By Justin Hunold
When the Turkey Hunting boom started back in the 1970’s any ol shotgun folks had kicking around went into the woods chasing those spring Toms. As time went on folks realized Turkey’s are tough. They started to tote Magnums sporting 3” chambers and delivering that payload through a fixed full choke. And as chasing spring birds grew in popularity so did the list of tools we specialized to chase them. Shotguns were no exception to this rule, and now we are able to bring a true Turkey Gun to bear. Let’s take a look at some modern must haves in the turkey woods. What makes the “best turkey gun” for a modern hunter.
Optics- Listen, lot’s of birds have fallen to a plain old front bead, and that will continue to happen. The same goes for fiber optic sighting systems, most modern guns come with them and they are always good to go. More and more though, we get after birds with an assundry of optics on top of our guns. Some folks like a LPVO or Low Power Variable Optic, like a 1-6x24mm. They feel that the ability to “zoom in” helps them deliver precise shot patterns at extended ranges and who’s to argue? This is what these optics are made for, that 0-100 yard zone. Guess what ranges we shoot Turkeys at 0-65 ish
The next group of folks run a Red Dot optic of some sort. I fall into this group. Whether a traditional red dot housed in a tube or a prism style sight these are becoming the go to in the spring woods.They are light to carry, dummy proof to use, mostly bomb proof and do exactly what a hunter needs in the turkey woods, putting a point of aim where the center of the pattern should go. Plus in those low light mornings and rainy spring days that red dot is easy to acquire and easy to see on a bird’s head and neck.
Retay turkey guns have integral patented scope bases. The picatinny pattern will easily accept any optic of your choosing. If that optic were to fail the whole system is removable so you can trust the fiber optic bead at the end of the barrel.
Chokes- Way back in the 70-80’s hunters shot fixed full guns and occasionally modified if that’s all they had to run. The number of chokes available to a modern turkey hunter is staggering. There are a ton of constrictions, porting patterns, wad catching systems and even shot composition specific chokes. In general a good name brand Xtra Full Turkey Choke will work, you just have to find the best load to match that choke. If you’re shooting TSS we suggest a TSS specific choke. The goal is to deliver double digit pellet count into the head and neck of the Gobbler at any reasonable shooting distance. All of these chokes should do that with the right turkey load.
Turkey shells pack more ounces of shot than just about any other shotgun shell. Velocity doesn’t really matter in the turkey woods, so these shells will sacrifice speed for shot capacity. With that a lot of folks will shoot a 20 gauge or a 12 gauge in 3 inches. 3.5 still has a following but modern turkey shells, turkey chokes and ballistics mean that folks are patterning better and better with the shorter 3” variant.
Retay has huge aftermarket support in the way of choke tubes and with 20 gauge and 12 gauge Turkey guns we have the ability to deliver whatever performance you need from your turkey gun. Especially with our Dead Straight Deep Bore Drilled Barrels. Our guns pattern 20% better out of the box to begin with.
Barrel Length- When I started Turkey hunting it was with a 28” barrel side by side shotgun. Man, that gun shot, but it was long and gangly to carry through the under story. I later moved to a 26” pump gun and finally to a 24” barrel Gordion Turkey. The 20 gauge Gordion Turkey comes with a 22” barrel. The shorter barrel is lighter, easier to carry when slung over the shoulder, and easier to maneuver in a seated shooting position. Plus in the tight cover that woods hunting has the shorter barrel just clears that brush and shrubs so much easier. You don’t need the momentum of a 28 or 26” barrel to swing through or follow up. Likely you need one precise shot, much like a rifle, and doing that with a more compact gun is a joy in the thick spring woods.
Grips- About a decade or so ago the familiar pistol grip stock emerged on turkey guns. This allows for steady holding and support when seated and having the gun on your knee. It also compliments the use of optics by lining a shooter up in a comfortable position.
Anyone who has shot a Magnum Turkey Load will tell you the recoil is stout. The almost 90 degree pistol grip allows a shooter to handle that recoil a lot better and more comfortably. With pump guns kicking a bunch more than a semi, our new GPS-XL Turkey has a pistol grip to help you handle all of that. Yet, you can still choose a traditional style stock in any of our Turkey Guns because we know this gun might be serving you in a duck boat, layout blind or even chasing rabbits. Our guns are built to hunt.
Sling- Most of the turkey hunting we do is a game of miles and opportunities. Walking with a gun slung over your shoulder is a lot easier than having to carry it. Gotta work a pot call? How about running a box call? Both two hand affairs and a sling keeps that gun comfortable while you do that.
The more gear we hunt with the handier a sling becomes. Blind? Chair? Decoys? Gotta have a sling to make it all work. Every Retay has been built to accept a sling with integral studs and sling swivels included. Those slip on slings suck so we just make it easy on you.
Can you kill turkeys with a good all around shotgun? You sure can. You can also open a paint can with a screwdriver, but it’s not ideal. So, why not use a paint can opener and why not get serious and get the best turkey gun you can. You deserve to enjoy your time afield and the birds deserve for you to be the most efficient killer possible. The right Turkey Gun helps you do that, and how confident you will be with a purpose driven gun. Confidence kills or so I’ve heard.