Turkey hunting tip: Pattern your gun now before it’s too late

I’ll be honest: I don’t pattern my turkey gun every year. Well, I haven’t in the past anyway. The 12-gauge I use when I’m running and gunning was built for the purpose, and it has treated me well whenever a longbeard has poked his head up within range. Or at least, that was I was allowing myself to believe.

It wasn’t until recently, while shooting with one of my 8-year olds, that I got a swift reminder of the fickleness of some guns as far as the shells they prefer. Her little 20-gauge was loving a specific type of sixes, so I upped the ante and shot a few rounds through it with some 3-inch turkey loads. The results were dismal.

We went back to the shells that were putting a couple dozen in the sweet spot of our turkey targets, and I realized that while I assumed some shotshell offerings would outperform others, that isn’t how it shook out.

I took the lesson a bit further with an old .410 I own, just to see. It was the same deal there, and with my turkey shotgun. While it’s not that much fun to shoot a bunch of 3.5-inch turkey loads out of it, it was interesting to see what worked best at various ranges. And what worked best wasn’t what I was planning to carry this spring.

We are all trying to find some silver linings during the quarantined life, and for me, shooting our turkey guns in a controlled setting to not only get my daughter more comfortable before opening day, but to see what loads were best for what guns, really makes me feel confident entering this season.

If you’re wondering what to do with your time and can make it happen close to home, consider patterning your turkey gun now. The result of your efforts will either confirm that you had things right all along, or show you where you could do better. Either way, you’ll be better off when you slip into the turkey woods this spring.

Used by permission of: Tony J. Peterson

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