Wild Turkey
Hunting Info
Turkey Calls
Turkey Store
  Wild Turkey Zone

Hunting Tips

Hunting Tips from Our Members

Scouting Tips

Calling Tips

Shotguns & Ammo

Call Descriptions with Sound Files

Printable Turkey Target

NWTF Records

KS Records

Score Your Turkey

State Hunting Reg.'s

See Also- Articles


Wild Turkey Hunting Tips & Info --

Selecting Shotguns for Turkey Hunting

-- by Rob Ramsdale --

Turkey hunting's popularity today has given rise to a vast assortment of new and improved shotguns designed specifically for turkey hunting. The modern turkey shotgun now comes with a camo finish, composite stock, super-full turkey choke, 3 1/2" chamber and shorter barrel. They are a far cry from the classic side-by-side doubles many of the earliest turkey hunters used.

Do you need one of these modern firearms to hunt turkeys? Honestly, no, since hunters have been killing turkeys for an awful long time without them. But most firearm purchases by hunters are not based on what you need but what you want so if you can afford one, go ahead. They can give you that extra edge in bagging a turkey this spring.

Selecting a Shotgun

What should you look for in your turkey hunting shotgun? In my opinion, the most important thing is to find a shotgun you can shoot comfortably and accurately. It does not really matter if that is a pump, automatic, double or a single shot. A good fitting shotgun that you are comfortable with and have confidence in is a great place to start.


The vast majority of turkey hunters hunt with a 12 gauge. It comes in a ton of different models and makes. Some hunters opt for a little more firepower and move up to a 10 gauge. The 10 ga. does increase your effective range a little and gives a little more knockdown power than a 12 ga. If you are up for lugging the thing around, go for it. Speaking of weight issues, one of the more popular choices nowadays is the 20 gauge. I would especially recommend this to the women and kids who are just beginning hunting. It is lighter and has less recoil than its big brother the 12 gauge but it also comes with a reduced range. That really is not a problem as long as you carefully judge the range of your shot and limit them to 35 yards or under. Another choice for those hunters wishing for less of a "kick" from their turkey shotgun is to use the new HeviShot loads that have a lot less velocity than other magnum turkey loads. The HeviShot loads I've tried didn't kick much more than a regular pheasant load and much less than the magnum 3" turkey loads I normally use. And of course, automatic shotguns have less of a kick than pumps or doubles since they utilize some of the back pressure to cycle the gun.

Barrel length

Barrel length is another important decision. If you are using your shotgun for turkey hunting only, the new short barrels might be your choice. Shorter barrels make for a lighter more maneuverable gun which can be important when you are turkey hunting and doing a lot of walking around in the woods. If you plan on using your new shotgun for upland or waterfowl hunting also, a standard 28" barrel would be a better pick for all-around use.

Test Patterning

After you have selected your turkey gun, now comes the most important part of getting your gun ready to hunt - test patterning. Many people never do this assuming a new gun always shoots straight - and for the most part they do. However, if your shotgun consistently shoots off your point of aim, you need to do something about it. A gunsmith can adjust your shotgun by bending the barrel or by changing the fit of your stock. A less expensive fix is to fit your gun with adjustable sights or a scope and then adjusting them until your shotgun hits where you point it.

Along with a straight shooting shotgun, you must also get your shotgun shooting good patterns. Turkeys are very tough birds and the preferred method of shooting them is aiming for the head & neck region where pellets to the spine or brain will instantly bring down a turkey. To do this, you need tight consistent patterns at the range you are shooting. Which brings up another question. How far away can you shoot a turkey?

This is a controversial topic since most serious turkey hunters believe in calling them close (less than 30 yards). But modern magnum loads and turkey chokes now make it possible to consistently kill birds at 50 yards and over providing you can aim straight. That is where the biggest problem comes in with most shooters and why I would recommend keeping your shots at 40 yards or under. Also, many people misjudge shooting distances anyway. If you try to keep your maximum distance for a shot at 35 or 40 yards, when you do make a mistake in judging distance and the bird is further away it should still be in effective range. I would rather error on the side of caution and wait for the bird to get close.

Getting back to patterning, after you have a straight shooting shotgun, you still must try out various choke and shell combinations to find your best pattern. Nowadays, many turkey shotguns are coming from the factory with Extra-full chokes that are as good as the after-market tubes. The only way you will know for sure is to try it out.

I like to pattern at 40 yards to start. I usually try a variety of shells from different manufacturers with different shot sizes (4, 5, or 6) and different lengths (2 3/4", 3" and if your gun can shoot them 3 1/2"). A good way to save costs while doing this is to go in with a few friends to spread the shell cost out some. Once I find the best shell / shot size combination at 40 yards, I will shoot some shots closer in to see what the pattern does there. Sometimes a gun will be throwing a great pattern at 40 yards but a terrible one at 20 - 25 yards. Again, a little time practicing before the season will tell you what to expect. Also, try some shots in real close at 5 yards & 10 yards. Most of the turkey chokes throw very tight, baseball-sized patterns at these ranges and if you turkey hunt long, eventually you will have a shot at 10 feet or less. There's not much margin for error when they are in that close.

Just remember when patterning that no two barrels are alike. Even if they are the same model and year as someone else's, they will probably still pattern a little differently.

Here are some links to shotgun manufacturers to get you started shopping for a new shotgun

Popular Shotgun Manufacturers

Other Brands

Bill Hanus CrossFire Diamond Falco
Gazelle Arms H&R 1871 Herstal Khan Shotguns
Kimber Laurona Rossi Savage
Scattergun Tech Shooters Arms Silma Wilson Combat

Premier Shotguns

A. H. Fox Arrieta AtkinGrant&Lang AYA
Bernardelli Cole Arms Dakota Arms E.J. Churchill
F.A.I.R Ferlib Galazan Griffin&Howe
Holland&Holland Investarm Kolar Krieghoff
Lu-Mar Marocchi Merkel Perazzi
Purdey Sabatti Verny-Carron William Evans
W.W. Greener Ziegenhahn Zoli Antonio






Turkey and Turkey Hunting Turkey and Turkey Hunting --- Only $14.95

Turkey & Turkey Hunting Magazine focuses on turkey hunting techniques, turkey behavior and biology, the latest wild turkey research for hunters, equipment, destinations, and hunting ethics.


Take time to visit - www.engineershandbook.com

Copyright © 1998 - 2006 The Wild Turkey Zone - Robert Ramsdale - All Rights Reserved
Privacy Policy