel to its target after running into interference, the larger the gaps will appear in the pattern.

  • Second, the size and density of the hazard determines the havoc played with the pattern. The bigger the obstruction, the more severely the pellets will be disfigured, causing them to fly even more erratically.

It's normal to miss seeing a sapling at 20 yards when you are focusing either on your gun sites or a bird standing at 35 yards. Scopes can aid you in finding obstructions between you and your target. Several scope manufacturers have good optics for turkey hunting applications. Other scope companies, such as (Partner), Partner and Partner, offer good choices for shotgunners.

Bottom line, pay attention to the little things that might block your successful shot.




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