Spring turkey season is almost upon us. If you are new to the sport or just want to up your turkey hunting game, your turkey gun is a good place to start improving your gear. After all, it’s your gun that makes that final connection between you and the bird. Here are a few things to look for in a turkey gun.
When it comes to hunting turkeys, power is important. Unlike other game birds, turkeys are big (weighing up to 30 pounds) and tough. You’ll need a well placed shot from a powerful shotgun to take one home.
That said, there is no point in shooting a gun with so much recoil you can’t shoot it accurately. The main choices for turkey hunting shotguns are 12 or 20 gauge. When paired with quality ammunition and a tight choke, a 20 gauge can deliver ethical turkey kills out to 40 yards. If you can handle the additional recoil, a 12 gauge will extend your range by about 10 yards as well as adding more knockdown power at close range.
The choice of action comes down to personal preference. Single shots are the lightest turkey guns available, but offer only one shot and kick like mules. Pumps are inexpensive, reliable, and offer quick follow up shots. Semi-autos, while expensive, offer the quickest follow up shots and help reduce recoil felt from magnum turkey loads.
Determining what is most important to you will lead to selecting the right action for your turkey gun.
Most veteran turkey hunters opt for an extra full turkey choke. These chokes offer super tight patterns, even at long range. The only problem is that, inside 20 yards, your pattern is the size of a baseball at most. Any error in aiming could mean a miss on birds in close. A standard full choke is a better choice for inexperienced hunters or those looking to bring birds in to spitting distance before shooting.
If you’ve spent much time turkey hunting, you’ve probably learned about the birds’ uncanny ability to pick out movement or anything that just doesn’t look right. Turkey hunters who want to be successful should do their best to blend in.
A shotgun with a glossy stock or shining blued barrel with stick out like a sore thumb and could give away your position to a wary tom. Most new turkey guns are dipped in camo finishes or matte black. If you plan on hitting the woods with an older gun with a glossy finish, stay hidden by covering it with camo tape or a gunsleave.
Turkey shooting has more in common with rifle shooting than wingshooting. Therefore, turkey guns should be equipped with sights. The minimum is a double bead sight. A set of rifle sights or even a red dot scope helps to ensure accuracy when the chips are down. No matter what sighting system you choose, practice with it at the range so that when that gobbler finally steps into view you will have the skills and confidence to make the shot.
Last, but not least, comes the gun sling. Spring turkey hunting, especially for run and gun hunters, can involve a lot of walking. Do yourself a favor and include a sling in your turkey hunting outfit. Gun slings offer the ability t0 use friction calls or binoculars without setting your gun down and they make long walks to remote roosting areas seem like a walk in the park. If your turkey gun isn’t sporting a sling, do yourself a favor and get one.