Best Weapons for Turkey Hunting
By Rich Miller
When it comes to turkey hunting, nothing is guaranteed. The birds seldom do what you want or expect them to do, which means that sometimes you only have a split second to get off a shot. When that moment of truth arrives, you need to feel comfortable and confident in your shotgun and setup.
A lot of thought needs to go in to selecting your gun and accessories for turkey hunting. Try out several guns until you find the one that you feel most comfortable with. I shoot a 12-gauge, as do 90 % of turkey hunters, but if you’re smaller-framed or you simply want less of a kick, then a 20-gauge is a good option. I’ll also shoot a 20-gauge if I’m in thicker vegetation where I know my shot is going to be closer.
I also recommend selecting a gun with a shorter barrel – 24 to 26 inches max – so that you can maneuver easily in a tighter setup. You want a lightweight gun that’s easier to tote when you’re running and gunning for longbeards. Make sure your gun is fully camouflaged, as turkeys have excellent eyesight.
Before you purchase a gun, go online and read gun reviews. Try out several different models until you find one that is the right fit for you. You don’t have to spend a lot of money for a good turkey gun. You can get a nice gun at a lower price point. Just make sure you’re happy with whatever gun you choose. My turkey gun of choice right now is the Browning Silver NWTF model specifically designed for turkey hunting.
When it comes to sight selection, you want to make sure you choose one that will help you keep your head down on the gun. I like a front and rear sight because it doesn’t constrict your field of view and its design encourages you to keep your head down.
I use the Dead Ringer Beard Buster front and rear sight by TruGlo. It’s also great for someone who’s not shot a shotgun a lot. You have a natural tendency to want to lift your head up as soon as you pull the trigger to see if you’ve hit the turkey, but that causes the end of your barrel to rise up, which can cause you to miss the bird. The Dead Ringer sight features an orange ring that you look through, which encourages proper shooting posture.
I don’t like using a scope on my turkey gun because it limits field of view and because the scope can get knocked out of line during your trek in to your setup. But, if you prefer to shoot with a scope, I recommend using one that is specifically designed for turkey hunting.
When it comes to chokes, I prefer a .665 diameter choke. I want the pattern to stay together because I’m shooting at the turkey’s head, which is a small target. With a .665-diameter choke, you’ll have a tight pattern from 0 to 20 yards, and it will continue to provide you with a good pattern out to 40 or 50 yards. Some guys like to take further shots, but I prefer to stay inside of 50 yards.
Shell selection should depend on your gun. Ever gun is different and not all shells will shot straight out of your gun. You need to test multiple shells at different yardages before you find the one that is right for your gun. Get out there and play around with your guns and shells until you find the perfect match. My Browning Silver likes No. 5 Winchester Longbeards, so that’s what I shoot. I also have a Maxus Browning that likes the HEVI-Shot Magnum Blend in a 3.5-inch shell. I prefer 3.5-inch shells because they get the job done without the kick.
When selecting your turkey-hunting gun and accessories, it all comes down to trial and error. Try out different guns, sights, shells and scopes until you find a combination that works for you. And remember that everyone is different. Just because a setup works for one person, doesn’t mean it will be the right option for you.