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Patterning Your Turkey Gun

I really enjoy turkey hunting and eating wild turkey! In addition to practicing calling, scouting, etc., there’s another critical step to be a successful turkey hunter. That’s patterning and practicing with a turkey gun!

Turkey guns are usually 12 gauge shotguns with an extra full choke. Mine is a Winchester SX3 Long Beard and I use Winchester Long Beard Magnum 3” shells with #4 shot. I just patterned this gun and shell combo and was very impressed with the results! I prefer to call toms in close and enjoy their behavior, but sometimes mature gobblers will hang up 30, 40, and even 50 yards out.

Patterning Your Turkey Gun

It’s nice to know I can easily tag a tom at 40+ yards if he won’t come any closer.

Making a kill with a turkey gun can be easier at 30 yards than 10 yards. This is because the shot pattern of a turkey gun is smallest at close range. Check out the patterns on the targets in this picture. It would be much easier to miss a tom at 10 yards, due to the very tight pattern, than at 30+ yards.

This is why I use a scope on my turkey gun. The pattern is so tight that without precise aiming it would be easy to miss the tom in a moment of excitement without being able to aim more precisely than a bead might allow.

In addition to scouting and practicing turkey calls, make sure and spend some time patterning your turkey gun. Too – check out the new Winchester Pattern Board Application on winchester.com to assist in the process. It will certainly increase your odds of tagging a tom this spring!

Dr. Grant Woods
Dr. Grant Woods
Raised in the Ozark Mountains of Missouri, Dr. Grant Woods has consulted on wildlife research and management from Canada to New Zealand. A hunter since childhood, he not only knows how to grow big deer, but how to effectively hunt them as well. His work serves to improve deer herd quality and educate hunters about advanced management techniques.