Gobbler shells: Wild turkey seasons begin soon across the country
Although it doesn’t feel much like it yet, we are drawing ever closer to the spring, and better yet, the turkey seasons that arrive with it. While there isn’t much to do in the way of blind setup or scouting, there is one thing you can do to ensure you have the best chance of filling your tag and that involves your shotgun.
Most hunters will buy a box of expensive turkey shells, pattern them once and call it good. That’s OK, but longbeards are notoriously tough and big, which makes them a prime candidate for being farther away than you think when you pull the trigger. Their inherent toughness, along with the fact that sometimes they are 45 yards away instead of 35, means that without the right shotshell you might watch your season run or fly away after sending a harmless pattern into feathers and dirt.
Over they years I’ve messed around with quite a few different kinds of shells and have developed a system for how I load my 12 gauge each spring with 31/2-inch shells. I load my gun so that my first shot will send a load of lead 6s out of the barrel. The first shot I take at a turkey is going to be my best shot most of the time and I try hard to make sure it’s the only shot I need to take. Should I need a second shell, it will almost always be lead as well, and will be filled with either 4- or 5-shot. This is a just-in-case shell with a bit more oomph should my first shot didn’t do the job.
My third and last shell will be either 4s or 5s, and will consist of the tungsten-alloy shotshells that deliver maximum penetration. Each of these shells will deliver a tight pattern out to 50 yards, which is something I establish long before my season. This might seem like overkill, and not completely unnecessary, but I’ve shot enough birds to know that believing in forgone conclusions can be a mistake.
If you’re looking to maximize your spring time in the woods and find something to do this preseason, consider messing around with some new shotshells. It’s a bit expensive at first, but will seem well worth it when a mature gobblers struts into 40 yards and stares down your decoys this spring.