“Aim small, miss small!” This should be the mantra for every hunter. We all try to make sure that our big game guns are sighted in, our gopher getters are fine-tuned, and our bows are perfect at 30 yards. Nobody thinks about sighting in their turkey shotguns.
Shotguns are generally pointed and not aimed. They usually are bare barreled or have a vent rib with a pair of iron sights. Modern hunters may mount a red dot, or low powered scope, to the top of their turkey busters. This certainly improves accuracy and shooting brightness in low light conditions.
Back in the day, sportsmen’s clubs would have Turkey Shoots to raise money. They were like the Super Bowl betting pools except you got to shoot them. Each block had an X in the center and whoever shot the closest to the X wins. It was about luck.
When we aim our shotguns at turkeys the target is a narrow head approximately 10 inches tall and 3 inches wide. The neck and head are featherless and contain the spinal cord and head/brain area. Take out the head, and the turkey is done. You can still eat the rest of the bird.
Ammunition for turkeys is a shot shell. Most states require #4-6 shot in an up to 3-inch magnum shell. That means you are shooting a lot of BB’s at a relatively small target. Only a few of the BB’s will hit what you aim at. If you shoot the body of a turkey, the great eating will be lost. No one wants to bite into BB’s or holey meat, crammed full of feather pieces.
To kill a turkey, shoot at it’s head. Aim right where the neck skin stops, and the feathers start. You want at least a dozen BB’s to hit the head area. Of the hundreds of BB’s that you fire, only a few will kill the bird. Turkey’s have incredible eyesight. Wear full camo that includes a head net and gloves. Don’t Move!
Practice will make perfect. Using a short shooting stick will help you rest your gun until it is time to shoot. Call less once the bird is coming in. Let him hunt you, don’t give away your exact position. Once you decide to shoot, squeeze the trigger as you would a rifle. Shotgun triggers are set at around 6-8 lbs., so it will take more of a squeeze than with a rifle trigger set at 2-3 lbs.
The turkey’ head is simply UGLY!! So ugly that you do not want to touch it. Instead, shoot it. The rest of the bird is amazingly beautiful, but God must have taken a nap when he created the turkey’s warty, knobby, bulbous, pimply head!
Not all shotguns pattern the same. They shoot a cloud of BB’s in a circle. The further away the shot, the larger the circle and the less dense the BB’s. Sight in your shotgun as you would a rifle. 30 yards will do the trick. Use a sandbag rest and take your best shot. Aim at the head target and count the holes. If your gun is off, adjust accordingly. You can also purchase stick on iron sights or mount iron sights to the vent rib. They come in a variety of colors, I prefer chartreuse, which is easily seen even in low light.
I have never shot a turkey further than 30 yards. Why would you take a longer shot? The whole point of calling a turkey is to call them in close. Once the bird is in a close kill zone, aim squeeze and enjoy. If the only way you can kill a turkey is with a rifle or a long, risky shot, then either become a better turkey hunter or just go buy one at the store.
Gobble gobble, cluck cluck!
For more Montana Grant, visit his blog at www.montanagrantfishing.com.