Choosing the Right Shotgun this Turkey Season

The level of sophistication in firearms available to the turkey hunter has followed the same path as turkey calls. As more hunters have joined the sport, manufacturers have responded to their needs by making shotguns with features ideally matched to the turkey woods.

Here are a few tips for making sure you have the right gun for the job this season.

  • Make sure the shotgun fits you. There is no sure way to determine gun fit other than seeing a firearms expert. To ensure that your gun fits, pull the gun to your shoulder (with the muzzle pointed in a safe direction, of course). Ask yourself the following questions. Does it swing into place without extra movement or effort? Does the weight feel comfortable? Try adjusting the placement of your forward hand. Can you hold the shotgun steady for a given amount of time? Can you comfortably carry the shotgun for long distances? You should be able to answer "yes" to all of these questions. All these variables play a role in determining gun fit for turkey hunting.

  • Bigger isn't always better. With the new, high-powered turkey loads and chokes available, 20-gauge shotguns have become very popular for use in the spring turkey woods. Better advice than simply purchasing the largest gauge or load size would be to ensure appropriate length, weight and recoil for the person doing the shooting.

  • Pattern, pattern and then pattern again. Take the time to shoot the shotgun with different loads, shot sizes and even choke constrictions when possible. Most shotguns come with several choke options and the aftermarket chokes have shown great success in increasing pattern performance down range.

  • To camo or not to camo? Camouflage is another consideration in choosing a firearm this spring. We all know that turkeys have keen eyesight and getting a shotgun with functional camouflage could give you that added advantage.

  • Saving the best for last. The best advice for making sure that you have the best shotgun this season is to know the limitations of your firearm. Patterning, experimenting with different loads and chokes and practicing real hunting situations on the range will help you learn when to shoot and when the shot may be risky. If using a 20 gauge, you may need to be within 25 yards of your target for your shot. The same distance could be used as a rule of thumb for very young hunters. Making sure you are aware of the capabilities of the hunter, as well as the firearm, can be the difference between success and disappointment.

The trick is, you probably have the right shotgun for harvesting that trophy gobbler this season. It may just require some experimentation and practice to determine the optimal choke constriction, load, shot size and distance. If you are in the market for something new, just about every manufacturer is now producing shotguns made specifically for turkey hunters. They all perform well, however, the same considerations must be considered before carrying one on a hunt.

Be sure to check out for all your turkey hunting gear and accessories.




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