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Shotgun Selection for Hunting Osceola Turkeys

provided by John Phillips

Mossy Oak Pro Ron Bachmann of Spring Hill, Florida, is living his dream of hunting and fishing fulltime since his retirement three years ago, after 20 years as a cable-company lineman. He’s been hunting turkeys for 21 years and has been on the Mossy Oak ProStaff for nine years. Florida’s spring turkey season opens at various times, according to where you plan to hunt – private and/or public lands, but Florida always offers the first spring turkey-hunting opportunities in the country. Florida is also the only place in the world where the Osceola subspecies of wild turkey is found, with 80,000-100,000 Osceola birds primarily concentrated in the center 2/3 of the state. Today a guide with Florida Outdoor Experience, Bachmann has hunted Rio Grandes, Merriam’s and Eastern wild turkeys too.

turkey shotgun

I know there is a trend of hunters using quality 20-gauge shotguns with TSS turkey loads or Hevi Shot, and I also know there are a few hunters taking turkeys with .410s with special chokes and special shells, but most of my hunters are still hunting with 12-gauges. On the first day of a hunt, I usually go with my hunter and get him to sight his gun in to let me know how close I have to get the turkey to the hunter for him to make an effective shot. But this one fellow wanted to shoot his 10-gauge. He had brought two guns with him, and the first gun he shot was his 10-gauge. When he fired that young cannon off, he was definitely not ready for the recoil. His pattern at about 30 yards wasn’t really where he wanted it to be, either. So, he decided to put that 10-gauge back in the case and take his 12-gauge. He finally admitted that he had had that 10-gauge gun for a long time and hadn’t shot it very much, but he wanted to try it out on a turkey. I think perhaps that may have been the first time he’d shot that gun. I don’t think he will take it on another turkey hunt. 

On another hunt I remember fondly, I had a young man and his father. The father wanted to film his son harvesting an Osceola gobbler. We set up on the edge of a food plot. I told them we had to be really quiet, because I knew these birds were using the food plot. I did a few soft calls, and the woods exploded with turkeys, hens, gobblers and jakes. They all flew down into this field. Seeing that many turkeys come out of the trees and light in the field was an amazing sight. This young man was about 15 years old and decided he would be happy with a 2-year-old gobbler rather than having to wait and try to take a boss gobbler. How exciting our time was to see that father and his young son be on a turkey hunt together and also be able to film the hunt and keep that memory forever.

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