With Craig Robbins
I have attempted to stay away from the topic of spring turkey hunting these past couple months, but I can't any longer.
I am addicted to spring gobbler hunting. I love everything about it - Getting up early (well, maybe not so much anymore), calling and the sound of a gobbler as he wakes up. Heck, I just love it.
This winter has been colder than recent ones and as February begins it's time to start getting ready for spring. The smells and watching the world come alive is awe-inspiring and it never seems to get old. In fact, the older I get the more I enjoy it.
With all the equipment on the market these days for spring turkey hunters, and, boy, there is a bunch, there is one thing that often gets overlooked - the turkey gun.
Heck, back in the day I remember just putting a full choke barrel on my 870 and heading to the woods. Then came the advent of screw-in choke tubes. It wasn't long before the specialty tubes hit the market. Today's turkey gun isn't your grandfather's turkey gun. Oftentimes, it's a specialty gun that only gets used during spring gobblers hunting.
Choosing a firearm is a personal choice. Some folks make their choice based on money. While this is an important element in purchasing any piece of equipment, when it comes to a firearm it shouldn't be the primary reason.
In today's world there are dozens of choices for turkey guns. From pump to semi-auto to single shot, from wood to camo to synthetic, picking a turkey gun is a personal decision.
One of the first things I tell hunters to is to know what type of hunting they are going to do. If you do a lot of run-and-gun style of hunting, which means you'll be moving around a lot, a light gun will serve you well. If you hunt primarily fields and moving not so much, you can get away with a heavier gun.
There are many important aspects to spring gobbler hunting, but it's all for naught if you can't hit your target. I have a couple of turkey guns. I know their range and how they shoot, but each year I take them to my local rod and gun club to sight them in with different makes of shells. While I know what shell shoots best in each gun, I am always looking for that perfect turkey load.
I am fortunate enough to hunt along side many different hunters each spring and the most frustrating thing is when I get a bird into range and my hunter misses the bird. Now, I am not going to tell you that I haven't missed birds before. Heck, that is part of the sport. Any spring turkey hunter who tells you he has never missed a turkey is either not being truthful or hasn't hunted a lot. Either way, misses are a part of our sport. Heck, I would prefer to have a guy miss a bird and then hit him and not find it.
The majority of gun manufacturers have discovered that turkey hunters will spend the bucks for a ''special'' gun for their favorite pursuit. In today's world of specialties and micro management, there are several choices for every style of turkey hunting.
For spring birds, I like a shotgun that will shoot an excellent pattern at 25 yards with more then half the load in the kill zone. Some use 4s, 5s or 6s for spring gobblers, but I prefer 4s or 5s. Also, it's important to shoot the heaviest load your gun and you can handle. If given a choice, I will always go with 3 shells in 12- or 20-gauge.
A 20-gauge is best for young or female hunters.
When sighting in a gun it's important to realize that a head and upper neck shot will put any bird down for the count. It's imperative to know where your gun patterns and then shoot there. I generally encourage hunters to aim just below the head on the neck which will maximize your pattern.
Whichever gun, shell or load you choose, it's vital that you test it and know its kill zone.