It’s Time To Add To The Collection
I’m addicted to spring gobbler hunting. I love everything about it. Getting up early, calling, the sound of a gobbler as he wakes up. Heck, I just love everything about spring gobbler hunting.
This winter there have been reports of large flocks of birds being spotted in the usual areas, but word has started to trickle in about good groups of birds hanging out in fields. We haven’t had a bunch of snow this winter, but it’s about this time every year I begin to start getting ready for spring gobbler chasing. The smells and watching the world come alive is awe-inspiring and it never seems to get old. In fact, the older I get, the more I enjoy it.
With all the equipment on the market these days for spring turkey hunters — and, boy, there is a bunch — there is one thing that often gets overlooked, and that’s the turkey gun.
Heck, back in the day I remember just putting a full choke barrel on my 870 and heading to the woods. Then came the advent of a screw in choke tubes. It wasn’t long before the specialty tubes hit the market. Today’s turkey gun isn’t your grandfather’s turkey gun. Often times it’s a specialty gun that only gets used during spring gobbler hunting.
I have been using the same camo Mossberg for some time and it was brought to my attention that maybe I should begin the search for a new turkey gun. There are plenty of excellent guns on the market these days, but for me picking up a new gun is like getting a new hunting partner — it’s a personal choice.
Some folks make their choice based on money, and that is an important element in purchasing any piece of equipment, but when it comes to a firearm, it shouldn’t be the primary reason.
In today’s world there are dozens of choices for turkey guns. From pump to semi-auto to single shot, from wood to camo to synthetic, so picking a turkey gun is a personal decision.
I still have in my safe every turkey gun except one I have ever hunted with. The list is interestly short. My first turkey gun was a Remington 870. It wasn’t fancy, but it was effective.
For some season I moved to an H&R single shot 10-gauge. Heck, in my opinion, everybody should have one of these beasts. While the H&R is a heck of a gun and throws a great pattern of number 5’s at 40 yards, it is little much to haul in and out of the woods. Then, of course, there is the kick. If you have never experienced the back side of single shot 10 gauge with 3¢-inch turkey loads, you never been kicked.
For another reason that I have yet to figure out I decided that I wanted to make things more interesting, so I moved to a black powder gun. Now before you all think that I fallen off the tractor, let me explain.
Today’s smoke poles are much different than black powder in the past. My version is an inline and shoots a good pattern at 20 yards. My black powder experience kind of end after the first season, but that’s a story for another day.
Last on the list is my camo Mossberg 835. This was the first gun that I was able to work with choke-wise. After going through several different choke styles, I settled on a small choke manufacturer out of Tennessee. My choke is what is considered a .670, extra full turkey choke. Teamed up with Hevi-Shot Magnum Blend pushing a 2™ payload of number 5’s at just over 1200 fps, this 3¢ shell in my gun choke combination gives me roughly 70% at 40 yards in the kill zone.
Some would say why would you want to change what is working so well for you? My answer is I have a couple empty spots in the gun safe. Also I’m looking for another project.
One of the first things I share with hunters when picking out a turkey gun is to know what type of hunting you are going to do. If you do a lot of run-and-gun style hunting, which means you’ll be moving around a lot, a light gun will serve you well. If you hunt primarily fields and moving not so much, you can get away with a little heavier gun.
There are many important aspects to spring gobbler hunting, but it’s all for naught if you can’t hit your target. I know the limitations on every turkey gun in the safe. While I know their range and how they shoot, I still take them out every year sight them in. If I want to try something new or I’m field testing new loads/chokes, I will try each gun. While I know what shell shoots best in each gun, I’m always looking for that perfect turkey load.
I’m fortunate enough to hunt alongside many different hunters each spring and the most frustrating thing is when I get a bird into range and my hunter misses the bird. Now, I’m not going to tell you that I haven’t missed birds before. Heck, that is all a part of the sport. Any spring turkey hunter who tells you he has never missed a turkey is either not being truthful or hasn’t hunted a lot. Either way, misses are a part of our sport. In fact, I would prefer to have a guy miss a bird than hit it and not find it.
The majority of gun manufacturers have discovered that turkey hunters will spend the bucks for a specialty gun for their favorite pursuit. In today’s world of specialties and micro management, there are several choices for every style of turkey hunting.
For spring birds I like a shotgun that will shoot an excellent pattern at 25 yards — more than half the load in the kill zone. Some use 4, 5 or 6’s for spring gobblers but I prefer 4’s or 5’s. Also it’s important to shoot the heaviest load your gun and you can handle. If given a choice, I will always go with 3¢ shells in 12 or 20 gauge. In the past we discussed the resurgence of the 20 gauge for spring turkey hunting.
When sighting in a gun it’s important to realize that a head and upper neck shot will put any bird down for the count. It’s imperative to know where your gun patterns and then shoot there. I generally encourage hunters to aim just below the head on the neck, which will maximize your pattern.
This brings me back to my search for a new turkey gun. I have searched and even shot a few of the new offerings on the market. While I’m not 100 percent convinced of the make and model as of this writing, I know what I’m looking for.
My preference is a shorter barrel. With today’s choke tubes, we can get away with 26-inch barrel. Something that is lightweight and has to handle 3¢ shells, doesn’t have much of a bite and, of course, stays within my budget.
As I continue with my search for the perfect spring gobbler gun, I will keep you all updated as time goes by. It may not be this season, but it will be soon.