Turkey Shooting Ranges
Dr. John Woods 03.21.16
The deal with hunting wild turkeys is to be able to call them in close. Well, “close” has never really be defined, and as for bow hunting, the ranges have been extended further and further to the point of near ethical debate. Often times these ranges exceed efficiency and accuracy, resulting in wounded and lost game.
Hunters should calculate their turkey hunting shooting ranges to effect quick and effective kills. This demands good range estimation skills, proper target shot patterning of their shotguns, and picking the right/best shotshell loads for the game and gun.
When I started turkey hunting in Missouri back in the 1970s, there were no 3-inch chambered shotguns. We used 2 ¾ inch shotshells with copper shot in sizes from No. 4s up to 6s. Some really talented turkey hunters even used 7 ½ shot when they called in birds to ten yards or under. I was never able to do that.
I bought my first genuine turkey shotgun in February of 1994. It was the first on the market Remington 11-87 SPS-T, 12-gauge in Mossy Oak Greenleaf Camouflage. It was chambered for the 3-inch shells with a super tight extra full turkey choke. This has been my No.1 turkey gun ever since and has rewarded me with many downed gobblers.
My shotshells of choice have been the Federal Premium turkey load, 3-inch, No.5 shot. I have also used Remington No.6 with success and also the Hevi-Shot loads in 5s or 6s. The only turkey hunting shotshells that I have used with poor results were the duplex loads mixing shot sizes that Remington tried for a while.
I patterned this shotgun, loads, and choke at 30 yards, my self-imposed maximum range. With a steady shot off the knee as though hunting, this combination rips the head out of the turkey target and pelts the neck well, too. This set up is exceedingly effective.
Thirty yards you say? Well, I admit I did kill one gobbler at 40, but it made me nervous. I like to call them in at 20, but will go to 30 on stubborn toms. Today, I regularly hear of hunters shooting at gobblers out to 50 yards. What I don’t hear is if they killed them at that range. That’s too far.
Work on your woods skills, turkey calling, and set ups. With patience and experience you will learn to coax them in close for a one shot kill.