With the nice spring days we have had recently, I have sure noticed the turkeys out and about and the toms are strutting. I know the archers are in the field now, but I’m getting anxious for the shotgun season to start.
Last week I was on the road traveling from Minnesota to Nebraska. This time of year the Turkeys are out in full strut. The funny thing was, I didn’t see a turkey until I hit the Nebraska State Line, then I stopped counting after several dozen. This state has plenty.
Following up on my excitement once I hit the state line, I stopped for some dinner where I was talking with a gentleman who was also getting ready and excited for the spring turkey hunting season. He told me he planned to use a new type of special turkey ammunition and had a new shotgun. He was quite interested in a special turkey choke tubes he’d seen on the market.
We talked about his type of hunting and I recommended a choke for him. Then I made a statement that seemed to catch him off guard. I encouraged him to get out and sight in his shotgun once he got the new choke in place.
He gave me a bewildered look.
“How do you sight-in a shotgun?” he asked.
We talked a bit more about how new ammo and new equipment — like his choke — could change the point of impact of his shotgun. And being a new shotgun too, he probably had no idea where the center of his pattern was in relation to his point of aim.
Think about what you are attempting to do with a shotgun during the turkey hunting season. You’re not shooting at fast moving birds on the wing. You are trying to “pin point” a shot at a vital spot on a gobbler. You want the maximum amount of shot to hit that point you aim at. You are shooting a shotgun like a rifle. Doesn’t it make sense to know where your shot goes when you pull the trigger?
Every shotgun, even identical models, will shoot just a little differently and put their shot in just a little different place even when aimed and shot the same way. Add something like a new choke tube or different type of ammunition and where the shot goes and how it performs at different ranges can change quite a bit.
I’ve been doing some shotgun patterning and testing a new choke tube that I intend to use during this spring turkey season.
The choke worked great and put the bulk of the shot load in a concentrated pattern on the target, but it also showed me that where I aimed and where I hit were slightly different. My turkey gun has rifle-style sights on it and I had to do some adjusting to get the bulk of the shot to hit where I was aiming.
I have a scope coming for this particular shotgun now and that will create a whole new evolution on sighting in the shotgun. With a scope you can be even more precise, so you need to know even more if your shotgun is actually shooting where you’re aiming.
When I’m getting a scoped shotgun ready for a turkey hunt I first want to know what is the likely distance that I will be shooting at a gobbler. Once I know that, I head to the range with my shotgun, scope, no choke open cylinder bore and a couple of boxes of slugs. Why is it they people think I’m odd when I say this?
Think about it. The best way to know where your barrel is actually pointed and where the center of your shot pattern might be is to sight it in like a rifle. That’s why I use slugs. At 35 yards, I can tune the scope so that I’m overlapping holes in the target. I now have a pretty good idea where that shot is going to go as well.
Next, I get some targets that will show me definitively how the shotgun is patterning. I like the Shoot-N-See brand of targets.
Next I add my turkey choke tube and fire at a few targets and look at how the patterns print. It will only take you a few shots to tell whether your shotgun is ready for the hunt or not.
One last tip: Always sight in your shotgun with the same shotshell you intend to use during your hunt. Believe me, it makes a difference.
If you intend to hunt turkeys with a shotgun this spring, now is the time to get out and do a little patterning. Good luck on all your hunts.