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What most authors fail to tell you about turkey guns is that the proper fit of your gun can be as important as your choice of gauge and shot size.  A poorly fitted gun can cost you a turkey even if you do everything else right.  Proper gun fit is an accepted cause for poor wing shooting, but in many situations it is equally important to the turkey hunter.


Because your target is small, you must aim, not just point your gun at the turkey.  A gun that doesn't automatically align your eye along the top of the barrel each time you bring it to your shoulder may cause you to miss a turkey that is in easy range.  Turkeys often circle and approach from the rear or come in at unexpected angles.  Since you'll be shooting mostly from unaccustomed sitting positions, and often twisted around to one side or the other, proper gun alignment is often difficult even with a custom-fit gun.  In the excitement of the moment it is easy to lose concentration and look over the top of the barrel at the turkey rather than holding your face down on the gun.  A properly fit gun will help you aim correctly.


If your gun has just a single front bead, have a second mid-rib bead installed by a gunsmith.  Try white, ivory-colored beads....they show up better than steel beads in early morning light.   You will aim properly most of the time if you have two beads to line up before you shoot.  With just one bead it is easy to look over the top and shoot high, probably the most common type of miss.


Gobblers coming to a call often pause to look for the calling "hen" and stop in a spot where you won't be able to shoot for several minutes. You may end up holding your gun in an awkward position until you've got the shakes, and you're tempted to scream at the bird to take just one more step.  If you are a slightly built or older hunter, you may not be able to hold and aim a 7 1/2 pound gun in an awkward position for several minutes.   Consider choosing a lighter weapon, even if it means going down to a 20 gauge magnum.  It does no good to carry a cannon capable of killing a turkey out to 50 yards if you can't hold and aim it properly for a few minutes before you get the shot.


There are plenty of short-barreled specialty turkey hunting gun models available from a variety of manufacturers.   These guns are reasonably light weight, easy to handle, fully-camouflaged, and capable of shooting any load you choose.  Proper Ammunition selection for your gun is critical to create a dense shot pattern.  Most experienced turkey hunters are shooting a 12 gauge 3" magnum gun with #4, #5, or #6 shot.   Some have opted for a 10 gauge or a 12 gauge shooting 3 1/2" shells thinking they can extend their range.  In theory they can, assuming the gun will pattern correctly beyond the normal maximum range for turkeys of about 40 yards.  Despite the added firepower, I encourage hunters to restrict their shots at turkeys to 40 yards maximum.  A person shooting one of these cannons can often be over confident, thinking they can reach out and drop a turkey at 50, 60, or 70 yards routinely.  While the gun may be able to do it, there is still the troublesome problem of trying to hold the gun still and aim it correctly for the shot.  Despite your weapon, you'll wound turkeys if you take those long shots.


Patterning your gun is mandatory before every turkey season.  Make certain your gun will place at least 6 pellets in the head and neck area of a turkey target at 40 yards.  If it won't, try a different gun or try various shells with different load/shot combinations until you find one that will pattern correctly in your gun.  If you want to get real exotic, try a few shots left-handed (assuming you are a right-handed shooter).  Why?  Because, often a gobbler will approach from your "bad side" and you won't be able to twist around to shoot.   Being able to shift your gun around to your other hand (without moving around the tree) when the turkey can't see you, will often allow you to take the shot.  I've done this on several occasions.


The newest innovation for turkey guns are low-powered specialty scopes.  These are designed to permit more precise aiming and, therefore, better patterns.  Some have electronic "red aiming dots", while others have special, thin recticles designed to provide precise aiming points.  My experience with these hasn't been good.  I'm sure they work in certain situations.   But, I know that in high-humidity conditions, such as rain or fog, or on a cold day when you can see your breath, they will fog up and have to be wiped off, despite anti-fogging liquid being used.  And usually that can't be done when a turkey finally makes its appearance.  One of my good friends had this problem twice on the same trip.  Two nice gobblers within 20 yards that he couldn't see in the scope.  He lost.  I had the same problem with the same type of technology years ago on a laser-type bow sight.  Had a gobbler in at 10 yards on a foggy, rainy day and couldn't see through the bow scope to shoot.  Damn frustrating.  I'll stay with the trusty ivory beads on my shotgun thank you very much!


Subjects in the Secrets Library
About Turkeys
Spring Hunting Tactics
Fall Hunting Tactics
Camouflage & Concealment
Turkey Calls & Calling
Check List & Misc.
Bow Hunting Tactics
Safety & Ethics
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