Yamaha Outdoors Tips — Best Shotgun Range?

Ideally, you’ll only need one shot. Make it count. NWTF courtesy photo

Ideally, you’ll only need one shot. Make it count. NWTF courtesy photo

By Steve Hickoff

Every turkey camp I’ve ever visited around the country inevitably leads to a supper table debate about the best shotgun range for dropping a spring gobbler.

My answer: 20-35 yards. 

Shots taken at under 20 steps, the payload stays tennis-ball tight, and misses are more likely, especially with that serpentine turkey head juking around.

Further out, especially beyond 40 yards, the swarm of pellets begins to open up.

In the end, you need to know your shotgun and how that firearm handles a particular load. Load capabilities vary—some are dead on and tighter at longer ranges.

True enough, some of the newer extended-range loads available these days provide a mix of turkey shotshell options. The choice is up to each hunter. I use them all. Each shotgun dictates the final selection based on familiarity from shooting the combination of options. 

Still for me, it’s often all about enjoying the moment as the gobbler works to my calls, even after that wild turkey steps into the edge of range. Then again, if that bird keeps angling away, you have to do what you have to do. 

Case in point: I once killed a Texas Rio at 47 steps after I’d missed the gobbler at five yards. Way too close on that first one. Most of the time my preferred range is that 20-35 yard window. Other guys shoot a bit further. 

Here are some basics to remember as you hang out at the gun range prior to the upcoming spring turkey seasons. Some begin in a matter of weeks.

A shot pellet transfers energy as a result of velocity and weight.

Multiple hits deliver cumulative energy.

In the end, scattergunning remains an inexact science. Remember this.

The better you know how your shotgun and choke handles a specific load, the more improved are your chances of killing a gobbler. 

Ask yourself: Are you interested in calling turkeys close, or taking them on the edge of your range? The latter scenario might work, but it also risks crippling a bird. 

Ultimately you decide, but your shotgun shell should be up to the task at hand. Ideally, you’ll only need one shot. Make it count.

Get out there now to ensure that when the time comes next month in Florida, come April in Texas, or May in Maine, that you’ll be ready to close the deal.