Thankful Outdoors: Turkey Season Part 2 – Get Dialed in

OnFocus – In part one of the spring turkey series, we discussed dressing up your decoy to increase the draw to your decoy spread. This week we will review getting your weapon of choice ready for the moment of truth.

The most common weapon used to harvest turkey is a shotgun. 20 gauge and 12 gauge are the most common to use. With today’s technology advancements in shotgun shells, there has been a growing increase in using .410 shotgun.

An increase in the .410 shotgun has become popular with the youth and those who want a lower recoil gun. A turkey load has quite a bit of recoil, and the opportunity that the .410 brings reduces the amount of recoil that you will feel.

Why is it a good thing to dial in your shotgun? What I mean by dial in your shotgun is a practice that is called patterning your shotgun. This technique is like sighting in a rifle or handgun. It’s a way for you to determine what is the effective range of your setup.

A typical range for harvesting a turkey is 40 yards and less; going through patterning your shotgun will show you how effective your setup will be at various ranges.

Here is a video clip from the YouTube Channel HunTN’ showing how different loads patterned in their setup. It shows that loads functioned differently with chokes and various shells.

Make sure that the shells that you choose also cycle through your shotgun correctly. Connor has a Charles Daly 12 gauge pump that we learned will not cycle a popular Winchester XR longbeard shell. We found that the hull to that shotgun shell is just a little thicker than others on the market, and that shell does not cycle well in his gun.

Another story of why getting your gear ready is essential, several years back, I took a hunter out and called in a bird that we had nicknamed “Whitey” that bird had such a glowing white head as we pulled him and his hens along the edge of a field to our location.

Once that bird got within distance, the shot went off, and the bird ran away. As we walked back to the truck and drove off to the next spot to try, the hunter realized that he had not changed his choke tube and was still using a trap choke tube. Had the hunter patterned his shotgun, he would have realized that his gun was not set up for the correct situation.

If you want to get your shotgun dialed in, I recommend adding fiber-optic sight to your shotgun if they are already not on your gun. If you have a vented barrel shotgun, there are several options available to you. If you have a smooth barrel shotgun, the options are more limited without getting gunsmith work done.

I recently switched my weapon of choice from shotgun over to my Mathews bow. Archery equipment is my true love when it comes to hunting experiences. I have yet successfully harvested a bird with a bow. This spring will be the third season that I will attempt to fill a tag with archery gear.

I will be starting my practice sessions to dial in my bow and hone shooting skills so that I’m ready to hit the small kill zone of a turkey. There are two methods of setting up your bow for turkey hunting. You can use broadheads specific for a head shot or broadheads used in the body within the dedicated kill zone.

Scott’s Bow Setup

I had started my archery set up a few years back with the broadhead for a headshot but have changed to the body broadhead. The body broadhead I felt increased my shot opportunities and allows me a more extended range.

My broadhead of choice is the Rage Xtreme Turkey broadhead; it flies true and has an effective design. The 100-grain design matches my setup that I typically use for whitetail, so I don’t have to make adjustments to my bow setup. This broadhead also lets me practice with a standard field point, and no adjustments are needed with I switch over to the broadhead for hunting.

Instead of investing in a full-size foam turkey target, I use a paper turkey target attached to a drywall sheet and place them in front of my block target.

Paper Turkey Target

These paper targets get you used to shooting at the kill zone on a turkey and mentally prepare you for your shot when it presents itself. Three seasons ago, I had called in three mature tom turkey within 7 yards of my ground blind, I drew back on the bird, and as my kisser button settled on the corner of my mouth, I froze, and my mind was racing as I thought, “Oh crap where the heck do I aim at these things now!” My practice sessions were spent on shooting dots on a target, and I had not prepared myself to shoot at a live animal. The result was a missed opportunity, and I kicked myself for not being fully prepared.

As each week passes, we are getting closer to the season, and I hope you are enjoying the activities involved in getting ready for hearing those springtime gobblers. I have started to drink my morning coffee outside and listen for a distance gobble, I haven’t heard any yet, but I know that morning is coming soon.

In closing, I hope you find a way to get into the outdoors, create your adventure and memories, but most importantly, find a way to “Celebrate the Experience.” Go check out for more content and share your “Celebrate the Experience” moment with us!

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Scott Hopperdietzel
Author: Scott Hopperdietzel

Scott Hopperdietzel is the creator of an outdoor blog named Thankful Outdoors. He shares his passion for the outdoors with readers. The focus of the blog is to “Celebrate the Experience” in his stories; you feel what the connection to the outdoors means to him. His goal is to inspire others to get into the outdoors and create their own experience. Along with writing, he is a father to three boys who are often part of the adventures along with the family Weimaraner, Boone. You can find his writings on the website or follow his social media platforms on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.