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Developing Shotgun Patterns

Bobby Cole

turkey targets gamekeepers

Let’s say, for conversation, you kill an average of three turkeys each spring. Hopefully that’s accomplished with three shots. Three simple squeezes of the trigger that personify all the effort and preparation that goes into a season. Not to mention the early mornings and lost sleep.  That’s a lot of importance placed on those “three squeezes.”

Do you trust your shells and your chokes? You probably do, but are they the best you could have or just good enough? In today’s modern world, high-end turkey shells have improved greatly and the screw-in aftermarket choke tubes available are designed to make a good gun better.

Have you ever patterned your shotgun? I mean really put it through the paces with several different manufacturers’ loads and shot sizes to determine what shoots the best through your gun? I can tell you that each gun is a bit different and something is going to perform best. Don’t just shoot what your local sporting goods store has on sale. Take an hour, some butcher paper or targets, cardboard boxes, maybe a realty sign, a sharpie, and go somewhere safe to shoot.

turkey target gamekeepers

Check out how your gun performs at 25, 35, and 45 yards. I know you’ll want to try 55 to 60 yards, but please think twice before ever shooting at a turkey at this distance. These new loads and chokes have hunters thinking they can regularly do this now, but please use caution. You don’t want to cripple an old bird. They deserve more than that.

I’ve been pleased with the Browning Full Strut Turkey choke that came with my Browning A5, but it took several different tests to decide that it liked the Winchester Extended Range #5’s the best. I have an old single shot 20-gauge that loves a Jebs choke. There are a number of aftermarket choke tube companies that you can experiment with to find what works for you, along with plenty of shell manufacturers and loads. Don’t leave this to chance and don’t assume your gun shoots just like your friend’s. They all are a bit different.

By knowing what your gun shoots best, you can have confidence when the moment of truth comes and you squeeze the trigger.

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