Turkey Hunting Shells & Chokes


As the mornings get crisper and the gobble of wild turkeys start calling us into the woods, it’s time to gear up.

This year, we’re diving into the basics that make a successful turkey hunt: This article is about choosing the right shotgun choke tubes and shells.

Here’s to a season filled with tight patterns, successful calls, and tales of the one that didn’t get away.


Turkey Shells

This isn’t your grandpa’s bird hunting; today’s turkey hunting is a high-tech sport, and the right ammo can make or break your hunt.

Turkey shells are shotgun shells specifically designed to knock a gobbler flat from a distance. These aren’t your average birdshot. We’re talking heavy loads, dense patterns, and the kind of knockdown power that ensures your bird doesn’t turn into the one that got away.

Packing a Punch:

  • Heavy Loads: Turkey shells are loaded up with more shot and heavier payloads than your standard shells. This means more pellets and more energy downrange, exactly what you need when you’re aiming for a headshot on a bird that’s all neck and feathers.
  • Pellet Material: Lead used to be the go-to, but with hunting regulations and environmental concerns, you’ve now got options like tungsten, bismuth, and steel. Tungsten, in particular, is a heavyweight champ, offering denser patterns and the ability to reach out further with lethal force.
  • Shot Size: We’re talking 4s, 5s, 6s, even up to 7s in some of those high-density materials. The idea is to find the sweet spot between pellet size (for energy) and pellet count (for pattern density). It’s all about maximizing your chances of a clean kill.
  • Velocity: Speed kills, or in this case, knocks turkeys dead. Higher velocity means your pellets get to Mr. Gobbler faster, but don’t get carried away. Too fast can lead to wider patterns and less precision. Balance is key.

Not all turkey hunts are created equal, and neither are turkey shells. Consider the terrain, the typical engagement distance, and your shotgun’s capabilities. Experimentation is your friend here. Different guns like different ammo, and the only way to find out what works best is to hit the range. Pay attention to how your shells pattern at different distances and adjust accordingly.

Once you’ve chosen your shell, it’s not just “point and shoot.” Work on your aim, know your effective range, and practice your setup. Remember, a turkey’s head and neck are your targets, and they can be surprisingly small targets at 30+ yards. Your choice of shells is critical, but so is your ability to put them on target when it counts.


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Turkey Choke Tubes

When you’re out in the field, aiming for that big gobbler, one thing you don’t want to mess up is your shot.

That’s where shotgun turkey choke tubes come in. These bad boys are the difference between a trophy bird and just another story about the one that got away.

What Are Shotgun Turkey Choke Tubes?

First off, for those new to the game, a choke tube is basically a constriction at the end of your shotgun barrel. The idea is to shape the spread of your shot to suit what you’re aiming at. For turkey hunting, you want a tight pattern that delivers a lethal blow at longer distances because, let’s face it, turkeys aren’t known for their willingness to come in close for a cuddle.

Turkey chokes tighten up the shot pattern, making sure that when you aim at that head and neck area (because that’s where you should be aiming), you’ve got a higher density of pellets hitting your target. It’s about precision and making each shot count.

Different Types of Turkey Chokes

  • Constriction Levels: You’ve got a range here, from Full to Extra Full, and even some specialized turkey chokes going beyond that. The tighter the constriction, the tighter the pattern. But remember, tighter isn’t always righter. You need to find what works best with your shotgun and your shells.
  • Patterns: The pattern refers to how the pellets spread out at different distances. You want a pattern that stays tight and consistent, maximizing your chance of a clean kill. Testing different chokes with your chosen shells and shot size is key.
  • Lengths: Some chokes stick out beyond the barrel, some sit flush. Extended chokes can offer a bit more precision and can be easier to switch out. Flush chokes keep things neat and streamlined. Personal preference plays a big role here.
  • Materials: You’ve got options—stainless steel, titanium, and other alloys. Durability and resistance to corrosion are what you’re after, especially if you’re hunting in all kinds of weather.

Choosing the Right Choke

It’s not one-size-fits-all. Consider the distance you’ll be shooting, the specific shotgun you’re using, and the shells you prefer. Experimenting is part of the process. What works for one hunter might not work for you. And always, safety first. Make sure your choke is compatible with your shotgun.

When you’re out there, remember it’s not just about the gear. Patience, practice, and knowing your terrain count for a lot. But with the right turkey choke dialed in, you’re giving yourself an edge that can make all the difference. Get out there, test some chokes, find your sweet spot, and happy hunting. Remember, the goal is to make your shot count—because you might not get a second chance this season.


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Closing Shots

Understanding turkey behavior is just as critical as your choice of gear. Turkeys are wily creatures with keen eyesight and a sense of self-preservation that can make them challenging targets. Brush up on your calling skills, learn to read turkey signs, and practice patience. Sometimes, the difference between success and a day of just hiking with a shotgun is knowing when to call and when to sit quietly.

Safety First, Bragging Rights Second

We’re all here for a good time, but let’s not forget about safety. Always handle your firearms responsibly, know what’s beyond your target, and respect other hunters and the environment. A successful hunt is a safe hunt, so let’s keep it that way.

Community and Conservation

Turkey hunting is more than just a personal pursuit; it’s a community effort. Share your knowledge with new hunters, participate in local conservation efforts, and respect the traditions that make turkey hunting such a cherished pastime. Remember, we’re not just hunters; we’re stewards of the land and the sport.

As we kick off the 2024 turkey hunting season, let’s head into the woods with excitement, preparation, and respect. Whether it’s perfecting your gear setup with the right choke and shell combo, mastering the art of the call, or simply enjoying the break of dawn in the turkey woods, this season is ripe with opportunity.

So, here’s to tight patterns, well-placed shots, and the hunt. Happy hunting, everyone—let’s make this season one for the books!

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