Patterning Your Turkey Shotgun

Before each turkey season every hunter needs to pattern and understand their shotgun. It’s commonly misunderstood that with a single or double bead and limits of ducks and ring-necks taken with that shotgun makes it “Turkey Ready”. Nothing could be further from the truth.

That shotgun that was “dynamite” on flying targets may not be fully equipped to transition to aiming at a longbeard.

Traditionally, on flying targets the shotgun is pointed at the target and swings through the target to the proper lead as the trigger is pulled.

But with a stationary, stretched neck Tom, the shooter must aim that shotgun like a rifle. The shooter must understand and know point of aim and point of impact. This necessitates the addition of a sighting device, such as rifle sights, a front and rear site with fiber optics to aid the aim. For some it may work better with an “aim-point” or “red-dot” sight. Yet, others find a shotgun scope is the ticket. Squeezing the trigger as with a rifle is also essential to stay on target.

Patterning the shotgun should be done with a turkey load of choice…with the goal of putting the most pellets in a 3” circle at 40 yards. Also, one needs to decide what an acceptable or typical yardage that the shooter is satisfied making, which means trying distances closer.

Try different choke tube and ammo combinations with your turkey gun to find the optimal and acceptable configuration. I suggest practicing your shots wearing the gear you’ll wear on the hunt. Face mask & gloves, plus also shoot from sitting positions that you’ll use in the turkey woods. If you shoot from a blind, shoot from the chair you’ll sit on. If you use a shooting stick, practice on the stick.

The hunter/shooter must have confidence in his gun and setup. Know point of aim and point of impact. Patterning your turkey gun is also a mark of an ethical and responsible hunter. It makes him or her a practicing conservationist, knowing that they are going to make a clean kill. Not patterning your turkey gun is totally unacceptable.